Donation information – HEARTS WARM HEARTS







Ending on 31/10/2013

Target 1: $1000
Target 2: $2000
Target 3: $3000


TARGET 1: $1,000 REACHED on 22/10
TARGET 2: $2000 REACHED on 27/10
TARGET 3: $3000 ongoing

TOTALLY $2254.10 has been raised so far!!!


Donations will be spent on buying food, clothes, stationery (for children), basic household and hygiene necessities.

These products will be hand-delivered by myself (together with my family and friends) to the most affected families in the following areas
1. Hương Khê
2. Hương Sơn
3. Vũ Quang

These are the most affected areas in Ha Tinh.

Below are links to the relevant news ( sorry they are all in Vietnamese) ( Hà Tĩnh – thousands of homes are isolated and submerged)

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 4.51.48 PM ( Floods in Ha Tinh , 4 people are dead and missing)

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 4.47.54 PM ( Ha Tinh residents are helped by soldiers to recover from flood damages)

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 4.49.40 PM


I would like to say big thanks to the following donors, who have opened their hearts to help the people in need. The donation amount is there for the purpose of transparency only. I treasure and highly appreciate your donations, no matter how much, because you share the same love and kindness. Love is uncountable.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
With lots of love.

($ is in AUD, and an exchange rate of 1 USD=1AUD=20,000VND is being used for estimation only)


1. Michelle Tran $50
2. Nghia Tran $25( 500,000VND)
3. Chien Tran $25( 500,000VND)
4. Hien Phan $30
5. Nga To $25


6. Nguyet Nguyen $100
7. Tra My Nguyen $80
8. Dung Vo $20
9. Ngoc Anh Vu $10
10. Ha Lan Nguyen $50
11. Yen Pham $20
12. Ngoc Anh Nguyen $15
13. Bao Nhi Vong $20
14. Nghia Trong Tran $27.80
15. Anonymous cool guy from Malaysia $4.30
16. Hung Nguyen $30
17. Huyen Thuong $25 (500,000VND)


18. George Baker $200
19. Alex Malubag $20
20. Thanh Hai Vu $25
21. Hanh Luu $20
22. Agi Erdiantini $20
23. Andy Choi $20
24. Thi Minh Tam Nguyen(Anna) $50
25. Bao An Truong $50
26. K A Pandrya $25
27. Khanh Vy Dang $50
28. Bernardine Grigson $20
29. Truc Nguyen $10
30. Lily Nguyen $25
31. Ngoc Nhu Quynh Nguyen $100
32. Anh Khoa Truong $20
33. Jean Jorel Alvarez $10


34. Khanh Chi Tran $50 (USD50)
35. Lai Nguyen $100 (USD100)
36. Thanh Linh Tran $50
37. Yue Xu $30
38. Aiden Ho $20
39. Thi Bao Tuyen Nguyen $25
40. Tra Thi Nguyen $20
41. Quynh Nhu Dang $15 ( 300,000VND)


42. Khanh Nam Ho $25 (500,000VND)
43. Zona Goh $30


44. Tu Ke Ha $250 (5,000,000VND)
45. Thu Dang $15
46. Sumaiya Zaki Mazid $30
47. Nha Vo $10


48. Kien Hoang $25
49. Linh Thuy Nguyen $50
50. Huong Thu Le $20
51. Thao My Hoang Vu $20
52. Manh Cong Ta. $20
53. Tu Nhat Nguyen Bui $20


54. Ha Viet Le $30
55. Minh Quach $50 (1,000,000VND)
56. Kia Been Koh $5


57. Nghia Trong Nguyen $20
58. Son Tho Bui $10
59. Mohanad Ardiartha Putra Kusuma $20
60. Phung Thi My Van $50 (1,000,000VND)

After 31/10, I also received donations from Mr.Kien ( University of Flinders) $20 and Serena Teh $2.


Things I love about BRS and easyconsult

Working as an intern at BRS & easyconsult has been one of the best experiences I have had so far. It was an exciting learning journey that I really enjoyed from the beginning to the end. I can’t help sharing this terrific experience with you because I know I am one of only a few interns out there who are 200% happy about their experience.

So, what makes me such a big fan of this company?

I love being part of a small team with only less than 10 people ( but the work it delivers is enormous). I was not overwhelmed when walking into the office. I didn’t struggle to remember names of each individual, and didn’t feel like I’m a little fish in a big pond. And more importantly, thanks to the small size, we got to know each other better, our strategy was better communicated and support was provided in a timely fashion.

I love talking and having a good laugh even when we were working. Instead of focusing too much on our own tasks, keeping silent and forgetting about what’s happening around us, I realized that it was better to spend time communicating with the team, telling jokes and breaking the ice in the office. This was something I was not familiar with initially due to my culture and previous experience. Straining our eyes in front of computer screens continuously without talking or laughing is very stressful. Chatting with others during office hours not only energizes us but also inspires us with more ideas and solutions to our problems. Now I really miss hearing Kym’s big laughs from the distance, listening to Erin talking about her dog, Kim telling about the movie she watched over the weekend, seeing Nicole describing how her son wanted a penguin pet, Jodie getting excited about her trip to Italy, and Sarah explaining the benefits of going vegans, and Louise showing pictures of her lovely daughters…

I love the proactivity of everyone in the team, from which I have learned so much. “It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission”, Kym, the manager, told me in one of our meetings. Being proactive means taking conscious control of situations instead of passively reacting to unexpected events. At BRS and easyconsult, everyone shows their proactivity by addressing problems and finding solutions before they are told what to do. Without the pressure to conform to expectations, everyone knows their own goals and be a leader in themselves, all working towards a common goal. Over the internship, I grew from an “obedient child” to a person who is more proactive in my choices, willing to take risks and I dare to make mistakes rather than asking for permission for fear of doing the wrong things.

I love being surrounded by positive people in the office. When being screwed up, we know that things will get better down the track, and look to deal with the situation rather than worrying too much. BRS has won so many awards such as Telstra Business Award, BRW Fast Starters, and startup smart awards. What’s the secret of a business that not only survived the economic downturn but also doubled their revenue? I would say it is the power of positivity, which results in positive outcomes.

I love the sheets of plans and goals on the walls as a reminder for the team to focus on our mission.

I love being challenged when someone asked me why I did this, why I did that, and what I could do to make it better.

I love it when someone asked me ” Do you need any help at all?”

I love it when someone returned from her lunch with a pack of chocolates and shared with everyone else.

I love it when we all cheered and clapped for getting more members into easyconsult coaching program.

There are so many other things I love about this wonderful place that I can’t fit them all to this blog space.


The team was well rewarded for their efforts

After all, I was so proud being part of this fantastic team, being part of easyconsult, a world-class coaching program that will go places in the future. And I believe that everyone in the team would be proud too. The power of having a great culture is huge, when the team becomes a family, when common goals become personal goals, when common success is everyone’s success.

I never knew that there exists such a great business culture until I worked here 🙂

A movie you definitely should watch

To me, watching movies is not only a way to entertain myself, but also to learn from it and enrich my soul. I have watched a host of good movies with great meanings about life, love and relationships. However, whenever someone asks me to recommend a good movie, the first title that comes to my mind is ” Three idiots”.

3 Idiots is a 2009 Indian coming of age comedy-drama film directed by Rajkumar Hirani, with a screenplay by Abhijat Joshi, and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. It was loosely adapted from the novel Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat ( Wikipedia). It is one of just only a few Indian movies I have watched, but it is definitely my favourite movie of all times.

I won’t tell you the plot ( I personally don’t want to know this in advance), I’m just trying to persuade you to watch it if you haven’t. Hope this works

If you are losing your direction in life, and need a great source of inspiration….

If you want to learn lessons about friendship, about how true friends treat each other…

If you are in love and looking for some sweet romance and drama…

If you want to have some laugh with your friends…

If you miss your time at school and want to turn back those days even just for a while…

Or if you just want a watch a REALLY STUNNING movie…

This is the movie for you.

I don’t know what the definition for perfection, but to me, I don’t hesitate to nominate it as the symbol of a perfect movie. Great actors, great story, great lessons – all make terific 3 hours that I never regret even for a second. It’s an awesome movie in itself without special effects or breath-taking scenes. You will love it just for its own sake.


So, what are you waiting for?

Take a second to ask: What are the most important things in life?


A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the remaining open areas of the jar.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”

“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

Author Unknown

More than words…

This entry is dedicated…

To all the well-respected speakers and the organizing committee of the 4th University Scholars Leadership Symposium.

To all of delegates at the symposium who have contributed to its success.

To all of my friends who have walked into my life in the most graceful way I could ever imagine, and will stay in my heart for the years to come.

To myself, who have learned the lessons that can’t be taught anywhere else.

And to you, whoever is reading this, because you have made the right decision to know more about one of the best international events about humanitarian issues in the world.


The symposium means so much to me as the way it does to many other people. It has brought me…


With more than 700 delegates from 45 countries in the world, this symposium brought together the nicest and friendliest people who care about alleviating world poverty. Though it was impossible to meet and talk to everyone in the symposium, I managed to make so many new friends and remember their names as much as I could (it was hard to be honest, but remembering someone’s name is one of the sweetest things we can do).



The symposium has connected me with the people that have become my soul mates. Even though we just met for a few days, I feel as if we have been friends for years and we can share everything together without hesitation.


We learned, we ate, we sang, we played, we laughed and we cried together. We were so happy together, sharing moments, sharing life…

Love is sometimes that simple. We love each other unconditionally, and I’m grateful that we found each other in the crowd.


All too often we pursue the knowledge that helps us get a better job and we forget about the kind of knowledge that helps us live a better life. The symposium has provided us the latter. We had the chance to listen to and learn from the people who have devoted their entire life for a better world and give them our warmest hugs.



Thank you, Bam Aquino, Peter Baines, Pushpa Basnet, Geraldine Cox, Ibu Robin Lim, Tony Meloto, Simerjeet Singh, Pamela Wigglesworth, Lloyd Luna and Francis Kong for sharing your experiences and giving us so much inspiration to make ourselves better people and the world a better place.

“ A day well spent brings a happy sleep at night. A life well spent brings a happy death” ( Simerjeet Singh)

Remember to respect the soul of other people” (Robin Lim)

You have to believe in your dreams before everyone else does” (Pushpa Basnet)

Problems are always there, but we can choose the only problems that relate to what we care” (Miguel Bermundo)

The purpose of going to university is to have the capability to learn” ( Francis Kong)

We can’t change what happened, but we can change what happens next” (Peter Baines)

Start young. Start early.” (Pamela Wigglesworth)



Since the very first day I came to Manila, I have seen so many homeless people and poor children on the street. They sleep alongside the bay, on the pavement, in their tricycles and in doggy tents. Street children who are just from 3 to 10 years old will run around you, with their hands open asking for food and money. Looking at these people keeps me aware of what we take for granted. We are so lucky to be able to afford good accommodation, good food and even travel around the world while so many other people have to live on the streets, eat anything they have and have never stepped out of their own city. Poverty is just a “global issue” when you read about it in newspapers, but it becomes a pain when we really witness it with our own eyes.

I have learned how to treasure what I have right now, and I feel blessed that I was not born in poverty like those children. We cannot choose how we are born. We cannot choose how other people are born either. God does. However, he doesn’t do so for free I believe. We have to give as much as we receive. We don’t know when we will be in the situation that needs help from other people, so why not open our heart and share what we have with those in need?


For every single day of the symposium, I was always happy. I was happy to meet new friends, to learn from the speakers, to hang out with my buddies, to give a hand to building schools for children. We smiled, we talked, we laughed all the time. The happiness I felt was so huge and deep that it is still resonating in my heart right now.


There are little things that could make me feel like I was the happiest person in the world. How happy I was when my friends told me that they loved me so much. How happy I was when I saw people around me laughing and talking cheerfully. How happy I was when the children at Quezon ran to me, called my name and hugged me so tight. How happy I was when I played a game with these little kids and they liked it! How happy I was when I received some little gifts from my friends even though we had just known each other for a few days. How happy I was when I knew that I became a special friend to them.



This is a life changing experience to me and many other people I believe.


Dear my friends who have shared this time with me: Stay passionate. Stay positive. Stay focused. Keep your fire burning. I have faith that we can together make a lot of differences in the world.

Dear others, I strongly recommend that you attend this symposium next year. It will definitely be something that you will never be able to forget. Life is short; we had better spend it well. Time is finite; we had better spend it wisely.

Experience it, try it, and feel it in your own way.


Michelle Tran

10 August 2013

Can money buy happiness? Yes, if you know how to.

I’m sure you have at least once seen or heard this saying : “Money can’t buy happiness”. Well, it seems wise, but not adequate.

I would say, money can buy not every kind of happiness, but some, or even many happy feelings. The better thing to say is: it all depends on how you spend it, and on the context as well.

Recently I have a friend coming back to Vietnam just to spend 2 weeks with her family. She spends a lot on the flight ticket, which is equal to what we normally spend for a 3 month stay. She is having a great time with her parents and her little sister at home now, and this happiness can’t be sought from anywhere but her house. What she bought is the flight that brought her back to her beloved family. I know many people who haven’t seen their families for years because they can’t afford a flight back home. Things would be different if they have more money, right?

Maybe money is not everything. But we always see everyone chasing after well-paid jobs, companies looking ways to have more and more profits. Even we as students are going to uni because we want to secure a good job, which will help us to live a good house, drive in a good car and eat in good restaurants in the future. Money does a lot for us. We understand that, but we tend to go to great lengths to get more money , forgetting about its purpose: using money in a way that actually brings us happiness.

The best way of using money to buy happiness is here: buy experiences, especially with the people who matter to you most. The more money you have, the more experiences you can buy, and therefore the happier you will be.


What my friend bought was physically a flight ticket, but it allowed her to meet her family, which was a great experience.

A businessman I know spends some time on staying at home with his kids rather than meeting his clients. You may say money doesn’t involve here. But, look, he forgoes the money that he can earn from his business to get some time with his family. Isn’t he using the money he should have earned to buy that happiness?


(By this picture I mean money buys the means to get happiness)

It will be endless to talk about the wonders of money being used in the right way. You can buy a good car, but you won’t feel the true happiness until you pack up and go on a picnic with your family by that car. You can buy a great smart phone, but you won’t feel the true happiness until you use it to keep in touch with an old friend from the other side of the world. You can buy a nice house, but you won’t feel the true happiness until you open the door inviting your friends to visit you for a dinner and hear them complimenting how beautiful it is. The bottom line is, just use money for the people and things you care.

There are heaps of ways to buy happiness. Here are just a few that I got from an article:

1. Buy Time

2. Buy Experiences

3. Buy Quality

4. Buy Knowledge

5. Invest in Yourself and Others

6. Bring People Together

7. Buy Good Health

8. Buy Now, Enjoy Later

9. Appreciate Simple Pleasures

Click here for the full article.

Well, it all comes down to experiences I suppose. But this list gives us a more specific direction on how to leverage our money and get more happiness.

I will end this blog with a great story:

A man came home from work late, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year old son waiting for him at the door.

SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it?” replied the man.
SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.
SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “If you must know, I make Rs.100 an hour.”
SON: “Oh,” the little boy replied, with his head down.
SON: “Daddy, may I please borrow Rs.50?”

The father was furious, “If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I work hard everyday for such this childish behavior.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.

The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy’s questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?

After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down and started to think: Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that Rs.50 and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door. “Are you asleep, son?” He asked.

“No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.
“I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier” said the man. “It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here’s the Rs.50 you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, smiling. “Oh, thank you daddy!” He yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

“Why do you want more money if you already have some?” the father grumbled.
“Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied.
“Daddy, I have Rs. 100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?

Please come home early tomorrow I would like to have dinner with you”

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he
begged for his forgiveness.

This is a short reminder that it is good to earn money to buy happiness. Money absolutely buys happiness. But focusing too much on earning money takes us away from simple happiness in life. So, earn money, but more importantly: SPEND it.

The father in the above story can spend money to buy happiness by forgoing his pay, coming home an hour earlier to have dinner with his son. Restraining from earning more money is just another way to spend it as well.