On 9 April 2011 sixteen girls from PLC Sydney and three girls from PLC Armidale set off to the fascinating and culturally unique nation of Vietnam. Our journey began in the bustling city of Hanoi.
We spent one utterly exhausting day teaching at the Le Quy Don Primary School in Hanoi, an experience which certainly left us with a renewed appreciation of our own teachers! We then spent four days at Birla Children’s Village, playing with the children, weeding the grounds and painting the four houses in the sweltering heat of Hanoi.Although the work was hard, it was incredibly rewarding to know that the work we were doing was making a real difference to the lives of the 120 children in the orphanage.
We were also given a tour of each of the houses which gave us the opportunity to see where the money from our fundraising efforts this year would be going. As a reward for our hard work, we finished our time at the orphanage by throwing a party for the children. For many of us, this was the highlight of our trip and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when we gave the gifts we had brought from Australia was unforgettable.
One of the other main challenges of our trip was surviving home stay. We all stayed with a Vietnamese family for three nights to experience the true Vietnamese lifestyle. Our experiences were quite diverse as we all stayed with different families with varying degrees of English. For some girls, the language barrier was the hardest obstacle to overcome, for others it was the cuisine. Homestay made us aware of the cultural differences between Australia and Vietnam and allowed us to become more adaptable and gain independence.
We finished the trip off in Saigon learning about the consequences of the Vietnam War through the very confronting War Museum and also experiencing the Cu Chi Tunnels that were built during the war. This proved to be a very unique educational experience that all of us loved.
Overall we had an amazing and unforgettable time these holidays participating in the Vietnam Service Learning Tour. We would like to thank the teachers, Ms Brewer, Miss Hancock and especially Miss McLean for their tireless work in organising the tour and for accompanying us on the trip. We are also very grateful for the generosity of the PLC community and the PLC Foundation in supporting our trip and the fundraising efforts which made it possible.