“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

In an isolated, desolate leper village in Vietnam, I observed a small child. The little boy was freely running around, pushing a makeshift toy, despite the harsh conditions. He was determined, energized, and intensely focused on his toy and I felt empowered by him. If such passion can come through these desperate conditions, any opportunity can be created.

With passion as inspiring as this little boy's, I want to shape sustainable opportunities. I want to learn all of my mom's recipes so that our unique Canadian-Vietnamese culture continues to thrive in future generations. I want to drive oil companies to help enable enduring positive impact on developing countries. I want to help the world transition to clean and efficient energy by convincing everyone in my community to buy hybrid cars. That afternoon in the leper village, a little boy showed me how to embrace challenges and turn them into opportunities. I hope to live my life with the same determination and passion as he.

April 2006: Reflections on my 2004 essay

My portrait project has been my guide since I've graduated. I keep the website bookmarked at work and at home and re-read it regularly. The portrait project really helped me boil down how I want to make a difference in the world and keeping it front and center brings me back to the essence of where I am today.

I am in the oil and gas industry and I am making a difference in how we operate in society. It isn't an easy road as we try to work with isolated Aboriginal communities and that's why the Portrait Project has been so important. Otherwise, I have picked up tons of recipes from my Mom. Hybrid car? Still getting back on my feet financially after school, therefore, a beat-up VW is all I've got right now... and I've chosen a lifestyle that allows me to do the bulk of my commute on a pushbike - next step is to convince everyone else around me that this is a great idea (and yes, it does get cold in Canada, but all you need, really, is warm clothes...)!

— Sylvie Tran