Living in a developed country, there are many things that I take for granted. For example, I never pay too much attention to the fact how clean and fresh Estonian air is, or really appreciate our educational system. But something changes when you travel. Let me correct that, something changes when you travel outside of your comfort zone. There is a possibility that you will see and notice things that just might change your view on the world. During my first days in Ho Chi Minh City, I found it very difficult to breathe because of the air pollution. It is odd for me to think that people who have grown up here might not even know what it feels like to have their lungs filled with clean air and most likely they are unaware of the consequences polluted air has on their health. But they say that time heals all wounds, which translates to: with time you will get used to it. I have been here around 3 weeks, and I do not even notice the polluted air anymore.
Vietnam is becoming the new China and there’s a trend taking place right now, where companies relocated their manufacturing from China to Vietnam due to more cheap labor force and cheaper cost of logistics.
As someone who is used to living in a very safe environment (no natural disasters or major political crises), it is easy for me to be ignorant on the subject. I might be aware of the problems around me but it is different if you see first-hand how consumerism is directly affecting people’s life quality. And especially if that dangerous trend of consuming as much as possible and as fast as possible is combined with being uneducated on the aftermath effect. We see child obesity taking place in Vietnam (due to the introduction of fast food), crazy amount of plastic and trash lying around everywhere, and as mentioned before air pollution. Most of the factories that operate in Vietnam would not be allowed to operate in Europe due to major environmental policy violations.It is a quick and cheap way for Westerns to get rich on the expense of someone else, and at the same enjoy clean environment and wealth while someone else is paying for the consequences.
In AIESEC we do pay attention to such injustice and contribute to solutions. Check out our Global Volunteer programs, which are directly linked to educate young people across the world on matters like this. youth.aiesec.org.