MBA.PM Conversation With Sasha Shamtoob

September 21, 2017
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Sasha Shamtoob
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Sasha Shamtoob

MBA.PM student Sasha Shamtoob

 

Where did you travel on your GLOBE trip? How do you choose this location?

I travelled to Seoul, South Korea for GLOBE. The strong relationship between South Korea and the United States, along with the unique position South Korea finds itself in today (politically, economically, and internationally) and its history led me to pick Seoul as my number one choice. Other factors that swung me towards Seoul include the desire to learn about the South Korean culture since we have a large population of Koreans here in LA and I also wanted to stay and absorb one city and culture during my time on Globe.

 

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Sasha Shamtoob on his way to South Korea with MBA.PM team 

 

What were some of your favorite experiences during your GLOBE trip?

My favorite experience during GLOBE was the trek we took to the DMZ. I find North Korea very interesting and to be able to be on/in the DMZ was an opportunity of a lifetime. I also enjoyed touring the city, talking to locals, trying new food (I ate fresh moving octopus), going to the fish market, visiting Bongeunsa Temple at 4 am and watching/listening to the morning drums and prayers, and the companies were interesting too. I really enjoyed seeing how cars were built at GM Korea and the enthusiasm the employees showed for their work. It was very motivating to me. 

 

What were a few things you learned during the GLOBE trip?

Politics and business are not so simple. Many people here think there is a simple solution to the North Korean dilemma. However, when you go into the details you see that every move has an implication and there is no black and white solution. I saw many who opposed and many who approved of THAAD. There are many people in South Korea who are not afraid of North Korea and just want peace.

 

What surprised you the most?

What surprised me the most were the local views on North Korea. They were not worried about a war even though everywhere you could see preparation for the worst. There were gas masks in the train stations, the subway doubled as a bomb shelter, and people just went on with life as if there was not a threat to the north.

 

You chose to extend your trip and travel on your own. Where did you go and what was your favorite part of that trip?

I did choose to extend my trip and go on my own. I went to Cambodia on a solo trip for 7 days, stayed in nice hostels, and took in the vast difference from the US. I started with 3 days in Siem Reap, 3 days in Sihanoukville, and 1 day in Phenom Penh.

 

By far my favorite part of the trip was Siem Reap. I went to the Temples of Angkor for 2 days, then came back and got a one-hour foot massage for $2 and had freshly made ice cream to go along with it. I met new people in the hostel every day and the next morning we scheduled a tuk tuk to take us around Angkor. We woke up super early to see the sunrise during the solstice and our tuk tuk driver took us to some lesser known, emptier temples where we could adventure and get lost. It was a bit scary at first, but the people of Cambodia are very nice and trustworthy. For going though immense pain fairly recently, they are a nice people.

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Sasha Shamtoob enjoying his time at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

 

Phnom Penh, while not my favorite city, was important for me to visit to get the more of the picture of Cambodia. Over there I visited S-21, which is now known as the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum. While very sad, I learned more about the genocide that occurred under the Khmer Rouge and US bombings of Cambodia during the Vietnam war. The brutality of the Khmer Rouge is still on full display and its former leaders are still undergoing trial. It was a very sad and disturbing place to visit, but my trip would not have been complete without visiting S-21 and the killing fields.

 

Sasha Shamtoob blessed by nun

Sasha Shamtoob being blessed by a nun