Posted by SE Vietnam - Student Exchange Vietnam

If you are planning a weekend get-away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, the breathtaking long-seated gem known as Van Phuc Silk Village should be put to the top of the must-visit destinations. Sophisticatedly embellished with serene ponds and temples with wooden silk weaving machines and stores, Van Phuc Silk Village charms its way into a hotspot attracting not only local residents but also foreigners to have a deeper insight into thousand years of Vietnamese culture as well as critical social changes that each puzzle of Vụn Art are making here.



Vụn Art is a social enterprise that employs individuals with disabilities to create art from recycled silk scraps. These artworks take inspiration from traditional folk painting themes embedding the soul and practice of Vietnamese people. In 2018, Vụn Art was born out of Mr. Cuong’s belief that people with disabilities like him deserve the opportunity to demonstrate their value to society and change societal outlook on unfortunate people in the process. 

A Cường

As a newly established organization, they might face numerous challenges to thrive domestically and globally due to a lack of human resources specializing in business and communication. Having recognized this dire need for supporters, three Northwestern students in the U.S.A that are Joshua Anderson, Ari Mostow, Jiayi Shen, and two local buddies Ha Anh anh Thao sent from ABROADER joined forces together to put the name of Vụn on the map. 


On the first week of work, standing in awe of picturesque landscape of Van Phuc Village and guided by their supervisor – Mr. Cuong, young interns toured around different segments to gradually formed the ideas of key goals that should be achieved by the end of their internship. One of them is to create professional business presentations in both English and Vietnamese which Vụn Art can use for future business meetings and tutorial videos for educational/interactive art products.

Approaching upon that matter, students eagerly talked to villagers and artists to dig into the beauty of traditional silk weaving and process of making such artistic products.

villagersEngage with villagers at Van Phuc Silk Village

As Joshua remembered vividly on the day of being facilitators for Vụn’s workshops, he thought that the work appeared easy as a piece of cake; nevertheless, he confessed that he kept having his fingers stuck with glue whereas the disabled artists instructed participants very smoothly. At that moment, he realized how unprepared he was and he truly admired the quality of their works when they underwent the scrupulous steps of turning silk scraps into art. 

To Ari – an enthusiast for learning Vietnamese shared that

I felt amazed when being able to see how actual work was done and conversing daily with villagers made me feel connected and belonged. Moreover, people of Vun Art, Thao and Ha Anh were super friendly and willing to  help me discover Vietnamese culture.

20190815_164223An enriching talk with traditional artist Mrs. Dang Thi Khue to reflect the natural sceneries and cultural symbols of Vietnam

Indeed, when coordinating among team members, communication is the KEY. So, with the active engagement of two local buddies, one of their targets was ticked and the package materials for business slides of Vụn Art were well-polished. Besides, the articles that these youthful interns wrote for promoting Vụn Art will be published and translated into 5 languages by UNESCO, British Council and Hanoi People’s Committee in October. Reading their group’s writing and presentations, we can see how their work was beautifully done as it strongly delivered the message that the obstacles in mobility cannot deter incredible artists of Vụn Art from moving forward on their terms with diligence and endless source of will and creativity. 


Unfortunately, little do major organizations or social enterprises know about Vụn’s mission. Therefore, Ari, Joshua & Jiayi decided to create a system for following up on future partnerships. More specifically, a database of potential partners for Vụn Art, including information about the background and ideals of the potential partners, and a detailed record of channels of communications have been established. 

As emailing one of information exchanging approaches thanks to its professional features; however, sometimes interns may encounter the issue of time-efficiency. To solve that matter and apply a more time-saving method, calling might be suitable to reach out to likely partners  such as local art centers, hotels or even embassy centers. In the end, a promising collaboration between the US Embassy and Vụn Art on upcoming projects have been reached. More specifically, the U.S Embassy confirmed their tote bag deal with Vụn Art for their 25th anniversary between the U.S.A and Vietnam. All the tote bags, as following recycling philosophy, will be printed with patterns in the form of scraps. Those seemingly discarded pieces, under the meticulous work of Vụn’s artists, are now transforming into useful accessories serving as the remembrance of  friendly cooperation and something connecting people of the two countries. 

20190814_152546Final evaluation of Ari, Joshua, Jiayi and two local buddies

By the middle of August, the internship also came to an end, and the puzzles of hope, harmonious teamwork and cross-cultural partnerships have found their way to fit in the picture of Vụn Art. Ari, Joshua, Jiayi and two local buddies that are Ha Anh anh Thao have successfully spread the beliefand guiding philosophy of Mr. Cuong, which is to help  as many disabled people as possible, and promote culture and resource conservation. As the role of educators, ABROADER and Global Engagement Studies Institute are glad to observe students’ growth and their contribution to local community development. Hopefully, Vụn Art’s mission will continue to inspire more people to embrace the beauty in fragments and puzzles of Vụn will never cease to extend that mission far and beyond!


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