MovingWorlds recently got the chance to sit down with Maggie Chen to talk about her time Experteering in Vietnam with Better Life Vietnam and Tours for Books. Here’s what she told us.
What inspired you to “take the leap” and go Experteering?
I left my corporate job of two years to search for a change in lifestyle. Inspired by Gandhi’s belief that, “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in service of others”. I decided to sign up for MovingWorlds to make use of my professional skills. I wanted to go to Asia and found the opportunity to volunteer in Vietnam with Better Life Vietnam/Tours For Books.
What were you doing before going Experteering?
After working as a technology consultant for two years, I left my job and decided to backpack in New Zealand. The constant travel is tiring and I decided that I wanted to do something more meaningful than just travel – I wanted to do something where I can give back to society.
What did you do on your Experteering trip?
During my time at Better Life Vietnam, my main focus was on developing the new, self-sustaining social enterprise arm of the organization called Tours For Books—a tour company created to help fund the Better Life Vietnam projects with the profits made through the travel services. I helped with marketing and business development aspects of Tours For Books through building the brand awareness on social media, researching the behavior of the target market, and strategizing for business development opportunities.
What was the highlight of your Experteering trip?
The highlight of my Experteering experience was the field visit to a rural Vietnamese village in Ha Nam where I had the opportunity to meet the students from the school that benefitted from the BLV books library project. During the trip, we also visited students who may be eligible for the BLV scholarships. It was a great experience to see what this effort is leading to and how some students have already benefitted from the donations thanks to the efforts of the previous donors and volunteers.
What was one thing you wish you knew before you went volunteering overseas?
I come from a background working with large enterprises, so I had to learn that I cannot expect to have the same resources readily at hand when volunteering overseas. This is good experience and exposure to working in different environments and making things work with what is available and feasible.
What advice do you have for people thinking about Experteering?
Experteering is a fantastic way to volunteer a skill that you have to help an organization propel forward with their mission. Make sure this is something you actually want to do and not a “last resort”. It is only worthwhile and meaningful if you and the local change organization are equally committed.
Join Maggie in making an impact by Experteering in education, Experteering your marketing skills, and joining MovingWorlds as a member.