Vietnam, it’s like winning lotto

7 May

VIETNAM, IT’S LIKE WINNING LOTTO  I feel like I’ve just won the lottery because I’ve been selected for a job in Vietnam and I couldn’t be happier. In reality, I’ll be about as rich as I was in university because it’s a sponsored volunteer program. The idea is that I’ll leave the program with a wealth of knowledge and experience that’s difficult to match, and I think that’s far greater than a high paying salary at this point in time for me.

Photograph from Lonely Planet website

The volunteer program is one of the most well supported volunteer programs available in Australia. I will receive a monthly allowance that covers accommodation and food, in addition to flights, visas, vaccinations and a special establishment allowance. So, while I won’t be earning the big bucks, I will earn enough to get by and it’s cheap enough to explore South East Asia on most weekends and holidays without spending all of my savings.

My assignment is based in Ho Chi Minh City (old Saigon) which is located in southern Vietnam and has a population of about eight million people. The culture shock will be huge. But that’s what I’m in it for. There are so many wonderful sights in Vietnam. I want to see villages along the Mekong Delta, explore the Old Quarter in Hanoi, scuba dive at beautiful Nha Trang and experience the old charm of Hoi An. Over six months I should be able to fully immerse myself in local cultures and unlock the city’s secrets.

The actual role is very similar to my current job. I will be working in communications and media for an INGO that enables vulnerable families to access shelter, water and sanitation. The main objectives are to develop critical relationships with donors, volunteers and media, to provide training for staff in media, and to enhance core communication resources including the newsletter, information kits and the website. Weekly meetings with my supervisor, In Country Manager (ICM), and counterpart will ensure I meet strategic assignment objectives. I have my fingers crossed that we hold meetings in Vietnam’s famous karaoke bars!

I have a lot of preparation to do over the next six weeks. I was already due to move to Brisbane with my partner this month. So I have to move to Brisbane, finish uni, arrange visas, medical and mental checks (it’s a standard procedure, I swear), finish working in my current role, attend Pre Departure Training (PDT) in Canberra, coordinate flights, find accommodation in HCMC, in addition to introducing myself to all stakeholders over the phone in the meantime: my ICM, Australia partner organisation representative, my future supervisor and counterpart.

I can’t wait to get there in July and to begin sharing my new life with my readers. Wish me luck and stay tuned! You can sign up to receive email updates as my new blogs become available. Go to the right menu area and sign up under Email Subscription.

By Marissa Toohey


2 Responses to “Vietnam, it’s like winning lotto”

  1. ourman May 9, 2010 at 2:52 AM #

    Came across your post by accident. I also ended up in Vietnam, quite by chance, after signing up to a volunteer programme some years ago.

    I did two and a half years in Hanoi for a wonderful streetkid organisation.

    I eventually tore myself away from Vietnam despite absolutely falling in love with the place. I then spent six months in NIcaragua, a year back in the UK and a year with a volunteer programme in Cameroon but I kept missing Hanoi too much.

    I returned in September last year. I’ve met a local woman and we’re soon to be married.

    Hanoi is home now. Vietnam is a wonderful country.

    Good luck.

    • theBubbleBuster May 9, 2010 at 11:34 AM #

      Hi Ourman, that’s a lovely story. Thanks. I have heard many great things about Hanoi so I will definitely plan a trip there as well. I’m looking forward to falling in love with Vietnam too 🙂

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