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.