TF SCALE VIII in pictures: 19 students, 2 lecturers, 12 days in Vietnam

RP SAS and USSH students and RP lecturer, Mr Jeremy Kong pose for a photo outside the USSH Thủ Đức campus on March 22. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

19 Republic Polytechnic (RP) students and two lecturers from the School of Applied Science (SAS) embarked on a 12-day trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for the Temasek Foundation Specialists’ Community Action and Leadership Exchange (TF SCALE) VIII. Follow the students through their educational and recreational activities from 21 March to 1 April 2023.

RP SAS and USSH students and RP lecturer, Mr Jeremy Kong pose for a photo outside the USSH Thủ Đức campus on March 22. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

START OF SOMETHING GREAT: Rhonda Low, a second-year Pharmaceutical Science student holds up a welcome banner for a group photo at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport to mark the start of the TF SCALE VIII outbound programme. Upon arrival at the airport, the SAS students were pleasantly greeted by their Vietnamese counterparts from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH). (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

AMUSING WELCOME GIFT: USSH students, Võ Mỹ Khải Hoàn (far left) and Nguyễn Lê Quỳnh Nhi (second from left) pose with SAS students Eva Binte Karl (third from left) and Naca Mavhie (far right) for a photo outside the airport. The Vietnamese students surprised their Singaporean friends with custom handheld boards with their faces printed on them. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

OPENING CEREMONY: USSH student Trịnh Hải Đăng, hosts the opening ceremony at the USSH campus in District 1 on day two. The ceremony included a performance, opening speeches from RP lecturer, Mr Ashray Ramachandran and USSH lecturer, Ms Phuc Le Thi Ngoc as well as a series of bonding games for the students to reconnect. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

THINK YOU KNOW ME?: For the first of the bonding games, SAS students, Sherard Kuan (left) and Shreya Acharya (right) go head-to-head in a game testing how well they know each other. Pairs from opposing teams came forward to answer each other’s questions amidst quips and laughter. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

WE’VE COME A LONG WAY: USSH student, Phạm Hoàng Khang (far left) and a USSH staff member, Nguyễn Sự conducts a tour around the heritage gallery at the USSH Thủ Đức campus. In its 66-year history, the school has achieved stellar accomplishments as one of Vietnam’s top universities.  (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

LEAVING A PERENNIAL MARK: Second-year Biomedical Science student Janelle Teo writes her well wishes for the TF SCALE VIII programme on the visitor book at the heritage gallery in the USSH Thủ Đức campus. The SAS and USSH students each took turns to fill the page, leaving messages in Vietnamese and English. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

THE PAGODAS OF VIETNAM: (from left) SAS students Shreya Acharya, Nethra Manivannan, Janelle Teo and Presha Rani Sugumaran pose for a photo at the entrance of the Giác Lâm Buddhist Temple. On their expedition around Ho Chi Minh City, the students visited several landmarks and attractions to learn more about Vietnamese culture. (PHOTO: Nur Ihshana Shaheen) 

SIMPLE WAYS OF LIFE: SAS student Rhonda Low tries her hand at grinding rice with a traditional stone mill at the Sunshine Hóc Môn eco-tourism park in Ho Chi Minh City. The students were given rice and water to pour into the mill and grind into a paste. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

SPLASHING FUN: Aside from learning about Vietnam’s traditional practices, the students also had a fun-filled afternoon of water activities at the Sunshine Hóc Môn eco-tourism park which included rowing plastic boats, zip-lining across the pond and hand-catching fish. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

LITTLE BOUTS OF HAPPINESS: Primary one students at Võ Văn Thặng Primary School hold up their artwork showcasing their happiest moment in life as part of a drawing activity for the Eat Well, Live Well programme for the children on March 25. (PHOTO: Nur Ihshana Shaheen)

ONE HAPPY FAMILY: A primary one student draws a picture of her family, expressing she is happiest with them. (PHOTO: Nur Ihshana Shaheen)

MUCH TO DIGEST: A Vietnamese elderly reads a pamphlet on healthy living and eating prepared and distributed by the SAS and USSH students for day two of the Eat Well, Live Well programme for the elderly in Võ Văn Thặng Primary School on March 26. The elderly were well engaged and participated actively during the programme. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

FOOD FROM THE HEART: Vietnamese elderly share stories while enjoying the ABC soup prepared by the students in the school canteen at Võ Văn Thặng Primary School. “Seeing the smiles of the elderly was definitely a highlight,” recalled second-year Environmental and Marine Science student Tan Liao Yi on the programme. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

GIFTS FROM THE HEART: At the end of the programme, SAS lecturer, Mr Ashray Ramachandran distributes goodie bags containing Tiger Balm and a healthy living and eating pamphlet to the elderly in the school canteen. The students had purchased the Tiger Balms and printed the pamphlets in Singapore. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

INTO THE WILDERNESS: On a scorching Monday afternoon, the SAS and USSH students head down to Sok Farm in the Mekong Delta Province to learn about the farm-produced coconut nectar. Sok Farm has been the only company producing coconut nectar and other byproducts in Vietnam. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

SUPPORTING FARMERS’ LIVELIHOODS: A farmer extracts coconut nectar from coconut flowers in Sok Farm. As coconut prices dropped drastically in Tra Vinh Province in 2018, founder Thach Thi Chal Thi thought of producing coconut nectar as a lucrative sweetener alternative, which increased income for farmers two or threefold. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

SWEET LIKE HONEY BUT DIFFERENT: Second-year Biotechnology student Naca Mavhie takes a spoon of raw coconut nectar freshly extracted from coconut flowers. The students were pleasantly surprised at the sweet notes of the coconut nectar, which is extracted by the traditional Khmer techniques of massaging the coconut blossoms and nectar harvesting. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CULTURE: USSH student Quách Kiến Thành and SAS student Janelle Teo take a walk around the Vĩnh Tràng pagoda in the Mekong Delta region. Janelle noted: “I learned about things that were not frequently talked about including sensitive topics like religion. Hearing from the locals and Vietnamese students, I have a more unbiased view and understanding of their cultural roots.” (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

ON THE MEKONG RIVER: USSH student Huỳnh Ngọc Hân (left), and second-year Pharmaceutical Science student, Chan Jia Hui (right) pose for a photo on a boat ride along the Mekong River. As Asia’s third longest river, the Mekong River flows through six countries and accounts for 25 percent of global freshwater catch, making it the world’s largest inland fishing industry. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

BEE’S KNEES BUNCH: For a taste of raw bee honey, Chan Jia Hui is guided by a local tour guide as she reaches into a honeycomb rack of bees at a bee farm on the Mekong River’s Unicorn Island. The students were then invited to taste the honey and drink honey tea at the farm. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

ALL SMILES AT THE PALACE: SAS students pose for a photo outside the Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City. The Independence Palace is a century-old building and the home and workplace of the president of the Republic of Vietnam. The students also visited the Saigon Zoo and the War Remnants Museum on 29 March. (PHOTO: Hồ Minh Trí)

ÁO DÀI GALORE: (from left) Rhonda Low, Vonshae Koh and Gweynth Chan sit at a bench in the Áo Dài Museum in District 9 of Ho Chi Minh City. The museum hosts five exhibitions showing ao dai from different periods in chronological order, including those worn by Vietnamese singers and performers as well as ao dai inspired by various Southeast Asian cultures. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

SING YOUR HEART OUT: At the USSH campus in District 1, (from left) USSH students, Phùng Hoàng Khang and Trịnh Hải Đăng let loose in a karaoke session to kick start the closing ceremony for the SAS students’ second last day in Vietnam on March 31. The students were soon lifted out of their despondent moods as more came forward to take the mic while others sang and clapped along. (PHOTO: Nur Ihshana Shaheen)

TO RP, FROM USSH: (from left) Deputy Head of the USSH Department of Foreign Affairs and Scientific Management, Nguyễn Võ Đan Thanh, RP lecturers, Mr Ashray Ramachandran and Mr Jeremy Kong and USSH staff in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Scientific Management, Nguyễn Phạm Hồng Đào pose for a photo after the RP lecturers received a parting gift from USSH during the closing ceremony. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

FINAL KNOWLEDGE TEST: SAS students, Shreya Acharya and Ang E-Young team up with USSH counterparts, Nguyễn Cẳm Giang and Nguyễn Phạm Hồng Đào to compete against RP lecturers, Mr Jeremy Kong and Mr Ashray Ramachandran and USSH students, Quách Kiến Thành and Huỳnh Ngọc Hân in a timed race to name the most number of places in Singapore and Vietnam respectively. The latter emerged as the winning team with 24 named places in Vietnam, beating the former with 17 named places in Singapore. (PHOTO: Nur Ihshana Shaheen)

MAKE A WISH: (from left) Second-year Pharmaceutical Science student Ang E-young and USSH students, Huỳnh Ngọc Hân and Quách Kiến Thành were pleasantly surprised with a cake prepared by the USSH students for the trio’ birthdays which fell on April 1, March 10 and March 13 respectively. (PHOTO: Nur Ihshana Shaheen)

HARD TO SAY GOODBYE: Second-year Pharmaceutical Science student Shreya Acharya breaks out in tears at the end of the closing ceremony and is comforted by USSH student, Ngô Tiêu Hy and fellow SAS student Ang E-Young. When asked to sum up her experience in Vietnam in one sentence, Shreya replied in tears: “Good things shouldn’t come to an end.”  (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)

LETTERS TO REMEMBER BY: SAS student Eva Binte Karl poses for a photo while holding up her written farewell letter for USSH student and her Vietnamese buddy, Nguyễn Lê Quỳnh Nhi. At the end of the closing ceremony, the SAS and USSH students exchanged emotional interactions consisting of letters, gifts, hugs and group photos before leaving the campus. (PHOTO: Savanna Tai)