Slovakian Vietnamese earns kudos for standing up to racism

By Thanh Tam   April 29, 2022 | 03:00 am PT
Claudia Tran has been recognized for her continuing efforts to fight racial profiling and discrimination by being named in Slovakia's Forbes 30 under 30.

Tran Thien An, 28, her Vietnamese name, was born and raised in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Her father is from Hanoi. He studied in Europe and met her mother, a woman from the northern Nam Dinh Province, in Poland.

Claudia Tran in 2018. Photo courtesy of Trans Facebook

Claudia Tran in 2018. Photo courtesy of Tran's Facebook

Because there were few Vietnamese in their neighborhood at the time, the four sisters in the family were frequently targets of racism.

"We were mocked and bullied frequently as children. They made fun of us because we were different from them," she says.

"No child deserves to be humiliated and ridiculed in that way".

But her experience of discrimination has become a driving force for her to constantly strive for success.

Claudia became Slovakia's representative for the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (BFTF), an intensive short-term exchange program, in North Carolina, the U.S., in 2012, which inspired her to participate in a number of international projects.

The BFTF is a program sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to foster strong relationships and a sense of shared values between young Americans and Europeans.

The scholarship program provides 16-18-year-olds with the opportunity to develop leadership and critical thinking.

She then founded her own organization called For Tomorrow's Europe to organize international conferences for young people from all over the world and mentoring youths in minority issues, particularly migration and discrimination.

She also organizes cultural and sporting events through NGOs such as the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the Foundation of Milan in the Netherlands.

"These organizations act as educational tools that aid in the elimination of discrimination and prejudice that still exist in many societies," An says.

She has been involved in assisting international students in dealing with and overcoming the discrimination and ridicule they might have faced based on her own childhood experiences of being victimized.

Tran delivers a speech during a GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava, Slovakia, in June 2019. Photo courtesy of Trans Facebook

Claudia Tran delivers a speech at a GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava, Slovakia, in June 2019. Photo courtesy of Tran's Facebook

Besides her social activities, she has also worked as deputy director of corporate and strategic relations at GLOBSEC, a global think tank based in Bratislava that is committed to enhancing security, prosperity and sustainability in Europe and around the world.

She then worked as the campaign director during the 2020 parliamentary elections in Slovakia.

After the elections she accepted a promotion at GLOBSEC as senior manager of strategic partnerships and also became director of investor relations at investment firm Crowdberry.

Claudia became one of the Forbes 30 under 30 listing in 2022 to emulate her sister Lucia Thao Huong Simekova, who achieved the honor in 2020 for setting up a chain of pho, Vietnam’s iconic rice noodles soup, restaurants.

She considers it a "beautiful surprise" and is grateful her efforts have been recognized.

Claudia has a 17-month-old son. One of her major goals now is to be a good mother.

"Many people do not acknowledge motherhood is a job, but I believe that work should be recognized. It's a tremendous accomplishment and a watershed moment in any woman's life".

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