The story of Viya, the founder of Ståttut
Viya, a young lady born in 1990s, has already travelled alone in 33 countries around the world, making stops in South America, East Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Looking back on her journeys, Viya admits that she has learned a lot from those wonderful experiences.
However, what we focused on today is not a travelogue recording some desire to see every part of the world. Instead, what we want to tell is a true story of an ordinary person who keeps exploring her heart, discovering herself, and gets to know what she really loves.
Viya never forgets what she really wants in the first place.
It’s been said that if you couldn’t change the world, then just start changing yourself. Viya’s experience is indeed a simple yet profound story, which might inspire every youngster who is stumbling around in uncertainty. May we never forget what we really want in the first place; may we live and grow in the way we once envisioned. The long journey of life is challenging , but we will eventually find out the right direction that pleases our heart.
Explore the meaning of life and follow her own heart.
Listening to the inner voice before taking action is one of the obvious characteristics of Viya. During the undergraduate period, her major didn’t interest her so much that she decided to spend her spare time in public benefit activities, such as teaching in rural areas and volunteering overseas. Due to these experiences, Viya decided to make the world a better place. After graduation, she began to study Social Enterprises in San Francisco. Her parent intensely asked her to return to China after graduation, but once again, Viya was determined to follow her own heart and stayed in the United States for three more years.
Viya is always on the road chasing her dream.
Recalling the days when she had just graduated, Viya concludes emotionally, “It was a hard time!” Her parents were so opposed to her decision of staying in the U.S. that they even cut off her financial resources. Other than $138, Viya had no other source of income, so finding a job come as a urgent need to survive while she was nearly out of food.
During her first job of selling insurance, Viya was appreciated due to her determination, rich experience, and excellent business skills. In just two months, Viya earned altogether $4,000. This sum of money was her expense for the next four months, as well as her first hunt after going solo. This income can also be seen as the cornerstone of her future career as a consulting manager in a start-up company, an operation manager at an advertising agency, and a designer at a game company. Everything seemed to go back on track. However, with her job hopping, Viya not only gained a wealth of experience but also felt like getting lost.
“If the job you have in America is merely a means of survival, then what is the purpose and meaning of your own life afterwards?”
Facing the Pacific Ocean, Viya questions her own heart.
Indeed, the meaning of life is a philosophical proposition that concerns one’s entire life. Viya confesses that she has always been a top student since she was educated. She always tries to prove that she can be independent and that she can do certain jobs, but she has never thought about what her passion lies in, what she loves to do and where is her future heading for.
Viya, the kid coming from the next door.
“I’ve been thinking about whether to stay in the United States or not. To get a green card, you need to stay in the U.S. for another six to seven years or marry a local American. But I don’t want to stay in the U.S. that long or get married. That’s why I think there was no need to stay here any longer. Then what am I really fond of ? I was very confused back then. I think this confusion is even worse than failing to get further education or earn money, because I have absolutely no direction.”
“No way to lose direction in your life.”
In tender youth, everyone will be longing for his or her own life and, at the same time, perplexed and anxious about the future. This time, however, Viya, who has always been following her heart, took vigorous step towards the world again bravely— she travelled to different countries. In her belief, doubts and puzzles will be readily solved after experiencing the world.
Sail out to see the world
Being different from those many who stick to rigor schemes of around-the-world tour, Viya’s plan is flexible. If the budget is enough, she will set off her journey. From her first step in Columbia, January 2019, till March 2020, Viya has travelled to 25 countries.
Among all the journeys, her experience in Lebanon was the most special one. Being a total stranger to Arabic and the reports on Middle East are rare, Viya was a little nervous and uneasy on her arrival. To her surprise, the Lebanese are very hospitable. “This place was like a tiny Switzerland with picturesque sceneries and I felt the locals are very friendly. When I first arrived there, I was not familiar with any place nor people. I would find some local activities on Facebook and meet some acquaintances who guided me to experience local culture enthusiastically.
One should contact with the locals and experience the local cultural life when travelling to a foreign country. In Viya’s words, she will ask myriads of questions—including working conditions, love life, and so on—to the foreigners she is talking to. She is just asking questions out of her curiosity and will not make any comments on other people’s thoughts. “It’s significant to hold an embracing attitude when getting along with people,” Viya said, “because each one of us has his/her own unique lifestyle. Do not judge others when you simply just feel like it. This is an important process in forming one’s world view.”
What is behind Viya’s daring to travelling around the world is her constant acceptance, understanding and thinking.
Certainly, after exchanging thoughts with different people, Viya has buckled down and pondered on her future plan and direction of development. Back then, Viya has two ideas: to operate a milk tea shop in Bali or to establish a social enterprise specialized in education. Considering that she was too young to live a life of old age, she decided to set up a community project, encouraging young people nationwide to help each other, cultivating their self-awareness and open mind, possessing international view and be able to solve problems with growth mindset. As a result, a social enterprise named Ståttut came into being. Actually, “ståttut” is Swedish, which means to think with facts and to change others with education. Viya hopes that this project can be a cradle for the future leaders. She hopes that the young can explore themselves consciously and think deeply about their lives through the instruments and methods they obtain in this project. “Understanding yourself is the first step to understand the world. You have to recognize where happiness comes from. Sometimes, the things you want and the things that you think will make you happy may not be the same, which is required to be distinguished with our wisdom.”
The question to young people on the home page of Ståttut: thrive or surrender?
Seek reason, equality in differences
Apart from the exploration and persistence on social enterprises, Viya has her own perspective on various hot-spot issues. When referring to women’s rights and gender issues, Viya put forward three opinions.
First and foremost, it seems to Viya that women will go through a process of self-doubt, which has something to do with the traditional cultural education that they received when they were young.
Like everyone else, Viya has grown up under traditional education and has been influenced by her parents’ expectations of what she should be as a girl. But in the process, Viya has made it to identify those thoughts consciously, distinguishing which one has a scientific basis and what she has unintentionally accepted without consideration. In this way, Viya is searching for what she really wants by trying to communicate with her parents.
Secondly, Viya believes that women should think about the real source of their inner security and happiness. She believes that women’s sense of security cannot rely on their partners alone and that there should be no dependency between men and women. Last but not least, Viya holds that we need to face up to the objective differences that exist between genders and be rational and equal. Feminism does not mean that women have to be superior to men. There are some objective aspects and factors that cannot be changed, such as physiological structure—generally, men are physically bigger and stronger than women, so we need to face up to these gender differences. At the same time, women can start by making decisions consciously about their marriages and childbearing, which can cause major changes in the structure and function of the female body. These are things requiring women to take on for themselves and make their own choices after deliberation. Actually, Ståttut is the very community that helps young people, including women, to form their own thoughts.
When it comes to extreme feminism that has emerged recently, Viya said that we should first understand what feminism is and the development of feminism movements before choosing our standpoint and expressing ourselves. When talking about the recent hot topic about Papi Jiang(a popular female vlogger in China) whose child adopted the father’s surname, Viya said it was not contrary to the fact that Papi was a feminist no matter whose last name that her child was to follow as long as the decision was consciously made. Under pressures from all aspects of the society, more or less, gender equality still faces many challenges. And what we should do is to be rational and equal with understanding and discernment.
Equality in litigation, popularization of knowledge of rights and interests
Racial issues have been hot spots in North America for long. And Viya’s team is working hard to popularize the knowledge of rights and interests among overseas Chinese. Because China is not a “melting pot” and Chinese are influenced by traditional cultural education, many overseas Chinese including students lack understanding of racism, and they even do not realize it when they are discriminated against, living and studying abroad.
Initially, Viya’s team implemented activities for teaching others how to protect their rights when facing racial discrimination. But during the activities, Viya found that many overseas Chinese did not realize it when they were discriminated against, which seriously hindered the follow-up activities. Therefore, she shifted the focus of her team to the popularization of relevant knowledge, laws, and common sense.
Being a youth leader, a Chinese in North America, and especially a female, Viya has led a colorful and diverse life. Just like her life, Ståttut that she founded is also groping its way forward. Viya hopes to find a balance between public benefit and business benefits to make Ståttut thrive and that she could communicate and share benefits with like-minded friends from the activities.
Everyone can be a force of positive change.
The official website of Ståttut: https://www.stattut.org/
Photos from: Viya & Internet
The above is the viewpoint of the interviewee, which does not represent the standpoint of SRP.
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