Fourth-year U of L management student Brady Mah spent his summer traveling through Vietnam – dodging motorbikes, touring pagodas, learning a new language and discovering a culture completely different from his own.
Interested in international development, Mah received funding from ConocoPhillips Canada that allowed him to accept a unique co-op placement in Hanoi, Vietnam, with World University Service of Canada (WUSC), an organization that fosters human development and global understanding through education and training.
"I was initially intrigued by Vietnam's rich history," says Mah. "I was also interested in observing how a developing nation, one that had just entered the World Trade Organization, operated. I wanted to be a part of that."
Once in Vietnam, Mah took on the role of project manager and was responsible for co-ordinating the placements of eight other student volunteers.
"I routinely met with each student and their partner organization to ensure that things were going smoothly and that we were on track to reach the goals we'd set at the start of the internship," explains Mah. "I was actively involved in all of the placements, which covered a diverse range of sustainability and development projects including environmental policy and law, national park preservation, eco-tourism, agricultural development and public health."
As part of his work with WUSC, Mah visited eight cities in Vietnam.
"I've had a chance to explore this crazy country from north to south, mountain to sea," reflects Mah. "I've met a lot of interesting people along the way and learned something new from each of them."
In addition to his official responsibilities, he travelled to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Mah recently returned to Canada and, as he looks to the future, he admits a change in perspective.
"I have grown to appreciate how good I have it in Canada. Some of the Vietnamese people have very little, but they are still living very meaningful lives. I hope to incorporate their sense of purpose, their work ethic and their persistence into everything I do."