Job shadowing in Vietnam for 3 weeks

Job shadowing in Vietnam for 3 weeks

Job shadowing in Vietnam for 3 weeks 5108 4000 2nd Chance

Day 1

22 hours of traveling and I am in Hanoi. Huyen Nguyen greeted me and we drove to volunteers house where I will be accommodated. On the first day, I’ve got to meet people from CSDS organization, volunteers from all over the world, got some information about house rules, and settled in my room. We also had a meeting about our upcoming trip to Hua Tat Village with 8 volunteers and 3 staff members. During the meeting, we were informed that we are going to the village to teach kids English, live in a homestay, and not only eat traditional food but make it ourselves. We also introduced ourselves, played ice-breaker games, and brainstormed about lessons and games for kids. Later on, I had a neighborhood tour and a house tour.

Day 2

8 am and we are heading to Hua Tat Village. We had 4 hours trip, enjoying the beautiful nature of Vietnam. The first day in Hua Tat was relaxing and we were just getting familiar with the area. We met the kids, they took us on a hike and they were running around like crazy all the time. Then we realized that we need to come up with more games because these kids need to use their energy! We observed the forests, landscapes, and casual lifestyle of H’mong people. We ended the night by creating a plan for tomorrow’s lessons and games for the kids, playing games with our group to get closer and more comfortable.

Day 3

The third day started with playing around with kids for a little time and we continued with the first activity for them. We played games like “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” so kids could learn body parts, a dance “Baby Shark” so they would know how to say Mom, Dad, Grandad, and Grandma. Next – lesson. We thought them words like spoon, knife, chopsticks, bowl and etc. Simple sentences like “would you like…?”, “welcome”, “thank you” and many more. The kids were super happy and wanted more and more of the games and lessons. Later it was time for them to teach something new. So we wore traditional H’mong people clothes, made rice cakes (which was very interesting, but quite a hard process) and prepared food for chickens. At the late evening, I had a meeting with A Chu – owner and creator of the homestay “A Chu” (where we stayed). He told me how his business started, what struggles he faced and all the inside details of the homestay, so I could get a clearer vision in order to make a good video for Hua Tat Village trip (for the next volunteers).

Day 4

This day we prepared a bit harder things for the kids to learn. They learned colors, we integrated the learning into a game (we say “3 orange” and they have to find 3 orange things around them while working in a group, then we change the number and the color). It wouldn’t be interesting for the kids to only learn, so we went to a big football stadium they have near the village and we played many games with them also integrating the things they learned like numbers and colors. In the evening we went climbing to see the sunset. It was pretty slippery so the kids came to help us, they are truly not afraid of anything. This day I also filmed how the local girls cook lunch for us. I did interviews with a volunteer and staff member, and also A Chu who is the owner and creator of the homestay we stayed in. Late evening we had performances from the kids and A Chu. We danced their traditional dance and had a bonfire.

Day 5

Last day in Hua Tat Village. We woke up, had delicious breakfast as always, did the last photo with kids and A Chu, and went to the bus. This day was free so I edited photos, worked on video interviews I did in Hua Tat and in the evening went rock climbing with 3 volunteers. It was nice to test my climbing abilities and to get closer with volunteers.

Day 6

This day was more relaxing. I went to try coffee with two Korean girls, they recommended me to try some Korean seaweed snacks and we walked around the city a bit. After that, I worked on photos from Hua Tat Village and later went to try Pho soup – 10/10. I had an opportunity to check the night lifestyle of Hanoi, so I grabbed some volunteers and we explored the streets!

Day 7

I started my day having brunch with Vietnamese intern Nhung Bui and 3 volunteers, we had Banh Mi and later went to the train street where Ngoc Anh joined us. We grabbed some cold drinks, shared stories, and enjoyed our time. This day I wanted to see more of Hanoi’s old quarter, so we walked for a couple of hours and went back to the volunteer house for dinner. I invited the dutch girl to have a short walk around our neighborhood to end the day. Hanoi is always crowded and alive, no matter what time it is.

Day 8

Today I met a new volunteer Solomon from the US and we both had orientation day. We had a presentation about Vietnamese culture, language, what to do, and what not to do in Vietnam which was very interesting. One interesting fact – you can’t wear a white headband because people here wear it during funerals. Later on, we had a lecture with CSDS director and a couple of volunteers – he introduced us with Vietnamese people’s perspective and way of thinking, religion, political views. He presented the information in a very interesting and engaging way, it felt like the time past really fast. He asked us to talk about our culture and beliefs. After a day of many presentations, we went to the
old quarter to relax and have a good evening.

Day 9

Today a new girl from Ireland arrived, some, Solomon, and her (Jessie) had a city tour. We went to the ethnology museum (they have 54 different ethnic groups!) There was a large indoor area with all the ethnic groups, their clothes, jewelry and items relating to weddings, funeral ceremonies, and a large outdoor area with traditional homes. After that we went to the coffee shop where the egg coffee was first created, we tried the egg coffee and it was actually very good.

Day 10

This day I went to a mall that had a huge working space and I dedicated the whole day to editing. I finished “Hua Tat Village” video and went back to the house to rest, talk with volunteers

Day 11

Volunteers’ houses got really quiet because a lot of them went traveling. So I and volunteer Tom from England decided to visit Ba Vi National park in Hanoi. We got a little bit lost there, did hitchhiking, saw beautiful waterfalls and woods. We spent there almost the whole day and I think not planning our little trip made it even more interesting.

Day 12

I, Anh, and Que went to a village one hour away from Hanoi to interview 3 ex-prisoners. I prepared some questions, they greeted us with green tea and snacks. We started talking and our talk lasted for a couple of hours. It was very interesting to hear their stories, to see how they live now and how did they get here. I took portrait pictures of them. During lunchtime, we went to a local restaurant and for the first time, I tried chicken legs (weird so one was enough) and sticky rice with what I became obsessed with. After a very generous lunch, we said goodbye to ex-prisoners and headed back to Hanoi.

Day 13

I booked a tour to Ha Long Bay to go the following day. I talked with the tour manager if I could make a promotional tour video for them and they agreed. There were rumors going around that tours are being canceled and that Ha Long Bay might close. I wished it wouldn’t happen and continued to pack for the trip.

Day 14

I didn’t receive any message about the tour being canceled so I went to the pickup place and apparently the tour was still happening. On the bus ride to Ha Long Bay, tour guide informed us that we will only spend one day on the boat and we will not visit the Freedom Island because of the virus. Being on the boat was fun, we ate really good food, went kayaking, swimming, got to know people and their stories.

Day 15

Tour was going to an end and I didn’t feel like returning to Hanoi so fast so I decided to stay in Ha Long city for one night. I booked a hostel and explored a city which looks a bit like a ghost town,  because almost everything was closed and at this point, people tried to avoid traveling. Local people were very nice, even though some of them just stared at me, the others said hi and wanted pictures.

Day 16

On my last day in Ha Long city, I went to spend my last hours near the beach. The beach was messy, there was trash laying everywhere, but no trash bin anywhere close. Besides that, the whole beach was still stunning. I met two german girls and we talked on my way back to my hostel. The tour organized my return back to Hanoi, so in the evening I was back at the volunteer’s house. Before the sunset, I met some of the volunteers in Hanoi old quarter, I took my camera to catch some shots. When I was at the house I found out that I have a roommate and I was living alone on the whole 5th floor for all this time, so I was excited and we talked a lot before going to bed.

Day 17

While I was on a tour, volunteers had many activities inside the house. I thought I’ve missed a lot of fun, but today some interns took us on a hike and to explore caves. I’ve never been to a cave, so that was a beautiful experience for me. The hike was pretty hard, but comparing to how much I always eat here, I needed that. After that we went to a cafe to get some rest. A french volunteer started to teach us dancing.

Day 18

This day I met an intern in the old quarter and we had lunch. She took me on her motorbike and drove me to a cafe shop to meet another intern. She does a project where she interviews 100 people asking deep, but sometimes very simple questions about your life and perspective on it. It was very interesting, I think it helped both of us in some ways. I ordered a “grab” motorbike (my favorite thing in Vietnam) and went back for dinner to volunteers house.

Day 19 – Day 26

During these days we couldn’t really do a lot. Coronavirus was getting serious, places were closing, tours were being canceled. So I and other volunteers did things like buying souvenirs for family and friends, we were walking around the neighborhood, trying some new foods. Some volunteers gave up on their programs and returned to their home countries. Others wanted to stay, but soon they found out that the government wants all of their citizen to come back home. Volunteers’ house became more and more empty, quiet. I decided to go on one last tour because that area didn’t have any cases of COVID-19 and people said it is still open since a lot of tourist places were already closed for tourists. It ‘s Ha Giang motorbike tour!

Day 17 – Day 29

Ha Giang tour was the best thing. We drove motorbikes for 3 days around the loop, surrounded by big, beautiful mountains. We came there with 7 hour ride on a sleep bus. We stayed one night at a hotel, the other at a homestay where we tried happy water and played card games with owners. The last day we saw a waterfall, it was cold and rainy, so I and the other 3 girls on the tour didn’t go for a swim. We also went kayaking in a super beautiful lake. It was the best way to finish my experience in Vietnam.

Last days

My flight tickets back to Lithuania were getting cancelled over and over again.  “Integration Center” tried as hard as they can and finally I had a 3-days-on-planes way back home. I didn’t imagine how welcoming, warm and caring CSDS staff would really be, I am very grateful for them. They knew I haven’t tried every food in Vietnam, so the last minute they told me to wait a bit, they got on their motorbikes and went somewhere. I was confused but then I saw them coming in something in their hands. They bought me jackfruit and sticky rice for my long trip. They also gave me a bracelet, a t-shirt, and souvenirs for “Integration Center” office. We took group photos and we said goodbye. I got home safely and spent 14 days in self-isolation.

With love,
Aistė Kelbauskaitė

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