Study Abroad

Our time in Da Nang is coming to an end.

January 12, 2018

 Fine Arts Museuem  Pho

Our days experiencing Vietnamese culture are coming to an end. We toured the Da Nang Fine Arts Museum, ate Phở, and Friday was our last day at the SOS Village. The staff had arranged a farewell ceremony with dancing, fashion show, dance contest, and refreshments.


Cian Moriarty

Hello, my name is Cian Moriarty and I am a senior Exercise Science major at Lasell College. Coming into this trip I did not really know what to expect. What I did know was that it was going to shape my overall outlook on the world. My classmates and I did learn about Vietnam from lecture, but in order to truly appreciate the beauty of Vietnam you must visit and fully immerse yourself in the culture.

One of the very first things I realized from walking around the streets of Da Nang was how friendly the local people were to my classmates and me. Everyone here seems so happy to see us which is such a great feeling. This concept of smiling and greeting random people walking in the streets is unfortunately pretty much nonexistent in Boston. Many of the locals here do not have the same amount of resources as people from Boston but still seem to be happier than them.   Visiting the SOS Village was truly a humbling experience. All the faculty and children there welcomed us with open arms right away. Teaching and interacting with the children had to be my favorite part of the trip. All of the children I interacted with at the village seemed so excited to meet all of us. The children got more and more comfortable being around us with every visit. The final day at the village was an extraordinary day. All of the groups that we have been working in competed against each other in various competitions. Two of my favorite competitions were the fashion contest and the dance contest.  

Saying goodbye to the children at the end of the day was much more difficult than I had first expected. All of my fellow peers and I grew so close to the children in such a short space of time. I will never forget the way they treated us with such kind acts throughout the whole trip. Goodbyes are never easy but I will never forget the time I spent with those wonderful children. As I was leaving the village for the final time I started to reflect on my time at the village and began to realize how lucky I was to have experienced it. All and all this whole experience has been truly life changing and I will take everything I learned with me into my future endeavors. I would highly recommend anyone that has the opportunity to go on a Shoulder to Shoulder trip to Vietnam to go. This trip has truly humbled me and made me realize just how lucky I am to be in the position I am currently in. To conclude, I would like to thank Professor Tran, Professor Lemieux, The SOS Village, and Lasell College for putting together such a wonderful trip!

 Cian     DrewPaulpaul

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Here are photos of Team Vietnam at the SOS Children's Village signing off.

Connor Mankouski

My name is Connor Mankouski and I am a senior at Lasell College. I am a Legal Studies major with a minor in Business and Political Science. I decided to apply for the Shoulder to Shoulder Vietnam trip to have a better understanding of the history of Vietnam as well as experiencing Asian culture. I have always been fascinated with Asian culture and cuisine and thought it would be a great opportunity to experience it. The fact that Lasell provides such an amazing opportunity to partner with the SOS Village as well as immersing in the culture is absolutely remarkable.

We have just finished our fourth and final lesson plan which has left us with mixed feelings. Positively, because we know how great of in impact we have on the students having native English speakers conduct the class, but negatively because we know we will not be seeing the heartwarming smiles but for one last day. The final lesson plan consisted of pronouncing words such as "we're, they're, she'll, and they'll" as well as the difference between "men" and "man" or"tan" and "ten." The most amazing part of the lesson was that I noticed the faculty members were humble enough to sit aside our group and practice the pronunciation under their breath, it was a very satisfying to have the faculty get involved. Professor Tran apprised us of the difficulty the children would have with distinguishing men and man, but our group has focused on vowels and the sounds they orthotopic sounds they produce. The children really struggle with 'sh' and 'th' so they were able to get some extra practice with the fourth lesson plan.

I have really enjoyed how Professor Tran has acknowledged that I look forward to challenge my taste buds at every meal, and he has not let me down so far. He has introduced us to many of the local dishes and even gone out of his way to locate some of his favorite delicacies from his childhood. Some exciting dishes I have had so far have been goat hotpot, frog soup, pork head cheese, pork pie, and local spicy chili's. I don't usually eat much starchy carbohydrates but almost every dish consists of rice or rice flour noodle and I have grown to enjoy it. I thoroughly enjoy the spice in each dish it has helped clear out my sinuses wonderfully.

The last day with the children was far more emotional than I imagined. The girls were wearing beautiful dresses for the dance that they had performed for us. We also had the opportunity to sit with each house mother and they're family to see who lived with who, which was a great way to end our experience with the children. We had got to know the children in our group but did not get the chance to meet the younger children because they did not speak any English, and did not partake in the classes. We participated in a fashion show and put on customized outfits that the children from each group made and performed our group dance for the competition. The children were all so happy and proud at the end of the day. When it came time to say goodbye many of the children began to cry and we did the best we could to fight off tears and sadness but eventually broke down as well. I never thought that I would get so attached to the children after only spending a week with them but they truly will be in our hearts forever. This trip was extremely humbling and eye opening, having the opportunity to have human interaction and develop a connection with children from the other side of the world is surreal. I greatly appreciate the experience that Lasell has created and developed for the students.