SPRINT to Vietnam


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The Ao Dai.

Posted by Team Vietnam on July 2, 2010 at 4:48 AM Comments comments (1)

We can not believe that our time in Vietnam is so close to being over.  It feels like we just got here.

Since we haven't blogged for a while, here is a quick overview of what we have experienced and what we have been doing.  We have had the chance on numerous occasions to spend evenings with our new Vietnamese friends which has been so much fun.  They have shown us their favorite places throughout DaNang and allowed us to experience things and places that we would have had no idea about otherwise.  One evening, after we worked with an I.T. class here at DTU, some classmates invited us to go to the beach with them.  We swam and hung out at the beach until the sun went down and then they took us to a little place that served 'ban xeo,' which is kind of like a spring roll with some meat and/or fish wrapped up inside.  We have been learning so much from them, and they really appreciate the opportunity to speak English with native speakers. 

Our hosts have been very good about balancing out work and also allowing time for them to show us some of Vietnam's cultural destinations.  Mrs. Chi brought us to both the Cham Museum and Hoi An.  In Hoi An, we visited a silk shop where we all purchased traditional Vietnamese dresses, called 'ao dai.'  Because our bodies need a little more fabric than Vietnamese clients, we had to have them tailor made, but this is quite common in Vietnam.  It was a good thing that we got them in no time because we were asked to wear them when we met with one of our classes.  They were a hit for the students and our hosts, and of course, we love them.  We also had the opportunity to make an overnight trip to Hue with our host Mr. Phouc, where we learned a lot about Vietnamese history, and saw some famous landmarks. 

One of the professors that we have been learning from throughout our stay brought us to a few facilities as well, which were very eye-opening.  The first place that we visited was the Agent Orange Center, followed by a government center that was home to the elderly, disabled, orphaned, and homeless.  This was a great contrast for us to see, from what we are used to seeing in our urban setting in DaNang.  Both centers are doing great work and though they recieve funding from the government, they do need outside support as well. 

We have also been invited into Vietnamese homes on two different occasions.  Mrs. Huyen, one of our hosts, invited us over for dinner and cooked us a delicious meal of seafood.  We gathered on her kitchen floor and ate shrimp and clams, rice pancakes and little green apples.  It was a great experience.  On the same note, our professor, Mr. Thinh, invited us to his nephew's house, where we were served rice cakes and lemonade. 

We have spent the last few days working at the Fisher SuperKids English center, as well as a rural school that they are partnering with.   We have been teaching classes as well as doing some painting and decorating, and anything else that Hai and Teresa need help with around the center.  We have absolutely loved and enjoyed our time at SuperKids and we look forward to finishing out our time in Vietnam working with them.

Mot, Hai, Ba, Yo!

Posted by Team Vietnam on June 22, 2010 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

A lot has happened since we last blogged.  We spent Friday working at Fisher's SuperKids English Center at a summer camp playing games with kids that taught them about teamwork.  Our games were trivia-based and the kids seemed to have a ton of fun.  We taught along side of a team of students from Azuza Pacific University and it seemed odd to us to work with Americans again, but in a good way.  The day camp ended with a trip to the Big C movie theater where we watched How To Train Your Dragon with over 100 Vietnamese children.  That really is the only way to watch a movie.  After camp was over, Teresa, Hai's wife, gave us a ride back to DTU.  She told us about a Mr. Pizza resteraunt that is nearby where we are staying.  We decided that a little American food sounded pretty good so we walked to find Mr. Pizza, where we found Teresa waiting and hoping that we would show up! Dinner with Teresa and family really lightened our spirits and talking with and hearing parts of her life story has been one of the highlights of our trip thus far. 

The next day was spent with the SuperKids again, this time in a recreational park setting.  Aside to the scorching weather, the kids enjoyed the fun and games that we all played, including kickball, duck-duck-goose, and face painting.  After camp, we were taken to lunch by the SuperKids staff, along with the students from APU.  Talking with and getting to know them has been a lot of fun.  Upon our return to the DTU campus, Mrs. Huyen, our host, offered to take us to the beach for the evening.  She bought us fruit and we got to swim in some of the warmest ocean water any of us had ever been in.  The beach was crowded but very beautiful.  We were there as the sun set and we ate rice wrapped in banana leaves with "fish sauce" (which is sauce made from fermented fish....yum), which we all agreed tasted a bit like Spaghetti-Os.  We finished out the evening with a trip to Tra Sua with some DTU students.  They ordered for us, and we found out half way through that we were drinking egg-flavored milk tea.  Talking to the students was a lot of fun and we look forward to hanging out with them in the future. 

On the following day, our host took us to Ba Na Hills, a mountain about an hour away from where we are staying.  We waited in a long and hot line (which reminded us a little bit of Disneyland) to board a gondola, which took us near the top of the mountain.  It was beautiful up there, and the temperature was probably 20 degrees cooler, which was a blessing in and of itself.  At the top of the mountain, we followed our host into a Buddhist pagoda to burn incense. It was an interesting experience and we all felt rather uncorfortable, but it was a very new and interesting experience. Later, in debriefing, we talked about why it made us all a little bit uncomfortable.  We also ate lunch on the mountaintop and by the time we took the gondola back down we were all very exhausted. 

Yesterday we again saw the beauty of creation.  We woke up at 4 am and went to the beach to watch the sunrise.  It was glorious and we plan on making at least one more of these sunrise trips before the end of our trip.  We made it back in time for a quick nap before class at 8, where we learned more Vietnamese and about Vietnamese holidays.  A long trek to find Pho for lunch was in store for us, but after walking a pretty far distance in the scorching heat, we decided to return to our favorite noodle hotspot.  The afternoon was filled with team time and rest, which was just what we needed.  We went back to Ne Star for dinner to watch the Portugal-North Korea world cup game. 

Because we missed Father's Day we would like to give a shoutout to all of our fathers back home who are great at what they do.  We miss you and hope you had a great day.  To further that, another shoutout goes especially to Megan's dad, "Scott....a chaplain" as he finds himself another year older and wiser?....hmmm =) Happy Birthday Papito!

Chocolate Cake and Bags of Pepsi!

Posted by Team Vietnam on June 17, 2010 at 9:08 AM Comments comments (1)

These past two days have been a whirlwind of new experiences and cultural excursions. 

Yesterday we had our very first culture class which was long and hot, but we learned a lot of really good and useful information about how and why people act the way they do.  Our teacher also informed us that it was the hottest day of the year, which he helped us celebrate with sticky rice which we dipped in sugar.  Yum.  We returned to the 4U restaurant for lunch because it was close and it was familiar.  Next, we played some card games before traveling to Fisher's SuperKids Center to meet with Hai to plan for our activities at the English Center on Friday and Saturday.  This meeting was great for our spirits and we are so thrilled and excited to be working with Hai and the SuperKids Center during our time here.  Hai even taught us how to call a taxi and reprogrammed our cell phone from Vietnamese to English so that we actually knew how to work it.  He called our taxi and we headed back to DTU.  When we returned, we went to one of our favorite street vendors and got Banh Trung for dinner, which was basically a hoagie roll with egg, greens, and a cucumber.  We took our Banh and ate it on the riverfront after walking over a very bright and flashy bridge.  All in all, it was a great day as we began to greet the locals with smiles and a simple "Xin Chao."

Today was an awesome day.  We began with another culture class, taught by a new teacher.  The focus of today's class was food.  We learned about so many foods and wrote down a ton of things to try.  Our  teacher pointed out to us the very best places to eat and we decided to take an adventure to find one of these places for lunch.  We walked until we found one of the recommended locations, My Quang Que.  We ordered a delicious noodle dish at lunch and found out that we are not very proficient in our use of chopsticks which was proven by the stains left down the front of Megan's shirt.  On our way back to school, we found a bakery and figured it made us feel like we were at home so we stopped in.  They had chocolate cake.  We all got one of the mini-cakes and we also picked up some breakfast (dried bread with sugar) for tomorrow morning.  Of course the cakes made us parched, so we stopped by a street vendor for a drink.  We were surprised when the woman poured a bottle of pepsi into a plastic bag, stuck a straw in, and rubber-banded the bag closed.  What a perfect sugar fix on a hot day!  After returning back to DTU after lunch, we did our best to mentally prepare for the afternoon, which we spent in a class of I.T. students our age.  It was so great.  We made friends, hung out, and talked about each others' lives and cultures for a couple hours.  We added more contacts to the phone, gave out email addresses and hopefully when we get back to the states we will have some new Facebook friends!  It was such an uplifting afternoon and somewhat of a relief to finally have friends.  We celebrated by having a nice dinner at Ne Star, where we ordered more foreign menu items, which proved to be promising.  Ne Star was playing the world cup game (Argentina vs. S.Korea) and we were surrounded by men watching the game and drinking Heineken and happily chanting songs.  After finishing up our delicious beef dishes and rice, we returned to our rooms to finalize plans for SuperKids camp this Friday. 

Xin Chao From Vietnam!!!

Posted by Team Vietnam on June 15, 2010 at 2:51 AM Comments comments (5)

After many many hours of traveling and a few too many airplane meals, we have finally arrived in DaNang! We spent last night in Ho Chi Minh City and got our first taste of authentic Vietnamese food.... for breakfast. After kindly denying the chicken liver and frog, we boarded a plane for DaNang and arrived later this morning. To say the heat here is like the surface of the sun would be an understatement. We were taken under the charge of Ms. Huyen and Mr. Phuoc, who picked us up from the airport, took us to our rooms at DTU. We realized that dodging mororbikes is quite common as we walked with our hosts to lunch. We ate a wide a variety of Vietnamese food with fans blowing and without lights due to a power outage. After dining on corn and crab soup, beef and onions, chicken soup with something... and something else a bit unidentifiable, we are back in our gloriously air-conditioned rooms until later this afternoon when we will meet with our hosts again.

Less than a month now!

Posted by Team Vietnam on May 17, 2010 at 6:57 PM Comments comments (0)

We can now count the number of weeks until departure on one hand (without using thumbs)! Which is incredibly exciting and a little nerve-racking at the same time. We are working hard to continue fundraising and starting to make packing lists (we found out that we all really love making packing lists!) An REI/Target trip is definitely in store!

Last Sunday was SPRINT Sundae in Martin Square on campus. Each SPRINT team had a topping to add to free ice cream for anyone interested in hearing about what we will be doing on each of our trips. Team Vietnam's topping was Vietnamese (and by Vietnamese we mean Swedish) Fish. It was fun being able to share our trip with other students and hear their words of encouragement.

Today we found out that, becasue we have a 12 hour layover in South Korea on our way back, the airline is offering us a free tour of Seoul while we are there. If it works out, we are very excited for this  unexpected adventure! We also succesfully got our Visas. Everything is finally coming together! We hope to receive a finished itenerary in the next couple of days.


Posted by Team Vietnam on May 1, 2010 at 6:14 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello from Team Vietnam!

As we flipped our calendars to May today, the realization that we are departing next month is starting to set in! We are currently heavy in the mix of preparations for our trip. We successfully sold and delivered tulips on campus the week before last and are trying to come up for more fundraising plans in the coming weeks (if you have any ideas achievable by a motivated team of three, they would be much appreciated!) We have also started thinking about packing lists and have realized that we are much in need of a Target/REI run, which we plan on packing into on fun-filled Vietnam day before finals!

Last week we met with Daisy Nguyen for coffee. She is an international student attending SPU from Vietnam. Although she is not from central Vietnam (the area that we will be traveling in this summer) She was able to give us a lot of helpful cultural tips and (most importantly) food tips! We are now set with a list of 'must try' meals for our trip :tongue: mhmm!

As part of the preparation for our trip, all SPRINTers (any SPU student going on one of the various trips all around the world this summer) we are required to take a theology based class about living in another culture. Our final project in this class is a cultural presentation of the country we will be traveling to. We have begun thinking about our project and are very excited to start learning more about Vietnam in the coming weeks!

Thank you to everyone who has been responding to our support letters, it is much appreciated!

Meet Team Vietnam!

Posted by Team Vietnam on April 16, 2010 at 6:21 PM Comments comments (1)

Hi! We're Erin, Emily, and Megan and we make up Team Vietnam. We are embarking upon a month long service trip to Vietnam this summer. Here is a place to keep track of our progress. Thank you for your prayers, support, and donations!


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