Sunday, May 8, 2011

Anxious Thoughts

As I sit anxiously awaiting my morning departure to Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City, depending on with whom you’re speaking) many thoughts and questions race through my mind. I’ll get to those. We are preparing to embark on an adventure that has is a unique blend of academia and big business, social mission and profit maximization, and finally, Eastern and Western cultures.

We have been given this opportunity partially as a result of PSU’s interesting and forward thinking Capstone Project, which allows students to gain real World experience in various fields of business, while still having the resources and support that come along with clutching to the final months of time in business school. Many doors that never would have been opened to me, have been cracked ajar, as a result of presenting myself under the guise of being a student, none however, have been as fortuitous as this opportunity. A chance to travel to Southeast Asia and meet with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) leaders from a dozen Multi-National Companies? Never in my wildest dreams did I envision this as my experience, just two years ago, as I mulled over the Portland State University catalogues and various websites while deciding on where I wanted to write the next chapter of my life. The Capstone Project was one of the more attractive aspects of the program to me…little did I know.

Let’s be clear. This project was not handed to us. The idea came a result of the networking skills of our friend and colleague Mike Nguyen when he traveled to Vietnam last summer to visit family. Mike attended a social event and struck up a conversation with a lovely young woman named Van. This conversation has evolved into a partnership between the East Meets West Foundation and Portland State University as a result of the hard work and innovative thinking that has gone into our project. My point of all this being that, opportunities present themselves in all forms. Being able to recognize them is a skill that can rarely be taught. I give a great deal of credit to Mike for being able to envision the potential of this relationship.

Quick Thoughts
  • Every time I picture Saigon, I picture a chaotic atmosphere. Why is this? I am concentrating on this in order to allow myself to take in the city for what it is, not to be surprised or disappointed because it is not what I had envisioned.
  • I eat like a six year old. I also don’t eat any seafood. I have a feeling both of these things are about to change.
  • After reading dozens of CSR reports about the work MNC’s are doing in Vietnam, I must keep in mind that Vietnam has recently emerged from being a third world country, and keep my expectations in line.
  • A wise person recently told me to remember to be constantly be aware of your surroundings. This was not meant as cautionary advise, but rather advise as how to best enjoy and take in the experience. Often times you become overwhelmed by your surroundings and forget to remember that this is part of the journey.

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