April 6-20, 2016

Vietnam Part 2-Food, Fun and Sun

Part 2

Hi all, I'm Katie, the blogger for the trip. I've been slacking on my job since we've been so busy here in Vietnam, but I'll update you on every detail I can think of right now. The technology aspect of the second school went swimmingly. Everything was set up on the first day, Wednesday, and nearly all of the wires were crimped for the laptops. The internet was a little difficult, but in the end it worked out as well. We ended up adding keyboards and mice to each laptop to ensure a longer lifespan.

We played games with the kids like London Bridge and spent an entire lunch time handing out string for friendship bracelets and paper airplane attachments. The kids loved it. We got so much done so quickly that we left a day early from the school on Friday. The school showed their thanks by making us a delicious meatball soup and egg rolls as well as Vietnamese pancakes. The volunteers from the Vietnam Scholarship Foundation not only helped us translate and the computers, but also found us delicious restaurants that we all enjoyed together. We went to pho, top pot, and Korean barbecue while in Dong Thap. My personal favorite was the Korean barbecue. Or the pho. Really, all the food is delicious.

On Saturday we had a free day in Dong Thap. We went to the grounds of a temple where Ho Chi Minh's father is buried. We took many group photos. It also had statues of pandas and penguins and such which had speakers playing music out of them along the path. The river running through the grounds had bamboo bridges that we crossed, which was pretty exciting. Afterwards we decided to get ice cream and head out to a palace. The palace was extremely beautiful. It was built by a businessman that had grown up in Dong Thap and had made it big. The palace was huge and grand, with multiple buildings and impressive architecture.

After a while exploring, we headed back to go swimming at the local pool. After the pool we went back to the hotel before dinner. It was another night of Korean barbecue, much to my delight. We then said goodbye to one of the volunteers and headed to bed early.
Sunday we woke up at 3:30 am to leave in time for the floating market. As you can imagine, many fell asleep on the bus ride. Once we arrived we rented a big boat to bring us out to the market. There were many other large boats that people lived on. Although most didn't appear to be selling much, there were a couple boats full of fruit that also offered coffee. We had our favorite drink, iced coffee with Vietnamese milk, before heading into a village to get a tour of a small family business. We sampled the rice corn that was popped in front of us before getting a few more souvenirs and heading back to Saigon.
We got to our hotel early and had free time. Many chose to go to the market and barter for cheaper souvenirs. Most of the girls got facials at a local spa. It was a relaxing day. The next day, Monday, we woke up a little early to head to the beach. After a 2.5 hour bus ride we made it to the very hot ocean and swam. Although most put on sunscreen, there were still quite a few sunburns. I was a victim as well. On the way back we had to say goodbye to the volunteers who had been with us for most of our trip. We are so thankful for all their help. After some more free time, we got some aloe vera to soothe our pain. We then went back to the dinner place we went to the night before, a beautiful and delicious rooftop restaurant. That was our last night in Vietnam. We leave tomorrow night at 11:30 pm for South Korea and our 12 hour layover there. More to follow. Katie

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Straight from Vietnam-Blog Posts Days 1-8

Day One/Two

As we sat and waited for our flight, the tension, anxiousness and excitement began to grow. In a day, we would begin our adventure in Vietnam. The flight to Seoul was very long, which gave everyone a long time to rest before we began the 14 hour switch/ time difference between Seattle and Ho Chi Minh. Throughout the flight we were provided with several meals and snacks, which to our amazement were pretty tasty. Upon our arrival in Seoul, we had a very short time to get through security and to our departing flight. Fortunately, we arrived just as boarding was about to begin. On the 5 hour flight to Ho Chi Minh most TSC students slept all or most of the plane ride. The touchdown in Vietnam was smooth and to every one's surprise, we passed through security with no questions and no unpacking of the laptops. We then went to the Blue River Hotel to spend the night.

-Daniella Melegh

Day Three

First full day in Vietnam, after a good small breakfast provided by the hotel on the second floor patio, groups split off with chaperones to briefly explore the city before the planned market trip later. Many of us stopped at one of the many knock-off sunglasses vendors and bought some cheap shades. I managed to buy some genuine ‘Roy Ben”s from a street vendor, so that was fun…. After exchanging money at the bank and learning to ignore the many hassling street peddlers, we all grouped up and went to the famous market. Following a gauntlet of smells and sounds on the walk over, we arrived at the massive covered market. We all learned to haggle as purchases of everything from clothing to lighters to china were made. Walking back with our wallets lighter and backpacks heavier, we stopped to get ice cream outside the hotel, a sweet treat for a long bus ride. Games and laughter kept us awake as the bus rolled through countryside well into the evening. The exhausted group was treated to a quick dinner from the hotel staff before choosing rooms and falling asleep. A big and full day of travelling and shopping that made us tired beyond belief, and the trip had just started.

-Justin Wheeler

Day Four

Little did we know how rural our first school was when we packed into our vans and headed towards it. During our ride, many locals gawked at us foreigners as we passed by. After about 20 minutes, we got off our bus to ride a ferry. As we were getting off, the shoe of one of the students flew off his feet and into the water. Shoeless, Thuy hopped from the ferry to the bus. However, his shoe was saved by one of the ferry’s staff members. When we got to the school, we were met with tons of shy local students. When we waved to them, they ran away, but we quickly gained their trust when we broke out our colored pencils and paper and drew with them. While some TSC members were coloring with the kids, some were setting up the computers and crimping their cords. At the end of the day, we were met with happy, smiling kids who weren’t afraid to wave back.

-Yasna Vismale

Day Five

The nervousness and awkward tension between the TSC students and the Vietnamese students disappeared as we all began to grow closer to one another. Always greeting us with bright smiles and laughter, the students loved playing games with us. As we introduced them to new games like London Bridge and Red Light Green Light, we all grew closer and closer and started to form friendships. Always grabbing us with their little fingers trying to get us to play games we just taught them, TSC students tried their best to keep up with all their energy. What's interesting is that even though their school day is over, they would bike back home and hurriedly come back just to play with us. As we left, the students are always waiting to wave bye and asking us if we are coming back to play again. After finishing our work day and arriving back at our hotel, we get a few hours to explore the area in groups. From shopping to site seeing, there are so much fun things to do!

-Carmen Phu
Day Six

Day 3 at the school.  We finished up a few last technical things. Specifically, we got Unikey on the computers. That is sort of like Mavis Beacon, but less cringey. Then we taught the chiddles. They made some great MS paint art, as well as playing Javascript snake. We made them type their names for educational purposes. After 2 or 3 rounds of that, we were about to leave. Then the school wanted to give us a ceremony, so we were like, “k” and we sat down. The kids sang a thing, and they said some words. There was food, some of it was scary, such as very long crab legs. I don't think I saw anyone eat them. Zach was so spooked he actually went veggie. How strange. We then had a gift bestowed upon us. It was very large, and very heavy. Turns out it was 52 boxes of shrimp crackers. I think someone ate a few.

-Elliot Fisk

Day Seven

On April 12, 2016, as we were going to the First School where we set up and taught computers to the students and teachers, it was our last day there, so it was a joyful but depressing day as this was the last time we would be able to see those students in our lives but we knew we were able to build a better future for those students and that school, as well as for future students. As we got done teaching the last set of students about the computers, we had some time to teach and play with them about group games and gave out candy to all students. As we all got done eating a sending off meal, as we walked back to the vans, we waved back at the kids with all smiles knowing we did a good deed. It was a day to remember for all of us.

-Jonathan Nguyen

Day Eight

Today we went to our second school for the first time.  It was a longer drive than previously and took about an hour and a half.  Everyone worked really hard at the school and we got almost all the computers connected to wifi and working on the first day, this left us with a lot of free time to play games on the computers.  After we got back to our hotel, most of us went swimming.  The pool was super warm and pretty shallow but it still felt nice.  After that, we went to dinner at a Hot Pot which is essentially a bunch of sea food thrown in a pot with noodles and broth, it was very good.  At the end of the day everyone was super tired and went to bed basically immediately after dinner.

-Harrison White

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