Tạm biệt Việt Nam

I still remember, the apprehension I felt right before I boarded the flight. Would i like it there? Would the people going with me be amiable enough? Would I be able to teach kids English or would my shyness and reticence hinder the lessons..There were many such doubts in my head, doubts that stayed on for a long long time. The first few days weren't so easy. Arriving before the others and getting a room to myself did not help much either. And then friends happened. And I met the kids. If you knew me well, you would understand what an ordeal I found the 30 minute or so cycling in the Hue sun to be. Reaching the orphanage where we would be teaching drenched in sweat and tomato red is not something one looks forward to at 6.40 in the morning. 

The ten 6-7 year old boys in my class were the wildest bunch ever. In class, they would be easily distracted. They would want to draw all the time. They would scream and copy me. Not understanding Vietnamese and therefore not being able to communicate with them properly did not help either. In the after hours, they would climb all over me, pull me, hit me, push me around. There were days when I wanted to just spread my legs, throw myself on the floor and just cry. Yes, kids can be that frustrating! But as the weeks passed by, as I begged, pleaded, shouted, threatened and bribed them into learning things, I found myself getting attached to them. In fact, I looked forward to classes with them each morning and even more so, the afternoon fun sessions when we would draw or play games. These kids made the cycling, the sweating, the stay away from home in an almost run-down hotel worth it. 

6 weeks flew by like a gust of wind. Friendly faces everywhere, 1 dollar meals, Karaoke nights, weekend trips to places.. and now here I am in a food court in Kuala Lumpur waiting to fly home. Parting with the kids was hard, I wanted to hug each one of them, carry them all in my heart, for people rarely love unconditionally like these kids did. All they asked for was time. These were kids who did not want aeroplanes and cars and instead dreamed of owning bicycles. These were kids who barely had anything but nevertheless offer me their candies and biscuits. 

I went to Vietnam this September hoping to teach some Vietnamese kids English. So that they could use it to become something in life. Instead I came back, having taught by these kids compassion and love. Simple gestures such as them(even the naughtiest ones) running ahead of me just so they could check if my bicycle tires were flat and pumping them up with air if they were, plucking star-fruits from the one tree they had and packing it for us in our baskets, making us cards and little gifts, simple things such as these made me something more than what I was back when I boarded that flight. 

This is a post dedicated to that memory, the memory of Vietnam.. It's people, so simple and friendly. It's culture, so similar to that in my home town. This is to Vietnam, a new page in the book of my life... 


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