Our first full day in Vietnam was spent learning about the people and the culture of the country we would be spending the next two weeks with. Our first stop was in the small village of Chuc Son where we visited an orphanage and got to use some of our servant leadership skills that we have learned in VALOR.
Here we got to interact with over 100 students that had difficulty communicating in the real world. Most of them had some type of hearing or speaking issue that made it difficult to function in normal schools.
We talked to the teachers and understood the ways that they have to adapt their lessons to teach these children.
Of course the “western” visitors were a big hit and the children were curious to see what we were like. We brought them gifts and interacted with them for a while before eating lunch with the principal of the school and some of the teachers.
We then visited the Tran Quoc Pagoda, which is the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. They were getting it ready for the Chinese new year and it was very nice to see with it sitting on the banks of the Hanoi Ho Tay Lake.
After dinner we went to see a water puppet show. This is an age old form of puppet theater and one that has been passed down from generations. It was something like I had never seen and was very intriguing. Of course I think most of us were trying to figure out the secret of how it was done rather than trying to follow the story in another language. It was amazing to see, and like any good magic trick, it was still impossible to figure out.
This really was a great way to start the trip and learn about the people and the culture of the country.