What would you do?

I have some exciting news to share!

After going to an absolutely delicious Canadian Thanksgiving Supper at Don’s I found out that I won the raffle!

This means that I will soon be in possession of enough Air Asia Miles for a round trip to Hong Kong (or to contribute to other trip(s) ).

Comment and tell me what you would do with it. 

  1. Go to Hong Kong!
  2. Add it to a trip to Malaysia/Indonesia/Thailand/Southern Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia
  3. Or something else?
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Sustainable Forest Governance

As you know (or should by now) I’m currently working in Vietnam at the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development, or SRD and am placed in Ha Noi.

What I didn’t know coming into this placement was that I’d be working primarily with forestry related things: forest governance, forest management, land-use law, land allocation problems, forest trade, forest licensing, forest monitoring, civil society’s participation in forest policy drafting, etc. However now that I’m here I’m finding that my role is involving lots of policy drafting, capacity building, and networking about forests.

In my first week at SRD, I attended a workshop on Capacity Building for Civil Society Organizations on FLEGT/VPA and REDD+. Its quite a mouthful. FLEGT is Forest, Law, Governance, and Trade and is legislation drafted by the EU for countries that they trade in timber with. VPA is the Voluntary Partnership Agreement which is a bilateral trade agreement between a country and the EU (in this case, Vietnam). REDD+ is one of the products of the Cancun Climate Change talks and stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. All of this can be coordinated to work together, but as the Vietnamese government is in the midst of developing all the policies, the local and international NGOs are working on trying to get input from civil society and figuring out the best way to do this.

If you are curious and want to know more, you can check out the condensed version of the report that I wrote here.

Entitlement and one bad xe om experience

Today I experienced something a little bit startling; it caught me off guard; it made me angry.

On my usual bus ride/walk to work I experience anywhere from 5-10 offers to use a ‘xe om’ or ‘motorcyle taxi’ and have perfected the response: smile, shake my head, say ‘khong’ or ‘no’, and wave my hands in the ‘enough’ motion. Today, in the last portion of my walk – and usually the portion with the least xe om offers – a man said xe om and gestured in the general direction of a motorbike. I responded in my usual manner and continued to walk by.

However it did not stop there. As I passed him – and stopped paying attention to what he was doing – he grabbed my arm, swinging me back and proceeded to try to drag me to his motorbike. Apparently saying ‘no’ politely did not suffice. After a few shouts that caught the attention of people around me (and there were many as it was rush hour) he let go and said a few things in Vietnamese to his friends that garnered a laugh.

Some people feel as though they are entitled to take or do what they want even if it requires the use of force, some people feel entitled to coerce others into following their will, often without guilt.

All I could think of was how frequently these things happen in pretty much every country around the world. Saying no is not enough, people are left with no choice but to fight for autonomy, independence, and rights – all of which should be guaranteed and in many cases are already granted through the law. Do not take your rights for granted, do not allow legislative changes or self-entitlement to take away your rights, do not become self-entitled and do anything to compromise the rights of others. Be respectful.

Ha Noi Ha Noi Ha Noi

I have arrived in the beautiful city that is Ha Noi.

We got here late Monday night and took a really long cab ride into the city to our hotel. Which at night seems very different from the day. Ha Noi isn’t so much a network of streets but a network of alleys, and our hotel was on one of these. The alleys almost make up communities, each grouping has everything anyone could ever need and everyone is welcome to join.

Our first morning we walked to the WUSC office, which we originally thought was 10 minutes. 35 minutes later we arrived, disgustingly hot and sweaty and more than a little bit jet lagged. We were told to memorize the route because we would have to walk home alone and alone to the office after that point. Our orientation went fairly smoothly with no real hiccups. And no one got lost walking :)

I bought a SIM card and got my phone working with a Vietnamese number which may have been one of the most confusing experiences of my life.

We visited a family clinic in Ha Noi where we can get medical treatment, flu shots, etc. and got one of the most terrifying talks ever as well as what I think was the third or fourth talk telling us about sexual health and STDS (what do people think we’re doing here?) 

I had the opportunity to meet with two host families and choose the one I thought was best for me. When I went to visit the first one, I was ushered through a very fancy clothing store, then through a kitchen, then through a stunning garden until we were in a beautiful home. The bedroom is bigger than anything I have ever had both at home or at school. Needless to say, I fell in love with it and will be moving in today at 12. My host family will be about 3.5km to work and about 6km away from everyone else in the program. I’m hoping to get comfortable biking on the streets.. But we’ll see how that goes.

I start work on Monday and will be working on Climate Change. More information will follow when I learn more.

One week to go

With only one week left before I leave for Vietnam it seems only fitting that my plans would change. I am no longer going to Hue, instead I will be in Ha Noi. I’ll still be working for the same organization, but my job description has changed and I’m in a completely different city than I’ve spent the past 6 months researching and looking forward to. Did I mention I’m already packed for Hue?

Here is my job description be sure to comment and give me any tips or pointers as I have no experience in this field.

  • Assist with the development of project concept notes and proposals that support SRD Climate Change section’s short and long‑term strategy.
  • Assist with writing and editing website and newsletter articles which related to Climate Change forest management and environment fields.
  • Assist with writing and editing reports on Climate Change program/ projects.
  • Support ongoing Climate Change mainstreaming activities within SRD’s program.
  • Support the development, management and implementation of SRD’s Climate Change projects, including undertaking needs/vulnerability assessments, conducting baseline surveys etc as required.
  • Participate in other related activities of the organization and engage/liaise with partners on SRD’s behalf through climate change and FLEGT networks (as assigned).
  • Assist with organizing logistic and reporting of Climate Change department led workshops.