Hue city, OIP 2007

Wow. Came back from Hue, Vietnam yesterday at 5pm. To be truthful I am glad to be home, but now after a day and a night to mull over it, I realise I’m starting to miss Hue and all the Nguyen Tri Phuong students now. I’m not going to post a blow by blow or day by day account of what happened or what we did, but I am going to describe it in as much detail as I can.

Well, let’s list the things we did on the trip shall we?

1) Immersed ourselves in Vietnamese culture
2) Got to know and engage with students from a foreign country
3) Leadership development
4 ) Service-Learning (buzzword of our times)

Frankly, the most important, and most memorable, of the above four is number 2. Yes, we did stay in Hue for two weeks, lived with a normal family in Vietnam, went about to be tourists and learn about foreign cultural heritage. All of that is indeed inaccessible if not for the trip; it’s an experience to remember, but it’s not the experience to remember.

Leadership development dosen’t even go as high as the first one. Sure, it’s a unique and different environment we’re thrust into to prepare ourselves for the rigour of leadership beyond management; to “achieve something extraordinary”.

Service Learning. Yes, it’s service in a location that is remote from Singapore, yes it’s a unique learning opportunity and I did learn alot that I might otherwise never have, or at least at a much later date. But frankly, the thing I’m sure we remember most from this trip is the people, not the things we did, the sights we saw or the service-learning.

After all, the Overseas Immersion Programme’s tagline (for this year at least) is the ever-appropriate “Human Element”. When it was coined, the organisers were no doubt thinking about what they were going te refine and purify out of the sec 3s through this programme, but for me, the whole journey and the two weeks spent are completely wasted without the human element.

Because, we could have gone and done all that, cultural heritage, cultural imemrsion, leadership development and even service learning all on our own, or even as a single person, and there really would be much less reason to remember and to treasure.

So, here’s to hoping that we’ll all still be able to keep in touch. To everyone, thanks for the memories, the good times and the not so good times.

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