Thomas Nguyen (he/him) is an avid volunteer and adventurer at heart. Prior to working as Fringe’s Volunteer Coordinator, he was heavily involved in various organizations at the University of Alberta. When he’s not working, he loves spending time out in nature, especially in the mountains. From camping to hiking to skiing and more, Thomas loves to make the most of his time outside, but volunteering is where he is most passionate. As he says about his role as Volunteer Coordinator, “it’s a joy to be able to do this for my work.”
How did you come to be part of the Fringe?
You could call me a Fringe late bloomer. My first brush with the Fringe was attending as a patron in 2019. I instantly fell in love and made it my goal to join the volunteer team for the 2020 Festival. Before I could, an opportunity presented itself for me to join the Fringe staff, and so I took it! I’ve been working at the Fringe since February 2020 now, and although it was daunting at first, it’s been incredible to be fully immersed in the Fringe.
What is your favourite Fringe memory?
My favourite fringe memory was the second time I visited the Fringe. I was involved in an internship at the University of Alberta, and on the last day, I suggested to my fellow interns to celebrate by checking out the Fringe. I had just checked out a show earlier that week and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share the experience. None of them had ever been to Fringe before, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. I remember being caught in the rain, but it just made the day even more memorable!
If you could invite anyone, living or dead, to fringe with you, who would it be and why?
I would love to invite my high school drama teacher! I was always so inspired by her artistic vision. I always thought it would be so cool to have her Fringe with me and to see me still involved with the theatre community. If you’re reading this Mrs. D., let’s catch a show!
What excites you about your role as Volunteer Coordinator?
I’m excited to learn from all of the volunteers. From my brief experience with working with the Team Leaders, I always have felt it is such a privilege to know these incredible people and learn from them. In my role, I see myself as a learner, and I am excited to continue to learn from our incredible volunteers and all their lived experiences.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
I love movies. Bad movies, good movies, I love them all! My goal this year is to see 150 movies. Last year I saw 94. To me a perfect night is staying in, popping some kernels, swaddling myself in some blankets, and watching a movie. My favourite movie? Before Sunset. My favourite “bad movie”? The Room. I’ve been to four showings!
What is something you are learning right now?
I am learning how to ski! I began to take lessons in the beginning of February and have been hitting the local hills ever since, and loving it. My first attempt at skiing was when I was a child, in elementary school, and I never made it past the bunny hill!
What is your favourite story about working with volunteers?
It’s weird to say, with pandemic fatigue and all that, but I loved the Zoom Meetings I had with each Team Leader team over the summer. Prior to that point, I had spent the months beforehand communicating with volunteers just by email, due to being brought onto the team just prior to the pandemic. So, these Zoom Meetings were special! I could finally meet the Team Leaders and put a voice and face to the emails I’d been sending. What was most incredible was learning about their lives outside of Fringe, being such incredibly busy, amazing individuals, while still putting their heart into the Festival. It inspires me. I’m hoping I’ll be able to create more volunteer memories after this year’s festival!
If joy became the national currency, what kind of work would make you wealthy?
I would 100% be one of those baby panda caretakers. You see them in Facebook videos, the people who dress up in panda costumes and take care of pandas, only for the pandas to be too adorable to function. Not only would it make me happy, but I’d like to think I’d make those pandas happy too.