Peace Works Travel Blog

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Santa Barbara Schools - Trip Reflections

Laura: We can’t believe our Vietnam journey is on its last leg. It feels like months ago that we first arrived in Saigon, but also weirdly seems like it was just yesterday. We had an awesome trip and learned so much as individuals and as a group. This country has such a rich culture and history that is very interesting to learn about from a local perspective…especially as Americans. We leave with full bellies and full hearts for the Vietnamese people but ready for some burgers, fries, and time with our Santa Barbara people. The kids have each written a final paragraph to sum up their trip and some of what they’ve learned. We’re sure you’ll hear many stories and see thousands of pictures to add to these thoughts. Stay tuned for a video/slideshow in the next couple of weeks.

Pierce: After 9 nights in Vietnam I have conflicting emotions on tobogganing back to that 805. The
remarkable culture, people and country not only opened my eyes to the polar opposite differences in our economic and social structures, but also the many similarities that we share.  Despite language barriers, our fearless troops and I were able to kindle flames with Mr. Hau, Dukey, and many Hanoi University students (especially Beatrice).  The experience for me was made by our trip to the Thanh Xuan Peace Village, the center for victims of Agent Orange.  Many of these children suffer from severe metal and physical disabilities; however, these children had an ineffable love of life surpassing any disability these remarkable kids inherited. This passion for life personifies not only Vietnam’s resilience and strength , but also their devotion to equality and striving to give every person a fair chance in life.  24 meals from free-range chicken to more exotic duck embryos and wafer thin sparrows will be quickly missed, but not soon forgotten.  So familiar to this country after countless jokes (that still aren’t over), amazing memories, and destroy-me inducing heat. Good night, Vietnam!      

Malaya: While traveling through Vietnam, I was given an amazing opportunity to learn more about myself and
the Vietnam War.  I will never forget my experience at the home-stay in the Mekong Delta. In the Mekong Delta I learned my limits with biking, but I also discovered my love for living outdoors (well, in cabins, but my point is made, I think).  On this trip, I also learned more about the Vietnam War, and was able to think critically about our past actions. Being able to see the war from the opponent’s point of view gave me a new perspective on the war.  I am extremely grateful for everyone who supported me and helped me get to Vietnam (shout out to the family, especially Herb Tuyay, he is a pretty cool guy). Thank you for a trip of a lifetime, and sorry for being extremely cliché, I think it runs in the family.

Jack: On this spectacular journey through this beautiful country called Vietnam, I have learned so much about the war and the Vietnamese culture. Part of that was through meeting the Vietcong general and understanding what it was like to live through the war. My favorite part about this trip was traveling through these hectic cities and peaceful country sides. During this trip I made new friends and strengthened my bonds with old ones. Even though we had to deal with extreme heat and a ton of bug bights, I would call this class, nah, this tight group of FRIENDS a group of intense travelers. I love Vietnam and it might be one of my favorite countries after America.  I will miss it here and I will miss this tight bond we have all created.

Daniel: The expedition to Vietnam was very interesting. I created strong, family-like ties with my fellow travelers and I got to learn about and experience Vietnamese culture and history first hand. Saigon was very comfortable and besides the near-death-via-moped experiences it was doable. The Mekong was a great surprise to me because of the 1800s-like home conditions and hellish temperatures. Lastly, Hanoi was a historical and educational hub in which I got to meet some bright-souled Agent Orange victims and become a point of interest for the Vietnamese college girls at the Peace Village with us.  This trip taught me how to get the maximum from the minimum in various senses and I am thankful for it.

Carter: This has been an amazing experience for me. Considering Vietnam is my favorite place I have

already been to, it would be impossible to not have a great time, but I owe this remarkable adventure to the wonderful Dorfman and Wooster. The schedule was great and always consisted of fun, exciting activities and foods. I really enjoyed the strong bonds we all created on this trip and hope to continue these new friendships.  I learned the importance of being able to forgive through war stories from the Vietcong general. I loved this trip and am very grateful to my parents, Peace Works Travel tours, the amazing chaperones, and the excellent guides that all played their role in bringing me this remarkable opportunity.

Bea: Vietnam was VERY interesting. It’s so different from America, it’s like comparing a cat to a dog. Vietnam had its ups and downs. It is a rich culture and a new experience. I got to see things like floating markets, busy streets, strange customs, and help locals along the way. I made friends and strengthened relationships with people who I had a first thought were far too different from me; I will continue to be friends with them even after this trip.  I learned about the history of Vietnam and our war against them, which I had previously known squat about.  On the downside, staying in a place where the food doesn’t agree with your stomach or tongue is a challenge.  Also, the whole trip consisted of brutal waves of homesickness and lethargy. All in all, I will probably not visit Vietnam again, but am very content and grateful I had this adventure.

Kayla: I was extremely blessed to be able to go on this trip. Vietnam was an amazing experience, from the culture to the food (of which the majority I didn’t enjoy). Saigon was a very hectic place, crossing the street was sketchy, but so are a majority of cities. When we went to the War Remnants Museum it really opened my eyes to how Americans could do these things to the Vietnamese people. It shed a different light on the war and the American people. Having stayed in the city of Saigon for three days to then having to adjust to
the country in the Mekong was difficult. I wasn’t fully prepared for what it was like. Sleeping with mosquito nets over you was a little scary, but waking up to the roosters rather than honking was so comforting. My favorite part of being in the Mekong was being able to fish in the stream, the water may have been hurtful and dirty but it was so exciting catching those fish. I also really enjoyed learning how to do my laundry and cook dinner the way they do. All the sweat and mosquito bites were worth the incredible time we had there…even the karaoke wasn’t too bad. I’m glad we got to enjoy the city as well a sthe country with our one-of-a-kind tour guide, Mr.Hau. I kind of missed roughing it when we got to the next hotel in Hanoi. The weather felt so much better in Hanoi then the Mekong, it was nice adjustment. Our second day there we went to the Peace Village, I was expecting worse than I saw so it was almost a relief. The kids there were so full of joy and lively. Seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter was great knowing just our presence could do that for them. I was able to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy my time there. Throughout our journey in Vietnam I learned a lot about myself and how easy I have it. I hope to one day come back and explore the world more. This was a great adventure I will not forget.

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