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Vietnam is a cultural masterpiece. Every meal we get to try different and amazing food and even got to make some of our own food this weekend on our trip! Hanging out with the Vietnamese coaches is such a special part of this program because not only do we get to bond and teach with them but also explore together. I couldn’t have imagined a better first week from getting into the groove of teaching and coaching (especially with a big language barrier), to our first competition day, to staying on an island and rowing through the river together. Here are just a few of my favorite pictures so far before I share a bit more:

Trust the Process …

I was taught this phrase by one of my coaches and have used and loved it ever since. This may sound like a strange addition to a blog post about my experience so far in Vietnam, but I have found that so much of this experience has been about trusting this journey and living every moment fully. To me, trusting the process has to do with knowing that there will be bumps in the road but that those bumps are part of the greater journey and that journey is what makes the success or end result worth it.

While in Vietnam we trust each other when coaching and teaching or trust in trying all the new food always, or trust that our energy and body language can help start to break language barriers etc. I have found myself just trusting and believing that it all is part of the lovely and grand journey in Vietnam, good or bad. (So far it has really only been good) I think part of this process is also acknowledging that our work here has the potential to inspire and motivate kids. But perhaps a larger part of this process is the humble realization of what this community has to teach us — be it the ability to appreciate certain aspects of life as Americans so often gloss over, or the continually welcoming and patient attitude that they embrace us with, or their ability to genuinely listen.

We taught our 9th graders the phrase “trust the process” and had them yell it in English for their life skills class. The phrase was added when we talked about personal goals, breaking them down into smaller steps to achieve them, and even how to overcome obstacles that may get in the way. Many of the kids wrote it down in Vietnamese and English and were repeating it that day and the next. It was cool to see how something that has helped me so much could potentially help them and remind them that no matter what process or journey they have (higher education or not) trusting their path and believing in their own ability is huge.

Students Crafting

Meanwhile, with our 8th graders we did an activity where we gave each group 10 pieces of paper and 6 pieces of tape to see who could build the tallest structure. They loved it and it was so cool to see the various creative ideas that groups came up with; one used a triangle shape, one with a cylinder shape (the tallest) and one with a stable square shape. This was interesting to enforce that even though there was a winner and 2 losers technically, “a failure” doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad or something to be ashamed of, for example the shortest structure was the most stable and well built and that is a success in itself.

As much as I have stressed trusting the process in this post, this trip has begun to more deeply ingrain in me what that phrase actually means. Trusting the process” has been a part of this Vietnam journey for me and I think for others, as we learn, teach, coach, eat, travel, and live together.

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