They genuinely want to do everything they can to help you feel welcome, including having you over for supper in their home or inviting you for smoothies at a café
I have had the opportunity to work in two placements over the course of my internship. From July to October, I worked at the Laboratory (K-12) School of Trà Vinh University (TVU). I got to speak with the kids, help them practice English and I presented on the topic of environmental sustainability. I was invited to take part in the opening ceremonies of the school year and participated in events held by the school such as the election for the Youth Union Young Leaders for Ho Chi Minh council, mid-autumn festival activities, and general knowledge competitions. Over the previous two months, I have been working with the Gender and Community Department of TVU, where I have been presenting to high school students around the city about climate change and the impacts it is having on women in particular. I have also been helping university students in the Khmer club to practice their English skills with some fun English games like Pictionary and charades. All of the students are very studious, respectful, and eager to learn so it makes my job easy! I really enjoy working with the students and I am going to miss them when I return home. Another topic I will present on will be about handicraft promotion and marketing. I will talk with local handicraft producers of the Khmer community about my personal passion for handicraft production and show them new ways to promote and sell their products. I am very excited to work with the producers and also learn some things from them too!
I’ve also had the opportunity to do some travelling around Vietnam while I’ve been here. The country is so beautiful. I was invited to participate in an eco-cultural tourism tour around Bến Tre province back in the beginning of November. I had some time to reflect on the bus ride back and I came to realize that I feel a sense of home here. In a lot of ways this place reminds me of Labrador and Newfoundland. The luscious greenery of the coconut trees and various plants that fill the landscape remind me of the spruce trees and shrubs of home. The campus of TVU is quiet and vibrant with color and the city has a ‘small town’ feel even though there are over 130,000 people that live here. Although there are some obvious differences from home (the weather and extreme heat being one!), the Vietnamese culture has many similarities to the culture of my province. The hospitality here is amazing! Everyone is so friendly, generous, and welcoming. You always see smiles, hear people saying “hello” and see them waving, even as they pass you on their motorbikes. They genuinely want to do everything they can to help you feel welcome, including having you over for supper in their home or inviting you for smoothies at a café. Like NL, food and drink play a major role in socialization here. The Vietnamese are also very excited to share their customs and traditions, and have a deep sense of pride for the place they come from, just like Labradorians and Newfoundlanders. Gathering to sing and dance at karaoke reminds me of singing and playing instruments at kitchen parties and watching everyone gather at cafés or restaurants to cheer for the national soccer team reminds me of gatherings to watch the NHL hockey playoffs. While I don’t always know what is being said or what is happening, I still enjoy the company of my Vietnamese friends and family.
Time is moving so quickly. I can’t believe I have just over a month left here. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I am growing and learning new things every single day. I don’t know what the future holds for me; however, this experience has solidified my desire to continue making a difference and to continue traveling this beautiful world we live. Everything happens for a reason and I know this is the place I’m meant to be right now.