Laura: We can't believe our Vietnam journey is on its last leg. It feels like months ago that we first arrived in Saigon, but also weirdly seems like it was just yesterday. We had an awesome trip and learned so much as individuals and as a group. This country has such a rich culture and history that is very interesting to learn about from a local perspective...especially as Americans. We leave with full bellies and full hearts for the Vietnamese people but ready for some burgers, fries, and time with our Santa Barbara people. The kids have each written a final paragraph to sum up their trip and some of what they've learned. We're sure you'll hear many stories and see thousands of pictures to add to these thoughts. Stay tuned for a video/slideshow in the next couple of weeks.
Pierce: After 9 nights in Vietnam I have conflicting emotions on tobogganing back to that 805. The
remarkable culture, people and country not only opened my eyes to the polar opposite differences in our economic and social structures, but also the many similarities that we share. Despite language barriers, our fearless troops and I were able to kindle flames with Mr. Hau, Dukey, and many Hanoi University students (especially Beatrice). The experience for me was made by our trip to the Thanh Xuan Peace Village, the center for victims of Agent Orange. Many of these children suffer from severe metal and physical disabilities; however, these children had an ineffable love of life surpassing any disability these remarkable kids inherited. This passion for life personifies not only Vietnam's resilience and strength , but also their devotion to equality and striving to give every person a fair chance in life. 24 meals from free-range chicken to more exotic duck embryos and wafer thin sparrows will be quickly missed, but not soon forgotten. So familiar to this country after countless jokes (that still aren't over), amazing memories, and destroy-me inducing heat. Good night, Vietnam!
Malaya: While traveling through Vietnam, I was given an amazing opportunity to learn more about myself and
the Vietnam War. I will never forget my experience at the home-stay in the Mekong Delta. In the Mekong Delta I learned my limits with biking, but I also discovered my love for living outdoors (well, in cabins, but my point is made, I think). On this trip, I also learned more about the Vietnam War, and was able to think critically about our past actions. Being able to see the war from the opponent's point of view gave me a new perspective on the war. I am extremely grateful for everyone who supported me and helped me get to Vietnam (shout out to the family, especially Herb Tuyay, he is a pretty cool guy). Thank you for a trip of a lifetime, and sorry for being extremely cliché, I think it runs in the family.
Carter: This has been an amazing experience for me. Considering Vietnam is my favorite place I have
already been to, it would be impossible to not have a great time, but I owe this remarkable adventure to the wonderful Dorfman and Wooster. The schedule was great and always consisted of fun, exciting activities and foods. I really enjoyed the strong bonds we all created on this trip and hope to continue these new friendships. I learned the importance of being able to forgive through war stories from the Vietcong general. I loved this trip and am very grateful to my parents, Friendship tours, the amazing chaperones, and the excellent guides that all played their role in bringing me this remarkable opportunity.
Kayla: I was extremely blessed to be able to go on this trip. Vietnam was an amazing experience, from the culture to the food (of which the majority I didn't enjoy). Saigon was a very hectic place, crossing the street was sketchy, but so are a majority of cities. When we went to the War Remnants Museum it really opened my eyes to how Americans could do these things to the Vietnamese people. It shed a different light on the war and the American people. Having stayed in the city of Saigon for three days to then having to adjust to
the country in the Mekong was difficult. I wasn't fully prepared for what it was like. Sleeping with mosquito nets over you was a little scary, but waking up to the roosters rather than honking was so comforting. My favorite part of being in the Mekong was being able to fish in the stream, the water may have been hurtful and dirty but it was so exciting catching those fish. I also really enjoyed learning how to do my laundry and cook dinner the way they do. All the sweat and mosquito bites were worth the incredible time we had there...even the karaoke wasn't too bad. I'm glad we got to enjoy the city as well a sthe country with our one-of-a-kind tour guide, Mr.Hau. I kind of missed roughing it when we got to the next hotel in Hanoi. The weather felt so much better in Hanoi then the Mekong, it was nice adjustment. Our second day there we went to the Peace Village, I was expecting worse than I saw so it was almost a relief. The kids there were so full of joy and lively. Seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter was great knowing just our presence could do that for them. I was able to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy my time there. Throughout our journey in Vietnam I learned a lot about myself and how easy I have it. I hope to one day come back and explore the world more. This was a great adventure I will not forget.