Volunteering in a Small Team in Quang Tri, Vietnam by Vi Lam
Despite working with PVNF for the past three years, this was the first time I ventured to the central area of the country and my experience in Quang Tri is undoubtedly the most memorable one so far. As the only Vietnamese-speaking member of the team, I got the opportunityto know the faculty at Quang Tri Medical College very well, and despite the language difference, they made sure other members were also feeling at home. During our first week of CPR training, the professors and faculty were very receptive tothe curriculum. Not only were they enthusiasticin participatingduringlectures, their immense energy could also be felt during the practicum. After these training sessions, our team members were invited to several social gatherings with the faculty, during which we learnedvaluable information from the rich history of Quang Tri to restaurant recommendationsthat cannot be found on the Internet. After four short weeks, our Vietnamese-American members developed a deeper appreciation for the language and culture of their home country as well as gaining valuable insights into the healthcare landscape of Vietnam, especially the rural and underserved areas.
One of the most memorable memoriesfrom my Quang Tri trip, however, is a non-healthcare related one. Within the first week, our team befriended a local high school student who was interested in pursuing studies in the United States. Listening to her reason for chasing after such a big dream was truly inspiring as she remindedme of myselfseveral years ago. Coming from such a small town in central Vietnam, where the war remnants were still visible, studying abroad was truly an unattainable dream, but this made me want to help her so much more. As there were not a lot of available resources for English learnersin Dong Ha, Quang Tri, she was improving her English skill by watching YouTube videos and the TV show ‘Friends’. As she looked up to me and the other team members as her mentors, her family also welcomed us into their home with great hospitality. Whenever I had time after the training workshops, I guided her through the American college application process and told her storiesabout my college experiencein the States. Although this is not a personal accomplishment, it was the most rewarding experience as I made a difference in a girl’s life by introducing her to the endless opportunities outside of Vietnam.