When I first received the forwarded email from Mr. Hop Dang (whom I would love to refer to as "anh Hop" from this point on, because, come on, Mister sounds way too formal and too distant!) sent by one of the Globalized Era Scholars of 2014 regarding an online moot competition related to Sports Law, I ignored the whole content and immediately transferred it to the trash folder. Sports Law? Pfft. Not my kind of wine. Online competition? How could that even be possible? Delete.
Then on one faithful day, anh Hop sent me the same email and asked me if I would be interested in joining the contest and if I could invite anyone else to participate in. And I said yes, with no second thought. The reason for that is slightly the fact that I was directly addressed, and the rest is that it was anh Hop who directly asked me. Long story short, for more than a year, anh Hop has always been my source of inspiration - be it in an academic or an aesthetic way; and he made me feel warm and welcomed when I was sucked in the vortex of fear, self-doubt, low esteem, misogyny (of course, only towards a few persons whom I had to interact with on a regular basis) and a bunch of other negative feelings. It shall be exaggerating to claim that he saved my life; but from a perspective, his kindness somehow motivated me to become a better and happier person.
Anyway, back to the moot competition. So I agreed almost immediately, then proceeded to ask my two beloved juniors at my school - Viet and Mai - (both high-school and university fellows) almost at the same time to join in. Fortunately, they, as the most lovable anti-social freaks on earth (just like myself), wanted to give me a hand. And that was our original team of three.
Prior to my invitation to Viet and Mai, I also asked one of my fellow interns at Vietnam International Law Firm (VILAF) to participate in the contest, should she be interested. She hesitated at first due to the large volume of work at the firm, then suddenly agreed to join on the day we went to Allens Linklaters to receive documents from anh Hop. She is my Sagittarius buddy, my co-counsel who represents the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF): Kieu Anh.
The situation of Hanoi team was difficult around that time, since Viet was chosen for a 10-day exchange program in Japan around the end of March, which required him to be fully committed to such program; and Mai, with her co-counsel being occupied in Japan, was completely on her own to investigate the case on behalf of the French Athletics Federation (FFA). Kieu Anh and I were no different, as we were engaged in not only the assignments at VILAF, but Kieu Anh also had to finish her final dissertation on March 30 and I was having a busy time dealing with family loss around the same time and my defense scheduled in late May - and I did not even jot down one word of my thesis. I still have not done so, which sucks balls.
The deadliest part of this all: we are all professional procrastinators and last-minute persons.
However, I know that my choices were not wrong. We were all lazy bummers, true, but I know that we are definitely not those people who will give up. And pig-headed people know no boundaries to the amount of sacrifice and effort that we have to divide among our priorities to maintain a balanced life. Surely we were all sleep-deprived and unhealthy and nervous and straight-up terrified, but I know them and I know myself. We would fail after doing the best that we could in the given time and situation. We would fail, and would always fail, in a cool manner.
Eventually the show began, at around 1:20pm, in the office of Allens Linklaters in Hanoi. Truth is, I had attempted to stalk every participant at Bond University prior to the contest. Holy moly did I freak out. And that worsened when I listened to all of them in the real competition, one by one, every single one of them, and I nodded my head all the time and felt like my whole head was going to fall off my neck. They were proficient, persuasive, and...professional. I swear to the ceiling fan above my head that when I listened to Mr. Cameron McCormack representing World Anti-Doping Association (Right? My brain is half asleep now at 1am.) or the WADA, I literally had my jaw dropped and my inner fangirl kept chanting "amazing". (Sorry if that comes out quite creepy. I know I am so attractive and appropriate at times!)
Then before I realized, it was our turn.
The FFA representatives went first. Viet and Mai were both nervous from the very beginning. I am close to both of them and coming to know the incidents that happened to them just a few days back, I understand that they could not concentrate completely to the contest. And it was totally fine, considering this was an opportunity for us to learn from the learned friends at Bond. But I am certain that they could have performed better. What they needed is to have their minds in the game. Still, I am so proud to have them as my juniors and I cannot be more thankful for their constant help and cooperation. (Thank you, from the deepest (and darkest and murkiest) part of my heart. Always a pleasure to hang out and work with you two, and I hope that you have learned something from this experience. I know you would feel disappointed, and how disappointed you would be, but do not wallow in your sadness for long. Trust me, I know how worthless negativity is. And I know you so well that I know that you will know that negativity is a pile of crap.)
Then it was me. I do not know why but I kept hearing "DUN DUN DUN" inside my head. And I went on with my submissions. I freaked out and messed up a few questions, which should not be mentioned ever again (lol). But that was my biggest problem; if I do not know the answer to a question, I will panic, and mumble, and say nonsensical things. And I performed exactly the same cycle, when I was asked the final question regarding WADA Code 2015. Well well well.
Kieu Anh was the final advocate. I was slightly annoyed by her at noon, because she kept asking me to print out documents of this provision and that provision when we were a bit late to Allens. But I knew that as a Centaur at birth, she had her reasons of doing so. And she proved me right. I was surprised when I listened to Kieu Anh's arguments regarding the IAAF Rules and Regulations and the reasons why such regulations do not violate basic human rights. She had pronunciation problems, which can make it difficult for the arbitrators to understand; but I really envy her responsive manner and the flow of logical arguments that she brought up. They made sense to me. And I am beyond lucky to have such a colleague by my side. (Again, thank you from the deepest corner of my heart. I promise I will try to not make fun of your hysterical laughs in every afternoon in our office.)
Fast forward to the final bit, Bond team has won the competition, Cameron was the best advocate as I expected (my inner fangirl was chanting again!), Viet and Mai had the best written submission; and somehow my name was mentioned. Sorry for this part, but I could not hear what Mr. Jim said during that time; all I knew was that he said my name, and something "impressive", then everyone gave me a round of applause...and I did not know how to respond properly and where to hide my head. It was too embarrassing for me; and it was not because I did something wrong but I have never been good at dealing with compliments and such. And even if I had died a million times, I would have never imagined that my name was mentioned with such kudos. Call me a weirdo if you want. Ha.
I was thinking about those compliments while riding back home this evening (Dudes and dudesses, that was the time when I was finally able to process the honorable mention and the applause!), and I have been feeling happy since then (now it is 1:27am). I knew I deserved a free evening (or maybe it is just an excuse for my delay to start working on my dissertation) and an early sleep, but since I could not contain my feelings anymore, I decided to write this down.
I would like to show my utmost gratitude to everyone who made this competition possible for all of us: Jim and anh Hop (maybe I can call him "bac Jim" - Uncle Jim?!), Allens' team - anh Viet, chi Linh, chi Trang (I am grateful for all the good talks and all the good food providing by you, may goodness bless you all lovely people!), Duong (obviously without you, it would be a huge difficulty for us...and reread my letter to you if you still want more haha), everyone from Bond team, and everyone who has known and cared about me enough to wish me luck yesterday. I owe you all, yo!
Now I seriously need to sleep haha. Bye.
P.S. I just realized that I had no photos of this event. Would be a great addition to my chunk of text. Hmm. Should edit that later.