Student-Athlete Summer Blog: Brian Mojica #6

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Brian Mojica is a rising junior on the men's water polo team. He will be traveling to Singapore, Vietnam and China as part of a Dean's Scholars study tour May 20-June 5 and will be blogging about his experience.

Experiencing Vietnam after traveling to Singapore was very eye opening. The two countries are completely different from one another. Singapore is known as a very developed country where as Vietnam is continuing to develop. The disparity between the two countries is significant; however Vietnam brought its own flare that made me enjoy my trip.

During the business visits in Vietnam I learned a lot about Vietnamese culture and how it affected the way companies do business in the country. The companies we visited were Ernst and Young, the US consulate, and Vietnam and Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP). During each of these visits I learned a little more about Vietnam and the innuendos involved in starting or running a business in the country. I learned that Vietnam has a population of 90 million and its median age is around 25; meaning they have a very young work force and it also means there are a lot of people looking for jobs. I also learned that Vietnam is very family oriented and that many jobs need to accommodate the family's needs if they hope to keep the worker.

Another aspect that affects Vietnamese business is the fact that the country is still developing, and often times there is a language barrier between foreign workers and the locals that leads to the hiring of locals. It is contrasted by the fact that Singapore is very globalized and they try to find top talent in places outside of the country. Vietnam does not have this luxury so companies try to hire students.

There are so many differences that appear once you compare a very developed country to one that is on the rise. Vietnam seems to be very hopeful about its status and it has the workforce to achieve what they want. Although it seems like it will take awhile, and although it seems like there are a few obstacles keeping the country from developing into a prominent business country, there are many positives that can eventually lead to the destruction of these obstacles and the eventual rise in power.

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Our tours consisted of a tour of Ho Chi Minh city, and the tour of the qui chi tunnels. Both tours were eye opening and both for different reasons. The tour of Ho Chi Minh was particularly interesting because it showed the poverty around the city while also the first world amenities. For example a Dolce and Gabbana store would be open across the street of a run down and torn up shop with homeless or poverty stricken people around the shop.

Another interesting thing about the city tour was the amount of motorcyclists in the city. When first arriving to the city and not knowing any better I thought that there was a biker show around the city somewhere. There are a ridiculous amount of bikers in and around the city, as it seems to be their most popular mode of transportation. There are not many traffic lights in the city, however it works out because the bikers and the cars seem to self-organize. Our guide described it as "organized chaos" and he was exactly right. I noticed that I did not see one accident the whole trip, which amazed me because people cross intersections willy-nilly and drive on sidewalks like it's nothing.

The second part of our tour was the tour of the Cu Chi tunnels. These are the tunnels the Vietnamese built in order to fight the Americans during the war. This was probably my favorite tour because it gave us a perspective of the Vietnamese side of the war and it showed how they operated in order to counter American attacks. I was able to crawl in one of the tunnels and I was terrified the whole time. There were some parts of the tunnel where I had to crawl on all fours just to get through. It was an eye opening experience and interesting to see what it was like.     

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I have two words for this trip - eye opening - and these words summarize my trip to Vietnam because I was not expecting anything that I experienced. I loved the fact that Vietnam is still developing and it was interesting to see how developing countries operated compared to first world countries. I liked the contrast I had in Vietnam and I really enjoyed my stay. My recommendation when visiting would be to keep an open mind and hire a tour guide. Vietnam has a lot to offer and it is a matter of taking advantage and seizing the opportunities.

GW is in an exciting place, and it is offering its student a lot of opportunities to grow and succeed in life. I am very happy about my decision to attend the university and I know that it will help me succeed in what I want to do. However, I also understand that in order to get the full experience I need to put effort in everything I do, which is not a problem because I can see the progress I have made throughout my first two years. I cannot stress enough how excited I am to be a part of this school, especially at this time and I hope this shows people a little that GW has to offer. Special thanks to our bus driver and our tour guide, Duy. Take care and as always, RAISE HIGH!

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