Social Entrepreneurship Project in Vietnam – As I write this blog post, my three NSCC students are huddled in groups with the 15 Tra Vinh students, working on their final Social Entrepreneurship presentations. They’re working together as if they’ve been classmates for a year, not just a little over a week. In that short period of time, we’ve interviewed small business owners both on the Tra Vinh University Campus and in the countryside.
We interviewed the young owner of an organic farm that produces a beautiful blue flower called the Butterfly Pea which is dried and made into a delicious tea. We interviewed artisans who make traditional Khmer handicrafts and thanks to the faculty and staff here at Tra Vinh, we’ve learned a lot about the challenges and successes of entrepreneurship and start-up businesses here in Vietnam. As NSCC faculty, I always enjoy the challenge of cross-cultural teaching, particularly as the skills I learn help me back at home as my classroom becomes more diverse each year.
The cultural immersion experience in Tra Vinh has been incomparable. I was told ahead of time that the students and staff would be warm and welcoming hosts but I would have never imagined just how much. One evening during a long downpour (it’s rainy season), they arrived at our guest house with supper so that we didn’t have to go out. We sat in a big circle on the floor and ate nem (fresh spring rolls) together, with Vietnamese and English being spoken, lots of laughing and of course many photos being taken. That was just the one of many meals together. The students are always making sure that we’re not too hot, that we’re well fed and that we’re enjoying our time. Canadians are hospitable too but I think we could learn a thing or two about being truly welcoming and inclusive from these Vietnamese students.
Tonight, it’s our turn to cook. After all the delicious fresh food they’ve made and shared with us, I hope they don’t judge us too harshly for serving them hotdogs and peanut butter sandwiches!
We have three days left in Tra Vinh, and I am savouring every moment.
Radio & Television Journalism Faculty
NSCC Ivany Campus