I really could not have asked for more from my two week trip to Vietnam for this internship. Everything was organised by Vina Volunteer Service from helping me with my visa to collecting me from the airport upon arrival which made me feel safe and relaxed about travelling to such an unfamiliar destination. The place I had chosen to visit was Mai Chau in Northern Vietnam where I was hoping to make a difference to local businesses and use my skills to help some of the members of the local community. As soon as I arrived, I was awestruck by the beauty of Mai Chau and it’s phenomenally green mountains and surroundings. Once I had found my bags, I was greeted by the friendly locals and shown to my accommodation where I was welcomed by a wonderful lady named Xuan. Every problem seemed too small for her, and Xuan insisted on making me meals and guiding me around the local area to show me the market and farm land before I began work for the day.
When I started work the next day I began getting to know the locals and what it was like living in a village like Mai Chau. Although their equipment was a little different to what I was used to, I was able to use my skills as a designer to help develop some interesting publications to promote Mai Chau and the area. Every day was a fantastic experience and the prospect of working with these people made me excited to go to work again the following day.
My work as graphic designer included designing creative blog templates, updating the Facebook page and website to entice more tourists and promote Mai Chau, and also work closely with the creative director on several marketing and sales projects that really helped me develop my skills as a graphic designer. The most exciting part of the internship was sketching and developing my own designs for a banner campaign which is now in the process of being printed. Initially I was very nervous about speaking in front of people and pitching my ideas for the campaigns but the creative director was so helpful and supportive that I have become so confident and relaxed when speaking in public about my work. Whilst we were working, I also got to hear a lot of interesting stories about the history of the White Thai people and their traditions including the origin of their group and the Vietnamese customs which I looked into a little more in depth at the local Thai museum.
My favourite experience of Mai Chau was the campfire celebrations where I witnessed the traditional ‘Xoe-Hoa’ dances and experienced authentic home cooked Thai cuisine which was some of the best food I have ever tasted. The Thai people are so warm and friendly that they made me feel like I was at home right away and an honorary member of their community. From the staff working in Mai Chau to the organisers at Vina Volunteer Service I really could find no fault in the trip they provided me with and I would absolutely recommend this internship to any designers who want to gain a unique experience that will help you stand out to prospective employers when applying for positions in the future.