Hi my name is Daniel. I was a participant in BUiLD Abroad’s 2015 Summer program in Vietnam with Bloom Microfinance, which assists female farmers in rural areas in northern Vietnam, by providing microloans to help fund entrepreneurial activities. This was my first experience on a BUiLD Abroad trip.
The core of the trip involved two elements – seminars on microfinance held in Hanoi, and then two field trips to Hoa Binh province, where Bloom centred its microfinance activities. The seminars were conducted by Ly, the program director, who was able to contextualize our learnings from the seminar to real world cases of microfinance and impoverished conditions in which her clients lived. Our field trips to Hoa Binh were equally eye opening. It was often confronting to see the difficult economic and social conditions in which Bloom’s clients lived, and some members were visibly distressed to witness people living in such conditions. We were also able to vividly witness the life-changing transformations that microfinance could offer to these disadvantaged communities, where loans of a few hundred dollars to entrepreneurial individuals could fund business ideas that benefit entire communities. It would be safe to say that life perspectives of many were changed through this trip.
Aside from serious life learning, there was also serious fun to be had. My personal highlight was our overnight tour of Halong Bay by boat. Our boat cruised through the hundreds of beautiful islands that make up the bay, which was one of the most beautiful experiences I have had. There was even a chance to go kayaking to the islands, swimming at an island beach, and moonlight squid fishing. We were also given a bicycle tour of beautiful Ninh Binh and a hiking tour of Cuc Phuong National Park. All these trips were absolutely brilliant and unforgettable. On top of all this, I have gained valuable friends at UTS through the trip, with whom I still keep in contact with and discuss further BUiLD experiences for the future.
To those who may be considering on going on a BUiLD Abroad Trip to Vietnam – just do it. I absolutely recommend this trip to all. This trip has grown me in more ways than I can imagine, and am still enjoying the benefits of it today. The BUiLD Grants make these trips very accessible and the benefits from these trips are just too irresistible to ignore.
Daniel Choi – 12037154