The children are so warm, kind and loving that you will have a great experience for sure. Regardless of which project you decide to volunteer for or for how long you volunteer for, it will be a very valuable experience. The children are mischievous and at times cheeky but they are eager and willing to learn for the most part. They appreciate volunteers coming from different parts of the world and teaching them. They are intrigued by different cultures and languages.
It is something very different to the west. Vietnam is still a communist country and whilst it is developed in many aspects, there isn’t a great deal of western influence. They don’t have chain stores such as Mcdonalds, Burgerking, or KFC. Sure, they have they equivalent or similar ones but big western bands are non-existent. There is plenty of street food, good food and cheap food. A night out can be sat outside, on the main backpackers street, on plastic chairs with vendors trying to sell you food and all sorts. It is not all organised or developed but it’s beautiful and each city has it’s own system which works. The lifestyle and work ethos is also different. Work starts early in the morning but there is a siesta after lunch. Streets are flooded with motorbikes rather than cars.
Both ICYE and VPV are helpful, informative and supportive. I was equipped and ready for Saigon when I landed. I never felt alone or helpless. All my questions were answered and I was reassured and prepared for teaching at the various projects. VPV is also very flexible and open to suggestions. So, if a project didn’t appeal to a volunteer then he or she could change it. We also had regular meetings and one-to-one with project leaders.
Volunteering aboard isn’t cheap. Arranging volunteering through a organisation as large as ICYE is rather pricey. However, for all of you who have never volunteered aboard before or would like some peace of mind then it is the best way forward.
These two months spent volunteering in Saigon were amazing, I don’t have words to describe how beautiful it was and just how much I learnt. It was heart breaking to leave, I had formed attachments with many of my students and I wanted more than ever to stay a little longer. Their positive energy, free hugs and smiles, I miss greatly. The innocence and energy these children have and share is beyond measurable. I left certain that I wanted to continue volunteering and supporting children. There are many causes that appeal to me and I have worked with vulnerable groups of people but children, for me, top that list in more ways than one. If you are looking to make a difference or what to do something different and worthwhile then look up VPV – I can not recommend it enough.