Skip to main content Skip to site utility navigation Skip to main site navigation Skip to site search Skip to footer

Social Entrepreneurship Project in Vietnam - Mary Grace Cambaliza's Story

Mary posing with a group of people

As a Filipino traveler, I’ve always wanted to visit the rest of Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam for its cuisine. The opportunity came to me through NSCC International’s Social Entrepreneurship Program with Trà Vinh University. But instead of flying from the other side of South China Sea, I flew halfway around the world as an International Student representing Canada.

I loved finding similarities (and differences) between the two Southeast Asian countries and then contrasting them with Canada where I now live for the past year.

Vietnamese cuisine, for example, was generally hot and sweet, while the Filipino food I grew up with was savoury sweet and salty. I couldn’t place these characteristics strongly in Canadian food. “No sugar” in my coffee or “not spicy” were also lost in translation with the language barrier, often resulting in adventure, sometimes frustration.

Navigating traffic was another adventure. Our taxis sped on streets, weaving in and out of lanes in a sea of mopeds, honking half the time. Imagine crossing the streets! No, it was nothing like Canada. And yes, it reminded me of Manila. (I did feel guilty for enjoying the group’s collective gasps!)

Kindness, however, was one thing that’s similar in all cultures. It’s something I knew too well in the Philippines, and which I’m getting to know in my new home in Nova Scotia. The TVU students we worked with had been tasked to take care of us, but they constantly made us feel welcome in surprising ways. In the end, it’s everyone’s (NSCC or TVU) endless capacity to show kindness that made the whole trip unforgettable.

Mary Grace Cambaliza
Business Tourism Student
NSCC Kingstec Campus