Journey to be a Global Citizen: First station: Thailand

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” — Anonymous.

I’d like to start my blog by citing a quote that expresses my feelings. Born and raised in Hanoi, a girl who has been living in Vietnam for 20 years, I’ve made a decision that broadens my perspective of the world – joining the field trip to Thailand with Westminster University. So, let’s find out what I’ve gained throughout this field trip!

The most significant aspects of the field trip…

For me, a participator of the trip, the organisers are those who take the most crucial position since without them, I and other people would not have a chance to join in. As an organiser of some events at my university, I know it isn’t easy to bring a plan on paper into reality, let alone a cross-border activity like this.

Besides, the success of this field trip couldn’t have been achieved without the support and enthusiastic attitude of all students. It’s undeniable that we, students from the University of Westminster, Kasetsart University, and Hanoi University, have made wonderful memories.

The process of changing my perception…

After joining this trip, to some extent, I’ve become a more responsible person, not only to the people around me but to myself as well. When I first mentioned participating in this field trip to my parents, I thought they would hesitate to let their “sweet little daughter” go, but they didn’t. They simply told me: “It’s up to you. You’re an adult, you have to make your own decision and take responsibility for it”. Turn out, I was the one who had to think carefully about this opportunity as I recognised that there was no one standing behind me to take responsibility for all my actions anymore except myself.

Additionally, as I’ve experienced, we – Vietnamese students rarely get compliments or encouragement from teachers; instead, criticism and constructive comments are what we receive as they believe that this way of disciplined education would be most efficient for students to grow. Of course, this method aided me greatly. However, my experiences during the field trip opened up a new perspective regarding educational methods. There, after every lesson or presentation, teachers would praise us students and give us words of motivation: “You have done so well” or “You are a star”. The dedication and encouragement of the guide lecturers from the University of Westminster, Prof. Farhang and Prof. Alan inspired us to step out of our comfort zone. 

The field trip has changed my understanding of Thailand…

Initially, my understanding of Thailand used to be limited to its movies and advertisements. However, only when I came here and interacted with indigenous people did I realise that this country is more than meets the eye.

At first, I thought that my first time travelling abroad would make me feel unfamiliar and homesick, but then, from the very first days since I came here, they helped me a lot, from the students to the taxi driver. Their friendliness and hospitality made me feel at home.

Another thing that impressed me is the similarity between Thai and Vietnam. It is interesting to know that the two countries share so many commonalities, from the infrastructure to the social norms, and the traffic jams as well.

And the understanding of the students from Kasetsart University and the University of Westminster as well…

I could not believe that I, an introverted person, could get on so well with all the students as I always find it challenging to make new friends, especially when confronted by people with so many differences, from our backgrounds, language, to perspectives. This is mainly thanks to all my companions’ enthusiasm and proactive interaction.

A memorable detail for me was when Prof. Nadhawee told us that the Thai students did not read materials before class, even though they had been told to do so. A funny story, yet, it left me in awe as I now understand that the students, even from different countries, were not so different after all.

The very last words…

10 days in Thailand was short; however, it was enough for me to recognise how little I am and how big the world is. But no matter how big it is, we can always bond as global citizens!

Thanks, everyone, for being a part of my invaluable memories.

Can’t wait to see you again ^^

Que Anh Mai

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