Our annual offsite is always an event to look forward to: a few blissful days of team bonding in a new place, learning more about ourselves, our company, and recharging for the New Year.

The 2015 offsite in particular was one for the scrapbooks. It’s been an incredible year for the Rice team –we’ve seen some amazing clients both come on board and stay on board for the Rice Communications ride, we’ve had new, wonderful additions to our own team, and most importantly, we’ve proudly announced our new office in Myanmar. So what did the team take away from our recent trip?

Sonya

The Rice team goes away on an offsite each year, but this one will always be particularly close to my heart. After all, it’s not often that the team gets to visit the country we have just set up a new office in! :) It was great that we could all be there together, to get a sense of the people, the culture, the environment, and see our local colleagues in their element. The team is growing, we are not all in the same office, but still the same family. Plus, who else do you know that takes a few days out to recharge with the intern and office Aunty? I love this place!



James

So many great memories and laughs. Without question the best offsite I’ve ever had the pleasure of being part of. For me, I learnt a lot about the people in our team and saw a different side to many of them…mostly a good side. As for a highlight, it’s hard to go past the trip to the orphanage and all of us “working” together to have fun with the kids. My favourite part was watching Shahren dance like a superstar and seeing the kids try to bust his moves, the funniest part was Joel’s Bros as they struck his signature pose. A truly great time spent with truly great people.



Grace

This past offsite has been one of the best and smoothest offsites to date – not only was it well planned, with a busy and fun-filled agenda, but it was the most meaningful one as well. On top of having our retreat and having fun, we had the opportunity to remind ourselves that we should always share something with some of those less fortunate than us. During the children’s home visit, we got the chance to interact with the children and I think that time with them touched all of our hearts. As a team, the Colonial Heritage Trail Selfie-thon will be the most meaningful one, the team had the opportunity to really experience and see the history and culture in Yangon.



Joel

Sometimes in life, it is very easy to get caught-up with goals, deliverables and billable hours where you lose sight of the truly important things in life. I was blessed to have the chance to take a step back when the team visited Yadanarpon Yerk Nyein Monastic Education School to spend an afternoon with the kids. Seeing someone else’s happiness and having the opportunity to share it with them is worth more than any material item in this universe. It makes you realise the importance of your friends, family and bodybuilding crew. This is hands-down (or hands-up in the photo) my biggest takeaway from the Rice offsite, and possibly for the rest of 2015.



Mansi

As my colleague, James, rightly said on the first day of our trip, no doubt there is a lot Myanmar has yet to learn from the rest of the world, but the world sure has a lot to learn from the Burmese.

I was pleasantly surprised by how down to earth, respectful and yet forward-looking the Burmese are. This could be because of the Buddhist teachings and way of life, prevalent in their society. They are ambitious and keen to learn, but at the same time, they seem to be very content with what they have.

If I was to identify my highlight of the trip – it would be the time spent at the orphanage. We can travel the world, gain all the exposure we like. But what’s most fulfilling it the experience of making an impact on someone. And I think that as a group, we made a long-lasting impact on the 92 kids at the orphanage. It’s also a reminder of how lucky we are, but also that we are so attached to material possession which don’t necessary simplify our lives. I’m also very thankful to the many people that came forward in Singapore to donate clothes, books and stationery for the kids.



Nay Lin

It was a marvelous offsite and my first ever opportunity to spend time with the multinational Rice team in Golden Land, Myanmar. I think all of my colleagues enjoyed the experience of exploring the city, especially when we went to Twante Town, which is about 25 miles from Yangon. I could see we all had fun riding the motor bikes. It was not my first time on a motor bike but most may have not ridden like that before. I'm so pleased to make an enjoyable outing for all of us. I look forward to many big successes for the RICE Singapore and Myanmar teams!



Amala

I lived in Yangon while I finished high school some years ago and going back there with the team this year meant that I was excited to visit old haunts, meet up with friends and eat many many bowls of my favorite pickled tea leaf salad. It’s great to see how things have changed (hello, ATMs!) and I was also happy that many have stayed just the same! What I’ll remember from this year’s company offsite was our Selfie Amazing Race in downtown Yangon – surprisingly, I had no clue where half those buildings were!



Donna

I was very happy to see the Rice team enjoy their time in Yangon. For me, it’s less about discovering the place – as I’m almost half-based there – but discovering it together with the team, and appreciating how much they have come to love it as much as I do. I love Myanmar because of the warmth and generosity of its people. In spite of (or due to) the hardships it’s gone through and continue to face, Myanmar is incredibly hopeful and resilient. I think every single member of the team, even for just a moment, has been touched by the kindness that permeates the air in Myanmar, and that for me made this year’s offsite probably the best one yet.



Miu

Heading to Myanmar with a whole ‘bowl’ of Ricers was definitely a unique experience, especially as this was my first company offsite and my first time to Myanmar. Aside from enjoying the food, culture and the beauty of the country the best highlights of the trip were the experiences that we shared as a team. Some of the most memorable parts of the trip included visiting the orphanage, riding on a motorcycle for hours and last but not least, unwinding with colleagues in the evenings over food and games. This trip allowed me to uncover things I didn’t know, be it a whole new country, or learning more about my colleagues.



Michelle

The offsite to Myanmar has been an eye-opening trip, especially the meaningful visit to the orphanage. It was an intended trip for us to give a little joy and generosity to the orphans, but at the end of the visit, I realized I was at the receiving end instead of giving. It makes me feel grateful with what I have in life and to count my blessings, and it also makes me realize that this world can be a lot better a place with just a little effort and compassion given. This trip has changed my perception on giving, I used to think it requires a lot to give, but these kids have completed changed my view.

I came back from the trip with a new mission in life, which is to give more and to give back to the society. I am grateful to be part of RICE, a company that has the compassion to help through charity drives and a company that who cares and gives.



Anna

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Myanmar, which provided a fantastic opportunity to spend some real time as a group, outside of our normal teams. Learning about Myanmar as a place and a culture was very interesting, as well as getting more insight on what it is like to live there, its history and current challenges, according to our Myanmar Ricers and Amala. I believe that in terms of team building, this offsite was a lot more beneficial than the Tokyo trip – as it successfully pushed us altogether, allowing us the opportunity to strengthen friendships – whilst also providing fun and hilarity along the way.

There were various highlights for me, including our trip to the orphanage – watching the youngsters crack up at James pulling faces, or trying to follow Shahren’s dance moves. I particularly enjoyed the kids’ nimble-footed attempts to pass Ambreen and I while our backs were turned, as well as almost killing myself taking on Munirah as she tried her best to protect her chicks! Living in Singapore it can be very easy to forget just how lucky we are, both in terms of quality of life and our possessions. Experiences like this not only teach us humility, but allow us to really reflect and appreciate what we have. It also provided us with an unforgettable memory of making the kids giggle, if only for an afternoon.



Ko Ko Gyi

One of the more memorable experiences for me was the heritage selfie-thon because our team enjoyed shooting many selfie pics at different heritage buildings. Another was when we played with children in monastic school. The offsite was so so memorable and full of enjoyable moments!

Whenever I recall these moments, I still feel pleasant.



Neil

The Myanmar trip, especially the motorcycle ride to the villages reminds me of my childhood in rural Philippines. Life is laid back and away from the complexities of urban living. People are happy and content without the conveniences of efficient transport, and yes, fast Internet, among many others. Because of this trip, I think I won’t be ranting about delayed bus and train rides for quite a while.

Pagodas everywhere, u-turn anywhere, smiling faces, bold flavours and a truly amazing team sums-up/hashtags my great Myanmar experience with Rice.



Nick

The offsite to Yangon was a real eye opener. Not only for myself but I understood the people I work with on a daily basis a lot better now. The highlight of the trip was the visit to an orphanage and seeing how my colleagues go all out to entertain the children. Some of the best pictures I took on the trip came from that visit.

The other highlight of the trip was a motorcycle tour around the countryside. As I sat on the back on the motorcycle, I couldn't help but wonder how urbanisation will help the communities. From getting electricity, clean water, proper healthcare and a commerce system that will help boost income, urbanisation will help elevate the standard of living of the people there.

But as I got off the bike and saw kids running at me with innocence that I seldom see from a city kid, I realised that there will be a price to pay. As we urbanised the community, they will be dragged into the rat race that we have grown accustomed to in the cities. The smiles may be gone, and the children might be peering at us from glass doors or grilles instead of running freely.

They say there's a price for everything and I wonder if the price of urbanisation will be worth it.



Dorothy

My biggest takeaway from the offsite was getting out of my comfort zone and getting to know the company and its culture as a whole. Since joining Rice in September, I haven’t had too many chances to interact with people outside of my own team. The offsite helped create opportunities for me to get to know most of my colleagues on a more personal level. While it was challenging to strike up conversation with those in the office I don’t know as well, it helped that throughout the offsite, I was able to see my colleagues in a different environment and see how we work together even out of the office.

Take the trip to the orphanage, for example. It was definitely a highlight not just because of the children and the time spent with them but because I was able to see how genuine and sincere everyone was. I also got to see how unique each person was and how everyone was able to work together seamlessly as a team even without prior planning.

It’s great knowing that I’m in an environment where everyone truly embodies the values of RICE. The offsite experience has definitely helped me to be less afraid of throwing myself out there.



Yi Xiong

Myanmar was an eye opener for me. It is a developing country with a lot of poor people but everyone was wearing a smile and you could really see their happiness.

The most impressive things I saw were the golden temples and pagodas. The activities from the offsite were also a lot of fun, and I got the chance to do things I had never done before in my life, like eating by the roadside, riding on a motorbike across the countryside and living in a luxury hotel. Our trip to the orphanage also brought new perspective to my life by making me realise how lucky I am.

Overall I am very happy with the experience and I’m glad I shared the trip with fellow Rice members.



Katie

What’s my biggest takeaway? Definitely allowing myself to shake-off all sense of what I feel is safe and comfortable to just experience the activities that were off-the-beaten-path. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a city-girl at heart, getting on the back of a local man’s motorbike to travel across the countryside for half a day would be the last thing I would ever do but I’m so glad I did it. When else will I be standing half a metre away from a snake and sitting in a sampan being rowed across a fish-pond? I’m definitely going to emulate this in my future personal travels. Who knows, I might even bungee-jump. Because in short, #yolo.



Munirah

My takeaway is that companies can make a difference beyond financial benefits when expanding their business into other markets. We adopted a Myanmar charity in a small village outside of Yangon, which we visited one sunny afternoon with our bags of donations. Being able to meet these young children was a humbling and eye-opening experience and I think we did brighten up their day with our silly antics and games. Plans are underway to help them in other meaningful ways, specifically through education. I believe is one of the avenues where we can play an important role and exert critical influence in Myanmar - through the nurturing and shaping of potentially the next generation of leaders involved in the country’s nation-building and market-expanding activities.

We also had the chance to immerse ourselves in the Myanmar culture in a deep and significant way. Seeing how they communicated amongst each other and witnessing non-verbal cues was an insight as to how the non-locals should be communicating with the locals. I think this not only impacts the relationship we have with our new colleagues by being able to understand their working style better, but this also benefits us as a company. Myanmar is a country that relies heavily on personal connection, even when doing business. By understanding the cultural nuances and improving the intercultural communications, we can better service our clients in Myanmar and also bring more business to the firm.



Sonika

I have often called myself an outstation member of the Rice team, who just makes these flying trips into office and then goes to work from another location! For me the biggest take away from this offsite was how important it was to spend time with people to really know them.

From how Dorothy giggles to how James is scared of bike rides and how Grace can photograph just about anything; besides Donna’s singing capabilities, Nay Lin’s fantastic organisational skills, Joel and Anna’s ability to involve and bond with kids and so on. Tying all this together is this great culture in Rice that accepts all, making it a happy cohesive team of like-minded but different people. The offsite for me was therefore an amazing journey which started off with colleagues and ended with tons of new friends!



Ambreen

The hallmark of our offsites has always been full immersion in a new place, and bonding over new experiences – despite some truly memorable trips with the team in the past, our visit to Myanmar is going to be a hard one to top. From sightseeing and team-building activities like the Selfie Amazing Race to our afternoons at the orphanage and roving across the rural outskirts of Yangon on the back of a motorcycle, the 2015 offsite was nothing but highlights.

If there’s one thing that I really took away from the trip, it’s that we as a team have a magnetically strong bond. It was the first time we’d met the entire Myanmar team but it was so easy for both teams to integrate with each other. There was no hesitation on either side to help the other out or joke around – Nay Lin was kind enough to make arrangements for the few birthdays that took place over the trip and Ko Ko Gyi was ever-ready to be our knowledge base and answer our million questions about Myanmar’s food, history, and culture. On the flip side, I think we all tried a little bit harder to spend quality time with the Myanmar team, and rope them into the camaraderie and goofiness that we share here in the Singapore office.



Is it too soon to say we can’t wait for the next trip? :)