by Devon ’18
To begin our first working day in Mai Chau, we woke up after a restful sleep (despite the lack of AC). We had a delicious breakfast of banana pancake fritters and dragon fruit. At 8:00 a.m., we walked to the community center where the townspeople were working; they are expanding the center and so we were asked to level the dirt piles and fill in what used to be a pond. Two of the large piles were dry and rock based. Another was predominantly clay. In the morning we could hardly see a difference although we worked for a few hours. We broke at noon, which is really 11:30 a.m. in Vietnam, for a filling and delicious lunch. After, the girls’ house took a long siesta, and we returned to work around 3:00 p.m. After an hour and a half of work, the townspeople decided to use a backhoe to move the dirt. To us, it really seemed like our work was destroyed but the organizers explained that our work had to get done first for the backhoe to come into the area and do its job. While we all watched the machine do ten times faster what we were doing, Julian became friends with a little boy. He was very strong but very small, and we all had many laughs together. I have really noticed how happy these kids are without electronics. To me, that is really special and has made me think a lot about kids in the U.S. Julian and I were also greeted by my little friend Jiang and her cousin Nguyen when we came back home. Very graciously, they brought us cold bottles of water. We soon left for showers and dinner. None of us could wait to eat the great food they make here. After the meal, most of the group played a round of cards but I chose to sit in the hammock next to the table and journal while Julian watched many head lamps moving and working in the rice patties. The work was hard, but overall we had all had another great day. 9:30 p.m. bedtime was fine with most of us!