Tabor students and faculty are immersed in a service learning trip to Vietnam. Students will be writing their recaps and thoughts on the whole experience, which we will post to Tabor Talk. Check back frequently for updates!
Days 1 and 2 come from students Madi McGrady and Jimmy Kim:
Day 1 – Boston to Saigon, Seoul to Saigon (travel), Cooking Classes
Madi came from Boston on Tuesday night with most of the group. The first flight to Hong Kong was a solid 15 hours, and the flight from there to Vietnam was a quick 2 hours, and they both went smoothly. I (Jimmy) left from Seoul, Korea and it was only a 6-hour flight. Most of the group was very jet lagged by the time we got to the cooking class, however I was wide-awake.
We were immediately surprised by the absurd heat and hectic traffic. As we toured through the traditional market in the city, we were astonished by the many different ways of selling goods. From there, we went to a local culinary arts school to take a cooking class. We made our own salad with dressing, marinated meat and made some chicken noodle soup, Vietnamese style. After a quick break at the hotel, which was much appreciated, all of us went out to walk around the city at night. It was a really cool experience to be surrounded by the very hectic city life. Despite the amount of free time after the cooking class, we were still exhausted and passed out right after the walk through the city.
The people here in Vietnam have been very welcoming and approachable. They have been friendly and kept a smile on their faces nonetheless the poor living conditions and amounts of tourists invading their territory. The most important thing we learned is how fortunate we are to have what we have. It teaches you to not take advantage of the life we are provided with, because these people put so much effort into everything they’re doing, from selling fake sunglasses on the street to showing a group of curious Americans around Vietnam.
Day 2 – Saigon to Cai Be, Meking Delta, Service area
We started off the morning with a team breakfast with a view of the entire city. From there, we packed up our bags and took a three hour bus ride to the Mekong delta. An hour and a half in, we stopped for a quick bathroom break, which everyone needed. After another hour-long bus ride with playing games and music, we arrived at the Mekong delta and got on a boat.
The traditional Vietnamese boat was something that we have never seen before; we stopped by a market and learned how to make certain foods. I (Madi) held a snake and Jimmy made a rice paper. We then got back on the boat and took a bunch of pictures on our way to lunch.
Lunch also something different; we got to try out some new foods including a fried fish as is, Vietnamese corn soup, and Jack fruit. Honestly, I didn’t try most of the foods due to the way the fish was presented. However Jimmy didn’t have problems with any of the foods because of the similarity of what there is back in Korea.
After lunch, we got back on the boat and later got the chance to go on the traditional rowboats. The ride was peaceful and the views we encountered were breathtaking. Fortunately the original boat was covered, because it started pouring immediately after we got on the original boat. Despite the rain, we got to go out and cool off from the heat. Then we settled into our homestay and had a nice dinner prepared by our host. After dinner, we all played games in the court yard and wrote in our journals. By the time we were done with these things, we passed out.
We never thought that Vietnam would be such a beautiful place. The stores and houses located on the water were pretty in their own unique way. Now that we enjoyed touring the better known and more tourist-visited parts of Vietnam, we are anxious to explore further to see some of the more rural and poorer parts of the country.