Expectations Vs. Reality in Vietnam: Fran, a volunteer serving in Vietnam, writes about her expectations and what she actually finds at a day serving with Global Volunteers.
It is early and I am awake. I want desperately for this day to begin when I will meet and make new friends. In the short time that we volunteers have been in Hanoi, we have begun to form friendships. We come together from different places with different experiences, but we are becoming friends. Today we shall begin to fashion friendships in our first meeting with young people here in Hanoi. It is exciting, exhilarating, and amazing that we shall be friends. Each new friendship makes this world a better place. So I do want this day to begin.
And so it did. And it was as wonderful as I had anticipated. Practicing pronunciation with blind students at Blind Link with each student assuming the role of a Massage Therapist speaking with a client was sheer joy. Nkuy has the patience of a saint and the sense of humor of a little devil. Together we mastered pronouncing “Therapist” as well as other challenging words, and we had a great time doing just that. The other four students were equally focused and the assistant that worked beside me was a delight.
To provide help, enjoy the students and the assistants, and the process itself, is very rewarding.
After our lunch, a fellow team member, Jean, and I arrived at VIDS (Viet Nam Institute for Development Strategies) for the welcome ceremony. The ceremony initiated by the president, Dr. Bui Tat Thang, was most kind and dignified, after which each of the four volunteers met with their assigned small groups. I met with four university educated professional women who have very prestigious positions at VIDS. Their jobs vary: one is the agriculture and education specialist at VIDS, another drafts official documents, and yet another specializes in technology. We shared information about ourselves in English, which we polished as we needed. We then began conversations that were most intellectually stimulating. I am certain that I will learn as much from these amazing women as they will glean from me, as we aim for their goal to speak English more proficiently and to do so with confidence.