Seminar on Vietnamese Ao Dai held in France
A seminar on Ao Dai (Vietnamese long dress) entitled "Listening to the stories of Ao Dai" took place in France on May 13, bringing experiences and perspectives on the image of Ao Dai to international friends.
This is an important event within the framework of the "Toucher Arts" project, which includes a series of seminars, concerts, exhibitions, and workshops concerning Vietnamese culture at many schools in various cities across France in response to the anniversary of 50 years of diplomatic relations and 10 years of strategic partnership between Vietnam and France.
The project is completely non-profit and is carried out to raise funds for orphanages and disabled children in different regions of Vietnam.
Derived from the idea "The Ao Dai is not only a traditional costume, the Ao Dai is also a historical witness presenting at most important milestones in Vietnamese people’s life, especially women". The seminar invited three special speakers: a French artist, a Vietnamese teacher and a Vietnamese boy who grew up in France. All the stories shared during this conference touched the audience’s hearts.
Three speakers with different experiences and perspectives share how they feel, appreciate, and promote the image of Ao Dai to international friends.
Dominique Penhhoat: a French-Vietnamese sculptor and writer, author of the autobiography "Les trois cousines en Indochine". During the talk show, Dominique shared a deep memory of the Ao Dai that she loved the most, a gift from relatives in Vietnam that she had just found during her first journey back home for more than ten years.
The second speaker from Vietnam, Nguyen Thi Cuc, is a teacher with more than 20 years of experience in education and cultural exchange for thousands of Vietnamese and French students. Present at the talk, Nguyen Thi Cuc shared with her French friends the story of the Vietnamese Ao Dai and the connection with the image of teachers and students. At the event, the speaker also helped French people discover Vietnamese Ao Dai with the workshop "Drawing Ao Dai" with watercolours.
Despite being the youngest speaker, 12-year-old Kevin Nguyen, he has 2 years of experience in conducting workshops promoting Vietnamese culture in many schools in the Loire Atlantique region of France. Having access to both French and Vietnamese cultures, Kevin has brought interesting stories about the image of Ao Dai from the perspective of second-generation Vietnamese children born and raised in France. Furthermore, Kevin also shared his memories of the first Ao Dai, the journey of bringing Ao Dai and Vietnamese culture to introduce to French students, and how French children went from surprise to falling in love with the national costume of Vietnam.
All French people who attended the event "Listening to the stories of Ao Dai" were given a souvenir which is a Vietnamese Ao Dai, respectfully packed with a message from the giver from around the world.
This is the result of the campaign “2LIFE Ao Dai” (pronounced Second Life Ao Dai) with the desire to revive and bring a brilliant second life to used Ao Dai, by giving it to French friends as a gift cultural and also very humane values, instead of being wasted in the closet. In return, the French people who love the Ao Dai and Vietnamese culture, upon receiving the Ao Dai, will agree to contribute an arbitrary amount to help disadvantaged and disabled children in Vietnam. 2LIFE Ao Dai mobilised more than 500 Ao Dai and has currently crossed thousands of kilometres to France; 100 of the Ao Dai have successfully landed at this event to be gifted.
From 100 impressive stories about Ao Dai to 500 Vietnamese Ao Dai on their way to France, all were spread, recorded, and organised by the participation of 25 Vietnamese students from all over the world: France, UK, the US, Australia, and Vietnam, together with more than 20 project collaborators who are students from 8 to 16 years old living in different provinces in Vietnam and around the world.
At this event, the online exhibition “Ao Dai tells stories” at www.toucherarts.com, was also launched for the first time to the French public, which chronicled the stories of characters around the world, recounting memorable moments in their lives that behold the presence of Ao Dai. Young photographer Thao Nguyen also introduced the photo collection "Dreaming Hoi An", which will be on display at Kervignac City Hall from May 13 to May 28, 2023.