by: Dennis Lien, School of International and Public Affairs, Masters of Public Administration in International Energy Management and Finance, Class of 2014
My internship at SNV Vietnam and the Vietnam Biogas Project afforded me the most amazing summer that I have ever had, put me into contact with a lot of people who I never would have imagined meeting and also placed me in roles that I never would have imagined myself in when I left SIPA for Hanoi. My summer was filled with a tremendous amount of both professional and personal highlights as the funding from SYLFF contributed to giving me the opportunity to live and work in Vietnam, the country from which my parents had immigrated to the United States from nearly 40 years ago. The funding from SYLFF contributed to the many expenses that I faced to travel there, and helped cover the room that I lived in during my internship in Hanoi. All in all, it afforded me the opportunity to have the amazing experience that I had in Vietnam over the summer.
As a descendant of refugees from Southern Vietnam, before I left for Hanoi I felt uneasy about the implications of working with the socialist government of the North. At many points in time, I had to keep an open mind to the opinions that I heard from people who I worked with and people who I met during the time that I spent there. However, the greatest lesson that I learned was to constantly try to understand situations from the opposing perspective both in personal experiences like these, and in my work. This helped me significantly when I interviewed construction enterprise leaders and masons, and especially in trying to formulate a final presentation on my findings for a linguistically divided audience split between English and Vietnamese.
Working essentially in the capacity of a Market and Financial Analyst, my main project was a market research study of the biogas supply in Vietnam. The work at SNV Vietnam and the Vietnam Biogas Project put me in positions that allowed me to learn new skills and reinforce the skills that I have learned in the last year at SIPA. The projects that I was involved with undoubtedly enhanced my skill set to further my goals of working in sustainability, energy and development in Asia in the future. The major market study that I performed gave me valuable experience in applying quantitative and analytical skills that I already possess. With my involvement in numerous projects within the Vietnam Biogas Program and at SNV, I worked to define the biogas market in Vietnam and analyzed individual biogas digester construction businesses in the country.
I will publish a final report resulting from the research, field work and analyses that I spearheaded over the summer. My supervisor also hopes to have me use portions of my findings to author and publish an article in a number of English and Vietnamese-language renewable energy and sustainability publications, which will increase my visibility in the industry. Needless to say, the growth that I experienced in my career and professional life over the summer was exponential, and the funding from SYLFF absolutely contributed to it.
On a note of personal highlights, one of the field visits took me to a rural province in South Vietnam that allowed me the opportunity to meet three first-cousins that I had previously never met. This afforded me an amazing opportunity to also discover the homes where my parents grew up and meet extended family that only knew of my existence from stories and dated family photographs sent back from the US. In short, the contributions that SYLFF made towards the variety of rich personal and professional experiences that I was able to experience over the summer in Vietnam were priceless.