First Vietnamese Impressions

GIP Vietnam has officially started and the first two days have already been full of amazing activities. On Saturday, participants arrived from all over the world and, trying to win the jet lag, some of us had the possibility to have a first look at Ho Chi Minh City. The Presidential Palace, the War Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral are only some of the most important monuments in the city. At night, we had a very special Welcome Dinner Cruise on the Saigon River. In a magic atmosphere with local food, dances and songs, we began to become familiar with each other and we ended the night making the first picture with the Columbia Business School’s flag.

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Instead, on Sunday we had the opportunity to see a “different” Vietnam, not the one of the cities, but the one of the countryside. We did an entire day trip exploring the Mekong River Delta southern of Ho Chi Minh City. The trip started sailing on the Mekong River by a wooden boat and then we visited some local businesses: a brick producer, a small producer of coconut pastries and a manufacturer of reed mattresses. The reality is much different from the one that we met in the city with its lights and skyscrapers. For this reason, it has been a unique experience to see directly how the majority of Vietnamese family businesses work.

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Come back to the city, the night continued with great local food and the best craft beer in town. Tomorrow we will start our company visits meeting a real estate developer, a private equity fund and one of the top three largest private sector Vietnamese companies. It will be a busy day, but we still have in mind the beautiful green landscapes that we have seen today.

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Elena Richermo ’18

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