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


Making little friends

Mr. Dom, Long and Vinh

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


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

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday, June 8

A full day. After a warm welcome by the former Ambassador from Vietnam to US and the current Vice Chairman of the Vietnam - USA Society, we chatted at length with him, smiled for the reporters (newspaper, television and radio!!) and headed to Project RENEW, an organization started by VN Veteran Chuck Searcy to remove all landmines (mostly cluster bombs) from Vietnamese soil. There, we learned all about the Project, its various missions and listened to Chuck tell stories about the Vietnam War and how it affected his life and that of his family and friends. Fascinating and mesmorizing, Chuck held everyone's attention as we listened to firsthand information and emotions recounted in a most unassuming manner. We donated some funds to this Project.
Lunch was shared at the restaurant of Ryan Huang's family, class of '09. This seafood wonderland was over-the-top delectible as the dishes appeared on the table and seemed to never end. The students even ate some of the last dish, 3 beautifully prepared grouper fish with a indescribable sauce. Two hours later, we finished with rice flake ice cream and real (!) Vietnamese coffee, the kind so thick it coats the side of your cup, so strong you only get a third of a cup. We shared stories with Ryan's parents, who own other restaurants and a hotel in Hanoi. Ryan, still in NYC, has a cousin, Ashlee, who was particularly entertaining as she helped translate for her aunt and uncle. She was a real hoot.
We spent a sweltering afternoon at the Military Museum where we saw war relics and memoribalia. Things made more sense in the museum after having heard Chuck Searcy speak about the wars in Vietnam this morning.
Off to meet the families at which point some students hearts began to beat faster. It was such a warm welcome by the Head of the Home Stay Club. What a great idea for a club! Each student will stay with another GSer for three days/nights with one family. A personal taxi will bring them to and from the homestay for the duration of the stay. All families have hosted before and enjoy doing so. Hey, they belong to The Club, too!!
As Carter, Teresa and I re-organized our 10 bags of donations to a clinic, a hospital, the SOS Village, The Friendship Village, The Women's Union of Hoa Binh, families of Mai Chau and The Bac Ninh Orphanage, we imagined our students showing their host families their photos, and telling them what super friends and families they have in the States. We are certain that tomorrow, our first day of service at the Friendship Village, will be exciting and .... warm.

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