First Vietnamese to visit Antarctica and her effort to fight climate change

(VOVWORLD) - In 1997, 24-year-old Hoang Thi Minh Hong became the first Vietnamese to visit Antarctica as part of an expedition that included young people from 25 nations. The image of Hong in Antarctica carrying the flag of Vietnam has become an inspiration to many other young Vietnamese.

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Hoang Thi Minh Hong displays Vietnam's national flag in Antarctica in 1997. (Photo: VOV)

The Center of Hands-on Action and Networking for Growth and Environment (CHANGE) is a non-profit organization with the mission of bringing sustainable change to urgent environmental issues in Vietnam. CHANGE now has 30 young members and is managed by Hoang Thi Minh Hong, the first Vietnamese to set foot on Antarctica.

The trip in 1997 was a life-changing experience for Hong. Following that trip, Hong began traveling to other places to share her experience and spread the message that taking action to save the environment is a matter of great urgency.

In 2009, Hong visited Antarctica again. Seeing the impacts of global warming there made Hong more determined to take action. She worked for non-governmental organizations and environmental projects to get more experience. In 2018, after years of projects and work for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Hong founded CHANGE.

“I set up this organization to help young people nurture and realize their plans and goals. I think an environmental movement should be based on the actual situation in each community and should engage the community to be more effective,” she said.

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Hoang Thi Minh Hong at an environment forum. (Photo: VOV)

The image of the Vietnamese flag against the white snow of Antarctica remains a powerful inspiration to young Vietnamese to take action against climate change.

Ngo Thi Thanh Thao, a member of CHANGE, recalled, “I recently met someone who works at the US Consulate in Vietnam. She was very impressed by a picture of rhinos published by CHANGE in 2016, and expressed surprise that young Vietnamese are concerned about environmental issues. That got me thinking and prompted me to join CHANGE to do something about the environment”.

Vo Uyen Phuong, a CHANGE member from Ben Tre province, told us, “We can see clearly the impacts of climate change. During my childhood in Ben Tre, I used to go with my sisters to collect fresh water. Now there is a severe shortage of fresh water in our area because of salt water intrusion. I want to share my stories about changes in Ben Tre with the world”.

Hong and the other members of CHANGE hope that their actions will make people in other countries aware of Vietnam’s fight against climate change.