Who? Sylvia van Doorn, BSc student of International Land and Water Management
What? Internship and thesis research on the effects of salinization
Where? The Mekong delta, Vietnam
‘I did research in the province of Tra Vinh in the Mekong delta on the impact of salinization on land use and the impact of changing land use patterns on the salinization. Because of the high salinity of the water, farmers are going over to shrimp farming. That comes with problems such as a high risk of shrimp harvest failure and, in the long term, pollution and further salinization of the area.
I measured salinity levels in the waterways and I interviewed local farmers. My interpreter was a student of English at the local university. She took me to the locations for the measurements and interviews on the back of her motorbike. As we were the same age, that was fun as well as handy.
The Vietnamese traffic took a bit of getting used to at first. Sometimes it seemed as though there were no traffic regulations at all, and you felt as though you were just being carried along by the flow of traffic. But if I indicated clearly where I was going, the other road users did anticipate my movements. That happened when you crossed the road too: you just had to keep on walking as the mopeds rode around you. It can be dangerous to stop because they don’t expect you to do that.
After my internship I went travelling. In Cambodia I visited the famous temple complex Angkor Wat and in Vietnam I went to the ruins of the ancient Champa civilization. As well as tasting some culture I did some treks through the tropical rainforest and managed to see various animals. I also saw shocking sights such as the Killing Fields, memorials of the Cambodian genocide, where the atrocities which took place there leave you speechless. I was away for four and a half months in total and it was an unforgettable experience.’