MY THREE WEEKS IN VIETNAM
Hello everybody, I’m Ledina and I’m doing my jobshadowing in Vietnam . I really couldn’t believe to be here! No guide description can compare with the beauty of this country. As I travelled to reach my project from Hanoi to Ha Long city the first thing that drops in my eyes are the rice fields where here and there rises up a traditional headgear of woman, pointed and beige, look like a comforting presence in nature. It has past already one week and this country is giving me so much. I love staying here, becaue is so peacefully and full of smiling people. Life in Italy seems so far away and I really don’t want my days finishing.
My experience started in Mai Hoang Center for disabled people where I share my work with other volunteers from France and with my friend and coordinator, that I met in Spain, Nam. We had to work really hard because we work to build one part of a disable center destroyed during the typhoon season in 2012 and 2013: the center suffered huge damages from heavy rain, storms and strong winds. So now volunteers work to build this center. But our work here is not only building the house, the disable center is lively! It needs the help and the ideas of every volunteer to be creative and suggests new idea, to be open with the disable! Because is a new reality and need the help of everyone who gives a hand! I really like the fact that local people had the opportunity to come and learn English every night teached by volunteers, it’s a very funny way, first to put in contact the local people with the disable center reality and also, for us volunteers, to know more and be more closer with the locals. Another activity that some volunteers do in the morning is also teaching English in Ha long city and also teaching French… you can fell how deep is the French influence here and you can find people who speak very good French!
The days of my first week flowed faster and slowly and makes me learn nuances that I never thought to meet… we finished the week with the visit of the amazing Ha long Bay !! No Vietnam experience is complete without a visit to the stunning Halong Bay. With one of Halong Bay junk boats we go winding round the limestone islands and the ancient caves. This unique bay, with its thousands of islands, forms a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Ha Long literally means descending dragon and is often touted by proud Vietnamese as the world’s eight wonder. We had a two days great weekend!
The works keep going and now I’m really well on using chopsticks and eating rice. I want to talk about the preparation of the local activity, it was a cultural exchange between the volunteers from France, me for jobshadowing and an high school in Ha Long City. After the agreements with the Vietnamese public city hall, we started preparing some entertainment songs and me personally I prepared some games and also a presentation about my project . When we arrived at the school everything was well organized and students where all there in time, the activity was prepared to last two hours and it keeps going with some amazing performances of the student and also of the French volunteers. Except some little misunderstandings with Vietnamese organizers which allowed us to make this event possible, everything goes really good! It lasted 2 hours and we were like 200 people, a lot!
I love children and when thay said to me that they need help for the English school in the morning I was very happy! I put myself fears like ‘’oh I’m not good on teaching …’’ away and just let myself be open and try to interact with this small children! The energy that these kids give to me make me forget the 6’oclock morning ring bell! I tried to prepare funny lessons with games for active participation of these kids! We had the loudest class of Vietnam!
As I really like teaching in the morning I took also the night English lesson here at the disable center. It is one hour class where we teach basic English. So happy to have meet so much local people. This English lesson started for the disabled people but with the time local people joined. Till I’m here I see new people every night! I hope this center will get all the energy that people who work give and continue the work, never close!
I think that the best way to arrive in a new country is with a completely open mind and with the joy to discover a place through the eyes of those who live in it. It’s when you’ve lived with people that you can say that you know a little bit the country…and I try to keep this in my mind and I try to be open with the people…and language some time for the communication doesn’t matter… just smile and try to help them, I try to do my best about communication and for me was enough when I hear some of them call me with my name Ledinà ( with the French accent). To try to be more closer to the people who lives in the disable center boys played a football match (I just take photos!) How to say, when the football brings everybody together without differences! They had a good time together!
Also my birthday was a great occasion to celebrate all together and where to go if in Asia you don’t go to a Karaoke! I had my Karaoke birthday party! With some good music and mixed Vietnamese and English songs we had also a great night together ! But I was a little bit sad because the day after me and all the French volunteers had to leave for moving in Hanoi for my last days … I had to say goodbye to all these fantastic people I met here … !
Hanoi offers the most various distractions and entertainments, I see more vespas motorbikes here than in Italy, I try the thrill to ride a motorbike (no wait it was not me riding the motorbike, I was just sitting and hugging the motor driver with my eyes closed!!!) And what to say about the street food…is delicious!! Street food and small pop up stalls offer a true taste of Vietnam. Cheap and plentiful – sitting on a tiny plastic chair at the side of a busy street and choosing random dishes off a plastic menu is the best fun! Accompanied with a cold beer! Simple delicious Vietnamese cuisine in the street – like the locals do. I loved Hot Pot! I will try to prepare it in Italy! The beer corner was our night appointment and our table every night becomes bigger and bigger with new friends like locals or tourists. The time in Hanoi passed so fast…and my time to say goodbye to all arrived… Vietnam will remain always in my heart! In Vietnam, the scenery is beautiful, but what still remains the most is the smile of people: unconditional, clear and captivating. I’m sure I will return there!
Hugs to everybody,