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Study Abroad

Exploring the area and meeting with the Village children

January 08, 2020

Students making paper art at Truc Chi Garden.

Students tour a house at the SOS village

Hard to believe it's been a week since we arrived. We've begun our work at the SOS Children's Village Da Nang (photo above of the students touring a house and talking to the house mother), eaten noodles and all kinds of ca fe, and toured historic and cultural sites. It was an adventure to travel through the Hai Van pass where we could see miles to the East Sea and back to Da Nang. Then north to the city of Hue, to see the Imperial City, palace of the last Nguyen emperors.

Kerrie and Gabrielle are our reporters today.  

Kerrie  Bennett

Kerrie rinsing out her paper.

This was our last activity after a busy day of touring, and I was not sure what to expect. The van stopped but it did not look like anything magical, we were simply on a side street. We walk across the street to come to find a huge intricate piece of art sitting outside of the doorway. Walking passed the art piece; passes the entrance, I realized this place is a diamond in the rough.

There was an entire garden with flowers and bamboo, but in the middle of this place was a long boat; faded red, turquoise with the brown showing from the wood of the boat and a sink sitting right in the middle of it. We had come to TRÚC CHỈ garden Walking past the boat: we took off our shoes to walk into a house like setting but filled with detailed art pieces all over the walls. There were chairs, fans, and lanterns. Come to find out it was all PAPER! Every art piece on those four walls was made out of a handmade paper, made right in that establishment. This process is called Trúc Chỉ.  

What does Trúc Chỉ mean?   TRUC CHI"; can be understood as "TRUC" means bamboo and "CHI" means paper, which means papers made from bamboo. However, "TRUC CHI" is not just the name but the spirit that makes the difference and makes "TRUC CHI" is no longer just a type of paper made ​​from bamboo. Trúc Chỉ is unique to Vietnam. It was developed by artist Phan Hải Bằng and comes from the concept to give paper "new possibility" by becoming art in itself. It was a surprise to be treated to hands-on experience to learn how Trúc Chỉ is made.

Before being turned into paper the bamboo fiber had a mushy texture, but when it was rubbed between my fingers some of the water escape which left a fabric-like texture. One of the staff members took the bamboo fiber and put it on a mesh screen in the boat sink and told me to mix it in with the water. Then he dumped what was left on the screen and put it in the water and we mixed it in some more in the bottom of the sink. When it was all dissolved we took the mesh screen and did a scoop like gesture in the water, with the screen, to pick up the bamboo fibers from the water and it would fully cover the screen.Kerrie with her finished paper.

Another staff member brought me over to the station where I would be creating the design by using a layer method. She told me to grab some stencils first, then I laid down three stencils for my thickest layer. She then gave a mini water hose, I was told you hold it up about four or five inches away from the screen and spray the stencils. I would continue to do that three more times and while leaving the previous stencils on. Last but not least, I had the famous logo "trucchi". She then told me to remove the stencils to reveal the art behind it.

I could see the stencils still laying on the scene as if it never came off. I could tell the difference between the stencils I put first; they werestanding out more and the ones I put last; were like shadows. It was beautiful and exciting to be able to get hands-on experience. This had to have been one of my favorite activities of my Vietnam trip. This art form was captivating, they made this art attainable and the result was something truly unique and special for me to take home and think of my incredible trip.  

Gabrielle  Miller  

Hello! Xin chào! My name is Gabrielle Miller and I am senior at Lasell University. I'm majoring in Education with a focus in curriculum & instruction.    This is my first time in an Asian country and I am really enjoying this experience.

My favorite part so far has been getting to see the children of the village we are working with. As an education student, I am passionate about working with children and making an impact in their lives.   

The children in the Village were so excited to learn and engage in English. They were really focusing on trying to communicate with us. This varies so much from children in schools at home. I feel as though the children in the states are not always that excited to increase their language skills. I noticed every child in the Village that I interacted with really acted eager to study the English language in order to communicate with us. I was also surprised with how polite and dedicated the children were.   There were two girls in particular in my group who were sitting next to me and my partner, Lian. These girls were like our right hand translators and wanted to help with any communication barriers. They helped not only us, but the other children in the group as well to understand some words that were lost in translation. Even after just one session with spending time with the children, I feel that we have made such a positive impact on their lives.  It is so rewarding getting to experience this!  

Gaby & Lian with the children at the Village.

On Monday, we visited the Hue World Heritage Site. Hue used to be the Capital of Vietnam up until 1945, and served as the home of the King of the Nguyen Dynasty for the nine kings who ruled in this position.  While Hue was our first immersion in a royal palace traveling here in Vietnam, I developed a connection immediately after setting foot on the property. I was drawn to the beautiful architecture that is so unique and different from what I am used to back at home in the states. I love seeing the ways in which the roofs have been upturned and have a protruding corner. It is believed that these roofs were curved in order to ward off the evil spirits. While exploring the Hue site I became intrigued by the peaceful and Zen atmosphere when entering the temples. We were kindly asked to take off our shoes. While entering the temple I felt completely at ease. It was such a spiritual experience with the lighting dimmed and the aroma in the air, it had my mind feeling so calm. Visiting the Pagoda was such a blissful atmosphere. Sculptures of Buddha surrounded the Hue Pagoda premises. I have never truly been introduced to the Buddhist culture. I felt a sense of relaxation and purity while visiting this historical site.        

Historic tower