November 10 – Volunteer Vacation in Vietnam, Day 1

Our team gets acquainted with each other - and the project.

Our team gets acquainted with each other – and the English teaching project in Hanoi.

The whole team is here, the last member having arrived late last night, and though jet lagged, we’re all excited to get started with our assignments.

We began our day with a lovely breakfast at our hotel, during which Pam, our leader, gave us basic information on our day-to-day living and working here in Hanoi. Following breakfast, we moved our meeting to a hotel room, where we made our way through GV’s brainstorming exercises of “Goals” and “characteristics of an effective team.” This was old hat to several of us who are GV veterans, and our newbies got with the program immediately, keeping the meeting time as minimal as possible.

After breakfast and before lunch, we had free time during which several of us, led by Pam, headed off to a supermarket for snacks and comfort food. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between a large grocery store here and one in the States. Very interesting-and very low prices compared with home. The market even had hot foods-something most local people don’t need.

Lunch at our hotel was simply delicious. After lunch and a much-too-short “rest” period, all of us met the coordinators of our work assignment. My group of five will be going to Blind-Link, an organization that trains visually impaired and

blind people to becomes masseuses and masseurs. The other group of three will be teaching at our partner high school. We spent a couple of hours with our coordinators getting much-needed information on our respective programs. I found the session to be very informative and helpful. It increased my excitement in working with a new population of students.

A Rainy Scene in Old Town Hanoi.

A Rainy Scene in Old Town Hanoi.

After break – 2 hrs give or take – and we were off to dinner – in the rain, on foot – getting splashed, beeped, and soaking wet. Which brings me to the essential detail of our first full day: News of the tragic typhoon that had decimated parts of the Philippines and was heading for Vietnam. Many of us received worried emails from folks back home and their was plenty of

anxiety within the group itself about our own safety and well-being. Our fearless leader provided us with top-notch flashlights and important information on what to do “in case.” The school group of three were told in advance that schools were closed because of the weather. Those of us in the Blind-Link program went to bed not knowing how our assignments may materialize.

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