Monday evening, I’ll be heading to the airport with my backpack and an open mind for a flight from Vancouver to Hanoi, via Taipei. This is my first time travelling to Asia and there are numerous emotions that come along with this. While the prospect of visiting a new place is incredibly exciting, there are times when my stomach twists itself into knots at the thought of the potentially challenging situations that await me. Vietnam will be unlike any place I have ever visited and I just hope that my travelling “skills” are up to the task. Dealing with extreme heat, humidity and a whole new type of cuisine will be sure to test my strength. That said, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take part in this experience. I will be travelling as part of a team that aims to facilitate sustainable tourism development and economic empowerment in the ethnic minority villages of northern Vietnam. Being selected as part of the team was a major milestone for me and helped me connect with who I am, what is important to me, and how I can make a difference in the world.
We have drafted an intensive itinerary that seeks to cover a lot of ground over a two week period. My personal contribution to the project so far has been to draft training materials for the creation of an environmental youth group in the Sapa region. The aim is to bring together passionate young people from the villages of Taphin and Lao Chai so that they may be advocates for environmental protection in their community. This has been incredibly rewarding for me, as I seek to develop relationships with leaders of various community organizations in the area so that they may lend their expertise to the project. Environmental protection is extremely important to me and this has been an excellent opportunity to use skills and knowledge gained from my time volunteering with both Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the David Suzuki Foundation. Knowing that the work I have done could help promote positive change in a vulnerable community gives me hope and inspires me to keep working hard.
If you are interested in hearing more about my experiences while working and travelling in Vietnam, please watch both this space and the CBT Vietnam blog for updates. Additional updates can be found on the CBT Vietnam Twitter and Facebook pages.
(Feature “go there” image found on Pinterest. Unfortunately I have not been able to source the original photographer/owner. If this image is yours and you would like it removed, please let me know!)