Thursday, February 2, 2017

Better Work, Final Presentations, and Farewell Ceremony

January 16, 2017

Our program is coming to an end all too soon, and today was tinged with the bittersweet sense of goodbyes. We enjoyed a great meeting with Ha Nguyen from Betterwork Vietnam, which was a fantastic chance to really get an in-depth perspective on the scope and methodology Betterwork uses. We’ve been discussing this ILO project throughout our time here, so speaking to a representative and getting to ask questions about our topics served as a nice capstone to those discussions. 

Meeting with Ha Nguyen (Right)
Ha was able to stay for most of the first student presentation of the day, presented by Clara and Samir. They engaged us in a great discussion of CSR, focusing especially on how different stakeholders view it, and exposing the lack of mutual understanding about what it should be amongst workers, unions, companies, and brands. They applied their research about CSR to what we saw at the factory visit, and we debated the potential of CSR as a mechanism to improve labor relations, and what role consumers play in this debate.

We breaked for lunch, with several students heading to the local Korean grocery store to pick up last minute snacks and gifts. In the afternoon, Hunter and I presented on strikes in Vietnam, and were really happy to be joined by our team members as well as an alumni of the program. We presented statistics and trends we’ve seen thus far, and put forth policy recommendations as well as areas for future research.

Hunter and Allison present
While the presentations were enjoyable, the real fun of the day started as Samir taught us a short bhangra routine to perform at the closing ceremony that evening. We also practiced our acapella rendition of the Alma Mater, and then headed to one of the canteens for our closing party. Most of our partner students had organized a beautiful party, with dinner, gifts, singing, dancing, and lots of laughter. 

We are very sad to be leaving our new friends- we’ve learned so much from each other, and never fail to find something to laugh and talk about. For such a short time together, we’ve forged very real bonds of friendship and I know we will keep in touch (and hopefully return to Vietnam before long). The ceremony gave us a nice sense of closure, and allowed us all to reflect on what we’ve taken away from this- not just academic learning, but cultural immersion and unique relationships, and a deep gratitude for this opportunity. Signing off for the last time, Allison

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