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These days in North America, it isn’t hard to find kids younger than thirteen with an iPhone, iPad or tablet to keep them entertained. In fact, the lives of many kids here revolve around video games, toys, and social media. It’s sad to see kids become disinterested by the beauty of the world around them. This technological obsession hadn’t hit rural Vietnam yet – at least not to such a large extent.

Don’t get me wrong, the Vietnamese thirteen to fifteen-year-olds still loved their “selfies”, but they also knew how to have fun with what they had in front of them.

During my time in Vietnam, I had one of the most genuinely fun days I’ve had since I was a young child. Rain started pouring harder than ever by the end of our morning eighth-grade classes. Instead of the kids staying inside to wait for the rain to slow or to run for cover, they took off their shoes and skipped into the rain without hesitation. Pretty soon, almost all of the kids and coaches were out in the rain. Tickle fights quickly broke out, and some kids would even gang up on coaches to bring them down into a puddle and proceed to kick puddle water all over them. Reading this from the comfort of your home may make you cringe at the thought of puddle water all over your face, and I admit, I may have had the same reaction if I did not experience this first hand. But the energy of the kids and their pure joy of playing around in the rain regardless if they had skinny jeans and a jacket on was humbling and impossible to resist.

“Thank you, Vietnam for reminding me of how to have fun with what I have in front of me. I will continue to try to engage with the world around me in the efforts to have as much fun as the day I played in the rain and threw cake around a classroom.”

Little did I know that the theme of “good ol’ fashioned fun” would carry throughout the day. The day before was my fellow coach’s birthday, and the ninth grade class took it upon themselves to organize a birthday party for him. They bought him cake, balloons and “fake snow” to spray all over him when he walked in. After ensuring he got a piece of cake, one of the Vietnamese coaches wiped a bit of frosting on another coach, and the kids went wild. They instantly jumped on the opportunity to cover their hands in frosting and started wiping it all over each other. Before this, I’d never had a food fight before, and it’s as fun as it looks. After, the class was a disaster, my shirt was stained with pink frosting and I had frosting so deeply embedded in my ear that it took two days to fully remove. However, none of this mattered. Though our day resumed to its usual schedule of classes back to back with sports, the kids and coaches’ smiles couldn’t be removed for the rest of the day.

Thank you, Vietnam for reminding me of how to have fun with what I have in front of me. I will continue to try to engage with the world around me in the efforts to have as much fun as the day I played in the rain and threw cake around a classroom.

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