After overseas outdoor adventure programmes were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 16 SUSS students were finally able to make a trip to Vietnam on an adventure of discovery.
Consisting of an Outward Bound Course at Outward Bound Vietnam (OBV) Ha Long base camp and a student-led socio-cultural immersion journey through Hanoi, the 12-day programme in December 2022 proved challenging even at the planning stage. Student leaders and Year 2 SUSS Marketing, Justin Tan and Rebecca Koh, were tasked with recruiting the student team, organising pre-trip preparatory training, and taking charge of the planning for the socio-cultural immersion activities.
Eager SUSS students embarking on the outdoor and adventure-based programme.
One plane and a three-hour bus ride later, the team finally arrived at the OBV campsite to begin their adventure. Spending seven days outdoors, the students discovered more about Ha Long through outdoor experiential activities such as trekking, caving and abseiling. Beyond the physical demands of the course, the team faced several challenges, including the colder climate and the ban on all technology, including mobile phones.
Rebecca's OBV experience was more intense than anticipated as she shared how being injured during the programme changed her perspective of challenges, “I was doubtful of my ability to complete the programme, but my team members encouraged and supported me throughout. My injury made me realise that sometimes the obstacles in your journey are just mental barriers you must overcome.”
Students exploring the caves of Ha Long.
Highlights from the programme included exploring caves, outdoor abseiling, and kayaking around Ha Long Bay. While the daily programme was physically draining, the group quickly learned that teamwork was vital to complete the tasks together. The students discovered more about themselves and their strengths through nightly reflections on the day’s activity and their feelings.
To help the students develop their leadership skills, they progressively received more autonomy to decide on the schedules and lead each expedition until they could manage the entire day independently. The students also gained outdoor cooking skills as they were responsible for preparing their daily dinners.
Kayaking at the UNESCO World Heritage site Ha Long Bay.
After OBV, the students embarked on a three-day social cultural immersion programme in Hanoi. The various activities planned by the students enabled them to gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam and its history, culture and economy.
SUSS students took a cooking class to learn about the history of some of Vietnam’s most popular dishes.
Hector Lim Ze Chuan, SUSS Supply Chain Management student, shared how this trip opened his eyes to the changes in Vietnam’s economic development, “I learnt more about the traditional craftsmanship industry's struggles and how it is affected by the changing social and technological landscape. It is essential to preserve these industries as it builds Vietnam's foundation.”
Coming from varied backgrounds, each student’s experience and takeaway from this trip was unique, but one thing remained constant - everyone grew into better individuals and leaders.