What started out as a school project quickly turned into an eye opening experience for two Swedish high school girls. They went to Vietnam to experience the differences between school systems in the two countries.
Developed interest through sponsor child
One of the reasons for choosing Vietnam was that Lina’s family has been sponsoring a Vietnamese child for the past eight years.
“We really just wanted to know more about the daily lives of school children on the other side of the world,” Lina says, but when the opportunity arose, of course they took it and went to meet the sponsored child, Binh.
“It was a really great feeling and we received a very warm welcome. It was an emotional meeting,” says Lina.
A school project
Lina Wahlström and Clara Hansson began planning their trip to Asia in the beginning of 2009. For their project work assignment in high school, they wanted to compare the school systems in Vietnam and Sweden and both girls felt that they would learn much more from actually being there on the spot.
This May, for two weeks, the girls experienced both the good and the bad aspects on life in Vietnam. Their tightly packed schedule included visits to water borne fishing villages, beautiful landscapes, schools, and rural, agricultural families. What started out as a charity school project, turned into a clash of cultures and a memory for life.
A working people
They were met by hard working people, poverty, and children hungry for knowledge. The country and the whole experience made a significant impression on them.
Along the way, they visited schools in the central and northern parts of Vietnam and quickly discovered that the children enjoy being at school and want to learn new things.
“They knew that it is cold in Sweden and they shivered when we showed them pictures of the snow,” Clara says.
All in all, the girls got a very harmonious feeling in Vietnam:
“People don’t have the same stress as they do in our society, but at the same time, we also saw that their life is no bed of roses,” says Lina Wahlström.
“They really are an agricultural people and they do so much themselves – we didn’t see a single tractor and they often used buffalos instead,” Clara adds.
Development projects in place
A variety of charities are already in place in Vietnam. Some organizations teach farmers how to best grow their crop; others focus on teaching and improving school environments. There are also projects for women in the country.
“In rural Vietnam, it is the women who control the money in the family while the men work in the field. Therefore, the women learn how to budget, borrow and save their money,” explains Lina.
Both girls agree that they left the country with more life experience than when they went there and in the future they may consider a continuing involvement in charity.