June 10: Exploring Vietnam

From Sara ’16 

Today we visited the SOS Village for kids. It is in the heart of the city and the community acts as its own family within it. The orphanage contains 224 kids who are each living with an adoptive mother. As the children grow up, they become more close knit. The mothers are paid by the government and promise not to marry, since their focus needs to be on the children. Sometimes the mothers take care of up to ten children in one unit. The children are upbeat and friendly. We played soccer with six little boys who were amazing players and extremely engaging. The SOS program is truly unique in its idea to keep children together and make a family, usually ensuring success. After this, we had a delicious lunch and then went to two museums. The first one was a tour of the Hoa Lo Prison (built by French colonists to imprison Vietnamese revolutionaries). When the French retreated in 1954, the Vietnamese used it to keep POW’s. Here John McCain was held. The second was the Military Museum. We walked through many exhibits and climbed a fort that overlooked the city and had real planes on display. 

At the end of the afternoon, we visited the US Embassy for a surreal experience. We met the Ambassador’s partner (cousin of GS ’57 graduate Julian Bond, former head of the NAACP) and several other members of the staff. Getting to speak with them and learn from them was a great experience. 

Finally, we met our host families who all showed up with flowers and friendly smiles. It was great to meet them at last!

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