Social Entrepreneurship Program in Vietnam – I feel very fortunate to have been selected to take part in this international experience. My first trip to Asia, and my experience in Vietnam has set the bar very high! We started out in bustling and busy Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) where I learned to “barter like a boss” at the local market, and like a plinko chip crossed the street dodging between motorbikes, buses and trucks. Incredible city and found I adapted quickly to the pace.
Our project took us to South Vietnam to a city called Tra Vinh where the team worked on business ideas to promote entrepreneurship in the Mekong Delta. The NSCC crew (2 faculty and 3 students) partnered with staff and 12 Tra Vinh University students on three separate projects. My team focused on initiatives to help sell and market Khmer Handicrafts. Such a rich and beautiful culture I thoroughly enjoyed learning about traditions and customs. I will never be able to fully express in words just how welcoming the students and colleagues were in Tra Vinh. We all met one another at 8:30am and by 3pm, super strong bonds and connections. Generous, authentic and fun loving.. I’ve made some lifelong friends!
Tra Vinh is a city of amazing food, lots of coffee and maybe even more Karaoke clubs:) So many adventures but some of the highlights include:
*The UNBELIEVABLE generosity of our hosts on this trip. I’m truly inspired with all the love, caring and affection. Though a friendly East Coaster, my perspective on sharing and community has grown even more.
*Cutting open a coconut with a machete just picked out of a tree and drinking fresh milk from it. (AMAZING)
*Learning Vietnamese from not just the team, but strangers on the street who wanted to teach me the language.
*Helping to cook a traditional Vietnamese meal on an organic farm visit. Everything was grown or raised that the team ate! Just incredible.
*Having traditional clothes custom made for me.
*Being adventurous and eating “unconventional” food (coconut rat, pig boobs, mini octopus, fried chicken feet etc) and fruits I’ve never tried before and loved! All very delicious.
*Making bonds, though lost in translation, with a wonderful woman who had never met someone foreign.
*Brainstorming with students and learning more about Vietnamese culture. Both the traditional history and more modern outlooks.
*Motorbike trips and bicycling throughout the city and live karaoke on the bus!
So many adventures in what feels like just not enough time. I learned basic Vietnamese phrases but everyone was curious and helpful even with language barriers. Smiling really is a universal language. Warmth and a grin goes a long way!!! Very proud of the work my team produced and cannot thank Tra Vinh University (Staff and students), the town in general and the NSCC crew for such an invaluable experience.
Industrial Engineering Technology Student
NSCC Ivany Campus