Interning at Action for the City in Hanoi
Written by Josh Serrano (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) Student Correspondent
Hobart and William Smith and Union Colleges in Vietnam, Fall 2013
While studying abroad in Hanoi, Vietnam I have an internship at Action For The City, a small NGO. With a small staff of less than 10 people, this organization strives to improve the environmental conditions of urban dwellers by promoting lifestyles of sustainability, and support organic farming. Action For the City teams up with local farmers, and teaches them to farm organically. To make profit for the farmers, they then sell the organic products online, and deliver the goods to customers using their own delivery truck. In addition, Action For the City has hundreds of community partners (mostly women) in Hoi An and Hanoi who work together to clean their cities. They also hold workshops to teach people within their communities about changes they could make in their day to day activities to decease negative impacts on the environment. This organization is funded through international grants and a partnership with the Irish government.
One of our projects was to build a greenhouse out of plastic bottles for the “Living Green Festival” at the Vietnam Women’s Museum. We collected bottles from local primary school children and an assortment of bamboo sticks. We then had to wash each bottle, remove the labels, and cut the bottoms off. Using the bamboo and some tie, we constructed the frame of the greenhouse. We then made columns using the bamboo and bottles, and attached them to the frame. In about two weeks, the construction of our greenhouse was complete.
Traveling to the primary schools to collect the bottles was really fun, and a very effective way to get the large amount of bottles we needed. Some of the school principals made strong efforts to encourage students to bring bottles from home. With Action For The City being such a small NGO, it is really important that community partners do all they can to further the mission and contribute. Collecting bottles from the local schools proved to be an effective means to collecting the bottles we needed.
I was never particularly interested in environmental sustainability and green living, but working with this organization has definitely motivated me to find ways in my own life to be less wasteful. This organization shows that education and effective leadership on these matters can go a long way in influencing people to adjust their lifestyles in the name of our global environment.