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 18, 2011

Thursday and Friday, June 15 & 16

Written by Mandy

Waking up on Thursday was a very different experience than I’m used to. I asked Paige to wake me up by setting her alarm clock but it was useless because the roosters and the other animals woke me up at 4am. To my surprise, it was the most peaceful way to start the day. Waking up with a bug net around me and the sun seeping through it made me feel like a princess, even though I woke up dripping sweat. Mai Chau is by far the most beautiful place I have ever been and fixed my eyes on. Thursday was our first work day. We painted the community house in the village. I felt really special because they trusted us and me who drops and spills everything, to paint a very important piece of the village. Although it was hot and the sun was the hottest I’ve ever felt it to be, the work went by fast and was a lot of fun. Our group got so much done and I know we all felt really proud of how much we accomplished together. At the end of the day we all came together for another amazing dinner. The meals at this village are so calming and peaceful because all we can hear is the still of the night and the bugs singing. The only bad part is my legs don’t fit under the table because its so low to the ground. I guess they don’t really make tables for people our size in the village. Friday was our last work day. Personally, I feel that this project was the best project that we did on this trip. The building that we painted looks amazing. I’m really happy that we’ve finished our work in Vietnam but I’m also upset because I want to keep going. Crickets were served as part of the dinner on Friday and everyone ate at least one cricket, including me. It took a while for me to get that thing in my mouth, but I DID IT!! Yum, yum!!!! After dinner on Friday, we went to a culture show. I’m sad to see that this trip is starting to come to an end but I’m extremely proud of all of us for everything we’ve accomplished. So far my time in Vietnam has been incredible, uplifting, and difficult. Mai Chau has really made me see why I took the challenge to leave my comfort zone. It gave me assurance that when I leave and go back to America, I’ll always have what I’ve learned here. This place has made me appreciate everything I have so much more. I don’t want to leave Mai Chau at all. Even though I’ve loved every place we’ve been on this trip, Mai Chau is the one place that gave me the most comfort and love and a permanent understanding of what I can achieve on my own. Mai Chau also reminds me how fortunate I am to have air conditioning. I really miss that.

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