25 05 2010

It has been an incredible week and a half. I am sitting in the Delta Sky Club in Tokyo looking through all of the pictures that I took during the trip. Some great memories and good ideas for the future. Even the time we spent shuffling around the cities was well spent. The conversations with the local cab drivers, the takeaways from our meeting and even the perspective from the local news on the rest of the world were all welcome and enhanced the understanding of the global experience.

Probably the biggest takeaway from the trip for me was the differences in political climate. This was my first venture into a communist country and to see the praise for the government at any meeting was really a little disturbing to me. The fact that we had to review our questions prior to our trip the university goes against everything I grew up with. With a strong family focus on education, I was always encourage to ask question, probe for more information, question what doesn’t make sense, and most of all to voice my own opinion, while respecting others doing the same.

Our visit to Saigon South felt a bit like a scene out of the movie called the Truman Show. I felt as though when we were driving around or looking out the balcony that a big camera or light was going to fly down and smash on the ground. I was struck by the contrast between the 1M apartments and the little motor bikes racing around downtown Saigon. I am not sure I understand how Saigon South will actually be able to survive, it seems as though it is more a governmental show piece then anything else.

Finally, the visit to Cambodia…this may sound trite, but it changed me. I have always heard of people living in that kind of poverty, but I had never actually seen it. I have been through poor neighborhoods in the mid-west, the worst neighborhoods of NYC, but nothing like what we saw in Cambodia. I am impressed by the Wat Bo primary school, but am still not sure what the end game is for those students. When they finish the schooling what next? While there may be some in the school that had the ability to get out of the country and become further educated, most could not. Our tour guide spoke of his daughter wanting to be a doctor, but he had no idea how to help her make that happen, let alone the money to even think about that.

I would never have selected to go to Singapore, Cambodia, or Vietnam on my own and not sure that I will return, but I can say the experience was once in a lifetime.




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