What’s life like as a Global Volunteer in Vietnam?
Laura Merriam, committed encore volunteer, embarked on her first adventure to Vietnam as a Global Volunteer this past Spring with her husband, Peter Armstrong, alongside her. Laura explains beautifully and in detail what it is like to explore and volunteer in Vietnam. Enjoy!
Highlights from Laura’s Journal Entry on Wednesday, March 11, 2015
“The old quarter of Hanoi, where we are staying, is full of colorful shops and packed with motor bikes and cars trying to wind their way through the sea of traffic and people. You just have to go with the flow by stepping out into the flowing river with confidence that the bikes and cars will veer around you…and they do!
Old Town Hanoi
The riotous colors of the storefronts and the maze of electric wires overhead is like Old Dehli but less chaotic, crowded or dirty. And the people are both beautiful and genuinely friendly and warm.
Photo Taken By: Peter Armstrong
I am assigned to Blind Link along with Courtney, an earnest and sweet young woman from Pasco, Washington, who just got a passport and is embarking on what I’m sure will be a lifetime of adventures. Our students are blind, or near blind, massage therapists who want to improve their English with the customers who come from western countries, which is about half their clientele. Massage therapy is the primary opportunity for blind people in Vietnam and Blind Link is working to erase the stigma attached with this profession.
It is challenging to try conversing with them since you can’t use visual clues to indicate your meaning. Some of the students have learned English in school and are really quite good…others are struggling due to their physical limitations. I have worked one-on-one with Mr Ha, whose English is excellent and who, as the older one in the group, looks out for the others. I love looking at his searching eyes behind thick glasses as he talks about his family and his wish to set up his own massage therapy business.
Laura and Courtney with their Blind Link students
Courtney and I are assisted at Blind Link by Vietnamese students who are also volunteering their time and we have enjoyed getting to know them as well. Two of the girls took us around Hanoi yesterday. We visited the Vietnam Woman’s museum (an excellent view of daily life and the importance of Women in this country —from commerce to the war effort) and a 300 year old tube house in the old quarter, topped off with some delicious egg coffee.”
Laura and Courtney exploring Hanoi with Vietnamese student-volunteers at Blind Link
Laura also wrote an article titled “Vietnam 40 years later – and why Americans should visit” about her experiences in Vietnam. It was posted in MinnPost. Click HERE to view it!
To learn about how YOU can become a Global Volunteer in Vietnam, click HERE.