Initially, I was excited yet nervous as i did not know what to expect. As soon as we landed on Vietnam soil, we had to wait for a very long time due to the immigration queue. However, this just made us take the time to observe the surroundings and the different people around us. This time also helped us to bond with our group members and appreciate singapore customs which we often take for granted :) During our bus rides, we were awed by our surroundings as it was something that was completely foreign to us. The roads were filled with motorcycles and cars. With the help of our guide we got to learn and understand more about Vietnamese culture as we rode on the bus ! We also had to do grocery shopping which was a fun activity as we had to learn how to spend our money wisely on daily necessities ! Lastly, we had dinner which was prepared by a family and was scrumptious :) It was especially heartwarming to see how happy they were just to serve us ! - St Agnes (Group 1)
In spite of the fact that i’ve been to vietnam before, being here again feels totally different. We are here today for a different reason, to appreciate what we have and give more to others. Although we haven’t gone to the school yet, the anticipation is high as we look forward to tomorrow with a positive mindset that everything goes well. Today we changed our perspective to see the different priorities people have and also experienced the comfort of homemade food even though we’re not in our home country. We’re grateful for the opportunity to embark on this trip and see the world in a different light!
- St Jane (Group 2)
we got together at terminal 2 all excited and ready to go to vietnam! after briefing from ms teo. at 1:55 we boarded the plane and reached vietnam at 3:25 we boarded the bus and went to the shopping centre. we were really excited that we were finally in vietnam. in the mall, trying to find essential items for the family we learnt how to work together as a team .we bonded together and learnt more about each other. the locals were very friendly and helped us along the way, making us feel very welcome and at home. We learnt that the pricing of items are very different from that of singapores. Homemade dinner consisting of many different vietnamese cusines that we had never tried before was mouth watering and we savoured every bit of it! We made our way back to the hotel and had a debrief:) We look forward to the upcoming days!!:) -St Katherine (Group 3)
Today was the first day we came to vietnam and the trip has been eye opening so far. It has brought my group a great opportunity to experience with our own eyes the city and the people who live here. We have seen many things that have inspired us personally, like the people who were really kind, or even those who had prepared our dinner. They cooked for us delicious food and that taught us about having gratitude for the people who have helped us so far in vietnam, be it the food or the people that took us around.
-St Mary (Group 4)
At seven in the morning, we gathered for breakfast before heading to Thanh Tam Love of School to meet the cute cute children. we were so excited to have the opportunity to interact with and get to know them. The children greeted us with smiles on their faces and were delighted to see us. They performed a dance for us and invited us to join in too. Then came to time to bond with them. We may have faced some difficulties with communication but we managed to communicate with them through actions and carry out games and activities. The children were so affectionate and put us at ease straightaway. We played games like skipping rope, hopscotch and zero point. When recess ended, we started work on the murals on the wall and ended up painting four walls! We were so proud of ourselves although it took a lot of hardwork and time. It was a tiring but fulfilling day and we look forward to another meaningful day.
-St Katherine (Group 3)
When we reached the gates of the school, the children were really excited to see us and it was very heartwarming. Even though we don’t speak the same language, we still had fun interacting and playing with the kids. It was truly an eye-opening experience for us as we got to see the children enjoy themselves even though we played only simple games like duck duck goose and skipping. They demonstrated that even though they don’t have as many privileges as we do, they are contented. From late morning and throughout the afternoon, we helped to paint murals in the school courtyard. Even though it isn’t something we do everyday, it was still fun to bond with our friends and the teachers and try something new. It was truly a fulfilling day and we look forward to the next few days.
- St Agnes (Group 1)
Today was the first day we visited the school. It was heartening to see the warm smiles on the Sisters’, teachers’ and children’s faces. we toured the school which was eye-opening as it was very different from what we have in Singapore. We participated in a mass dance with the children. The joy and spontaneity the children had in song and dance were truly palpable and it really showed us the cultural difference in entertainment between Vietnam and Singapore. The interaction with the children was the biggest challenge for the majority of us as both parties who tried to communicate in our preferred language ended up not understanding one another’s true intentions when it came to simple questions and instructions such as “how old are you” and “stand around in a circle”. This truly proved English Language being the universal language wrong, and it allowed us to think out of the box for alternate ways of communication. For example, we used our fingers to count the numbers when it came to the questions for their ages and gesticulated in order for the children to understand our instructions. The painting of the mural was a test of our patience and resilience. Patience due to the waiting time for the paint to dry and trying to mix the most appropriate shades of colour for the paint. Resilience because we had to paint many different images and it seemed daunting to us, however, we were determined to complete the task and we successfully finished painting four murals in the school courtyard. This day definitely taught us many valuable lessons and we look forward to the rest of the activities that we will be carrying out in the remaining days of this trip. -St Mary ( Group 4 )
We were really anxious and excited to see the kids for the first time but were sceptical of our ability to communicate with them. However, we soon found solutions to solve our problems. When the kids caught some grasshoppers for us, we had to overcome our fear of insects which was a huge leap for some of us. We also had to be flexible with our activities as we had to adjust the games on the spot when the kids were growing restless. Painting the walls was very tiring as the pungent smell from the paint gave many of us a headache and standing under the sun made us very tired and uncomfortable. However, when we completed the paintings, we were really proud of ourselves as we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to do a good job because none of us were exceptionally good in art. This day was definitely an experience that none of us have had before and we really enjoyed ourselves. -St Jane (group 2)
When we got to the centre, we proceeded to dance with the kids after morning assembly. Afterwards, we broke out into small groups to play with the kids. The kids were energetic and enjoyed our presence and we had fun playing with them too. Three of us were then assigned to bring the groceries we had bought on the first days to the an underprivileged family. We heard their stories and understand the struggles they go through on a daily basis. We also managed to see their living conditions and the neighbourhood they live in. From this experience,we were impressed by how the kids can put their problems away and be happy rather than vent their anger or even put on a grumpy face in school. This taught us to be grateful for the life that we have and the many things we have taken for granted. -St Jane (group 2)
Today was the second day in the school. Like yesterday, the kids had morning assembly in the parade square and we participated in their dance routine. After our interactions in the morning, we proceeded to split into different groups to plan for the day ahead. Some of us were planning what to paint on the wall just outside the school. We decided that our mural should have a message and decided to design something related to the Mekong river. Three of us walked to bring the items that we bought on Sunday to a family who lives near the school and it was an unexpected sight. We saw the difficulties that the family faces in their daily lives and their resilience to survive. Even as they encounter hardships, they never seem to fail to wear a smile on their faces and be grateful for what they have. This really gave us a completely different perspective on the world around us as we have come to realise that there are many more families just like the one that we saw today and we are extremely fortunate to have all that we have. Thankfulness is key and we have learnt to always remember to express this to others. -St Mary ( Group 4 )
Today was the second day of school and we were really excited to see the children again and to interact with them. We were divided into smaller groups and the children were clearly excited to play with us. We were really grateful that we had the experience of visiting and meeting some of their families. Seeing their happy and joyful faces when they received the groceries really touched our hearts. Their story really allowed us to learn about the difficulties they have to face and to be grateful for what we have. The experience was an eye-opener and showed us a different perspective of the kids. They put on a strong front and come to school happy and contented. While their problems cannot be resolved overnight, they come to school carefree and joyous. We look forward to another enriching day tomorrow! - St Katherine (group 3)
Today was the second time we went to the school. We actually planned activities to play with the kids but plans changed and the principal asked us to teach the students a dance. Even though it was impromptu, we still managed to do it. we also spent more time with the children and even tried some of their local snacks. We even taught some of the older students English with flash cards we prepared. After lunch, some of us took time to paint the mural and swings to give them a new look and others helped with the packing of groceries to give to some of the students’ family. It was mid-afternoon when most of us set off for the home visit. Visiting a boy’s home made me feel more appreciative and grateful for what I have at home. He didn’t have his own bed to sleep on and had to share it with his mother. His family didn’t even have a kitchen and used only one corner of the room to cook. Today’s home visit experience will definitely not be forgotten and is something we will definitely share with our friends. - St Agnes (group 1)
Upon entering the Grade 3 classroom, we were excited to teach the kids some basic English words through repetition and writing. The children were eager to learn and listen as they showed much enthusiasm in participating in the activities that we had planned. This made us question our attitude towards learning as even through some simple activities, the children displayed a hunger to learn despite their circumstances. This is a contrast to how we often take for granted our schooling routine. However, we encountered some challenges of sustaining the children’s attention as they were easily distracted and restless. Through this, we truly understand what our teachers go through in the classrooms. We also played soccer with the children in the rain which we would have never the chance to do so in Singapore. The children were welcoming to us and even helped us score some goals because we were not as skilled as them! Such actions really show how geniune and kind-hearted these children are and we have many things to learn and gain from them. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during the classroom lessons and games.- St Agnes ( group 1 )
Today was our third day in the school. After morning exercise, we got the chance to teach the kids. We taught them the alphabet, colours and even how to fold origami. On the hearts that they folded, we got them to write a message to someone and pass it to them. And on the planes, we got them to write their hopes and dreams. We used Google translate and found out what they wrote about. Some of their hopes were truly heartbreaking :”( After lunch, we played with the kids. Playing ‘capteh’ with the high school kids was really fun but exhausting. We also met a high school boy, John, who is really smart and taught us more about Vietnam’s history in English. We felt that today was spent productively and we were glad to be able to interact with the High School students. - St Mary ( group 4 )
Today was the third time we went to the school. We started off the day with a dance and also worked out with the kids during their morning assembly. After their morning assembly, we got into our individual groups to prepare for the lessons we had planned. We taught the Grade 5 kids simple english words like adjectives for run, swim, walk. At first, we thought that these words were difficult for them but they actually knew many of the words and were very participative. We taught them how to spell the words as well as the meanings of the words. They were smart enough to understand hand gestures and recalled what they already knew so they wrote the words in English and then beside them were Vietnamese translations! We had a lot of fun and bonded really well with the children!Today was a very fruitful day and we look forward to tomorrow!-St Katherine (group 3)
We can’t believe this is our third day already. Today, we had 3 hours to engage the students in an activity. My group taught the children time and colours and they were excited as they were allowed to decorate their own clock with paint. After that, we had a little bit of extra time to play with them but they had to return home for chores or work. We said our goodbyes and continued with work on our mural. Later in the day, it started pouring and all of us ran under shelter. As we were cleaning up, out of nowhere, a group of students ran in the rain back to school to visit and play with us. We were so touched and felt so loved. We played a few of their traditional games and ended up playing soccer in the rain. Shahila decided not to join in because she saw a boy standing by the side watching. She went up to him and started a conversation with him. He was from a High School in the area and we learnt a few Vietnamese words such as “good”, “excellent” and “see you”. He was an intelligent boy who learnt very fast and we really hope to interact with him again tomorrow.- St Jane ( group 2)