Planning for this trip has many parts. Since, I am doing this as a requirement for the completion of my minor, there are necessary forms and such that I have to complete along with the general travel process (airplane tickets, visa, etc).
I’ll try to go in chronological order, and every single one of these things has a story, so
- Take Global Poverty & Practice 115: Challenges and Hopes in the New Millennium ✓
Taught by Ananya Roy. This class changed the way I viewed the world. Yes, it was such a powerful class to me, and one of the biggest reasons why I declared the minor. It gave me an overall view of poverty in the world, and the many ways we deal with it. Poverty alleviation is not easy or it would have been eliminated it by now. There are structures and institutions that are place that perpetuate poverty, and it is these structures that we need to dealing with. The poor pay more for everything. Spatially proximate strangers vs. Spatially distant neighbors. Voluntourism. Philanthrocapitalism. There is simply too much to say about this class than I can put here.
But, I knew that the minor was for me because of this class. We are the Millennials.
- Declare the Global Poverty & Practice (GPP) minor. ✓
This required the “Minor Declaration of Intent Form”, where I had to have an idea of what organization I would be working with for my practice experience. At this time, I wasn’t even thinking about going international because of finances and my parents would have a hard time letting me go. I put down “School of Wheels”, an organization that tutors homeless kids and offers them nutritional snacks. They’re based in Southern California, and I’ve volunteered for them before, so I thought it would be a convenient experience.
- Find an organization to do your practice experience ✓
This was not an easy task. I was planning to do my practice experience over the summer, but where was going to do it? Did I want to stay in Berkeley in the summer? Or, did I want to go home and be with my family? For a while, I was looking into local practice experience opportunities. So, I sought out help from Professor Emmanuel Saez* from the Econ department here. He was super helpful and suggested a few organizations, but those did not end up working out.
And then, someone suggested that I should go to Vietnam. I had considered traveling internationally before for my practice experience, but I did not think my parents would be okay with my traveling to Africa or South America (I would LOOOOVE to go to Rio).
This was definitely a researching process.
I eventually found a third-party organization through Idealist called CADIP. They had long-term programs in Vietnam. But, long story short, it didn’t work out with them and I lost a $600+ deposit. I was really devastated.
However, I was lucky to find UBELONG, another third-party organization, which matched me with CECAD, the Center for the Environment and Community Assets Development. That is organization with which I will be doing my practice experience.
- Apply for a passport ✓
I applied for my passport last year after wanting to get one for years. I have always wanted to travel internationally, and pretty much everyone in my family has.
- Apply for the GPP Fellowship ✓
The GPP Fellowship would help me pay for my travel expenses. I am entirely thankful that I was able to receive a good amount of money to cover most of my expenses. And I would like to shout out to Veena**, who edited some of the essays.
- Take GPP 105: The Ethics, Methods, and Pragmatics of Global Practice ✓
GPP 105 is like prep class before our practices experiences. We all must take it before or during our practice experience.
I turned in my final assignment—a literature review on doi moi in Vietnam—for this class last week. This class has been one of my most meaningful classes that I have ever taken at Cal. Professor Clare Talwalker, who has been teaching the class since the beginning of the minor, and my GSI, Lauren Valdez, who was a fellow GPP alum; they made it worth it. It was a great class, and I met great people who all are in the minor.
We learned life skills and talked about our worries, our excitements, our passions, our backgrounds, our lives. We were in a small class and got to know each other. I really enjoyed this class.
- Apply for a visa ✓
Compared to many other countries that have strict requirements for visas, getting the visa for Vietnam was quite easy. I just gathered everything: photocopy of my passport, something else I can’t remember, the application; and I sent it to the Vietnam Embassy in DC. I got my visa in the mail about three weeks later. I am glad it was so easy.
- Pay program fees ✓
- Attend GPP Pre-Departure Orientation ✓
The Blum Center, where the GPP minor department is located, hosted our pre-departure orientation, and this was the first time when things felt real. We were able to hear about the different organizations people have found in different sectors (water sanitation, advocacy, fair trade, housing, public health, etc), and in many different places around the world (Indonesia, India, Tanzania, Peru, San Francisco, Brazil, etc). People came to talk to us about booking travel, staying healthy during travel, and documenting our practice experiences. We broke up into groups based on our areas and were able to talk intimately.
I am so thankful for this experience.
- Make an appointment for a travel consult ✓
A travel consult is basically an appointment with a nurse to make sure that you have the necessary medications and vaccines for the area you will be traveling to. Guess how many shots that I had to get?
More than 5!
I had to get 8!! 1 Hepatitis B (Just finishing the series that I had already started). 1 influenza. 1 typhoid. 2 Japanese Encephalitis. 3 rabies.
I also needed to get bug repellant cream and diarrhea pills.
- Purchase plane tickets ✓
For a long time, I was watching plane ticket prices for many weeks before I actually purchased them. The prices didn’t really move that much. Until one day, the price of them increased dramatically and I freaked out. It was midnight on a Tuesday, if that matters. So, like someone suggested, I deleted my cookies and tried again. The prices went back to normal, and I promised myself that I would purchase my plane tickets in the afternoon when I had all my information together.
So, the afternoon came and I was sitting the GPP advising office with Veena, and when I checked for the plane tickets, the prices had gone up again. Sadness!! So, I spent some time scouting other websites and airlines. Nothing was going to be cheaper.
Then, out of exasperation, I said, “Maybe I just need another computer!”
Veena asked me if I wanted to use hers. And when I did, the price went BACK to its ORIGINAL price!! I bought the tickets immediately.
I can’t believe using a different computer makes a difference!! Buying plane tickets. It really is a game!
- Turn in a Practice Agreement Form ✓
So, that my organization knows that I am actually going to be there during the time I plan to be there.
- Fill out a Travel Profile ✓
Necessary information that would be useful to carry around and useful for my family to know.
- Alert everyone and everything: your family, your friends, your bank
Currently in the process.
This has been a long and arduous process, but I know it will be worth it in the end.
All I have to do now is buy all the necessary things for my trip, and GET ON A PLANE.
*Professor Emmanuel Saez teaches Public Economies here at Berkeley and is the Director for the Center of Equitable Growth. He is mostly known for his research and studies on income inequality in America, along with Thomas Picketty. I have been following his research in high school, and his research is one of the reasons why I am an economics major. I admire his work, and when I met him in person, I nearly swooned.
**Veena is a fellow GPP minor. She has been my mentor throughout this entire process. Much more than an advisor, but a friend and someone that has been there for me when I needed her. I am very thankful to have her in my life.
Over and out.