By Frances Cook
In only a couple of days, I’ll be in a part of the world I’ve never been to before: Vietnam.
It’s the first leg of a three week trip, where I’ll be travelling through Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam, then on to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia. There I’ll be investigating some of the influence New Zealand has on Southeast Asia.
New Zealand is a small country, but I’ve always noticed a willingness to make other peoples' problems our own. This willingness means our Government gives aid money for landmine clearance in Cambodia, helping farmers go about their daily lives with less fear; it also means two women gave up their lives in the Waikato’s Te Awamutu, and dedicated themselves to the international charity Hagar, helping trafficked women and children rebuild their lives; and it means one of our local universities has made a deal with Vietnam’s University of Economics, to spruce up their campus and technology, and help their students towards lower cost internationally recognised degrees.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, they’re not all positive stories. A move by the United States to clear up an Agent Orange hot spot in Danang, a legacy from the Vietnam War, has our own veterans questioning why the New Zealand government isn’t doing more.
I feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to talk to these people and with many others, and share their stories with you. I’ll keep you updated through this blog, as well as on-air, with live crosses to RadioLIVE news and shows.
Until then, I have a long plane ride to get through. See you on the other side.
Frances is travelling with support from the Asia NZ Foundation. Follow her on Twitter @FrancesCook