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Academic Learning Journey to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

In early November, 32 secondary three students embarked on a 6-day cross-disciplinary trip to South Vietnam. Jointly organised by the Humanities and Art departments, this trip aimed at providing an extended and immersive learning opportunity for Art, Geography and History students to deepen their academic grasp.

Armed with pre-trip briefings that equipped all participants with a working understanding of all three subjects, the girls formed cross-subject teams from each discipline to tackle learning challenges from the carefully-crafted lessons planned by teachers and to give opportunity for them to lead and showcase their expertise in the subject matter.

We visited historical sites that shed light on Vietnam’s recent past, geographical features such as the delta region in the south and went on an illuminating art tour that highlighted the evolution of Vietnamese art. We also had a fun and enriching school exchange where, despite our language difficulties, we felt the warmth of ASEAN friendship resonate soundly through our all too brief interaction. Beyond school, we were also given a peek into the tough work put in by farmers to grow our staples and even tried our hands on planting rice in a small field. We learnt to appreciate that the rice that we eat was the result of many hours of sweat at the mercy of the weather. We also came away impressed by the productivity and creativity of the Vietnamese farmer who was spurred on by his desire to provide a better life for his children and family.

Similarly in the larger economy, we saw how the Vietnamese were able to provide goods and services that catered to the needs of the tourists such as restaurants and modern interpretations of Vietnamese cuisine, adapted for modern tastes and presentation. In the aspect of national self-determination, we witnessed first-hand their spirit of sacrifice to be free from foreign domination in their defiance and ingenuity at the Chu Chi Tunnel complex. Lastly, we experienced the positive impact of social media as the large Vietnamese art and architectural community turned out in force to support our sketching exercise of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral on the last day of our visit.

The trip also enabled us to receive first-hand information on Singapore’s own regionalisation efforts. We managed to secure an afternoon with International Enterprise Singapore Director of Operations in Vietnam, who informed us of efforts by Singaporean companies to secure a business foothold and the challenges they faced.

Overall, our short but intense learning journey was a precious opportunity to gain a more nuanced and better-defined understanding of one of Singapore’s larger economic partners, beyond the confines of the textbook and left us with many memorable moments that would remain indelible for a long time.