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Internationalization 2014 - Vietnam
Throughout our trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, it drizzled. “It’s spring in Hanoi, so the weather would be misty,” the local guide told us. It was refreshing as Singapore was going through a dry spell at the time.
Our first day in Hanoi was spent sightseeing. We visited the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam. We were amazed at the well-preserved Chinese styled architecture and scholars’ certificates in the form of stone tablets on top of the backs of turtles. Next, we visited the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, his houses and the one pillar pagoda. As the whole attraction was closed on Monday, we took some pictures and watched the guards change shift. Luckily, we had the opportunity to visit it again on the fourth day.
Our second day, spent at Dai Cuong Secondary School, was quite an experience. The hour-long journey gave us a fascinating glimpse of the countryside scenery: ducks in ponds and farmers working in the rice paddies. The clear area in the middle of the school compound was perfect for our games session. After a warm welcoming reception by the school, we had a great time playing games with the students. For the next part of our programme, we taught English to some classes. The challenges we faced included not knowing the standard of the students’ English, and errors in our Vietnamese translations of English words. However, we persevered and the students really enjoyed our lessons so the day ended on a high note.
On the third day, we helped to paint the school. We completed our task so quickly we had time to practise on the school stage for our cultural performance the next day.
The next morning was spent at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. We learnt that Ho Chi Minh was a very humble man who chose not to live in the presidential palace despite being the president of Vietnam. Our next visit was to a well-known prison which had been converted into a museum. The prison was originally built by the French to jail Vietnamese who opposed their rule. We all shuddered as we read and looked at how the prisoners were treated and executed. We also read how the American pilots, captured as prisoners of wars, were treated better than the Vietnamese convicts.
Then we went back for the final time to the local school for a cultural exchange. Both schools put up wonderful performances. On our end, we had a fashion show, followed by Nurul Rasyidah (2G2) singing “Unfaithful”, Cristobal Ann (2S2) singing “A Thousand Years” and all of us performing a fusion of ethnic dances as well as our school’s mass dance. After exchanging contacts details with the friends we had made in the school, we left, feeling sad that we would probably never see them again. That night, we watched the amazing water puppet show which lifted our spirits.
Our final stop before the airport was the Museum Of Ethnology where we learnt about the many races in Vietnam. Going to Hanoi is an experience we will never forget and it has taught us to be grateful for what we have.
Krithigha Panneer from 2S1