Peace Works Travel Blog

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Forging Peace through Friendship

Francis Parker School – South to North – Day Nine
Good morning Vietnam! (Bet you weren’t expecting that one).
We were unable to blog yesterday because our group is currently boarding a night train to Sapa. Yesterday, however, we had a relaxing start, and once again, had a delicious buffet filled with noodles, bread, and cereal. After breakfast, we spent the majority of our day in the Peace Works Travel Village. We were welcomed into an elegant stateroom by gracious hosts, where we met the soft-spoken Mr. Zung, the director of Village. He explained that since the Peace Works Travel Village opened in 1998 the organization has welcomed and treated over 600 children. The village also provides medical treatment, rehabilitation and temporary boarding to Vietnamese veterans. One thing that our guide could not reiterate from the veterans and members of the village was peace and friendship.  

After playing soccer for about 15 minutes, we gathered into a room with four tables all placed with warm plates and hot food. There we proceeded to have a lunch filled with laughter. We all noticed that they are a generous organization, despite the limitation on resources. As part of our service project, we spent at least an hour and a half collecting three oversized wheelbarrows worth of trash that was once scattered throughout the village. Later, it evoked a discussion among the group about the ever-growing problem of the disposal of trash. It was rewarding to see the difference our group had made cleaning up the once trash-littered compound.

We had the exciting opportunity to give our donations and participate in the classrooms. There, groups of three helped children learned various subjects while others assisted in making creative art work. One group provided guidance about fractions and unit conversions. The others helped the children paste scraps of paper and place them within a square drawn on a piece of paper. After our time in the classroom, we visited several art studios. There, we saw intricate embroidery. Do not be surprised if we return home with a new addition to the family art collection. Next we toured the “sew room.” This provides vocational training and an eventual exit into the job market. It is quite amazing to see children affected by Agent Orange, yet still have a wonderful outlook on life.  With heavy hearts we said goodbye to our new friends in the Peace Works Travel Village.

Everyone was looking forward to dinner because of the slight fact that western food was promised. Pizza, pasta, and French fries were scattered upon the table. Most members pigged out while some were still struggling to keep their food down. Then for the final time we said “li tm bit” to the Imperial Hotel, which provided excellent accommodations. On a final note, please forgive the rushed nature of this blog because we are preparing to board the train to Sapa. As of now, we approach Sapa with great optimism and excitement.

Best Regards,
Melissa Shega & James Wamsley

Peace Works Travel,PWT Guest Bloggers,Student Community Service