Posted by: viaprograms | September 2, 2010

Traveling Full Circle – Alumni Update

VIA alumnus Huyen Tran talks about her VIA experience and the path it led to.

In August of 2006, I boarded a flight to Vietnam, a country I fled from when I was a baby and had never been back to since. As a VIA volunteer, I went on a one year journey to Hue, where my mother was born. It’s funny how life takes you in turns; I didn’t expect my experiences in Vietnam to shape my career and future aspirations.

Fresh out of college, the post at Hue University as an English teacher from 2006-07 was the opportunity to escape things for a while and retrace my roots. I learned more about myself and discovered a deep-rooted passion for Vietnam – the traditions, the culture, the food, and the youth.

Besides teaching at the university, I volunteered at a children’s orphanage, assisted in delivering medicine to indigenous communities, and most importantly, had the wonderful opportunity to help found a non-profit that teaches children from impoverished communities a craft instead of working on the street. Sales of the craftwork allowed the children to support their families and go to school. I had a terrific experience working with children and having an impact. The work involved not only training, but also recruiting volunteers, marketing, finance, and business operations to keep the program afloat.

After my post ended I entered the corporate world and after some time in the 9-5 grind decided to further my education by getting a Masters degree in Engineering Management from Duke University. Courses about business plans, strategic models, marketing, and intellectual property gave me the tools I needed to start my own business.

The recession could not have been better timed to start thinking entrepreneurially again and to build on my experiences as a social entrepreneur during my time as a volunteer in Asia. My brother had just quit his job in a NY fashion company and decided to move to Asia to start a new career. That’s when we had the idea of starting our own fashion business – with my brother as the designer and myself as the financial, marketing, and legal brain behind it.

My brother and I started a women’s ‘ready to wear’ fashion line, AmareSinh, that is both work appropriate and meant for the social life from 5-9PM. We want to engage with women interested in fashion trends and hear their ideas. One of the reasons why I love the work is that I am eager to see what the world views as fashion and what comes out of very open and direct conversations that break from one-way marketing. We connect with people on all major social networks and via

I really enjoyed my experience as a volunteer in Asia, the perspective it has given me, and the knowledge that there is opportunity in my birth country. My goal is for AmareSinh to take me in a full circle back to Vietnam, to create jobs there and here in the US as well as make a greater impact.

– Huyen


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