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Image of the Week: Keep calm

30 Oct, 2015

Keep-calm

Although the pre-war “Keep calm and carry on” motivational poster didn’t get widely used when it was originally produced, a copy was unearthed in 2000 and since then it – and many modified versions – have spread around the globe. The Wellcome Trust’s Halina Suwalowska, spotted this one in Vietnam, where she is currently undertaking a secondment at one of our major overseas programmes

I was surprised to see this familiar poster – a successful spore of Britishness -that has made its way to Vietnam, where it decorates a lab door at the Centre for Molecular Biomedicine of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnamese text reads “No gloves on the door handle”.

I’ve been based in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) since January, making the most of my secondment at the major overseas programme led by Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) in Vietnam.

While I’m here, my main objective is to undertake a qualitative study to find out more about the career paths of scientists at OUCRU and other institutes across the country. This will help us to develop the Wellcome Trust career tracker survey in South East Asia – an important tool to inform the Trust’s provision of research and career support.

My interviewees gave their time generously, sharing details of their professional lives and explaining the historical and cultural aspects of Vietnamese society. I hope the study will give a broad overview of career paths and the research climate in Vietnam, and stimulate discussion on overcoming some of the cultural, financial and structural barriers identified during the study.

I have also been working closely with the Public Engagement Team at OUCRU and have helped to support unit’s social science projects. During this work I’ve learnt about the perceived health risks of zoonotic infections, been introduced to rodent cuisine (luckily only verbally), visited the biggest poultry market in the country, and a number of pig and chicken farms in the Mekong Delta.

This whole experience is an amazing opportunity, and has given me a better understanding of how science and public engagement projects are being conducted here. It’s   stimulated my interest in global health issues and allowed me to work and live in a very different culture.

I look forward to demonstrating my (gradually improving) Vietnamese speaking skills when I return to the Trust next year!

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