YEP Duo: The Orange Knowledge Program (OKP) in Vietnam
In 2019, YEP Water Duo Juliette Eulderink and Thi Van Le Khoa started working on the Orange Knowledge Program (OKP) Climate Proof Vietnam project, led by the TU Delft and partner ITC Twente, implemented at HUNRE and Thuyloi University. Their aim is to strengthen the technical universities in the face of climate change through capacity building, with a focus on faculties in the water field. They started their YEP experience together in Hanoi, but due to the corona virus, Juliette had to return to the Netherlands after having only been a few months in Hanoi and is thus now working remotely from Amsterdam.
Juliette: Our activities include developing and improving the educational curriculum as well as organisational development and linking academics to the labour market. I work part time for both Vietnamese Universities, where I, amongst other things, facilitate activities and act as a liaison for the Dutch project partners.
Khoa: I do the same thing, but from the Vietnamese side. Furthermore, I teach several classes at the University, including water resources planning, water investigation and GIS & remote sensing.
Juliette: Our project relates to SDG13-Climate Action, as well as SDG 6-Clean Water and Sanitation. Vietnam is amongst the most vulnerable countries in the
world to climate change effects. Our OKP programme, funded by Nuffic, is a direct investment in the future of Vietnam, by training the next generation of Vietnamese engineers to adapt to climate change, instead of having to rely on the knowledge and skills of foreign experts.
Khoa: The curriculum is continuously improved to adapt to the ever-changing situation due to climate change. We’ve set up research projects for students as well as for ourselves as staff to directly study climate change.
Being a YEP Duo
Khoa: I found it a very nice way to get over difficulties relating to culture. For instance, I explained Juliette all about the Vietnamese hierarchy culture in companies beforehand, making sure she was well-prepared. Another advantage of being a YEP Duo is that it improves the communication with partners from both Vietnam and the Netherlands, as we each manage it for our own country while being in constant contact with each other.
Juliette: I definitely agree. Being a YEP Duo has helped to prevent a culture shock and allowed us to adapt to, and work in, a new and different environment more easily. And the short communication lines and our sense of project ownership has made the project so much more efficient and successful!
Highlights as a YEP Duo
Khoa: The YEP Training! It was so enlightening to be with such a diverse group of people, with different cultures and from different continents.
Juliette: I agree with Khoa. Also, I loved taking part in Vietnamese traditions. For example, I was allowed to experience Vietnamese National Teacher Day. This is a great tradition where students indulge their teachers and educative (supporting) staff through celebrations and amazing food!
Applying YEP trainings into daily work
Juliette: I really learned a lot from the facilitation training. As part of our daily activities, we have to facilitate events and activities in a different cultural context. In the training, we learned how to facilitate events in such a way that all participants are comfortable.
Khoa: I learned from the training setting itself, as we had to cooperate with all different types of Young Experts. For instance, as the direct Dutchies tend to take the leading role, local Young Experts had to learn how to adapt. On the other hand, the Dutch Young Experts had to learn to control themselves and give the Young Experts some space to participate too. So, it was a nice trade-off!
Khoa: Actually, in Vietnam, things are quite under control. We are allowed to go to the office and there’s no strict lockdown anymore. I do really miss face-to-face interactions though, as most project activities are online nowadays. However, we have noticed that the increase of online activities has also had a really positive effect on academics: participation is mostly free, people from all over the world can connect more easily and more knowledge is available, and material can be re-used, greatly increasing sustainability.
Juliette: Indeed, there have been many changes over the last couple of months. Naturally, our project had to change severely due to the pandemic, as normally all project activities are on the ground with experts flying in from the Netherlands. Now, we had to get creative as projects efforts had to be realised in a remote manner. For example, we created an openly accessible manual to online education for institutions in the Global South. Originally, it was meant for our partners in Vietnam and Myanmar, but now it’s even being used internationally across different continents!
On a personal level, things have changed severely too: I’ve spent a total of 7 months in Vietnam and have now been working remote for an even longer period. I really miss Hanoi though, so I hope to return very soon!
For more info on the project: https://www.tudelft.nl/citg/vietnam/