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Study Abroad

The SOS Village children are enthusiastic!

January 11, 2020

dog driving motorbike

As Vietnam Immersion winds down, the Lasell team has been working closely with SOS Village children and learning their personalities. The difference in languages has not been a barrier because they are like teenagers everywhere. The students connect over a shared interest in communication, music, dance, and fun.

  The Lasell group is also working on photo essays on topics ranging from food to New Year customs. And they have been observing both the similarities and differences between cultures. For instance, where around Lasell do you see a dog driving a motorbike? Photo courtesy of Allison Garriepy. Today's bloggers are Veronika Druzhyna and Sarah Kline.    

Veronika Druzhyna

My name is Veronika and I am a senior and an international business major. When I heard about the trip, I was extremely intrigued because I've never heard about this experience before. I knew Lasell offered service trips, but was unaware that Professor Tran was leading one himself. Having taken several classes with Professor Tran, I knew that it would be an adventure of a life time and I would learn so many things from the Vietnamese culture. Being an international business major, I've been exposed to several different cultures from the courses I've taken at school, to the personal aspects I hold. Coming from the Ukraine at age seven, I was fully immersed into the American culture and had to adapt. Since then, I've made the same way of adaptation for myself no matter where I go.    Veronika & SOS girl

Once I was able to talk to Professor Tran about the trip, he guided me and gave me positive reinforcement that I would be a great candidate for this trip to not only apply my people skills, but also get international business knowledge from the trip and further grow within my major from this experience. As I began to further look into the trip throughout the semester, my anticipation was growing and I couldn't wait to get to Vietnam. When the time finally came, it was nothing short of amazing and still surprises me while we are here. Having a good friend that went on the trip the year prior, I was able to get some knowledge of what the trip entailed.   Cultural immersions, teaching at the SOS orphanage, trying new foods, and new friendships. All of those aspects stand true and I am extremely grateful I was able to join Professor Tran and the rest of the group on this trip.

The anticipation to see the children was always growing but it truly didn't feel real until we got to the village.  There wasn't a single kid that wasn't smiling ear to ear when they saw us. They all were eager to meet us, as we were them and we began by introducing ourselves and telling them our names and how old we were. We were put into groups with one other partner from our group and began to get to know each other. The second day was the most anticipated for me because I was eager to finally teach them all of the things we've been talking about all semester.  

We began with s and sh pronunciations and the entire group followed our lead. Each kid was excited and eager to learn and kept their full attention on us until it was time to play games. We played games like duck goose, had friendly competitions to see who can pronounce the words better, had the children write the words they knew that began with the letters we were teaching, and much more. The more we go to the village, the closer we grow and develop these relationships with the children which I will never forget. They can light up any room and truly have contagious smiles. If you are having even the slightest bit of a bad day they will cheer you up whether it's talking to you or even handing you the first piece of candy that gets put out, they are always putting us first.    Veronika & Kendall

Some of my goals going into this trip was to go into everything with an open mind and not stress about the small things. I made it a goal to improve the lives of those I come across whether it was the children or the group I am with on the trip. So far, my goals for the trip have been successful and it was always important to me to remind myself of that. Although it's hard to be open minded at times, when you are in a different culture you start to see other people's perspectives. I enjoy learning from the kids as much as they enjoy learning about us. They are always teaching us new words, playing the games they enjoy, and guiding us whenever we feel stuck during a lesson. I'm extremely excited to see the growth that they develop throughout this journey, and the growth we do as well as a team.   

Veronika Druzhyna

International Business Major

Lasell College        

Sarah Kline

The SOS Children's Village has 551 locations worldwide with 148 villages in Africa, 124 villages in the Americas, 167 villages in Asia, 111 villages in Europe, and 1 village in Oceania according to the SOS website.  Vietnam was one of the first countries to implement a family-based care system of SOS Children's Villages for children in need.  In Da Nang specifically, orphaned children are referred to the village by local communities and authorities.  Subsequently, the SOS Village would go to the community and pick up the children in need.  The children start their lives at the Village at a young age, they grow up in a family environment where the other children and workers in the village are their love and support system. Sarah giving lesson

When I entered the children's home in the village in Da Nang, I was inspired by the family atmosphere it exuded.  In the home, there is one mother who takes care of eight to ten children.  Along the walls, there are pictures of the children in the homes as well as house rules.  The house rules struck me as noteworthy.  Instead of typical western rules such as keeping your hands to yourself and to be respectful, the rules were very loving and compassionate.  The rules told the children to love one another, to wake up with a smile every day, and to love life.  I thought the rules were beautiful and cultivated a compassionate and loving attitude in the children from a young age all through their childhood.            

Back home in the United States, I was a summer camp counselor for my local town for four years.  I was used to engaging with young kids and organizing games.  However, in interacting with the children in the Village in Vietnam, I could see a major difference in attitude in the children than back home in the United States.  The children were very respectful, loved to help out with the adults, and cared for the younger children.  They wanted to help and see others succeed by putting other before themselves.  For example, when teaching the children different English pronunciations, they are all involved and truly wanted to learn.  There was one specific student who had a difficult time with the pronunciations; a couple other children jumped in immediately and tried to help her pronounce it correctly and understand it.  It was extremely heartwarming to watch.  I truly am truly honored to be a part of this experience at the SOS Children's Village in Da Nang, Vietnam.  

children dancing