Le Dong Hai “DoHa” Nguyen from Vietnam becomes one of the youngest foreigners in the history and the second in his country to be awarded the Fellowship of the prestigious Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, commonly known as the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). Just over the age of 17, DoHa is the Founder and Executive Director of the Global Association of Economics Education, a globally recognised nonprofit organisation advocating for the empowerment of economics, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. With a deep passion for economic science, he is also a member of the Royal Economic Society and a renowned TEDx Speaker.
Earlier this week, the respected London-based Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce has welcomed DoHa into its selective enlightenment organisation for his “outstanding achievements to social progress and educational development” through his international education and empowerment projects. Founded in 1754, the RSA strives to foster contribution to human knowledge and encourages innovative ideas to solve social challenges. Fellows of the Royal Society are elected by a panel of rigorous judges who consider the nominee’s merits, achievements and alignment with the Society’s values. Fellows are entitled to use the post-nominal letters’ FRSA’ and the exclusive RSA Houses in central London. Le Dong Hai “DoHa” Nguyen FRSA is now a part of an elite group that includes leading educators, activists, entrepreneurs, artists, and former politicians who have made significant contributions to social progress. Previous Fellows have included Benjamin Franklin, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Adam Smith, Marie Curie, and Tim Berners-Lee.
DoHa Nguyen’s initiative – the Global Association of Economics Education (GAEE) is a recognised 501(c)(3) nonprofit organisation that operates across eight countries. According to Yahoo! Finance, GAEE recently launched the action plan called “GAEE’s Silk Road Plan” that seeks to connect five thousand junior economists, financiers and entrepreneurs through its network of GAEE-affiliated academic clubs, forums, workshops and hackathons. It has received grants and established partnerships with various organisations, including the United Nations UNPP, Financial Times, Google, Microsoft, International Association of Economics, and AIESEC. Recognised by the reputable REPEC, this student-led nonprofit was once listed by the London Post in the “Top 4 global organizations that revolutionise economics education,” along with UK-based Rethinking Economics and The Economics Network.
Earlier today, we had the privilege to ask this “rising star of Asia” some questions about his background, careers and plans as a global activist and educator.
1. You have spent two years educating students all over the world the fundamentals of economics, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. What is your motivation for that?
It’s quite a personal story: everything started in my homeland Quang Ngai. When I was a student there, the concepts of economics principles, financial literacies or entrepreneurship skills were something far-fetched and highly unrelatable. I think it’s all because of our education systems that underrepresent daily-life and real-world aspects of economic science. GAEE was first established as the Indochinese Economics Education Initiative (IEEI), a regional network of like-minded students and local educational initiatives in Indochina that transforms conventional curricula into interactive lessons. The engagement and receptions of learners have been a great incentive for us to expand the organisation into a global nonprofit known as GAEE of today.
“When common economics principles that navigate our daily life, such as opportunity costs, are treated as ‘atomic particles,’ it explains why economics science remain unrelatable to ordinary people.”
Le Dong Hai “DoHa” Nguyen FRSA
2. What has been the most challenging problems for your organisation so far?
Many of our executive members believe that seeking recognition as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organisation and finding global partners are the most stressful processes. However, I personally think that transforming this once loosely-connected association into a tight-knit network of thousands of members is the most challenging one. For months, we found ourselves staying up until dawn to prepare new curricula, record video lessons, and correspond with our chapters from different timezones. It was both mentally and physically taxing, yet the outcomes are definitely worth it.
3. How do you feel when you are elected as a Fellow of the RSA?
I have been an admirer of RSA’s position as a 21st-century enlightenment trailblazer that promotes social innovation across all industries. In fact, the first use of the term “sustainability” in an environmental sense was pioneered by the RSA. To be honest, I burst into tear upon hearing the final determination of the RSA judges regarding my fellowship application. Being a Fellow, I can gain access to the global network of like-minded social innovators and valuable catalyst grants of the RSA.
4. What kind of advice would you give to the young generation?
At the core of everything you do, there needs to be a sparkling motivation. To the outside world, you may sugar-coat it with pretty and vague reasons, but deep inside, it must be a strong personal connection. Whether it is for the ones you love, the community you care, the sentiments you feel, you must always have a genuine connection.
5. What plans do you have for your career as well as personal life?
We are literally burying ourselves in work, especially when the “GAEE’s Southeast Asia Month 2019” is taking place. After the program, I would like to spend the rest of the summertime with my family before rushing into the university admission “battle” this year (I’m still a rising senior, by the way!). After graduating from high school, I am looking for a degree in Economics and Finance, as well as further extending our organisation’s operations within the “GAEE’s Silk Road Plan” and radiating positive social changes as a Fellow of the RSA. There’re a lot of personal commitments also, and I am genuinely thrilled to discover more passions in the future.
Thank you for your sharing, DoHa. We wish you the best with your career!