Farewell to Vietnam!

Ho Chi Minh would approve!

Former Ambassador to the US and Vice President of VUS, Mr. Ngyuen Tun Chin and host mother singing the last song of the night

Mandy and Corin rocking the keys

Our tour guide Anh (right) for the first leg of the trip

Chuck Searcy, Vietnam veteran living in Vietnam and Carter. We donated $300 towards a water buffalo that would help suuport a farming familiy in need.

Paige tearing up the dance floor

My Nghi, our fearless leader, welcoming everyone to the farewell dinner

Interior of Museum of Military Engineering and Command

Bill and Hilary Clinton helping to normalize relations with Vietnam in 2000

Claymore mines

Our tour guide in the museum

View into the cluster bomb delivery systems

Unexploded ordinance gathered throughout the country (UXO's)

Image from the past displayed in the Museum of Engineering and Military Command

Carter receives gift from Colonel

One of sixteen SOS homes

Lost in thought

Clement steals the crayons

Mandy breaks the ice

Corin with his new friends

Kira helps color

Carly at play

Picture drawn by a child at the SOS Village

Clay tiles on prison roof

View through the prison door

Sculptures of Vietnamese imprisonment by the French at the Hoa Lo Prison. Later it would be nicknamed "Hanoi Hilton" by American POWs, the most famous of which was John McCain.

Altar at Temple of Literature

Roof of Mausoleum

Group Photo in front of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Our host family who fed us like we've never been fed before...

Cute pups everywhere in Mai Chau

Cultural Center: "before" picture

Mostly done! This is our "after" picture.

Lots of villagers attended Friday's cultural performance

Ethnic group dancers

We were the guests of honor. Of course, the obligatory cup of green tea before the performance!

Bamboo stick dance

Tambiet (good-bye), Mai Chau

On way to power plant - brick-making "oven"

View of Hydroelectric Plant area from Ho Chi Minh statue; this plant produces 14% of Vietnam's total electricity

My friend, Ho Chi Minh (2nd largest statue in Vietnam)

At Ho Chi Minh statue

House on stilts like ours in Mai Chau (Jackfruit tree in foreground)

Clement deep in "journal" thought

Backyard view of our host home

Grand-daughter of our host family

Simple beauty

Orphanage sheets

Tall One on ladder

Love that paint job

Paint line

Carly = Spot Remover

Concentration

Making little friends

Mr. Dom, Long and Vinh

We need to brush up on our Vietnamese....

Patterns

Taking a break

Do you have your license, young man?

Three lucky babies

Watch out!!

Paige - sweaty but stylish

Melissa and Carly painting at the orphanage

Tough guy

Vietnamese ethnic house replica

Ethnic minority house

Pho (national soup!) comes in 3 popular kinds: Ca (fish), Bo (beef) and Ga (chicken). Yum yum...

Keep out dust, dirt, debris from road (this is bridge toll collector)

Houses are built UP since owners pay for square footage of first floor.

Can't get enough sushi

Oohhh, now tuna sushi is my favorite, favorite food!!!!

The wall of our private room in the restaurant

Funeral march (on the way to Ninh Binh)

Glamour girls

Sea of sampans

Paige and Allie with their driver

Natural beauty

Watch your head!

Carly and Melissa upstream

Limestone rock formations at Ninh Binh

Rice plants removed, ready to spread and dry

Spreading rice plants out to dry

Rice chaff drying in driveway

Silly Hoa with Silly Carter's glasses

Clement and Corin's brothers rolling paint

Teresa (adult leader) doing her part

Melissa carefully (?) at work!

Pho Bo (Beef Noodle soup) in the street

Examining donations at St. Paul's Hospital

Artists Mandy and Clement at work

Jaye's new soccer player friend

Weeding intensely

Motorbikes reign

Embroidery class

Clean-up Guy, Corin.

Side by side

The class leader

Jaye and Melissa helping out

Camera crews follow us everywhere

Mr. Nguyen is Executive Vice Chairman of the Vietnam - USA Society

At Ryan's family restaurant - could we fit any more food on this table or in our bellies?!

Ashlee (Ryan's cousin) and Mr. Huang

At Military Museum: Ho Chi Minh in background

War Trophies

War Trophies
Collected "art" from past wars in Vietnamese soil

Mr. Chuck Searcy spoke about how these cluster bombs still maim and kill civilians

Meet the Parents!! Go Corin! Go Clement!

Dad and Grandpa

Dad and Grandpa
Mandy and Jaye (Mrs. Mom was at home)

Allie and Melissa accepting roses

The Triplets: Kira, Paige and Carly have a brother!

The Home Stay Club - no kidding - this is their title!

Mandy and Mr. Nghi

Mandy and Mr. Nghi

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday, June 11

Written by Jaye.

Working in the Friendship Village yesterday tested both my persistence and my physical ability. Having painted the day before, I thought it would be the same, but I was wrong. On Thursday, we had painted inside with the fans on full blast, but yesterday was a new experience entirely. We instead had to paint ouside in the blistering heat. Let me tell you, it was the first time I had ever dripped sweat from every inch of my body. Although at times I wanted to throw in the towel, I persevered until the end, wanting to help the children as much as possible. Not only was I concerned with finishing, but I wanted the final product to look professional. People affected by Agent Orange deserve a nice clean cafeteria, at least. After we stopped for our lunch break, Corin, Clement, Mandy and I want to an old, beat up soccer field to enjoy a game of soccer. Soon, children began to watch and shortly after, join in after we kicked the ball to them. They would laugh as we tried to show them cool tricks, and pretty soon we were and playing an actual game. One girl took off her shoes, showing that she meant business.
When we went back to work, three others and I finished painting while the rest of the group worked in the garden. We evened out the coats of paint and scraped what wasn't supposed to have been painted. We then hustled back into the air conditioned reception room in order to give donations we had collected at home. The director of the village passed out beautiful pins engraved with "Friendship Village" and stopped at Mandy and me and said "Hard workers." This warmed my heart because I had put my physical limits to the test in order to provide a suitable space for these kids.
When we arrived at our host family's house, Mandy and I were exhausted. We were warmly greeted with "xin ciao" and huge plates of fruit at the dinner table. Previous nights had been filled with fried foods which were not returned with our enthusiasm. The would often tell us "try this, you no eat" in a joking way, but last night we tried everything. She had two fruit plates, softly spiked leechees and pineapple, and cooked shrimp. The mother decapitated the shrimp then offered them to us. She then motioned to a gooey sauce and we dipped the shrimp and popped them into our mouths. The fresh shrimp mixed with the tangy sauce went together perfectly. After the scrumptous meal, we laughed around the table and gave gifts. They were delighted to receive our hand-made bowls and kitchen supplies. Mandy and I were then excused from the table and dragged our feet upstairs to our bedroom and fell asleep about five minutes later.
This morning we ate pho and homemade yogurt. We then traveled to Ninh Binh, a mountainous area of real beauty. The mountains of limestone were singular and pointy, shooting up in different shapes and coverings. The rowers would often row with their feet and were covered in clothes from their head to their feet to protect them from the heat. We ventured in caves (actually, through them) and under trees basking in the surrounding beauty. Our rowers were a pregnant mother along with her daughter, and would point to different objects, trying to describe using their limited English. Ninh Binh is an experience that will never be forgotten and demonstrated how the most beautiful things in life are naturally crafted by Mother Nature herself.

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