Vietnam service learning Ben Tre – the goodbye to Mekong village

We have done one more day of Vietnam service learning Ben Tre. This is the fifth day and we will finish our participating on the project to move on the new adventures in Vietnam.

In fact the project is not done today yet. You know, building a toilet is not just for 5 or six days. However, we have many others to learn from the trip. So, we will hand over things for the master builders to help us to build the toilet for the lovely students. Of course, we still try best in mixing cements, providing rocks, making roof.

And also, the Vietnam service learning Ben Tre has come to another part of the process. It need more skills like flatting the walls with cements, like tiling the wall tiles, and other tasks that need skillful master builders. This means we have less things to do. And this makes us some adventures into the local life.

We divide our team into two groups. One group still helps builders in building material supplying, the other come to the village and visit the surrounding. And we change the shift after two hours. Our Vietnam service learning Ben Tre is then with more things to remember.

We walk on the village trails and see how the local use their toilet. This confirms our right decision why we should build a toilet for them at this trip of Vietnam service learning Ben Tre. Their toilets are often just a small box over a canal, and you can imagine how it affects the environment. We see some very poor people collecting tree leaves just to earn 30 cents per day. We see how the local make more money with tropical fruit gardens. And we see many more. On top of those, we are so trilled to visit a local farm where the local bring up some so-called “elephant leg” chicken. We have never seen it before. The chicken is regular but their legs are as big as their heads, making the feeling the leg of elephant on the body of chicken. They say that the chicken bring a lot of money as the rich families in cities want to eat this special kind of chicken which are not popular at all. Nevertheless, that is not the only amazing thing of the day we see. We visit another house and they earn living by bring up huge pythons. The pythons are in the cages with locks but this does not help our skin not to get a goose bump. We see them alive, looking at us as a hello for the strangers.

We finish the project and the visiting. We clean the ground for the tranfering, and we call it a half-way celebration for the toilet. We do really make a celebration. After our speech of handing over the sponsoring money to the principal, their representative, the principal, comes to make some long speech on thanks and gratitude. A student from our group also makes a speech on thanks for letting us to have this great Vietnam service learning Ben Tre. The next are some singing performance from a little girl then from a group from that school. This makes us beautiful feeling as a real celebration of important things. We have more hugs, thanks, playing ball together, and picturing together next to our half-way built toilet.

The saying goodbye is the hardest part of the trip. The students staying around us and many do not want to go home. The school children even run after us and cry when we walk to the boat quay for the boat trip back to homestay. It is a so emotional moment.

On the way back to homestay, we also visit a local house to see how they make business from weaving reeds to make mats for sleeping. In Vietnam it’s hot then these mats are so cool to sleep on (for them, as this is so hard for us).

After dinner we make a walking to the village down town and have some local ice cream. We not only have an ice cream, but also touch more to local lives. We see young people train their kungfu. We see many people rush to night classes. We see free people with their entertainment on special local food. In conclusion, we have a chance to see how the local people in a small town in the middle of Mekong delta Vietnam hang out for their night life.

The amazing part of the night goes on with a visit to a garden to see thousand of fire flights on trees sparkling in the middle of the dark night. We caught one and really enjoy the reason why it sparkles and the knowledge of how it sparkles. We have never done that before and this is much more interesting than any book of describing the fire flights.

In the following day we have saying goodbye to our host and make a departure to Saigon, ending a beautiful Vietnam service learning Ben Tre that we will nenver forget.

Vietnam student trip Ben Tre and playing with school children

Today is a great day of our Vietnam student trip Ben Tre as we spend more time to play with children in addition to the prime task of building the toilet.

It means that we also do the same things as we are doing there daily. We start the day as normal with breakfast with local soup. Some girls prefer to have breads and that’s no problem as we have a local bakery not far from there and his bread is great. The coffee in Vietnamese style is more popular among students as any try to make a sip to understand what makes many Vietnamese love it. And we also spend a lot of sweats for brick laying, for sand transporting, for mortar making and other hard jobs. We also take time on breaks with bananas and cookies and other sweaties.

However, we stop earlier in the morning and start later in the afternoon and we have great time to play with the children at the school we help. So, what funs are there for us in this Vietnam student trip Ben Tre?

The first one can be our teaching time. We teach them English and this is great as they never access the people with native English accent like us. We speak slowly and they repeat after us word by word. We are a big group and we spread to all tables in the class and talk with them one by one after the main show in the blackboard. It’s so noisy as we have many people and many group talk different things at the same time. However, we are so excited and that’s still great. We teach them counting, colors, body organs or any things that are easy for them to understand us by non-verbal language.

The second one are the singing together some songs. We sing head, shoulder knee and toe song then chicken dance and the local student follow us very fast.

The next one is a game that we never play before. We have a small thing with feather; we stay in a circle in the school yard and try to kick the small thing by foot, and not to let it drop on the group. The one with bad kicking and making the small thing drop on the ground is a failure. It’s really a very good exercise. It makes us even more exhausted. However, it’s very fun

The students are so enthusiastic in playing with us. They don’t want to go home for lunch even their parents are ready at the school entrance for long time to wait for them to go home. And the ones with afternoon class shift also try to go to school early to have more time to play with us.

On our way back home in the afternoon, we have small adventure that even make our day of Vietnam student trip Ben Tre is even with more amazing memories. We walk back to our boat for a boat drive back homestay, but our boat is suddenly of malfunction. We get help with a lift by a coconut boat. The cocobut boat push our boat for a while on its way, and we feel so fun as we are around by a lot of coconut, the middle of a Mekong with honey afternoon sun and great coconut forest.

Before the coconut boat makes a turn to another river branch, it takes us to a coconut workshop and that’s so sweet. That’s a place where the local people produce things from coconut, and we are so lucky to see this. We see that they peel the coconut fibers from the fruits and this is for making matress or robs to pull boats. We see that they break coconut skull to take water for making additives. We see that they take coconut flesh and use it to make soap, jam and coconut candy. And we did have a great time eating the sweet coconut candy, by a bank of Mekong river, on a great afternoon. That’s the moment we never forget.

We have another boat come and take us to the homestay. We have showers and make some laundry by tubs, detergent and brush supplied by the host.

Don’t think the party time is over. After our delicious dinner with local food, we have a karaoke. That’s a real karaoke and we could not believe we can do that in the middle of Mekong Delta Vietnam. We have a small TV of 32 inches but we have big speakers, and we have a laptop with internet, and we have all English songs in our favourite list. That’s amazing.

We go to bed with a feeling that our Vietnam student trip Ben Tre is an adventure full of sudden amazing experience.