Vietnam is a country of beauty, excitement and deep-rooted culture. That is what I wanted to see when I signed up for this amazing experience. But with the help of Dr. Choong and Ed Kowalewski, I was able to experience so much more.
Let me start by saying that the 19-hour plane ride felt like 20 minutes because my excitement had seemed to make me lose track of time and I could already taste the amazing food I knew we were about to have. But those feelings of excitement and nervousness were really sinking in when we landed. I had no idea what I was about to see when I stepped outside of the airport and got on the road.
It only took about 10 seconds after stepping outside to realize that things are done very differently in Vietnam compared to any country I have ever been to. The people are very friendly. The bus drivers, hotel attendants, and waiters go above and beyond (even when you do not need them to) and the executives at the companies we visited made us feel like entrepreneurs.
The driving, although hectic and aggressive, seemed to always be moving, even when there were hundreds of scooters, cars, and buses fitting on a bottle-necked street that was only slightly wider than a double-car garage. Everything just seemed to flow in Vietnam.
The landscape was breathtaking. The buildings there were over 1,000 years old, the beaches had white sand and crystal blue water, and the amazing jungles up in the mountains were only a few areas that took my breath away during this trip. Vietnam is a country that has a new adventure around every corner and if you don’t stop a recognize it, you may miss it.
Taking a step back and thinking about what I did in Vietnam during the duration of the trip made me realize how much I have grown as a person. Meeting government officials and people of power in the community, and being invited to dinners to experience new food, like snake and triggerfish. Having your glass filled with whatever we were drinking before it was empty and having a hard time saying no to food because the generosity of our hosts was overwhelming are all ways of life that I have never experienced before. I am someone who has grown up being taught to always have respect for others so to see how much respect our hosts had for us was astonishing and unforgettable. I have definitely learned from them and will try to display the same respect to the people that I meet.
Overall, for anyone that may be thinking about studying abroad or going on a Global Trade Mission, don’t think about it. JUST DO IT. The experience will change you as a person and open your eyes to so many new ways of life. After going on this trip, all I have been thinking about is what country can I go to next and what can I learn from their culture and what new memories I can make. I will, without a doubt, make my way back to Vietnam and experience everything all over again.
Below are some pictures of Zachary and group members on a Vietnam trip.
We received a great welcome from Vietnamese students in Thang Long Citadel, Hanoi.
We visited the International University in Ho Chi Minh City.
The group visited a shoe-making company, Bitis, in Dong Nai, Vietnam.
Alex, a group member, tried driving a boat on Thu Bon River, Hoi An, Vietnam. He did such a great job! At least nobody got seasick!
The girls enjoyed the sunset on Thu Bon river, Hoi An, Vietnam.
Our group is being introduced to silkworms and how to produce silk in a village in Hoi An, Vietnam.
Dr. Peggy Chong and the group are in a meeting with government officials in Quang Nam, Vietnam.
The group visited an auto manufacturer in Vietnam.