Visiting the two ACWP schools, Hong Tieng and a branch of Ly Tu Trong, is an experience I would not soon forget. On July 7th, VMO visited a school that was recently built in a remote region of Vietnam (outside of Hue). This school allowed for nearby village children to attend school, who otherwise would not have an education. Upon visiting the school, many curious eyes and ears peaked from various corners, doors and windows as VMO walked up the hill. As we reached the top, all the school children were seated in neat rows ready for our visit. We approached one of two classroom doorways and the students inside stood and sang us a welcome song. The song was very cheerful and conveyed both welcome and gratitude. I personally felt my smile grow wider and wider as they sang. It was after then that the situation became embarrassing to say the least. My mom had singled me out and asked me to teach the children a song I had often learned and sang in Boy Scouts. At first, I had adamantly refused, but at the urging of my friends, I reluctantly agreed. I taught them a song, with the help of my peers from VMO, called Vui Ca Len.
I am incredibly thankful my mom and friends pushed me to do this, as it was an amazing experience. To teach them something as small as a song made me feel completely globally connected with my roots. It was then I also got the opportunity to teach the second class room a song called Cung Quay Quan, and again, it was an absolutely rewarding experience. After I finished teaching the songs, we were able to hand out candy and presents to the students. Their smiles and laughter were very infectious.
On July 8th, we attended the grand opening of the renovation of a branch of the Ly Tu Trong school (near Hoi An). Through ACWP, this school’s renovation was funded by generous donations made by Dr. Tong Dieu Lien and Dr. Viet Chanh. Ly Tu Trong was extended to add three additional rooms, two of which served as classrooms while the third served as the library.
The grand opening began with a ceremony in which speeches were made as VMO members and students looked on. My mom made a speech during this ceremony, representing ACWP’s involvement with the renovation. Following this, the students were told to return to their classrooms, where they sat and eagerly waited for our gifts.
We had purchased 100 hats and book bags to hand out to the children. After the book bags and hat were all handed out, we handed out candy and cookies. The smiles and cries of thank you were heart-warming. And it was with fulfillment that we watched as they walked, biked and skipped home with their backpacks on their back, and their hats on their head.
All of this made me realize how much of life people often take for granted. While these children are grateful at every small gift they are given, many of us complain and grumble about the smallest things. They smile at the gift of a small cheap backpack, while we grumble at how old or boring ours is getting. They are thankful for the opportunity of an education, while we complain about ours.
Along with feeling globally connected, this experience has also made me more aware of how fortunate I am and how thankful I should be. When returning to the US, I hope to convey how lucky we truly are, and that many others around the world, are grateful for what little they have.
-- submitted by Bao Le, San Jose State Univ.