RMIT students discuss their experience investigating sustainable water resources in Vietnam as part of a Work Integrated Learning project.
This video features RMIT students talking about their experience working on an environmental project in Vietnam. The students are depicted singly talking to an off-screen interviewer. Occasionally their responses are played over a classroom presentation scene.
The Vietnam Environment Project
(Part 2) In 2012 a team of RMIT environment students spent two weeks researching water management issues in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. On return to Melbourne the students reflect on the outcomes and experiences gained as part of the project.
Gemma Arthurson (Engineering (Environmental Engineering) and International Studies student, RMIT University): The main thing that surprised me, is the actual data we've collected and how serious the problem we've heard about drinking water is going to be in the future, and also the flooding.
Scott Breschkin (Environmental Science student, RMIT University): If we can, after our time here, be able to actually make some recommendations or provide some sort of valuable insights that could be used in the future it would be a really big achievement for all of us.
We've been back in Melbourne now for about three and a half months I think. The report was submitted about eight weeks after returning to Melbourne and it's all completed.
John Feil (Environmental Engineering student, RMIT University): A lot of the things that we realised over there was that people didn't understand the issue. That portable water is an issue there because the city's surrounded by water. It's just not drinking water.
Sarah Lawless (Social Science (Environment) student, RMIT University): A lot of us got stuck on Vietnam being a developing country, poor, rural. When in actual fact we found it is developing that fast that there's actually a lot of higher income communities as well there. We had to think about how they could actually influence the poorer communities and how they could make a difference in that sort of flow and effect.
[Visual] Scenes of polluted waterways in Vietnam.
Laura Fragopoulos (Social Science (Environment) student, RMIT University): It's just a massive challenge. You're in there, you're feeling it and you're feeling the frustration that a lot of people in Vietnam must feel.
Scott Breschkin: Our main recommendations were to look at a more integrated approach to water management or the management of water resources in Ho Chi Mihn city and that included looking at a decentralised approach to the way it's currently tackled.
Gemma Arthurson: Broad recommendations that depending on the place, they could pick up our report and say that applies to us, to applies to us.
Nicholas Rickard (Social Science (Environment) student, RMIT University): What we have created is something that is valuable and that people who can read it can sort of plant the seeds.
Scott Breschkin: Yeah, it was just incredible to think that we'd come through that whole process and to actually have had the report bound and in your hands, that was certainly an achievement.
Laura Fragopoulos: These two weeks in Vietnam were just high pressure, and that final day of the presentation and the four people that did the presentation were just amazing and I was so proud.
Sarah Lawless: I think all of us underestimated how much work was actually involved in a project like this.
Scott Breschkin: There's no break from it really. We had meetings all day, we had our own meetings all night and then go home and I'd be dreaming about the report. There's just no rest from it. That was challenging, that was exhausting.
Nicholas Rickard: There were areas that I didn't understand, sort of relating science and engineering and it was quite difficult for me to stay focused.
Laura Fragopoulos: I didn't quite understand what direction we were taking and wanted to contribute as much as I could. I felt like I wasn't quite getting there.
Sarah Lawless: It changed every day, we went this way, we went that way.
Scott Breschkin: It was very frustrating just sitting there waiting for these people to come to an agreement.
Laura Fragopoulos: Someone would come up no, what about this, this this and this, oh my god, we're never going to finish this on time.
John Feil: It's always enjoyable to hear someone who's passionate about something go against someone who's passionate about another thing. It just broadens your whole outlook on things.
Sarah Lawless: We had to sort of refrain ourselves a little bit otherwise we could have been writing for years I think.
John Feil: I see the project more as a people project, as in it's not so much about what your end goal is, it's more working together as a team in that multi-disciplinary environment, because it does reflect what a work place is meant to be.
Scott Breschkin: It's completely out of any sort of university experience, whether it be Australia or oversees.
Gemma Arthurson: Getting people with an environmental background to work together and see the big issues.
Laura Fragopoulos: It's like a little training camp for the real world.
Nicholas Rickard: It's probably opened me up to the idea that maybe I could work overseas, which I probably didn't really think about before.
John Feil: The Vietnam project offered me the professional experience which I'm using a lot now in grad interviews or vocation interviews.
Scott Breschkin: It certainly helped me to know that I can at least function as a professional in the environment industry, like I can work with other professionals and be a professional basically.
Sarah Lawless: It just goes to show that the skills that we are learning here we are able to use in international context as well.
[Audio] Uplifting music begins to play.
Scott Breschkin: Big question. That's the surprise question, isn't it.
Nicholas Rickard: One word. That's too hard.
Sarah Lawless: I've got many words, I'm just trying to come up with the best one.
Laura Fragopoulos: I think maybe unexpected.
Gemma Arthurson: Eye-opening, maybe?
Nicholas Rickard: Unique.
John Feil: Fun.
Sarah Lawless: Rewarding.
Scott Breschkin: Challenging, but I don't think that does the project justice.
[Screen title] Special thanks to the guest speakers, universities and government officials that have generously offered their time and resources to the Vietnam Project over the years.
Music by Thrupence (www.jackvanzet.com)
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