Thanks to YES and SEA CAPE
When I sat down to write this I had no idea how to start.
How can I possibly fit such an intense trip into one blog post?
But none the less I am going to try and here it is.
Stepping into the airport on Saturday the 28th of September 2019, I was filled with nerves and a massive case of imposter syndrome. Seeing everyone in their matching SEA CAPE backpacks and hats was even more intimidating and I started to wonder what I was doing there. At this point, I had no idea I would be stepping into one of the most incredible experiences of my life and within a week these strangers would grow to become some of my closest friends.
As we arrived in Thailand we were tired from two sleepless flights filled with giggles and a lot of getting to know each other. The hotel was gorgeous and at this point, it still didn’t feel real.
After a quick change, our first day consisted of a guided walk around our local area, a stop at a cafe/art gallery, a dip in the hotel pool for some of us and a filling hotel meal. The aim of the first day was to tire us out and it definitely did just that - after a little more bonding for the whole team everyone was knackered and we were asleep as soon as our heads hit our pillows.
The second day was just a taster of how busy and full-on our trip was going to be. We visited Chulalongkorn University to hear from two amazing speakers about Thai history and economics. This was followed by a trip to the NZ Embassy and a talk with NZTE.
At the embassy, we met the 5 Thai Students from Shrewsbury International School that we would be working with over the week. The thai students stayed with us for the rest of the day as we visited the Klong Toei, had our first Thai language lesson and visited Silom Village for a delicious dinner and performance.
Whilst visiting the Klong Toei we saw a very different side of Thailand. It showed us how in some places sustainability just isn’t a priority as people are more focused on survival. I think we forget about this, we forget that although we are lucky enough to have the option to swap to sustainable products some people don’t even have access to clean water so a reusable straw or banning single-use plastics aren’t the most important things to them.
Although the buzz of excitement on the way back from dinner made it seem like we could have stayed up for hours we were all exhausted and fell asleep as soon as we made it back from the briefing and up to our rooms.
We were told at the airport before we left that every day would get more and more hectic. I think it is important to acknowledge that Colin never lied in saying this because somehow the third day DID manage to get even busier than the last. We visited Patom Organic Living, Tetrapak, Fiber Pattana recycling plant, attended a cooking class and presentations from both Local Alike and Good Travel.
Day four started off with a visit to the CP Group and PIM (Panyapiwat Institute of Management) CP Group is one of Thailand's largest private companies. The group is one of the world's most powerful conglomerates and it was impressive to hear about the scale and success of the group.
This was followed by a trip to True Digital Park where we were toured around their new space filled with innovative businesses, lots of artificial intelligence and large co-working spaces. This was one of my favorite visits from the whole trip as it was inspiring to see such a community within a building, the energy within the space was amazing and I could really see myself joining as a member if only it wasn’t on the other side of the world.
Back at the hotel, we were met by the Thai students for another Thai language lesson and afterward, the night was topped off with a dinner in a cute vegan cafe and our first of three trips to a Thai market.
We always wondered if the trip would slow down. Surely it couldn’t stay as busy as it was the whole way through. But it did!
Day five was just as impressive with talks from Lexicon about the power of storytelling, Claudia Angthel about taking opportunities and building a personal brand, Kai NZ about their challenges and experiences within different industries in the Thai market and SCG about their “eco” labels and what they are doing as a company to make things more sustainable.
The night was filled with a visit to Hubba, a business aimed at growing startups within Thailand. Here we met the Thai students again and prepped for our business challenge the next day. After planning and a lot of discussion with the founders of Hubba, we spent the rest of our evening at the second market of the trip which was a lot more packed, hectic and busy.
Day six was another personal highlight for me. The day started off with a trip to a beautiful temple. We were then greeted by the Thai students at their school where we would spend the day completing our business challenge. We worked in teams of three and it was awesome to see all of our knowledge from the week get pulled together and combined with the culture and Thai knowledge from the Thai students. We were also lucky enough to receive a “pitching masterclass” from one of the founders of Hubba before we had to pitch to the judges at the end of the day.
We all worked so hard and within 6 hours managed to channel all of our knowledge into a pitch, presentation, and essay. After a prizegiving, dinner and our goodbyes with the Thai students, we visited a third and final market and took a boat trip back to the hotel.
Overall the trip was perfect. I learned so much: my knowledge of Thailand business practices has grown immensely and I feel as though I am much more confident in my understanding of Thai culture and the sustainability within the country.
It was also incredible to meet other likeminded people who are just as passionate about business and what they are doing. After spending the week with everyone it is safe to say that the imposter syndrome disappeared and we ended up leaving as one big supportive team. The connections I made with the other students attending the trip, chaperones supporting us throughout the trip, and the businesses and people we met in Thailand are relationships that I will treasure and continue to build on in the future.
All in all the trip is something I will talk about for years to come. I am so grateful for both SEA CAPE and YES for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to increase my knowledge through this once in a lifetime trip. At the beginning of the year I never dreamed of experiencing anything like this and I can truly say it was a life-changing experience.
I hope that this reflection has expressed just how interesting, educational and transformative the trip was. It was such an unbelievable experience and I hope that any YES students reading this will apply for any and every opportunity that is offered to them because you never know where Young Enterprise could take you.
Thank you again to everyone who made this trip possible for me and everyone involved.