Thursday, 21 January 2016

Vietnam Week One: An Adventure for the Senses

COUNTRY: Vietnam
PROGRAM: UniBreak Groups
PROJECT: Teaching
WRITTEN BY: Angela Hendry
Week one in Vietnam has been an adventure for the senses; the smells of new foods, the exotic tastes of different fruits, continuous blasting of horns in the streets, and the and overwhelming love we have felt for the people we have met, are just the start of what will become a memorable month in Ho Chi Minh, I'm sure.

This week involved the meeting of our new travelling family and becoming familiar with our surroundings and local attractions. We spent time visiting the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Hall, as well as enjoying many of the local delicacies (curried frogs and fish intestines just to name a few). The team is comprised of three professions; Nurses, Physiotherapists and Teachers. For all of us the week has been challenging and full of many situations which have required us to become flexible and patient with the unfamiliar approach to life. For the nursing and physio students, difficulty with government approval to work has resulted in the groups assisting at a near by pagoda. 

The pagoda is run by buddhist Monks who have created a home for over 200 orphaned children, 140 of which have a variety of disabilities. From birth defects to the lasting effects of agent orange used during the war, these children require constant care and support from the team. The nursing students have focused primarily on wound care and assisting with feeding, while the physio students have focused on helping children with mobility, strength and gross motor skills.

The education students have spent the majority of this week at MATA school for the blind. This placement has forced them to draw on all their previous experience as pre-service teachers as teaching to the blind is a new experience for all involved. The teaching team has created a networking system that allows them to effectively teach the diverse levels of speaking abilities with the centre. The improvement they have seen in the first week has been a huge relief for these students. The weekend came around fast with some travelling further North to Hoi An.

While most stayed closer to home to check out more of the local markets, restaurants, parks or even just taking the chance to catch up on some much needed sleep. While we can all agree that the past week has challenged us emotionally, mentally and physically; we have all started the new week with a positive and enthusiastic approach to making a difference at our respective placements.

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