UPDATED:  August 1, 2008 10:17 AM
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Three Vietnamese Women Receive Awards for Media, Advocacy

By: Jennie L. Ilustre

Three Vietnamese women were recently honored for reporting, photography and advocacy by different prestigious organizations. They are Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Gwen Ha, photographer My Phuong Nguyen and Jackie Bong Wright, local advocacy leader and Asian Fortune writer.

Ms. Ha received a bronze medal from the prestigious New York Festivals Radio Broadcasting Awards for her coverage of a Vietnamese girl involved in the sex trade in Cambodia. Ms. Wright received Senior America’s highest award, the Gold Medal of Honor called “Liberty,” for her advocacy on behalf of victims of human trafficking.

Local photographer My Phuong Nguyen has won several gold medals in exhibits nationwide. These are four Gold Medals, and three Silver Delaware Medals at Spring Fling in April; Best of show, Gold Medal in best creative of 44th Fresno International Exhibition; Best of show, Gold Medal in Photojournalism at Georgia Southern Exhibition Circuit, and AZPS Medal at Arizona International Exhibition in Photojournalism.

She told Asian Fortune: “Where my spirit was at one point to the past, and where it is today, are reflected in my works. The camera gives me the power to overcome my fears and gives the strength to continue my journey. After completing a series of photos, I begin the next in search of new experience and vision.”



“I was very honored to be the first to receive this prestigious award, which was approved by the National Board of Trustees of Senior America,” Ms. Wright said. “I am so proud to see that a refugee and a widow from Vietnam, with only $20 in her pocket and three young children under 12, who arrived in the US 32 years ago, has made a huge effort to do well in this land of opportunity and freedom. It made me think that anyone who is resilient can achieve so much more.”

She added: “For me, the sky is the limit, but I always keep in my mind and heart this statement, ‘Success is not how high and fast you reach the top, but how high and fast you bounce back when you hit bottom.’”

Ms. Wright has teamed up with CAPAVA, Pan Asia Women, APIA Vote and AALDEF (Legal Defense Fund) and seven other Asian American groups to have bi-partisan registration drives and voters mobilization in Virginia for the presidential elections. Since July, she has been interviewing Vietnamese from both parties on Vietnamese Overseas Radio and on SBTN-DC TV stations on election issues.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Universities of Bordeaux (France) and Saigon, Vietnam, and a Master of Science in International Relations from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Born in Vietnam, My Phuong Nguyen became interested in photography when she bought her first camera in 2002. She studied photography at Montgomery College and at seminars taught by expert photographers such as Tony Sweet and Rick Sammon. The Photographic Society of America (PSA) displayed her photographs at the Baltimore (2006) and Tucson (2007) International Conferences (www.psa-photo.org)

She is a member of several camera clubs and membership chairman of the Silver Spring Camera Club. She held the position of Star Rating Director in PSA for the term of 2007, and is a much sought after international judge.


RFA Gold Award

Aside from Ms. Ha, RFA’s Burmese service received the highest recognition last June–a gold medal from New York Festivals Radio Broadcasting Awards, for its coverage of the September 2007 “saffron revolution.” RFA’s Bich Ha Nguyen and Peter Zhong of Vietnamese service and Jill Ku of the Mandarin service were among the finalists.

RFA President Libby Liu said the awards “are an extraordinary honor for Radio Free Asia, whose broadcasters work tirelessly under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions to bring first-rate reporting to some of the most tightly closed countries on Earth.” The New York Festivals, founded in 1957, recognize the most original and innovative work in international radio broadcasting. A jury of media leaders from 12 countries selected the winners.

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