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Canadian ‘first-aid’ man helps the have-nots around Ho Chi Minh City



Ben Mawdsley, a 31-year-old from Toronto, Canada first fell in love with Vietnam after taking a six-week training course in Ho Chi Minh City. Since permanently settling in the country, he has run a charity club, offered free English classes, and provided first-aid kits and training to the city’s underprivileged.

“It was my destiny,” Mawdsley explained when asked why he chose to made the decision in 2016 to make Vietnam his home.

Mawdsley’s original plan was to take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Ho Chi Minh City and then move on to teach English in Japan, but that plan took a drastic turn when he fell so in love with the city he chose to make it his permanent residence.

‘First-aid foreigner’

Though his original plan was simply to teach English, Mawdsley has spent a good chunk of the last four years teaching first-aid to students all across Ho Chi Minh City.

Carrying around a first-aid kit is not exactly a common habit in most countries, but for many Canadians like Mawdsley, being ready for an emergency is a necessity while living amongst the islands, rivers, lakes, and forests that clutter Canada.

The vast remoteness that defines much of the North American country makes it a challenge for emergency vehicles to get where they need to be, thus the Canadian government heavily emphasizes preparedness.     

For Mawdsley, preparedness means carrying a small bag of first-aid essentials – cotton balls, bandages, gauze, pain-killers, antipyretics, needles, rubble gloves, alcohol, CPR equipment – that he can whip out if he happens upon an emergency situation.

To learn how to use these tools, Mawdsley took a First Aid & CPR certificate course with the Canadian Red Cross. 

Now, after trading in the tundra of rural Canada for the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, Mawdsley still considers his trusty first-aid kit an absolutely essential item, particularly to help tend to any road accident victims he comes across. 

And he has come across quite a few, each time rushing to hop off his own bike to take care of those in need.

“It’s ethics. I can’t do otherwise,” Mawdsley explained, adding that his sense of responsibility to help in emergency situations is derived from another he took during his first-aid course.

In just his first six months in Ho Chi Minh City, Mawdsley claims he had to pull out his first-aid kit on nearly 50 separate occasions. 

According to Mawdsley, his first first-aid situation in Vietnam is by far the most memorable.

After leaving a friend’s birthday party one evening, he came across a traffic accident at the intersection of Dien Bien Phu and Pasteur Streets in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. 

An automobile had collided with a motorbike carrying two women, one American and one Vietnamese.

The accident had left the American woman with a broken leg while the Vietnamese woman sustained a broken arm and appeared unconscious. 

Though a crowd had gathered, no one seemed to be helping. Mawdsley sprang into action and was able to get the Vietnamese woman breathing again. 

She made a full recovery three months later at Cho Ray Hospital in District 5. 

She and Mawdsley have remained close friends ever since.

Ben Mawdsley discusses the contents of his first-aid kit with a Tuoi Tre journalist. Photo: Thanh Yen / Tuoi Tre

Ben Mawdsley discusses the contents of his first-aid kit with a Tuoi Tre journalist. Photo: Thanh Yen / Tuoi Tre


Mawdsley has made it his mission to ensure those around him are taken care of. 

Not being one for leading an extravagant life, he tends to stay away from luxurious places and live a low-key lifestyle.

When he first started teaching in Vietnam, he worked for an expensive English center but eventually decided to leave because he felt tuition was too high for children from low-income households.

Later, he and some friends founded Audium, a charity group that supports physically and mentally disabled youth in Ho Chi Minh City and its suburban district of Can Gio, with school supplies and household goods. 

The group also offers free weekly English classes for those who cannot afford the tuition at local language centers as well as monthly first-aid training days and free first-aid kits.

To cover his own living expenses, Mawdsley runs his own private business and works as a private one-on-one English tutor.

In his free time, he samples Vietnam’s array of street foods, enjoys beers by the roadside, or strolls through Ho Chi Minh City’s alleyways.

He currently lives in a small ‘hem’ – the Vietnamese word for alley – in a small apartment which proudly displays a Canadian and Vietnamese flag alongside each other.

His most treasured memory, he says, is watching one of his students use his first-aid bag to help a person in need in the middle of the street.

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Your Vietnam

Multipurpose buildings brought closer to people



PIONEER: Lã Mạnh Tường is currently a graduate student in construction management at Nottingham Trent University (NTU). Photo courtesy of Lã Mạnh Tường

It took Vietnamese master’s student Lã Mạnh Tường, just seven months to take Việt Nam to new heights in construction. Through pioneering multipurpose construction solutions, Tường, 29, and his team successfully competed against 50 others and advanced to the final of the Global Student Challenge competition. Việt Nam News reporter Hoàng Hồ talks with Tường about his journey.

Inner Sanctum: Can you explain your project, its goal, and how it applies to daily life?

Our project is a multipurpose building that offers community engagement, education, cultural enrichment, professional development, and environmental benefits. It serves as an advising community centre, conference hall, exhibition centre, and design-build construction centre. The building provides various services, including workshops, seminars, and events catering to the local community. It also serves as a resource for research and education, promoting cultural exchange and social interaction. The exhibition centre showcases art exhibits, and the design-build construction centre provides hands-on training for university students. The building features sustainable design and construction practices, resource conservation features, and encourages sustainable transportation.

Inner Sanctum: How did you feel when your team got to the final of the competition?

Our initial goal was to go as far as we could, and we saw this project as an opportunity to showcase the potential of building this complex to the school administration. Nottingham Trent University aims to make it a reality in the not-too-distant future. Therefore, being the top finalist makes us feel like an opportunity has opened up before us. We did it brilliantly.

Inner Sanctum: Can you share your passion for the field? Did you have any difficulties during the competition?

Despite its reputation for being a difficult field, I find construction fascinating. I enjoy the challenges of planning, designing, and building functional and aesthetically pleasing structures. The process of transforming raw materials into a finished product is incredibly rewarding, and I find it inspiring to see how a group of skilled professionals can come together to create something that will stand the test of time. In short, I am passionate about construction because it requires a unique combination of creativity, practicality, and attention to detail.

I believe that the most difficult thing is getting used to the new format of the contest. This year, the organisers used a new format that requires participating teams to apply their knowledge and create products of pure expertise such as design, cost estimation, and construction organisation. They also ask teams to create and run a fictional company throughout the project. This makes it a bit difficult for the members when most of them are pure professionals and do not have a business management mindset. Along with the above difficulty is that we need to be familiar with the environment and culture of the UK when researching the location for our project. 

AWARDED: Lã Mạnh Tường (left) and his teammate Siavash Shamsi at the NTU’s Scholarship Awards Celebration. Photo courtesy of Nottingham Trent University

Inner Sanctum: What are the requirements and challenges in reaching sustainable construction? Does Việt Nam have the potential to reach the level of the UK?

Sustainable construction requires a comprehensive approach that takes into consideration various aspects, including design, materials, energy efficiency, and waste management. It involves adopting green building practices that reduce the environmental impact of construction activities. The challenges in achieving sustainable construction include high upfront costs, a lack of awareness and understanding among stakeholders, limited availability of green building materials and technologies, and the need for specialised knowledge and skills. However, with the right policies, incentives, and education, sustainable construction can become more accessible and widespread, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits.

Việt Nam has made significant progress recently towards sustainable construction, but it may take some time for the country to reach the level of the UK. The UK has been at the forefront of green building practices for two decades, with a well-established regulatory framework and a strong culture of sustainability. However, Việt Nam has recognised the importance of sustainable construction and has taken steps towards promoting green building practices. The Government has developed a green building certification system and introduced policies and incentives to encourage sustainable practices. 

Inner Sanctum: Do you plan to apply this model to Việt Nam?

A complex university building like our project can positively impact Việt Nam’s education and cultural landscape, as well as the local community.

The counseling centre can provide valuable services to students and the community, while also allowing students to apply what they have learned in a real-world setting.

The international conference centre can draw high-profile events and speakers, therefore bringing more high-quality events and promoting Việt Nam as a destination for global conferences in the future. The exhibition areas can provide opportunities for students to showcase their work and promote their ideas, while also serving as a space for cultural events and exhibitions. The outdoor campus and green roof can provide a much-needed oasis in the city, creating a space for relaxation, recreation, and community building. 

To build a model like this in Việt Nam, it would be important to engage with stakeholders, including universities, local governments, and the community, to ensure that the design and features of the complex are appropriate for local needs and preferences. Funding mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships or grants, may be necessary to finance the construction and maintenance of the complex.

Inner Sanctum: From your experience in the UK, do you have any advice for the next generation of construction students?

By being in the last age group of Generation Y, I have had many opportunities to reach out to the young people of Generation Z, who are part of the next generation of civil engineering students. From my point of view, they are dynamic, creative young people who have a viable approach to problems, foreign languages, and the ability to master IT faster than previous generations.

However, there is one element that today’s younger generations lack compared to their predecessors. It is the spirit of learning and searching. Through many years of approaching the environment and working with many international clients, I find the most important thing when working with them is to show the spirit and attitude of inquisitiveness and willingness to listen to others’ opinions and have a humble attitude at work. Knowledge and skills can be cultivated over time, if there are conditions to go abroad to study and practice, it is also a good thing. However, it is the right attitude to work that will bring you success. VNS


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Your Vietnam

Argentina-VN to tap unexploited potentials to for mutual interests



Argentinian ambassador to Việt Nam Luis Pablo Maria Beltramino writes to Việt Nam News on the country’s National Day (May 25)

2023 is a very special year for Argentina and Việt Nam. Both countries are celebrating this year the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, and the Comprehensive Partnership, established in 2010, has never been as consolidated as it is now. Argentina was the third Latin American country in establishing diplomatic relations with Việt Nam and, thus, one of the firsts in the region to do so before the reunification of the country in 1975.

A crucial milestone that boosted bilateral ties was the opening of the Embassy of Việt Nam in Argentina in 1995 and the opening of the Embassy of Argentina in Hà Nội in 1997. Since then, the relationship of the two countries has developed steadily, not only strengthening the links between the governments but also between the people of the two countries. 

The ceremony to receive 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Argentine Government to Việt Nam at Nội Bài International Airport, Hà Nội on November 24, 2021. VNA/VNS Photo

The bilateral relationship between Argentina and Việt Nam is founded on three main pillars.

The first pillar is the excellent political dialogue at the highest and all levels. Indeed, the opening of the Argentine Embassy in 1997 was also the beginning of High Level Delegation exchanges between both countries. In February 1997, President Carlos Saul Menem visited Hà Nội to inaugurate the newly established Argentine Embassy. Later on, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and President Mauricio Macri visited Việt Nam in 2013 and in 2019, respectively. Likewise, President Trần Đức Lương in 2004, Chairman of the National Assembly Nguyễn Văn An in 2006, Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng in 2010 and, most recently, Chairman of the National Assembly Vương Đình Huệ also visited Argentina accompanied by large delegations. These high level visits illustrate how significant and strong the relation between our countries is, despite the geographical distance.

Bilateral trade is the second pillar of the Argentina-Việt Nam relationship. Over the past 10 years, bilateral trade has grown by 700 per cent and reached almost to US$5 billion in 2022. Việt Nam is Argentina’s sixth largest trading partner in the world and Argentina is Việt Nam’s third largest trading partner in Latin America. One of the main reasons that explains this outstanding performance in commerce is the fact that both economies are complementary and do not compete for the same markets. Argentina is a trustworthy supplier of raw materials and agro-industrial products that Việt Nam incorporates in its production chain, while Việt Nam mostly exports consumer goods with high added value. As such, both countries are looking forward to keeping, increasing and diversifying this solid and sustainable trend and speeding up the market access process of agricultural products. 

NA Chairman Vương Đình Huệ is welcomed at the Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Buenos Aires on April 24, 2023. VNA/VNS Photo

The third pillar of the bilateral relationship is Technical Cooperation. Việt Nam is the country in Asia with the highest amount of technical assistance projects provided by Argentina through the South-South and Triangular Argentine Cooperation Fund (FOAR). Argentina has actively shared and transferred agro-industrial working methodologies and technology to improve the production and productivity of many key Vietnamese products, such as rice, corn, soybeans and dairy products, among others. Argentina has also provided assistance in the control and mitigation of foot-and-mouth disease and has transferred know-how and good practices to contribute to human resources training for the identification of the Martyrs of the War.

In the international arena, Argentina and Việt Nam share a common vision and values in many areas such as peace and international security, the respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity and how to face global challenges. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Việt Nam donated 20,000 masks to Argentina. In return for such generosity and when the vaccines where developed, Argentina made a donation of 500,000 doses to Việt Nam.    

Both countries also consider that people-to-people exchanges are a crucial aspect of the relationship, especially in the field of culture. For many years, Argentina has had strong cooperation with Vietnamese universities and many cultural events have been organised in Việt Nam to connect with the people. On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary, the Argentine Embassy is organising two very important cultural events with the objective of bringing Argentine Culture closer to the Vietnamese audience. As part of the celebrations, the renowned Argentine pianist Mirian Conti, who is also a teacher at the Juilliard School in New York, will perform at the Hà Nội Opera House on May 25 and at the Hồ Chí Minh Conservatory of Music on June 1, along with Vietnamese musicians. The photo exhibition “50 Years 50 Images” of famous Argentine photographers is also taking place this month in Hà Nội at the Complex 01 Art Space Centre.

Despite this sustainable progress, Argentina and Việt Nam have a huge unexploited potential in a wide variety of topics and sectors. That is why the “50th Anniversary” gives us the opportunity to think about how we want to outline the bilateral relationship for the next 50 years for it to keep contributing to the development and growth of both countries and to the increase in the quality of life of the Argentine and Vietnamese people. VNS


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Your Vietnam

Music gala features 200 artists



MUSIC CELEBRATION: The music gala called Quê Hương Biển Gọi (Melodies of the Country and Sea) offers performances by more than 200 veteran and young artists. — Photo courtesy of the programme’s organiser

NHA TRANG — Nha Trang City will host a music gala featuring outdoor performances as part of its efforts to entertain and attract locals and visitors. 

The gala, called Quê Hương Biển Gọi (Melodies of the Country and Sea), offers performances by more than 200 veteran and young singers, dancers, musicians, and theatre artists. 

It is part of the 2023 Nha Trang-Khánh Hòa Sea Festival, which is scheduled to take place from June 3-6 in the south central province of Khánh Hòa.  

The gala will offer Vietnamese songs and music pieces designed in new concepts by music stars such as Cẩm Vân, Khắc Triệu and Phương Vi. 

Revolutionary music composed by Trần Hoàn and Phan Huỳnh Điểu will be highlighted.

“We want to honour Vietnamese music and theatre. We also hope locals and visitors will discover the beauty of Khánh Hòa and its people through our gala,” said Kiều Đăng Ninh, head of the gala’s organising board. 

The free performances of Quê Hương Biển Gọi will open at 8pm on June 3 in Nha Trang City’s April 2 Boulevard. 

SEASIDE FUN: More than 100,000 visitors are expected to attend the 2023 Nha Trang-Khánh Hòa Sea Festival. — Photo courtesy of the programme’s organiser

The 2023 Nha Trang-Khánh Hòa Sea Festival will take place from June 3 to 6 with more than 60 art and cultural events. 

It is held every two years and has become a trademark of the beach resort city of Nha Trang since 2003.

The history, culture and people of Khánh Hòa will be highlighted during the festival. 

Street art performances, sports competitions, tourism promotion events, and scientific and educational seminars will also be included.

The festival’s organiser, Khánh Hòa Province’s Department of Tourism, is expected to attract 100,000 visitors during the festival.

Last year, Khánh Hòa attracted 2.57 million tourists, raking in nearly VNĐ14 trillion (US$590.5 million) in tourism revenue.  

This year, it targets four million tourists, including 1.5 million foreign visitors, and earning VNĐ21 trillion ($902.3 million). — VNS


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