Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Hi from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. My name is Shane Fairlie and I’m a communications consultant with the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Regional Office, focusing on COVID-19 communications. This involves working with WHO country offices to disseminate the latest information about the virus and the important prevention measures we all need to continue with to stay safe #KnowTheFacts.
I’ve worked as a communications and engagement professional for over 20 years across the Asia Pacific and have now just completed my PhD at Monash University, after eight years of part-time study. Despite the COVID-19 travel restrictions in 2020, I was able to complete my doctorate remotely, thanks to Monash University’s flexibility, and the efforts of my two outstanding supervisors, Professor Gil-Soo Han and Professor Gloria Davies. My research examined China’s global and regional communications, looking at the Chinese Communist Party’s strategic international narratives (what they are saying and why).
Like for most people, 2020 was a year of huge uncertainty and many challenges. However, I have been blessed. Personally, as a husband and father of three young children, my family has been safe. The Vietnamese government and community have done an excellent job so far, in working collectively (and creatively) to minimise community transmission of the virus – Vietnam's animated 'corona song'.
Apart from the initial lockdown phase, my children have mostly been able to continue playing sport and attending face-to-face classes in school. My wife has also been able to sustain her small business (facilitating Australian and Vietnamese new business partnerships), and continue her work here with the highly respected Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (see link below). Amongst other things, the foundation focuses on health and education for vulnerable children and their families; supporting the foundation as a family this past year, has served as an important reminder to help others when we can and given us all perspective on being grateful.
Although we miss family and friends back in Australia, experiencing COVID-19 far from home as a family unit, has certainly been very humbling and brought us much closer together.
Image: Me pictured with my family in Vietnam