On the final day of camp, we were invited as a group to accompany one of the students back to his home. Before going, I had a few expectations for the experience that proved to be misconceptions.
1. I thought the scenery wouldn’t be anything new from what I had seen in three weeks. I thought I had seen it all with the river, my runs in the mornings, and long bus rides, but boy was I wrong. What we saw were the vast rice fields and comfortable homes of the local families. There was less litter and more beauty.
2. I thought we would walk with just the one student from school where the camp was held but about half of the whole camp came with us to Dang’s house (the student we were visiting), many traveling the opposite way of their own homes. Eoin and I ended up breaking away from the larger group with a few of the kids, arriving to the house well before the others. I am sure there were around 40 kids that ended up coming with us to the home where Dang’s mother and family were beyond welcoming.
3. I thought I already had strong relationships with the kids. Even seeing their bike ride from school to home, a part of their daily routines, further fortified the bond between us coaches and the kids. It was amazing seeing a little slice of the kids’ lives – where they live, where they hang out, and how they travel from place to place.
This five-hour round trip ended my Vietnam experience perfectly. Quite frankly, this made it more difficult to say goodbye in the end. The area is beautiful and the people are genuine. The kids have so much joy. Vietnam changed my view of the world for the better.