My overall experience with ETA4 Duc Linh 2014 program was AWESOME. I taught a B-level class with around 40 students. They were super friendly and a bit naughty sometimes, but they are really no trouble. They came to me for questions and showed me around town. You should check out the small dam nearby and the rambutan gardens which were in season (the kids would definitely showed/drove you there on their bicycles^^) There were a couple of printers at the church to print out materials for students. The Father and Brothers were there willing to help us with anything, from printing to gathering the kids. I was so happy seeing them everyday, even when it rained heavily. It was summer in Vietnam, however, I felt like autumn in Duc Linh as it rained a lot which cooled down a little.
We volunteers (groups of 2-4) shared bedrooms in a motel which is within walking distance to the church and the market. It's very convenient. There's a pharmacist's right in front of the church where you can buy medicine. The chemist, she was very nice and helpful. She always greeted us with a smile, even offered us free med as she knew we were volunteers.
Classes started 8 am in the morning and lasted until 11 am. Afternoon classes were from 2 pm to around 3:30 pm then students were outside either to swim, play basketball or play dodge ball... Every weekday we woke up at around 7 and walked to the church to have breakfast at 7:30. Lunch time was right after we finished teaching. We left the church at 5 pm and had one hour to take a shower before having dinner at around 6 pm. It's funny that after having meals, we volunteers washed dishes together. This might sound a bit tiring, but it was actually really fun as we had sometime to chat about what happened in our class this morning, what's the plan for tomorrow's class. I missed those days... Oh and we also have Broom Master, Pot Master (Xoong-in Vietnamese), and many other Masters in our group. :)) Like many other volunteers, I found the food super duper delicious. There was barely any leftover on our tables for the dogs, so I thought they were quite furious. There's a girl in our group was in charge of taking photos of the meals we had and posted them on facebook :)). The cook was super kind as she usually asked us whether we had any dietary preferences so that she could prepared for us.
Well I think when it comes to work, especially voluntary work, you may experience some ups and downs. However, you are expected to work hard and make a real contribution - it is not just sitting around enjoying a different culture. In return, the experience you have and lessons you learn are valuable and unforgettable. You can befriend with people you've never met before and quickly bond after just a week :)). To be honest, before the trip I told myself that how I was gonna be fine surviving 5 weeks as I had read so many negative feedback. However, when I got there, it was actually not bad. We got Wi-fi, AC, grocery store nearby so you can buy anything you need.
But most importantly, as you are able to closely interact with the kids who are from different backgrounds. While you have breakfast ready every morning, many of your students have to head to the market and prepare breakfast for their younger brothers and sisters before coming to class... Talking to them will help you learn about their daily lives, many childhood games you haven't played in ages and their optimism for life and the future...
I hope to come back to Duc Linh this summer, and I am doing my best. Hope to see you there.
If you have any more questions, do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org