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Homeland travel and nice people broaden the mind

Updated: Mar 22

How arrogant are you if you go to a local community with the tag “expert” and tell them what to do without even trying to learn a tiny piece about their lives first?!

This is not a question to pose to others, as it would be rude, nor am I posing it to myself. Well, not entirely. It’s actually a thought that one character of my inner self put on the table.

Ca Mau is not my hometown. I was born and raised in the North. Although I've lived in the South for several years and consider Saigon my hometown, Ca Mau is still quite distant. But in one way or another, it counts as my homeland.

Here I am, in the southernmost province of Vietnam, of the Mekong Delta or Đồng Bằng Sông Cửu Long, Ca Mau, humbly trying to learn about this land. Agriculture has never been at the top of my interests, but this time I find myself in the atmosphere of natural-based solutions—a term I consider too fancy and academic for farmers or anyone else—sitting down and listening. And learning. Perhaps not as much as I demand of myself, but it's better than nothing. 

Before taking my turn to speak on stage, I felt the need to thank the organizers—not only for this opportunity to be here of course - but also for me personally to get to know more about the lives and people here. And I did. 

All of this comes back to home, echoing the same story with urban planning. The fancy definitions that the academic and professional worlds are discussing have, in some way, already been practiced locally. It's wrong to assume that an expert can come here and provide superior solutions to lives they have never experienced. While they may possess more advanced knowledge and scientific support, none of it has lived longer than the inherent values and wisdom that have been passed down from generation to generation in this land.

"The story of Ca Mau is the story of Dong Bang (Mekong Delta part of Vietnam), the story of Dong Bang is the story of Vietnam" - said the Minister of Agriculture.

Photo 2: Me saying thank you (probably)

Photo 1: Me learning

Ca Mau, March 22, 2024

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