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Study Abroad

A Deeper Experience

January 11, 2019

I learned about many parts of Vietnam's history from a different perspective. Throughout my lifetime I've primarily learned about history through a one-sided (American) perspective. I valued my time spent at the Da Nang Museum
Alex MacDonald      


Lily Anderson, Fashion Retail & Merchandising 19'.  

One of the many privileges of this trip so far has been being able to connect with students of the SOS Village and work together in groups to help strengthen their English. It is absolutely wonderful to see a group of Lasell students of a variety of majors and backgrounds come together and plan daily lessons for the students. Each of us have skills and fresh ideas to bring to fruition during each day of teaching, and seeing each child, ages nine to eighteen take away something new each day is truly special.   

On the first day of teaching, we received a plan of each letter and phonetic sounds that had to be covered throughout the two weeks and were paired with one or two other Lasell students to interact with the same group each day. We would then work together to come up with activities and games that would reinforce our teachings throughout the two and a half hours of class time.   

An example of our day looks something like this: We get into our groups that consist of about fifteen to seventeen students and circle up in our own corner of the room. We start the lesson with some sort of icebreaker or game to get the students ready to listen and focus in on the lesson.   Then it's time to introduce a letter of focus for that day. An example of one lesson was with the letter "T" and the sound and pronunciation of "TH". We introduce words that start with "T" and have each student write one on a large sheet of paper that is passed around. We all say the words together and then line the students up to have each go through the list themselves. The sweet thing is that the students are always willing to help each other out with spelling and pronunciation, since some are more advanced than others. We repeat the same activity with "TH" and then it's time to practice pronunciation through a game. Some games that we have played are Duck, Duck, Goose, where "duck" and "goose" are replaced by words such as "two" and "three". We also play Telephone to work on word communication and Simon Says to reinforce memorization and following a sequence.   

Any spare time that we have toward the end of the lesson is used to learn songs and activities of the Vietnamese culture and teach more from our culture. During the final hour we come together as one large group to dance to Vietnamese music, play team games, and participate in some friendly competition.   The students are some of the most talented and loving children that I have ever had the opportunity of working with. They stay fully engaged the entire time that we work with them and are respectful and kind to us, as well as each other. Learning a new language can be a big challenge for most, but these students prove their eagerness to practice the skills that we teach them and put them to use outside of the classroom. I have been absolutely blessed with the privilege of meeting them and being able to share into their culture. Although having a language barrier between groups can be challenging, I have realized many aspects that are always universal: love, respect, and kindness.             


Kelsey Hoak, Public Relations Major '19  

Wednesday, January 9th, the group set out to explore Lady Buddha site. The Lady Buddha represents compassion and looks out over the sea to protect the fisherman from harm. She is located at Linh Ung Pagoda, on the Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang city.   We made our way up the winding streets to the Pagoda and explored the property, to take in all its beauty. As I walked around, I felt a sense of peace come over me and was mesmerized by all that I was seeing. Bonsai trees are placed along the courtyard, leading up to the stairs that allow you to enter the Lady Buddha statue. She stands upon a lotus flower, with one hand extended while the other is holding a bottle of holy water. The holy water is sprinkled out, onto the sea, to give peace to the fisherman.   I continued to explore and found more temples that were set behind the Lady Buddha.

The grand pillars layed out the entryway to the temple and inside was a monk, worshipping and reciting text. Most Buddhists share the goal of overcoming suffering and the cycle of death. Earlier in the morning, Professor Tran gave us a quick lesson on Buddhism, to help us understand the religion and way of life. He said that focusing and controlling your breathing helps you come back to yourself. This part stuck with me because I find that many people, including myself, don't live in the present. We think back to what has happened to us in our past and focus too much on what will happen in the future. I believe that living in the present moment will be more satisfying and beneficial to oneself.  

Diving more and more into the culture every day, has allowed me to see a world different than one I've ever known. I wake up with new excitement and passion for what the day will bring, which fuels my curiosity and love of knowledge. I learn every day from this city and know there's more out there to discover.                


Armani Turner, Fashion '19  

Stepping foot in Da Nang you are greeted by tons of scooters and some cars warning you out the way by their constant beeping. By my surprise, I haven't seen any traffic accidents yet. If you can make it across the street, you will be able to make your way to the waterfront, where you will see the golden dragon bridge going over the Han River. It is actually the longest bridge in Vietnam, but that is not its only wow factor.

I've got to say the waterfront during the day has got nothing on the feeling there at night. The city is lit up by dazzling lights and that includes the dragon bridge. I could sit there for hours snapping the same photo of the bridge and all the many illuminating colors it cycles through. If you are really lucky you can even catch it blowing fire out of its mouth. This is supposed to happen on Saturdays or during special celebrations at 9pm. The flames are not as furious as I imagined, but I've got to admit it's still pretty cool. As if the bridge itself doesn't give it away the dragon is very special in Vietnam. It is a symbol of power, nobility and good fortune. There is even Vietnamese superstition that the people are all children of a dragon father and a fairy mother. Now how interesting is that!?         

Another magical place in Da Nang is located in the mountains and this is where you will enjoy the site of Lady Buddha, the tallest Buddha statue in Vietnam. Although, you can see this statue from almost anywhere in the city, it is surely a beautiful sight up close and personal. She leans against the mountains and faces the sea where she is said to watch over and protect the fisherman. She has such a friendly face and seems to be looking down at you. Up in the mountains not only do you get to enjoy the site of Lady Buddha, but you get to overlook the city. If you are American with an interesting look you may even have strangers coming up to you for selfies! Well I'm not sure how common that last part is, but it sure was an interesting part of my visit to lady Buddha.

Overall, Da Nang has shown me some beautiful sights and I've met some beautiful people. The Han River at night will definitely be a lasting image of the city in my head and I will surely not forget my 5 minutes of fame taking selfies with strangers next to Lady Buddha. Only a few more days here and I can't wait to see what else the city has to offer.         

Scenic photos courtesy of Armani Turner.     

 LB                                  Dragon bridge