June 26th, 2012
Arriving to the airport at 10 pm seemed like a hazy dream. I know what many of you are thinking: “They must have partied to their hearts’ content before departure.” And to be honest, yes, we did explore Hanoi’s amazing nightlife on our last day. However, this “haziness” did not come from staying up late but from not wanting to accept the fact that our time in Hanoi had come to an end. Our trip back to the United States lasted more than 25 hours during which I deeply considered what we had experienced in the last 5 weeks. This is what I came up with:
Before arriving to Vietnam I was unsure whether I should enter Vietnam as a Mexican or an American citizen. I could not stop thinking that, not long ago, there was a war that involved both Vietnam and United States. Considering how horrible wars are, this one in particular, I assumed that there must be some resentment or continued angst among the Vietnamese toward American citizens. I could not have been more wrong! The issue was never brought up, and people there were extremely interested in knowing more about us and about the US, Mexico, and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, due to the high costs of travel, not many Vietnamese have the opportunity to explore the world like we do so getting 10 minutes with us to ask some questions was a pretty big deal for them.
Read more »
June 21st, 2012
Join us on a normal day in Vietnam: Thursday, June 14, 2012
7:30am – I wake up to the sound of the bustling city outside my hotel window. The day starts in Hanoi around 5am when older men and women take their morning walks around the many lakes in the city; so waking up at 7:30 feels like ‘sleeping in.’ One noise that has become somewhat comforting is the sound of the same Vietnamese woman’s voice coming from a megaphone every morning seeming to be announcing something important to the city. I don’t know if this is news, advertising, or government propaganda. It turns out that not understanding the vast majority of what is being said around me is actually quite relaxing.
8:45am – The downside of living in a hotel for five weeks is not having a kitchen. The upside is that a hot breakfast is waiting for you every morning. I established a relationship with the hotel breakfast cook that is slightly more intimate than I was anticipating. At least once a week my breakfast begins with a check in on my love life where she affectionately makes a heart symbol with her fingers and puts her hands up to her chest then motions to me and makes an inquisitive questioning face at me. This is followed by me reconfirming to her that somehow I still haven’t found a husband in Vietnam. Other encounters have included her peeling an entire plate of fruit for me and sitting down next to me to make sure I ate every piece of it, making a sleeping face and pointing to me to let me know that I look as tired as I feel, and patting my stomach and motioning her arms wide prompting me to ask ‘big? fat?’ only for her to smile, giggle and nod. I’ve always wanted a Vietnamese mother.
Read more »
June 17th, 2012
Who has been the funniest team member?
Sean: Mai has definitely been the funniest member for me. She is such a bubbly, silly person; the perfect hostess for our stay here in Nam. Especially funny is the way she cracks up every time I use my favorite Vietnamese word that she taught me: Im!!!!
Rodrigo: Riley, aka. the “Zinger”. While she is also the most serious team member, she has her “funny” moments when she has just the right thing to say at just the right time. Most of the time she “zings” someone. So far I have kept myself out of her sights. In all honesty, I have spent my last two weeks watching out for every word that comes out of my mouth. I wonder if the rest of the team thinks she is funny, too, since she has zinged everyone else.
Mai: Sean. He tells funny stories all the time. He often makes a funny face too!
Lauren: Rodrigo. Even though he is our buff manly team member from Mexico, he can’t make it through a car ride in Hanoi without freaking out about the traffic and possibility of getting in an accident. Funny every time.
Riley: We all seem to have our days….
Read more »
June 12th, 2012
Back to my home country of Vietnam! I’m from the city of Nam Dinh, I studied in Hanoi and I worked in Ho Chi Minh City. But now, with my trained MBA eye, I want to visit different parts of the country to see how much the country has been transforming. Fortunately, for business and pleasure, we’ve been able to travel to several places during our time here.
The not-much-changing part
Hanoi is my second home. Spending 7 years here and coming back frequently to visit, I cannot tell you enough how much I love the city. It is the capital of the country and it is the place I expect to see the fastest transformation. However, two years since I attended Thunderbird, the city seems to not have changed much.
I saw some new constructions, but not enough to give me a big “wow”. The first week of the TEM lab, the team experienced floods on the street twice. We frequently have to walk across the street when there are tons of vehicles passing by. These are some examples of NO changes.
When my teammates were discussing these things, it was hard for me to still keep smiling and join the conversations. These are the less developed sides of Vietnam. I did not want my friends to experience it but to show them how beautiful my country is. There was a time I felt sad because of this in our first week here.
Luckily I discussed about this with one of my American Vietnamese friends who is a T-bird alumnus: “I understand that most people in the world are very nationalistic – being very proud of your country – so that is why you want to show only the best parts. That is good and bad. I think you have to point out the bad so that it can be fixed.” – in his reply to my concern. I got it! Now I am very open to discuss about these things. They make my determination in making changes to my home country grow stronger than ever.
Read more »
June 6th, 2012
As Sean mentioned in a previous blog, here in Hanoi we have noticed an interesting pattern of shops lining the streets of the city. Whether we are on “fan street,” “sink street” or “shoe street,” seemingly every store on a given street looks exactly the same and sells the exact same products as the one next to it. There is simply no differentiation among any of them, and the same types of stores are always clustered right next door to each other. As business school students, we have been scratching our heads at this strategy.
As we have gained more and more knowledge about our client in Vietnam, a mobile telecom content provider, we have noticed a similar pattern. Everything we have learned about the industry and the company in the past two and a half weeks points to the same conclusion…our client is living on “mobile content street.”
Read more »
June 3rd, 2012
VNN PLUS is a hip, young company working in the mobile media space in Vietnam. With an average age of about 25 years, the office is filled with creative guys and girls who are super stylish and modern. They seem to like us, as their eyes light up and they start to giggle when we walk by (even the guys sometimes). Some are more outgoing than others of course and the English language ability is basically all over the map. As a team we are doing as much as we can to help them get comfortable with us in the office. We have a private conference room as well as five seats out in ‘cubeland’ with the B2B team. Admittedly, with the initial organization we’ve needed, we have been huddled more often in the tiny room than we have been out in the open, but we are trying our best to show our faces as much as we can.
Read more »
May 30th, 2012
1. What have been your first impressions of Vietnam?
The first thing we heard when walking into the office on our first day in Hanoi was “I wanted to give you time to rest and have you come in in the afternoon, but then I thought, no, you are Americans you like to work too much!” Great, I’m glad we aren’t starting off with any misconceptions!
Fortunately, we realized that our exhaustion wouldn’t be a problem. Returning from lunch on the first day, laughing and discussing the delicious meal, we arrived to a dark and silent office. I thought it might be some “greening” initiative to save power, but I was wrong. Have you ever been at your desk thinking about closing your eyes and making it all go away for a few minutes…? Well in Vietnam you can! We looked around and realized that the employees had eyes closed and heads down, lying atop brightly colored pillows strewn atop their desks.
Every day after lunch the office turns into a preschool; or at least that’s the last place I recall having a structured naptime. But there is no judgment. Rather, it seems encouraged. Upon seeing this little spectacle, I realized… I could get used to this after all…. ☺
Read more »
May 24th, 2012
Our trip to Vietnam: Igor, Fidoras, Ambien, Tears, and Memories
Our trip to Hanoi, Vietnam for the summer Tem Lab started like any other group trip across the world. Our departure time to our first leg of the trip, San Francisco, was 7:40 am, which meant we had to leave Thunderbird School of Global Management before the break of dawn. Initially the Vietnam Team was going to ride the Super Shuttle to Sky Harbor at 5:20am, however we decided to reduce expenses and welcomed some team members of China Team Lab team to ride with us given their 30 minutes difference from their departure time. Of course this did not go as smoothly as planned because we added another layer of difficulty: inter-group coordination. Finally Lauren Sanne, our master planner, was able to schedule a bigger shuttle that would fit all of team Vietnam, along with team China to the airport. Eight hours before our scheduled departure we had a ride, we had a plan and, most importantly, we had twice as many jokesters as previously planned.
Read more »
May 15th, 2012
Update 2: Congratulations to Josh Niederman for winning our “Choose the Photo” Contest!! Please keep an eye out for a great little gift coming your way soon!!
The winning photo has been found!! See our photo above (Photo 1). The lucky voter will be chosen and notified shortly.
Thanks to all that voted :)
Read more »