RMIT Vietnam NewsStudents help rural community deal with natural disasters

Students help rural community deal with natural disasters

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 - 15:32
(From left to right) Do Thuy Van, Nhu Thi Thu Hien, Tran Quang Hoang Long, Lam Quang Viet, Dien Huyen Linh, Head of village and lecturer Nguyen Thi Hong Phuong.
Professional Communication students Nhu Thi Thu Hien (left) and Tran Quang Hoang Long (right) was conducting indepth focus group at Son La province

A group of Professional Communication students ventured far into the mountains of northern Vietnam to work with the French Red Cross and help the people of Son La province deal with natural disasters.

As part of their Professional Communication Studio course, the students are developing a communications campaign about gender-based natural disaster risks complete with campaign strategies, visual execution concepts and mock ups, and photos and videos.

Professional Communication Lecturer Nguyen Thi Hong Phuong said the field research was intended to provide students with real-world problem-solving skills.

“A communication campaign will only be effective if the planners have insight into their target audience,” Ms Nguyen said. 

“This field trip was organised because it gave the students information that they wouldn’t have gotten from desk research.

“Even though the schedule was tight, students worked hard.

“They listened to people with an open-hearted attitude to understand their lives and their problems in natural disasters.”

Ms Nguyen emphasised how independently the students worked.

“Students had to build a questionnaire by themselves. Not only on this trip but also during the entire Professional Communication Studio course,  I have been more like a facilitator than a lecturer to them.”

The students were also hardy, having made the arduous seven-hour 350-kilometre drive from Hanoi.

“Some of them even got carsick while travelling, but the next morning they walked around the village, observed, talked with the locals and took photos for later use,” Ms Nguyen said.

For Bachelor of Communication (Professional Communication) student Do Thuy Van, the field trip was not only a challenge but also an opportunity.

“The road to Lam village was horrible, but we got a chance to have a closer look at the people – their lives, situations and wishes,” Van said.

“One interviewee told us that he lost all his crops due to severe hoar frost and is 20 million VND in debt which is a fortune for someone like him.

“We hope that our campaigns can help the community cope with natural disaster better and somehow provide a life-changing experience,” Van added.

Another student representative Dien Huyen Linh was amazed by the trip and kindness of the people.

“The local people were very supportive,” Linh said.

“They helped us make the most out of the trip and get the best outcome which is to create a campaign to raise awareness about natural disaster risks.”

The five Bachelor of Communication (Professional Communication) students who made the journey to Son La province included Do Thuy Van, Dien Huyen Linh, Nhu Thi Thu Hien, Tran Quang Hoang Long and Lam Quang Viet.

Story: Ha Hoang