Passion leads my way (part 1)

Thuy Thu Nguyen

Thuy Thu Nguyen

I am the founder of Norway Information Culture and Art Channel (NORICAC), established to build an online TV channel for foreigners in Norway. I have background in international relations, media, human right laws and graphic design, but I have worked mostly in the field of communications and media.

Read more about Thuy and NORICAC here .
Thuy Thu Nguyen

In the previous article I told you the difficulties I have experienced to set the first bricks for my dream about building TV programs targeting immigrants in Norway. I guess many of you after reading that would either think I was bringing raw eggs to hit the stones or I was too risky and had no fear etc. You are both right and wrong! As the person who (first) knows the answer to your opinions, I would say I am just an ordinary human with full awareness about the difficulties and risks of what I am doing and do have concerns. But my desires are bigger than fears. I know what I want. Most people like safety but I am always stimulated and inspired by interesting challenges and driven by the desires to achieve what I dream of. For sure, this is not the first time I throw myself into such challenges. As several times before, I only see one straight direction in front to go. In this article I will tell why I could face difficulties without fears.

1. Past experiences fuel my ship

Sometimes when seeing me working hard and fighting alone for my dreams in a foreign country with no one in the family beside, my parents felt very worried and used a lot of pressure to persuade me to go home where I can «easily get everything I want» in their opinion. My mom once said to me: «even if you do not want to work for anyone, we will help you to build things you own yourself». But I just smiled and thought of other difficult times in my life, especially the first difficult days when I started to step into the TV productions in my country. I was in almost the same situation, alone and had almost nothing in my hands…

I was born in a family where both my brother and I were taken care of by my parents very carefully from small details. They still do, even now when we are not kids anymore. My mom is a kind a person who still runs after us to spoon-feed us even when we are 20-30ish years old. She is always afraid that we do not eat enough. When we were living with Mom and Dad, the only thing we needed to do was to study well and follow what our parents and people around expected us to do. We did not have many rights to think nor do what we wanted but do what our family expected and drew a draft for us: studying well to rank first in the class, entering most-known universities, having a stabile job, getting married, and the job is done! I am a very independent person and I love freedom. Therefore, I always felt stuffy when I was living in a circle framed by my parents and common stereotypes in the society, though I appreciated my family and loved them more than anything. I still remember the feeling when I heard that I passed the university entrance exams and knew that I could leave home and live far from my parents’ control «from now on!». Hurray!

It really felt like I was set free. I imagined so many things I would do which I had never done before. From that moment, I gradually realized that new challenges always attracted me. They appealed me to test my limits and prove my hidden abilities which I did not have many chances to figure out before. As long as I found out what I really liked, I would stick to it, track the way out without fears however difficult it was.

The first big challenge in work I threw myself into was when I first jumped into the TV production field almost 10 years ago. I liked to study and learn new things so I had backgrounds and skills in several fields since I was quite young, but none of them was to become a journalist nor a TV editor. After I graduated I tried several jobs in both state agencies and private sectors, both in Vietnamese and foreign organizations, which gave me a quite good and stable salary, but I never felt satisfied about it. One day I was watching my most favourite TV programme, which was a very meaningful knowledge gameshow for teenagers. I looked at the smart presenter who was my idol that time and questioned myself «Why not start in TV production?!». I kept thinking about that for few hours and decided that I had to work in the field, though I did not know how. In my country, to work in state agencies, especially in such a field, you need relationships with people who are already working there or at least study at the specialized fields so that you can get an internship at a TV station. However, I did not study in the field nor did I know anyone working in the field. In a moment, something inside urged me. I jumped into the table and wrote an application letter to the presenter I admired, who was also the Deputy Head of the TV channel I wanted to work for. It was a long 4 page letter full of passion in the reasons why I wanted to work for that TV channel, at that specific programme I loved and why she should give me a chance. I sent it directly to her but did not put much hope that it could reach her nor that I would get an answer. To my surprise, about a week later I got a call from her. She said she was very touched by my letter and decided to give me an interview. I almost fainted for a moment for being happy. I came to the interview with her and the head of the department the next day and passed it just in the same way as I passed the first round for the application: natural and full of passions in what I showed them.

However, my road later was not easy at all. When I was received, the programme I worked for was ceased for few months for losing the sponsorships, and we did not know if it could be continued. I worked for about 2 months without salary while waiting for the programme to receive the final decision. The programme’s manager started to search for new chances in other places while she thought about the improvements for the show to be more attractive so that it can gain more views and sponsorships. As a new person who knew nothing of where to start I was confused at first when the programme still did not have anything for me to do yet.

After few boring days I realized I had to be active. I took the time to learn useful skills that I did not have from before by always being the early bird in the office and the person who went home the latest everyday. I learnt everything by observing people around, writing notes down about knowledge I needed to know and asked to help people in all the programs the department was producing

Later when I looked back, I actually had to say many thanks for that time since it was necessary steps for me to prepare for my work when we finally received the final decision to continue to produce our programme. We were rolled into a busy period to write scripts for the show and preparing for the productions, from which I learned a lot. I still remember the first shows after we finished filming in the studio. I was still both tired and happy for the first interesting experience. The programme’s manager told me that she had a business trip and would not be there to guide me but she wanted me to be one of the three editors for the show. It was a risky decision since I never did it before. She asked me «Do you believe that you can do it?». I was so happy for the chance that I immediately answered clearly: «Yes, I can do it», though later I could not eat well for being worried. I understood what could happen if I did wrong for the return of a famous show. I worked without stopping and stayed up through nights to watch again and again the contents of the show, wrote down time codes for every single small detail I wanted to be in the episode. At that time we still used an old editing program handled by a technician which saved me a lot of time. After I was done with the editing, I realized I learned by heart all the words of the whole 1 hour episode for watching too much to fix every single small details. After checking the final tape I brought it for checking. The head of the department told me that she could not believe a person who did it for the first time could manage to edit it so well. Quickly after that I became one of the main editors of the programme and one of the two heads of the script groups for the show…

Life made me turn into new directions later which opened for me many new opportunities and new experiences. On that road, sometimes I did not choose TV productions as my career but I always somehow did things related to it, either to produce documentary films for my organizations or made short videos for shows run by my old colleagues in TV stations.

When I started my project in Norway, everytime I faced extreme hardship, I thought about those first days and became fuelled with new energy and determination. There are three things that always urge me to go ahead and stick to my goals till the end. The first is that I could do something really meaningful for the people like me living in Norway. The second is that I can pay a tribute to Norway- my second loving home for good things it has given us. The last but also very important element is that I am now back to what I am the most passionate about and to where I feel the most of who I am.

2. Changes to suit the current situations

Carrying a great determination on the way does not mean I do not understand how hard it is to fulfil my ambition when we lack many things to produce TV shows at the quality we expect. On the one hand I continue to search and apply for funding, on the other hand, I have to rely on the support from friends and the team members to continue to make new programmes for the channel. After the failure to organize a big «mainstream» talkshow with the local authorities about the job market, I realize that we should start from small scaled shows which are more suitable for us at the current situation, when we are still not yet a popular or big name. The most important thing now is to save the cost, time and labour but still manage to produce something interesting, informative and continue our high standard. After testing several directions, we decided to start producing small talkshows and are proceeding a plan for a knowledge game show. Besides those, short films about specific topics should be continued in between.

That the first episodes of the talkshow «Expat talks» has attracted more views and gained certain positive comments is opening a new direction for us develop. Basically the show is a chance for expatriates to raise their opinions, interests and dig into cultural differences between Norwegian culture and foreign cultures existing in Norway. These issues are raised in the first two parts called «Culture Shocks» and «Expat Keywords». The last part of the show is a special corner created as a tribute to Norway and Norwegians for the great things expats are offered in the country. The show is still on the way to get improved. You can watch the first episodes here to support us with your opinions so that we can do even better in the future:

Our next new show will be another interesting experiment for both Norwegians and expats. There you will have an opportunity to experience interesting games in three rounds to test your knowledge about Norwegian culture and society and answer the question «How Norwegian are you?». We have finished the scripts for the first episodes of «How Norwegian are you?» and are in the process to apply for funding as well as prepare for the first pilot shows.

I hope the plan goes well so that I can tell you more detailed in the part 2 of the article about the show. There we may need your supports in several forms to make the gameshow produced properly!

For now, let’s watch Expat Talks and send your comments or stories to expattalks@noricac.com to help us develop the program to become even more interesting. Or simply drop a line to say hi and that you support us. That would be a meaningful spiritual gift that can make us feel more motivated and encouraged when we read them.

You can also watch our shows and follow other information about us at:
http://www.facebook.com/noricac.channel or contact us at: info@noricac.com