When I was a kid, I was always over-excited whenever there was a chance to go outside of the classroom, as long as I could be able to hang around. However, if those “outside classrooms” are so many that you think your class is somewhere in the center of district 1, not the Crescent in district 7, it is another story…
During the Critical exploration of Ho Chi Minh city course, we were divided into different groups to go to different places in the city and learn about them in the aspects of geography, human, history and also learn how to solve the long-term problems in those areas.
Contrastory to the excitement of the students in the afternoon after their first field trip with a ton of stories to tell, their faces in the next morning were nightmare. Learning through field trips was more exhausting than I thought as all of our senses had to work at their highest capacity the whole time.
We had to walk through all the route we had planned on Google map in order to not missing any fascinating piece along the road, we had to look at everything carefully and critically to be able to capture the suitable pictures for class assignment.
In details, we had to collect pictures in categories such as “Happiness”, “Laziness”, “Who does not belong in Ho Chi Minh city?”…which all have the very general topic, and also, do not have an accurate answer. Those pictures, in fact, are our language to speak up our thoughts and viewpoints.
In all the field trips, we also had to think of any possible way to talk to the people in that place. What story could be more genuine and interesting than the story right from the people live there?
Some of us bought some goods to talk to the seller, one went on Grab for 30 minutes around the city to listen to the driver’s life story, and I drank my orange juice, played around with the squirrel of the seller and talk to her the whole morning.
These were not just our interview assignment, but the way we truly listened to and shared the stories of the people, the culture, and even the city. We not only had to say the social greeting only but also the way to approach the “sensitive” problem when we were conducting our livability research.
The most remarkable thing in this class was that our teachers did not give any lecture at any day! In case we learned on campus that day, we actively shared our stories, experiences, memories, and brought up the problem in our field.
We popped up questions and learned from that, from the knowledge, feelings, to the methodology to develop our current materials.
Is that true all the philosophers are always right? Maybe, but we still found out different issues in his talk to have the discussion on. It was not about who was right and who was not, the main purpose was to see one issue as multiple aspects.
How can a group of students solve city long-term problems? No, maybe we cannot solve them, we give our extraordinary ideas on them, and at least, we dare to think about those “adult” problems.
Throughout all the course, I have never heard about “right” or “wrong”.
And because of the “critical” element, any problem could always be either “right” and “wrong”! We do not focus on learning through lectures and research, we learn about the city as how it is, and we think about the city through our own lens.
And after the whole exploring journey we have gone through together, we realize that, Ho Chi Minh city is very interesting, but in our own unique version.