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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday, June 9

This is Corin writing.
And so it begins. The trip of a lifetime. Yesterday was our first homestay, and the man that Clement and I are staying with is so gracious. Mr. Nguyen is his name. His family consists of his merry wife, Hai, and his two sons, Minh and another boy who never told us his name, but is our age, which is convenient. We entered Mr. Nguyen's home already in a state of bewilderment, as he lives in this beautiful gated community set back in an alley off of a bustlilng Hanoi street. The whole ground floor is open to the street, as the entrance wall is completely made of glass. I quickly got used to the fact that if another family turned their heads at their dinner table, they could see us at our dinner table. His home is four stories tall, but only about 30 feet wide. You see, land is so expensive in Hanoi that the buildings are very narrow, but very tall. The first floor is where the dinner table is, and the rest of the floors are bedrooms, except for the 4th floor, which is where they pray. I think they're Buddhist. They are so warm and kind and Clement and I couldn't have a better family taking care of us.
After eating dinner, we went out into Hanoi with Mr. Nguyen's son and saw the musoleum of Ho Chi Minh. We couldn't enter, but it looked amazing from afar. We will see the musoleum as a group on Sunday of the last week. When we got back, we slept like babies.
This morning, we ate a huge breakfast of eggs and toast to fuel lup for the long work day at the Friendship Village. The village is mostly a place where children and adults who have been physically or mentally affected by Agent Orange can go for schooling, mostly vocational school. It is almost like a sanctuary, or a safe place for them to go. Today, we're working on re-painting their cafeteria. The friendliness of the staff and the kids is astounding and obvious, as you get smiles whenever you go. Another amazing thing to see today is the cooperative attitude of the rest of the GS students who are painting with frustrating Vietnamese latex paint, on walls that crumble under the roller, in 33 degree (about 94 F.) weather. It really makes me happy that a little group from a little school in Newtown, PA, can make such a monumental difference in people's lives by taking the load off their hard workers for some time.

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