Second Week of Service Vietnam Team 3

Millennium Development Goals Achieved:
14 volunteers, six hours/day

English conversational skills
One high school;
Two universities
4,100 students impacted

Monday, Dec 1

Awakened again by what I like to call the “dawn horn” – by this I refer to the incessant traffic noise, of course. The Vietnamese are early risers. Must be all that snake wine they drink.

Monday morning in Hanoi – quite the contrast to the weekend in Halong Bay. A switch from yesterday’s calm waters, caves, karsts, coves and kayaks to today’s chaotic cacophony of car horns, classrooms and kids.

The fact that I’d overeaten at breakfast became all to apparent when I sat on a classroom bench and it collapsed. What little credibility I had with Group 7A was clearly gone now!

Our high school Global Volunteers seemed to get back into the flow of teaching without too much trouble, although some groups (of students) tend to be easier than others.

Highlights of the day included classroom discussions about World AIDS Awareness Day, and Patrick being hugged by a 12th-grade girl, followed by Jenny teaching the verb: “to blush.” And, let’s not forget the overly friendly security guard whose daily big smile and handshake for me have been augmented by puckered lips and an expectant lean. It all happens in Week #2!

After a team meeting and another lesson in “survival Vietnamese” the majority of the team dined al fresco while watching the crescent moon descend (and listening to the car horns, of course). – Emma Pedgrift

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008

The team met at 7:3o to start the 7th day of teaching. Michele, our kind and knowledgeable leader, shares our meeting schedule and attempts to reach into each volunteer’s head. Most acknowledge their understanding of the times for events.

Emma read her journal entry for Monday in her wonderful British style, and her humor brought much laughter to the team. The NBK Group’s bus arrived at the hotel at 8:15. There are nine of us volunteer teachers making the 30-minute trip to school. We normally arrive while a class is going through their morning exercise routine. We then split into 4 ½ teams (Amelia is working solo) to review the day’s agenda. Each class is jammed fully of teenage energy, noise, confusion, frustration and – hopefully – joy.

Today’s lunch break marked Leo’s baseball class attempting to hit a real baseball. Leo’s teaching of the Vietnamese girls and boys is priceless. Imagine a batting tee, a 12-year-old boy swinging a bat and driving a line shot into the middle of 500 bicycles! The show goes on today!

The bus arrives back at the hotel each day around 3:45. Today, Michele leads a group on a 40-minute adventure from the hotel through Hanoi’s maze of rush-hour traffic to the Temple of Literature, an area honoring Confucius. It’s an impressive site for intellectuals from all over the world.

Dining at the Koto restaurant and shopping at the nearby Handicraft Link is rewarding. These are both non-profit ventures to serve the needs of thousands of Hanoi’s “street kids.” The Koto Training Center teaches them skills in cooking and restaurant management.

Another trek back “home” through the evening streets…this time encountering Hanoi’s kids in their pajamas outside the storefronts getting ready for bed. Lots of smiling faces as we return to the hotel, tired but satisfied with our job well done for another day. Three more to go!
-Dick McKenney
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