POSTCARD from HANOI

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 "Life is the road. Love is the goal."

Spotted on the highway near the Old Quarter in Hanoi. A nice reminder to slow down and trust in the flow of life, to recognize that love is a direction not a destination.

This trip I experienced some exciting highs like discovering this creative spin on a traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai dress at Chula Fashion House and also some lows like crashing/burning from exhaustion and landing myself in the doctors office with 7 prescriptions.

But all in all what threads this journey together is a return to self-love. So much to learn! Every time I think I've made some progress, BAM, restart, life shows me that I'm a humble student that's only just begun. 

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LESSONS & DISCOVERIES:

Bustling with motorbikes. Breaking into new art forms. Brimming with market potential.

Hanoi is a city in motion.

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Where there is chaos there is creativity, I discovered the visionary work of Diego Cortizas and wife, Laura Fontan @ Chula Fashion House. Chula is a social enterprise that weaves JOY into wearable art. Each design is first created by Diego and then local Vietnamese artisans with disabilities have the creative freedom to add their flair so that each piece is unique.

https://chulafashion.com/

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Abstract met alternate reality in the solo exhibition of renowned artist, Duong Truy Duong. Inspired by the book Immortality by Milan Kundera, Duong's show, POST AGNES, follows the protagonist, Agnes as she tries to escape reality desiring to experience a new world beyond this universe.

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Duong, like Agnes, also wonders if this is a beginning of a new world? What's behind the creation of the universe? Is the creation of the new world different from the shape of Jesus and Mary in the New Testament? Duong explores these questions in 15 pieces exploring light and dark, creation and destruction, mother and child.

https://hanoigrapevine.com/2017/07/solo-exhibition-post-agnes-duong-thuy-duong/

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My final lesson came from observing the experimental educational ecosystem of I Can Read Hanoi (ICR), an English learning center in Vietnam. As a Culture Consultant, I have the privilege of seeing "behind closed doors" the in's & out's of organizations. These org's courageously "open the kimono" at the risk of being exposed and fully seen. While no organization is perfect, it's the ones who are willing and open to change who will ultimately grow the most. ICR did just that.

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I took a week long deep dive into their org, interviewing various members of their team, attending tactical meetings, and even joining in on their staff pool party. What I found most remarkable about this group is their willingness to go above and beyond to ensure I had a positive experience and stay in Hanoi. I was really WOWed by their dedication to WOW.

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I have so much more to say but for now I'll wrap it up with "Cám Ón!" Vietnamese for, THANK YOU. This leg of the journey has taught me many things and forced me to come back to center. And while I won't miss the relentless horn-honking bustle of city life, I'll certainly miss the colorful people and treasures I found. 

With gratitude,

Kelsey Lotus

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