Founded by Mr. Cuong, Vun Art is a social enterprise aiming at creating sustainable livelihoods for people with disabilities. Here, at the heart of Van Phuc village, a 1000-year-old traditional silk-making village of Vietnam, the artists in Vun Art use silk scraps left by tailors to create beautiful artwork, anything from tote bags to coasters and traditional paintings.

The philosophy of Vun Art 

Vun Art was born out of Mr. Cuong’s belief that people with disabilities can contribute to the society with their talents and ingenuity on the condition that they are in a supporting environment. He believes that each person is a piece of puzzle, together, these pieces of puzzle constitute to a bigger picture of life. And each person with disabilities, like a piece of puzzle, has their own worth that is just not recognized yet. 

The difference that marks Vụn Art from other organizations working in helping people with disabilities is that they work towards a sustainable model. According to Mr. Cuong, people with disabilities need help, but not in the form of “a ready fish” but a “rod” so that they can be self-sufficient. He places a high value on the quality of products so that customers make the buying decisions on the quality of products, not pity. 

 

A sustainable model 

The model Mr. Cuong is working on covers two aspects: the promotion of environmental sustainability and the revival of traditional Vietnamese culture.   

Vun Art harnesses a simple concept: recycling. “Vun” means scraps, which explains the core philosophy of Vun. Silk scraps which are seemingly useless, when put in the hands of the artists at Vun Art, are given a new life, new meanings and new stories. The concept of recycling is not confined to silk. The cardboards Vun Art uses to contain their artwork are recycled as well. In August 2019, there were only 14 people working at Vun Art. However, they are pioneering a societal change - they are challenging the concept of “waste”. 

With the consultancy from Ms. Dang Thi Khue, a well-known artist in Vietnam, Vun Art connects traditional values with modern twists, from Dong Ho paintings to Temple of Literature. 

 

Internship Outcome in GESI 2019  

From July 2017 to August 2018, ABROADER welcomed 12 students from Northwestern University to work in non-profit organizations and social enterprise in Vietnam.  Three students working at Vun Art are Ari Mostow, Jiayi Shen and Joshua Henderson with two local buddies. With an aim to boost sales of Vun Art, the group at Vun Art decided to build partnerships, which they believed would create a lasting impact even after their internship.  

Over 8-week internship, the outcome was outstanding. They successfully created a database of potential partners for Vun Art, including information about the background and ideals of the potential partners, any specific contacts, and a detailed record of any contact/channels of communication; as well as a professional presentation that Vun Art can use for future business meetings as well as other media outlets. 

However, their efforts didn’t stop there. In September 2019, Vun Art was burst out with joy when they received a 2000-dollar worth contract with U.S Embassy in Vietnam for designing tote bags to commemorate 25-year of Vietnam - U.S relationship.  The partnership that the group worked on ends up with several new opportunities for Vun Art. 

About Service Learning 

Service learning is a unique combination of study abroad and community-based volunteer work where participants get to immerse yourself into the local community while developing professional and personal skills.

At its core, service learning focuses on the local community and their needs. Thus, service learning programs are adaptable to the local community’s settings as well as participants’ backgrounds.

What makes Service Learning different from Volunteer? It’s the “learning” part. Upon working locally and reflecting from experiences in a structured format, participants gain an understanding of the local community, the social issues faced and approaches to resolve these issues. 

If you are look for internship opportunity and care about community development, please apply here.