Derry Li, Bolton House, Grade 10
After four days sightseeing in Beijing and three days of the Harvard Model United Nations, our group left China for the service portion of our trip in Hanoi, Vietnam. Over the next eight days, an inspiring and life-changing experience took place for every one of us.
The first day in Hanoi gave us a visual of what Vietnam looks like. Despite the fact that Hanoi is its country’s capital city, it is impoverished in every way, in comparison to what we are used to. Scooters line the streets instead of automobiles, people sit on bandeng (small wooden stools 20 cm off the ground) instead of chairs, dilapidated structures stand instead of sturdy and well-constructed buildings. We flew for 1.5 hours on the
second day to Kon Tum and drove five hours from the airport all the way to the Vin Sonh Orphanage, which is very isolated.
The next five days, we visited the orphanage’s farms, which provide food for the facility; we accompanied the nuns on errands to the only supermarket in town; we organized an Olympic games for the kids, and did so many more activities every day. Gradually, a strong bond developed between us and the kids there. They were the happiest kids on earth, laughing and joyful all the time. While we were there, there was no sense of loneliness or traces of the absence of love and care in their eyes at any time. That made me wonder, “Are we, the more fortunate people, in fact, the unfortunate ones – in the sense that we aren’t as joyful as they are?” The children who have nearly nothing gave us so much more than we could ever give them, through inspiration and memories.
I wanted to go to Vietnam mainly because I was curious and I have a desire to help, when in fact it was the children who inspired me to believe that humans are assigned with certain fates and missions when born. It is our mission, as the fortunate ones who are privileged, to share our resources with those who are in need of them. This defines service.