After taking a gap year to give back to his community by co-founding a social initiative, RMIT Vietnam’s 2017 President’s Award recipient Mai Duc Hieu took to the seas to share his experiences with youth from all over Southeast Asia and Japan.
The Bachelor of Business (International Business) graduate engaged in vibrant discussions on social and youth matters, and enjoyed a unique cultural experience with fellow participants undertaking the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme (SSEAYP). This year’s participants came from Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
“I first heard about SSEAYP from my teacher six years ago while studying high school at a small province in southern Vietnam,” Hieu recalled.
“For a little boy who hadn’t been overseas before, all the eye-opening stories and photos that the teachers showed in the class imprinted in my mind and constantly encouraged me to go out, make friends and better myself.”
The Programme gave Hieu an opportunity to share his experiences as co-founder of the social initiative, Bamboo Builders. On behalf of the SSEAYP Vietnam team and one other delegate, Hieu presented the project and its vision – building people, from the inside out – to more than 300 participants in the Youth Programme. The values, impact and purpose – to “create future generations of future change makers as well as leaders who are empowered to create social change” – inspired others to question how they could bring the initiative to their own country.
After the voyage, Hieu realised that the Programme was about so much more than sharing impactful stories and participating in the schedule; it also gave him a new appreciation for kindness and connections with others on a human level.
“I could feel the sincerity from my host [family] in each country we visited,” Hieu said. “In Japan, I was taught how to cook Japanese food and taken to a weekend Farmer’s Market to sell coffee.
“In Brunei, [my host family] intentionally prepared extra raw material for [Hieu and his homestay mate] to learn about the ingredients and how to cook them. It all helped me realise that what matters the most are values such as the kindness, hospitality and friendliness, not the skills nor the experiences I acquired throughout the trip.”
With a ‘can-do attitude’, Hieu has now accepted a new challenge as a Digital Marketing Analytics Trainee at Traveloka while planning his next adventures.
Story: Press Office