From 23rd March to 2nd April 2012, Hue Help received a group of students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, under their programme “YEP Hue 2012”. During this programme, they helped construct a courtyard for Tay Xuan Kindergarten over a period of nine days.
We were excited for their arrival, and when they did eventually arrive my first impression was that they were friendly and always smiling. They all greeted me with “Xin Chao”- the first Vietnamese word they had learnt. I thought it was going to be a challenging job for me to teach them Vietnamese, but they were very keen on learning Vietnamese, which also helped me feel less nervous. I was pleased to see that all of them remembered my name, although just some students pronounced it correctly. Some of them even managed to communicate in Vietnamese with some basic words.
For the duration of their stay, the thirty two students- divided into four groups of 8- rotated duties to do construction, organise activities at Tay Xuan Kindergarten, conduct English lessons for a primary school, and prepare daily meals for the whole group; I was impressed by their hard-working attitude and team spirit. Whether it was rainy or sunny, they were out working with the local workers. I had a lot of fun taking part in the kindergarten activities with the kids such as musical chairs, dancing and performing the play “The Little Red Riding Hood”. Thanks to them, I had a chance to eat Chinese, Malaysian and Singapore foods for lunch and dinner. Everyone took part in the cooking and from my eyes, they cooked the food with all their affection.
Apart from the busy life working at the kindergarten, they also enjoyed their time going to the beach, visiting the rice field and bean farm, and exploring Hue city. The activities included visiting Hue Children’s Shelter in An Hoa. We also had a cultural and musical exchange with members of Au Lac School. It was a meaningful event for students from both countries to get to know each other. The event was well planned and everyone enjoyed chatting, joking and spending time together. During the exploration of Hue city, we visited Linh Mu Pagoda and the Citadel. Before that, they had only heard of these places in their lessons at school, and they were happy to visit them in person. Personally, I appreciated their desire to learn more about the history of Vietnam.
We had a closing ceremony before they left Hue. After the dinner, we chatted, sang, and danced around the camp fire. I felt so amazed and touched by the students from Singapore, the Vietnamese volunteers and the local villagers.
Although it was only a short period of time working together, it was full of happiness, smiles and laughter for all the Vietnamese volunteers and myself. I felt that there was a strong bond between us and it was so sad for me to say ‘Goodbye’ to them at the end of their trip. So on behalf of Hue Help, I want to bid farewell to YEP Hue 2012, and I hope that the memories and the laughter we shared will stay with us forever. You will all be missed.