The moment I arrived at the international airport of Ho Chi Minh City, I was warmly welcomed by Jenny, my coordinator. We had to wait some time until we could leave the airport as we had to wait for one more volunteer.
We used the time exchanging stories and talking about how Vietnam was compared to Germany, where I come from and she also told me some phrases in Vietnamese.
Our orientation week coordinator, Leah, did a very good job showing us around all the sights in the city and also answering any question or helping is with any problem we brought to her. Since our accommodation was located on the premises of a local private school, we got to know some of the students during the orientation week. We were supposed to practice some english with them, by playing some games together. That was a really nice experience, as one could really see, how they were trying to formulate english sentences and how thankful they were when we corrected them.
The work at my volunteer placement was a lot of fun. In the mornings we would usually either prepare lessons for our classes or we would go to a local orphanage to take care of young children, who lived in the orphanage. That included feeding them, playing with them and comforting them when they were sad.
One day a mother came into the orphanage with two children and left them there, because she couldn't provide for them anymore. The siblings were crying all the time and I held the little boy the whole time so he would stop crying and fed him as well. When I wanted to put him back on the floor he would start crying again so I pretty much held him in my arms until he would fall asleep.
It was a wonderful experience to see how much trust those little kids have in you that they lean their heads against your chest and fall asleep.
In the afternoons, we usually went to another orphanage, where we were supposed to teach the kids, who were older than in the other orphanage, some english. I was lucky to be the teacher of class 4, the oldest class, consisting of 5 girls in the age range of 15 to 19 years. It was quite a challenge, as those girls were really smart and so I had to prepare really well to teach them something they didnt already know. Teaching them was so much fun because they actually wanted to learn something.
On my last day the girls brought some candies and cookies to reward me for my hard work in those two weeks :)
Overall my three weeks in Vietnam were a very good experience, as we got to know the culture and the city very well during our orientation week, thanks Leah!!, and also did some really good work taking care of the kids and teaching them. We noticed how much they appreciated it.
Furthermore, this program was quite easy to adapt to, as volunteers live in a big and international city and the food is very good.
Thanks for the wonderful time GreenLion and of course thanks as well to IVHQ for making volunteering as affordable as it is! :)