Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Who would pass up the chance to spend two weeks in Hong Kong, or in Vietnam? What about both in one trip?
Yeah, neither would I. So I jumped at the chance to travel there in September with the Albers Study Tour. It was a great offer, 6 full credits (3 in Management and 3 in Economics) towards my degree requirement and 2 weeks in East and Southeast Asia. Plus, the time spent studying abroad fulfills the International component of my Master’s of International Business degree. That’s a whole lot of boxes ticked off for one summer’s worth of work. Its not often a chance like that comes around.
So what was it like? Fun. Exciting. Informative. Enlightening. The adjectives could continue, but I’ll spare you. We met several times over the summer, on Saturdays, to do some preparatory work for the classes. We had a few lectures on the current situation in each of the countries and how it impacts both the economy and the local corporate management culture. The class was divided into groups for our final projects and we gave our initial project presentations. After each of the meetings, we had lunch as a group to get to know each other and to get a taste for all of the (wonderful) food we would be having once we were across the Pacific.
Departure day. Lots excitement and anticipation. I was very eager to have what I was sure was going to be such a rewarding and positive new experience. The only obstacle was a borderline unbearably long trans-Pacific flight. But no matter, a few in-flight movies later and we walked off the plane into a hot and muggy Hong Kong night. One frenetic taxi ride through the canyons of skyscrapers, a restful night’s sleep and a quick breakfast later and we were off on our packed itinerary of company visits, business lunches and a bit of sightseeing.
If Hong Kong was wonderful, Vietnam was amazing. If the people we met in Hong Kong were warm and eager to share, the people of Vietnam welcomed us with open arms. The students of Duy Tan University brought us into their daily lives for a few days and shared their school experiences, shared their working lives and even shared meals with us. I have never felt more welcomed by anyone in my experiences abroad and I love knowing that I would gladly return the favor if they came to Seattle to visit.
The last part of the trip was spent doing a bit of service with PeaceTrees Vietnam, a Seattle-based NGO that aids central Vietnam in the removal and disposal of unexploded ordinance and mines leftover from the Vietnam War. PeaceTrees also helps the families and victims of landmine explosions to lead better lives after they’ve been so horribly injured. We spent time listening to the stories of the victims, learning about PeaceTrees landmine education projects and planting trees to aid in the reforestation efforts.
Everything about this trip was a win. The classwork we did here in Seattle before and after the trip was engaging, the time spent abroad was incredible, even the plane rides were ok, I guess. Was it worth it? Oh yeah. Was it what I hoped for? Yup. Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat. In fact, I’ll probably be signing up for another one as a celebration of my pending graduation. I wonder where we’ll go? Antarctica, maybe…
By Corey Cocker, Albers MIB student