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My Vietnam Diaries – Project Touch Vietnam

Trying authentic Vietnamese food Hello everyone. We have an amazing story from one of our exchange participants who went to Vietnam for a Global Volunteering project. Let’s hear it from Upeksha Gunathilake from Royal Institute Colombo.

“Great. This is it. This is how I’m going to die.” Standing behind a long queue at the Ho Chi Minh airport in Vietnam after a five-hour long flight, this was all I could think. I only stopped occasionally to kick myself for my sudden wave of gutsiness that got me applying to overseas volunteering through AIESEC Sri Lanka.

Given my minor cerebral palsy condition, standing in long queues was not by any means a pleasant experience. Added to that was the fact that I had never gone anywhere without my family. I was nervous, excited, irritated, and very genuinely freaked out to the point that I, literally, became sick. It gives me no small amount of pleasure to state that the misfortunes (mostly a product of my overthinking brain) ended there.

Volunteering with AIESEC

My buddy picked me up and took me to the English teaching center in which I would stay and teach for the next six weeks. My first few memories of the center were two volunteers, a Filipino girl, and an Indian boy, leading me in through a shower of ‘hi’s. Unpacking took an unnecessarily long time since I fell into a long chatter with my roommate.

A few days later, I attended the AIESEC’s inauguration meeting for new volunteers. Also, I met volunteers from many other projects as well during the meeting. Sharing Konda-kawum with them was a sure-fire method of making new friends. (Who can resist Konda-kewum right?) The AIESECers taught us some basic Vietnamese and the dos and don’ts when traveling around. Two bus rides later, I was back in my room, after my dinner on authentic Vietnamese food on which I am now decently educated.

Over the next few weeks, I fell into a happy routine, traveling during the day, and teaching at night. (The center was an after-school institution.) The more experienced volunteers showed me the cheapest places to buy great food and the safest ways to travel around.Volunteering with AIESEC

During my Volunteering session with AIESEC, I attended two Global Villages. One for which I squeezed myself into a saree for the first time. I spent a generous amount of time explaining to the kids why I was wrapped in layers and layers of sparkly cloth. Over the six weeks, my roommates changed several times. Towards the end of my six weeks, a Chinese girl moved in. I merrily named her ‘Grandma’ since I was the youngest of the volunteers and she was the oldest. Besides she certainly acted her part. To this day, she remains my good friend, despite the fact that I once accidentally locked us out of our room, leaving us stranded for the night.

Teaching my dear students during my volunteer with AIESEC was the most wonderful experience, possibly in my life. Of course, there were times when they were a bit difficult, but which student isn’t? I sang songs with the little ones, read through textbooks

Project 'Touch Vietnam'

Project ‘Touch Vietnam’

with the older students, and supported the center in assessing both the students and their teaching methods. I was moved to tears when, on my last day, my students presented me with little handmade things as a token of their thanks. Also, a few of them walked with me to my room, dropping me off with hopes of seeing me soon.

As I returned home, my bookworm-self was feeling much like Bilbo Baggins, a homey little person who went on a great, perspective-altering adventure. Memories of the past six weeks of volunteering with AIESEC played through my head in a fondly jumbled heap; the new things I learned, the places I traveled, the exciting food I tried, the people I met, and teaching my students. I dozed off happily with the realization that I could quote J. R. R. Tolkien from The Hobbit since I now had my very own “there & back again”.

Volunteering with AIESEC

Project ‘ Touch Vietnam’

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How to Support Sustainable Urbanism

 

The carts and carriages crowded close upon one another, making little way for those swifter and more impatient vehicles that darted forward every now and then when an opportunity showed itself of doing so, sending the people scattering against the fences and gates of the villas.

Some of the people who crowded in the carts whipped stupidly at their horses and quarrelled with other drivers; some sat motionless, staring at nothing with miserable eyes; some gnawed their hands with thirst, or lay prostrate in the bottoms of their conveyances.

In one cart stood a blind man in the uniform of the Salvation Army, gesticulating with his crooked fingers and bawling, “Eternity! Eternity!” His voice was hoarse and very loud so that my brother could hear him long after he was lost to sight in the dust.

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Lifestyle

Impacts of Coastal Traffic Wild Animals Habitats

Um-m. So he must. I do deem it now a most meaning thing, that that old Greek, Prometheus, who made men, they say, should have been a blacksmith, and animated them with fire; for what’s made in fire must properly belong to fire; and so hell’s probable. How the soot flies! This must be the remainder the Greek made the Africans of. Carpenter, when he’s through with that buckle, tell him to forge a pair of steel shoulder-blades; there’s a pedlar aboard with a crushing pack.

Now, what’s he speaking about, and who’s he speaking to, I should like to know? Shall I keep standing here? (ASIDE). Tis but indifferent architecture to make a blind dome; here’s one. No, no, no; I must have a lantern.

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Our Undersea Adventure

The woodtick sucks the blood of the dog, but the germ, being so very small, goes right into the blood of the body, and there it has many children. In those days there would be as many as a billion—a crab-shell, please—as many as that crab-shell in one man’s body. We called germs micro-organisms. When a few million, or a billion, of them were in a man, in all the blood of a man, he was sick. These germs were a disease. There were many different kinds of them—more different kinds than there are grains of sand on this beach. We knew only a few of the kinds. The micro-organic world was an invisible world, a world we could not see, and we knew very little about it. Yet we did know something. There was the bacillus anthracis; there was the micrococcus; there was the Bacterium termo, and the Bacterium lactis—that’s what turns the goat milk sour even to this day, Hare-Lip; and there were Schizomycetes without end. And there were many others….”

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Midway, a plastic island

After breakfast, instead of working, I decided to walk down towards the common. Under the railway bridge I found a group of soldiers–sappers, I think, men in small round caps, dirty red jackets unbuttoned, and showing their blue shirts, dark trousers, and boots coming to the calf.

They told me no one was allowed over the canal, and, looking along the road towards the bridge,

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