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Meet Duyen Nguyen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Duyen Nguyen.

Duyen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I joined Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) in 2010 as President of my student chapter at Louisiana State University. Since then, I’ve been involved in three chapters, volunteered on two regional steering committees, and traveled to work on international projects in Honduras, The Gambia and Guatemala. I joined the EWB-USA Los Angeles Professional Chapter when I moved to the area and spearheaded the adoption of our water project in Xecotz, Guatemala.

Xecotz is a community with a population of 805 people in the eastern region of Guatemala. The community has an existing water system that fails to provide adequate water during the dry season. The community’s greatest need is reliable water supply year-round. Our chapter has partnered with Xecotz to help them achieve this goal. We performed an in-country site assessment and completed a design for a new spring box, conduction line, distribution tank and a connection from the new tank to the existing distribution system. A chlorination system will also be installed to ensure safe drinking water to the community. We will be returning to Xecotz early next year to implement the water system.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
L.A. is a tough city to have an EWB-USA chapter because everyone is so spread out and traffic is insane. We chose DTLA for our meetings because it was the most central location. I’m always so impressed by how far our members will commute to work on our projects. We even had a member travel from Palmdale! It just shows how much our members care about helping our communities.

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
Our goal as a chapter of EWB-USA is to build a better world through engineering projects that empower communities to meet their basic human needs and equip leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. We are a volunteer-run, non-profit organization of engineers and professionals working on local and international projects. We currently have projects in Guatemala, Cameroon and one in our local community assisting the Los Angeles LDC in a building rehabilitation project.

We are most proud of our relationships with our communities. That’s also what sets us apart from other organizations. We don’t just provide solutions. We partner with each community to design, implement, and maintain low-cost, replicable and sustainable projects while respecting the community’s wishes, history, culture, and way of life.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
We’ve had the good fortune of being able to work with our amazing community partners. We found our Guatemalan community, Xecotz, through a friend who is in the New Orleans Professional Chapter. Our chapter was trying to find additional projects. I reached out to them for advice and it was perfect timing.

They were already working on a project with a community in Guatemala, and they heard that Xecotz was another community in need. We officially partnered with Xecotz and traveled in November 2018 for our first site assessment. We also got to travel alongside the New Orleans Professional Chapter and assist them on the implementation of their water project.

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