Beth: This trip was a fun and interesting. Each day was filled with laughter as we got to know each other better. We also experienced the main objective of our trip, which was learning Humanities outside of the classroom environment. For example, as part of our outdoor classroom experience, we went to the rice paddy fields to plant rice. After experiencing how difficult it is to plant rice, I learn how to appreciate every grain of rice served to me and appreciate the very tedious methods of cultivation of this very import staple crop. It also taught me not to not take things for granted. Farmers work so hard under the scorching sun and they earn very little income because the while Doi Moi has opened up the Vietnamese economy, it also benefits mainly the government and the rich middlemen. I feel sorry for the farmer whose plight can be greatly improved if the infrastructure benefitted them as well.
Enhui: This was an enriching trip as it allowed me to gain exposure to a country which is largely agricultural as opposed to Singapore is an urban city and provides no opportunity for a ‘hands-on’ agriculture industry. The most memorable part of this learning journey trip, was also the rice planting experience. Initially, I was apprehensive because of the the need to go barefooted into the mud. However, I decided to take the first step into the mud because planting rice is not something you can do in Singapore. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Planting rice seemed easy but it was actually very tedious. I got tired planting after a short while. The fact that the farmers have to do this every day, for long hours, really makes me respect them for their tenacity and hardwork. Even though prices of rice are always increasing, the farmers who tend the farms remain poor and without much opportunity of additional income. I do not regret going to Vietnam for the learning journey because it had taught me many valuable lessons. The most important lesson is to cherish what I have and not to take things for granted, especially in this case, rice.
Yunxin: Through this learning journey to Vietnam, I had learnt a lot of things such as those connections between Singapore and Vietnam, the history of Vietnam war, the farmers’ hard work and the educational system. Singaporeans set up businesses in Vietnam because Vietnam provides them with cheap labour. The 90 million Vietnamese population also serves as a huge domestic market for the businesses to sell their goods. Venturing to Vietnam makes good business sense especially in view of the small labour and market size in Singapore. When setting up their businesses, the businessmen need to consider where to locate their factory. They try to stay near airports and ports to ensure they can transport their goods and can get raw materials easily. In other words there must be a credible infrastructure in place ie. transportation and communication.
I also learnt a lot about the history of Vietnam through the visits to the museum and at the battle site of Cu Chi. I saw the ways people suffered from the war and how chemicals were used to harm civilians. I also saw the determination of the Vietnamese in protecting Vietnam through the Viet Congs living and using the Cu Chi tunnels to attack their enemy and protect their country. It makes me value the peace in Singapore.
The school exchange was an enjoyable experience. We visited Hoa Sen University. The interaction with the Vietnamese students made me realise how fast Vietnam is developing. I did not expect the students to be so westernised and to speak English so well. The Vietnamese undergraduates shared that they would like to visit Singapore to see the developments in Singapore.
This Vietnam learning journey is really meaningful and fruitful, i enjoyed myself a lot because i can know my friends and it also can improve my knowledge of Vietnam!
Leanne Lim, Deidre Soh, Beth Lau, Tyler Sam and Vanessa Ng: We felt that the most memorable experience was the hands on experience in the padi plantation. It is an once-in-a-lifetime experience and we felt empathy for the farmers for all the hard work they put in and still cannot close the income gap. This experience made us realise the importance of rice and we will treasure every grain of rice from now onwards.
Jessica Lim, Michelle Low, Britney Choo, Agnes Tan and Shauna Yong: The padi field experience was therapeutic and enriching. It enabled us to see how much work a bowl of rice entails and was a stark comparison to the clean lifestyle we live in the city. Even though we knew that planting rice was not easy, we never truly appreciated the work put into it.