“Tama tu tama ora, Tama noho tama mate” – What I learned while interning in Vietnam

CRCC Asia Ho Chi Minh City interns sit on stairs during community outreach - interning in vietnam

Waimirirangi, a law student from the University of Waikato, is completing a global internship at a Legal placement in Ho Chi Minh City. One month into interning in Vietnam, she reflects on the lessons she has learned so far:


Written by Waimirirangi Cooper


Tama tu tama ora, Tama noho tama mate


“Tama tu tama ora, Tama noho tama mate” – a Maori proverb which literal translation in English means something along the lines of an active person will live, whilst a lazy person will die. This is generally understood within the context of health, however I prefer to flip it on its head and apply this to my experience interning in Vietnam at a law and tax firm with CRCC Asia in Ho Chi Minh City.


Interning in one of Asia’s most renowned law firms is many things: Overwhelming and exciting at first, fast paced yet relaxed, and an overall great opportunity to get that practical experience that law students crave. With this in mind, reality is not as we often imagine it to be. I have learnt the importance of being proactive, taking initiative and applying skills to real life practice.


“I quickly learnt that the biggest skill I gained from my papers at uni is the ability to research areas of law that I am unfamiliar with,”



Waimirirangi (second from left) and the group from the University of Waikato have been touring Vietnam together


When given a task, it may not always be in the form of clear and specific instructions that were accustomed to when given an essay or legal opinion to complete at the University of Waikato. It may not even be in an area of law that you’re familiar with, but it is an opportunity nonetheless. I found myself in this type of situation, and I quickly learnt that the biggest skill I gained from my papers at uni is the ability to research areas of law that I am unfamiliar with, researching to understand the services that are provided and to take a second, third and forth look at the task at hand (also known as proof checking). Putting this all together in context gave me the key that I was looking for, my “question.” You know when lecturers tell you the best advice they can give for an exam is to “read the question”? Well, that is exactly what this process was for me during my international internship. Reading the question, even when it wasn’t 100% clear. Because essentially that is how we know what answer to give.


“Get that ‘practical experience’ and the opportunity to grow.”


It is easy to sit there -“tama noho” and refuse a task because you haven’t had lectures on Foreign Investment within the context of Vietnamese laws. But to sit there dormant would have been the death of an opportunity to apply the skills that are instilled in us as students, to get that ‘practical experience’ and the opportunity to grow. This experience really captured the lesson from the proverb in being active, or in this case being proactive – “tama tu”, thus providing me with life here at my internship in Ho Chi Minh City.



If Waimirirangi’s blog has inspired you to undertake an internship in Vietnam, check out our Internship Program in Ho Chi Minh City! You can also read more about our activities in Ho Chi Minh City, including fundraising with local chairty, saigonchildren.