Study Abroad

Discovering Da Nang & the SOS Children's Village

January 07, 2018

Coloring contest 

Art Contest at the Da Nang SOS Children's Village

  Corey Zemke  

My name is Corey and I am a sophomore psychology major at Lasell. I applied to the Shoulder to Shoulder program because I wanted to experience a different culture and having the opportunity to meet children from the SOS Village, an organization that houses orphans, seemed like something I couldn't pass up. After just a few days of being here parts of the city are starting to look familiar and I am beginning to find comfort in crossing the busy streets of Da Nang.    On Friday we visited Linh Ung Pagoda which is the most beautiful place, to date, that I have ever been to. The pagoda is famous for its beautiful 67-metre-tall Goddess of Mercy statue, Lady Buddha. While here, we walked around and looked at the breathtaking landscape as well as ventured inside the different pagodas to look around.   

Saturday was finally our first day working at the Village. We arrived to a bunch of beautiful smiling faces. We began by breaking into groups - two Lasell students and roughly fifteen Village children. We set up around the auditorium and got to work. Teaching the kids English is our main assignment and though some students are quite good, conversing is very difficult. Personally, I have met a sweet girl named Anh. She is 12 years old and although we can speak just a few words to each other we became rather close on the first day. After we were done teaching, we then got to play and dance with all the kids. I really enjoyed having the kids teach me the dances they do and watching how happy they got when we danced with them. I can't wait to go back and see the kids again!    

Corey Zemke  Class of 2020  

Corey & Anh

Corey & Anh

Bridget Mairead Dougherty  

I was nervous when we first arrived at the SOS village because I didn't know what to expect. We arrived in a quiet part of the city and were greeted by the director who didn't speak a word of English. It was nerve wracking because there was automatically a language barrier between us. My first concern was how we would communicate with the kids. During orientation we got the tour of the village including one of the homes where the kids lived. We met one of the housemothers who shared that she had raised 26 children, a few of whom were now married and with children. It was so quiet and peaceful and seemed like a great place for these kids to grow up. That day I learned a lot about the SOS Children's Villages around the world and the work they do for these kids who truly need it.   

On Saturday we went to the Village to meet the kids for the first time. In all honesty it was a little overwhelming. I knew that students in past years had such an amazing connection with the kids, but I was still so nervous about how that language barrier would affect the relationship. When we got there it was intimidating learning their names and pronouncing back to them. The student varied in ages from 11 to 17, so some students definitely understood more than others. My partner Drew and I tried to gauge how much the group knew by reviewing numbers, colors, and the alphabet.    For our first lesson, we had to work on the difference between "s" and "sh" sounds. They picked up on it pretty quickly after listening to the difference in our pronunciation. I was honestly in awe by how much they knew about an entire different language at such a young age. They started to come up with words as examples that Drew and I hadn't even thought of.   

After the lesson we danced with the group, and they even taught us the choreography to three songs and the games they play with one another. The kids are so funny and playful with us and one another. We didn't stand still for those few hours! They kept us moving and I was pretty confident in my dance skills by the time we left. As much as I had worried, the language barrier really didn't stop the connection we made with our groups. They walked us out, we hugged, and we made sure they knew we would see them the next day. I already know we're going to grow quite a bond with these kids despite the communication. I genuinely cannot wait to see what lies ahead for us at the village.   

Bridget Mairead Dougherty

Lasell College 2018

Event Management Major, Communication Minor, NACE Lasell Recruitment Chai,r Communication Department Administrative Assistant, Peer Mentor


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