Farther Foundation helps deserving students learn, serve, grow and thrive through educational travel. Elizabeth was awarded a Farther Foundation scholarship to travel to Vietnam with Putney Student Travel. Here are excerpts from Elizabeth’s essay for Farther Foundation.
Before my trip to Vietnam, I believed that people’s lives from the other side of the world were entirely different. I was convinced that their sense of style, their taste in music, the food they consumed, the parties they held, and their telling of jokes was different from what I’m accustomed to. But after my one month stay in Vietnam, I was surprised at how similar people’s lives are compared to where I live.
“This looks like what my mom makes back home,” is what I told my group every time I ate or saw food that looked like my mom’s cooking. I was stunned at the number of times Vietnamese food reminded me of the cultural foods I’m use to eating. But to my surprise, the food wasn’t the only thing that looked familiar. Their clothing wasn’t much different. The village people wear more conservative clothes than the city people. Yet both of their styles are similar to what I wear on an every day basis. We even bought ourselves t-shirts, skirts, and dresses to take home.
The things they do for fun are not much different from what I do. The best thing to do when you’re bored is tell jokes. On our daily brakes we would pull out our translation books and tell jokes. There were many times when I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. As we told jokes, we taught them English and they taught us Vietnamese. We even got as far as teaching them Spanish and French!
The people are not much different either. Take for example Tien. Tien is a little Vietnamese boy that I was helping build a house for. He reminded me of my nephew. It was the way he smiled and played with people. Then there was a little girl who reminded me of my niece. The little girl had a little brother and she was really protective of him, the way my niece is towards my nephew.
Anne Frank once said, “We all live with the object of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.” The lives of Vietnamese people are the same compared to where I live, with just a little twist. I noticed more similarities than differences. We all have goals, expectations, jokes, fears, needs, desires and strive to live a happy life. I use to say that part of home was in Vietnam but now I say that part of Vietnam is here at home.