Welcome in the world of Agriterra Vietnam and their 2 fresh interns, Tam and Arie. Arie feels like a millionaire. Tam likes the Dutch directness, though Arie can be strange sometimes. They started their internship in the office of Agriterra Vietnam in August on the Vietnamese cooperative landscape.
Team Vietnam (v.l.n.r. Tam, Hien, Hao, Harm en Arie)
I am a master student Business Economics of Wageningen University. The internship at Agriterra Vietnam is the final part of my study before graduation. At 31 July I arrived at Hanoi Airport and stepped into the hot and humid air of the beautiful city Hanoi. Harm arranged a taxi that brought me to the city centre. The official advice is not to use motorbikes but the person who developed this advice clearly never visited Hanoi. It is nearly impossible not to use motorbikes and reach your destination. The streets are full with them and the air in the city smells like burnt fuel. My landlord picked me up by motorbike and drove me through the small alleys of Hanoi to my room. The first day in Hanoi I became a millionaire instantly as one euro is worth around 25.000 dong, so I got 5 million at the ATM. I felt rich in every respect!
After one month living in Hanoi I feel comfortable here. During working days I lunch together with Dutch and Vietnamese colleagues (of SNV Vietnam) in small restaurants. No more cheese sandwiches in my bread box! The Vietnamese colleagues know the most delicious dishes of Vietnam and take me to the best street food. The atmosphere at the Agriterra office is open, informal and the communication is very direct. Agriterra Vietnam has a young team: Harm started nearly one year ago at the office here in Hanoi. The other two Vietnamese colleagues of Agriterra started only a few months ago. The combination of direct communication, a young team and great need of information makes it a close team. Protocols and formats are not established yet and many things are unknown at this moment. We are pioneering over here! This makes our research interesting and relevant.
Currently, I am in the last year of my bachelor, majoring in Agribusiness Management in Vietnam National University of Agriculture. I have been conducting my internship at Agriterra since the beginning of August.
I was nervous and worried at the beginning. Would I be able to work effectively and finish my tasks in time? Would I get used to the many changes and differences in working in a Dutch-Vietnamese environment? Working at Agriterra has challenged my stereotype so far. I am impressed the frank and direct way we discuss and share our ideas and opinions with Harm, Hao and Hien. In addition, working in a group has taught me a lot of useful things and I have learnt many useful knowledge and skills from my colleague. To specify, I have learnt from the colleague with a lot of valuable experiences in theory and practice. I perceive that this internship could not be a more perfect opportunity for me to apply “learning by doing". Besides, as working with an international friend, I have perceived the cultural differences between the Eastern and Oriental countries and the way we see each other. To specify, I was truly surprised when Arie shared how he and other people view Asian. They claim that regardless which Asian country they come from, Asian people are rather the same in terms of culture and habits. For me, I have to admit I have the same view Europeans. Hopefully, after this internship, our wrong mind set will be changed.
The first month for me was quite challenging as I had to adapt to a totally different working environment. I truly feel more responsibility and even certain pressure when it comes to the real working environment. Also, sometimes, I was still “trapped” between the student and working life. Sometimes I felt slightly overwhelmed as I had to juggle between work and life. Above all, despite several initial difficulties, I managed to get on well with the new work place with new colleagues and finished the fundamental steps of the research.
Arie started the project on the first of July in the Netherlands. He spent the first month working on the proposal and reading lots of information about the cooperative environment in Vietnam The first of August we started together in Hanoi. We are conducting research on the cooperative development. Specifically, we focus on the service provision of interest organisations towards cooperatives.
The first month, we spent most of the time gaining background information and a review of existing literature on cooperative development in Vietnam. Already much (scientific) research is conducted on this topic in Vietnam. Recently, the FAO conducted an extended research. It helps us a lot to understand how things work.
We see that the time is coming to make big steps in cooperative development in Vietnam. Farmers, supportive organisations and the government start to see the need for this, the new Cooperative Law is positively changed and Agriterra Vietnam is ready to train and support cooperatives.
We are looking forward to start the field research, to visit cooperatives and to have interviews with partners of Agriterra. It will be a challenge because of the language difference, but with our robust preparation it should be no problem.
We will keep you updated with our field experiences in the upcoming month!
Cảm ơn và hẹn gặp lại
Arie & Tam