Wednesday, March 26, 2008 1 comments

Cafe and Appearances

I went to see my host family from ho chi minh city for dinner today. It was really nice. I then went with my former host sister Anh to drink some milk shakes at a local "upscale coffee shop" where we proceeded to drink fruit shakes. After that I came back to the hotel where Hai Minh and I are roomies. We conversed on the importance on appearance in the work place and just in general. Knowing that I will turn 21 soon is a big wake up call. So now I am putting more effort into the way I look and today I put on my contacts and some make up (with help from Hai Minh). I think I look very different but it's a welcomed change as people seem to think I look better! Take a look!
Sunday, March 23, 2008 0 comments

The Cu Chi Tunnels, Vung Tao..I ate a Snail and I Seriously Didn't Like it!

On Friday I went to visit the Cu Chi tunnels. It is amazing what war can do to people... The introductory video that we watched was anything but pleasant and one could really see the hatred that the Vietnamese following the initial end of the war held for those 'savage' Americans. In addition, we saw traps that the Cu Chi people set up to "capture" and to kill the Americans-I felt a little uneasy after that.I also went into one of the tunnels, it was pretty dark and a very intense experience. I did it fine (I was surprised too) but someone behind me started freaking out and so we all tried to hurry out of the tunnel so that the person could get out.

Today I went to Vung Tao (the beach!) and it was really fun. I went with Vi's family, Co Thanh's son (the academic director's) and with Thuy (her picture is here-it is one of the earlier ones). I have been working on my ISP proposal as the first draft is due tomorrow (Monday). I am glad that I got to take a break from working/studying. I ate a snail and it was very disgusting...After a couple of bites I seriously didn't know what to do. They didn't want me to throw it away so I put the whole thing in my mouth and it took me about 10 minutes to chew it to a point where I would be ok with swallowing it. In order to help my discomfort at having a snail in my mouth I ate A LOT of spicy sauce/chilly, ginger and some leaves (don't know what type). At least now I can say, ' I ate a snail and I didn't like it'.

After this week we are off to the capital, Hanoi! It should be interesting given that a lot of people in the South don't seem to think well of the Northerners. For example some people have told me to beware of the Northerners because they are not honest and straightforward people like they are (the southerners, especially in the Mekong).
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 0 comments

We are Dropping Like Flies

Since we have been back from our central excursion more and more people in our group seem to be getting sick. I was sick today (just felt really weak and nauseous) and after lunch slept for a good chunk of the afternoon. Unfortunately, some people in my group haven't been as fortunate as being able to sleep off whatever it is that they currently have. Our illnesses range from cold, mild upset stomachs, to food poisoning and dengue fever. I am especially worried about the boy with dengue because his heart rate has been low and he hasn't been able to eat anything... I can only pray he gets better and that there aren't any complications, such as internal bleeding. This is all a part of the experience abroad, especially in a developing country (some risk is involved). I never realized how clean we Americans are! In America we have so many health standards and things are just generally more sanitary- we complain that we are still lacking in this and that... but really, we have it pretty good!

I now have established three contacts for my ISP, one of them being my ISP advisor. I also have my homestay family's support and will be staying with them while I do my research in Can Tho. I still haven't come up with a focus for my ISP; I have my overall topic but I haven't found exactly what I will be answering. I think that as I talk to more people, especially people who are more familiar with this topic than I am that I will be able to find exactly what I need. In the meantime I am working on my final project and on the parts of my ISP proposal that I am able to at this time.
Monday, March 17, 2008 0 comments

Why does it always come back to Japanese?

I should go to bed right now... for some reason I just felt like posting because I can. I really miss learning Japanese. I really want to keep learning it when I come back. Vietnamese is interesting to learn and is another language that I can add to my list however, I love the way Japanese sounds! I can't help it...sometimes I want to find a word to say in Vietnamese but when I don't know it the word will pop up in Japanese if I happen to know or remember it. At this point I can say my Vietnamese is beating my Japanese (I am sad about this). I want to see Japan so badly and to watch Gackt in one of his concerts (is a dream of mine), but I think that by the end of the program my thoughts may be more focused on coming home. Who knows? Maybe I will get the travel bug after coming back and may work towards traveling to another country.
Sunday, March 16, 2008 0 comments

Back to Saigon For Two Weeks

Yesterday the group and I took a flight out from Hue back to Saigon. A lot will be happening these two weeks that I will be here. I have my final exam, my final Vietnamese exam and I need to write my ISP proposal properly so the paperwork necessary can be done for me to do research in Can Tho. However, I changed my topic again! I don't think that I will change it though. The idea of doing this topic is very exciting. I am thinking about researching how sustainable tourism is in Can Tho or something to that effect. You know, Can Tho is promoting tourism more than ever, especially this year. During our excursion to Central Vietnam we spoke to an SIT alum by the name of Lucas Thornblade. He gave us some advice on conducting our field research and told us about his experiences concerning his own ISP. After talking with him (and later Hai Minh) I realized that I should do an ISP for ME and not anyone else. My ISP should be something that I care about and will enjoy learning about and it's not as though I wouldn't enjoy learning about the previous two topics but honestly, I only have a month to do this! I shouldn't be taking on anything too grand because this is a research paper that will only scratch the surface.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1 comments

The Old Capital: Hue City

I am currently in the old capital of Hue where the last Vietnamese dynasty, the Nguyen dynasty ruled. Today we saw the most famous pagoda in Hue which was built by the king. It was said that the king had 500 wives and hundreds of children. We also saw a pagoda dedicated to the king and queen, as well as where a famous monk who burned himself to protest against the Party was buried.

The pic above is a pic of Hai Minh (classmate) and I =)
(Click on the pictures to make them bigger!)
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 0 comments

The Village of Hope- Da Nang Viet Nam

From their website: "The Village of Hope Children's Center, established by East Meets West in 1993, serves orphaned, at-risk and deaf children in Central Vietnam. East Meets West initially funded the construction of the Village with a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A wide range of activities are made available to all of the children, including: athletics, music, dance, art, theater training, and English as a second language instruction."

You know, I went here today and it hit me...I want to help these children. I am thinking about putting together a video concerning my visit there and would like to put it up on youtube in the near future. Right now they are not doing very well in terms of funding and even so, the NGO does not want to close it down- because it honestly works well. If one were to see all the things that the children here are learning and in how many ways they are benefiting from being in this village one would be astounded. The artwork, paintings, sculptures and and embroideries made by these children is top notch. A couple of students from the SIT program and myself are thinking that maybe we can bring some of their work to the U.S. in order to sell it in our campuses, in this way we could help funraise. You know, it only takes 650 dollars a year, not a month, but a year to support one child? Even if all I can do is raise enough money to help one child I still believe it's worth it. I'm going to email my school and keep in touch with the project coordinator here in Viet Nam and will try to find out how feasible this is and when it could be done. However, for now my group and I will just go to Metro (a huge international supermarket) to buy the children some much desired snacks!
Friday, March 7, 2008 1 comments

"Today You Are Students, In the future you may come back as Investors!"

Today we went to an Industrial Zone 20 km from HCMC. The title of this post is exactly what someone who is part of management there said to us. I am posting pictures of one of the manufacturing factories that we got to see (they make hearing aids). The majority of people working there are women (because they are believed to have more patience than men; better for this type of work). I am posting pics!


So the more I've thought about it the more I realize that the Floating Market is not a good choice given the amount of time that I have (one month). However, I do think I have a better idea for my ISP now. I will use what I used for my development paper. First of all, I didn't have enough time to write this paper the way that I wanted (even Co Thanh my academic director agrees). It will be a good paper but it won't go in depth when it comes to issues that I am interested in. She said that I shouldn't be too ambitious with this paper so the way I took it was that yeah maybe she's right for THIS paper but not if I use this topic as my ISP. Now hear me out: I am thinking that I can conduct my research in My Khanh village in Can Tho and I can narrow it down to a specific hamlet. I will collect data from probably 15 families 5 who don't have the VACB model, those who do and those who just have VAC but not B. I will compare the savings and increases in income that are a result of the model in relation to how families who don't have it are doing (to prove my point of how this is a cost efficient approach to reduction of poverty and rural development). I will also talk to NGO's such as the Farmer's association and will try to find out more information on Economic policies that the government may have passed/enforced to aid the farmers with this system. Sound good? Tell me what you think!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 0 comments

V.A.C.B. Model - work work work!

I am in a pretty good mood in general and right now I am in “work mode”. I have been working on the development paper that is due this Friday and I believe it is coming along nicely (this almost always is a good thing); currently I have about 2 out of 6 pages. I need to figure out what my two primary sources for it will be but I am thinking about this as I type. I am writing about the implementation of the V.A.C.B. model in My Khanh village and how it is and I quote from my paper’s title, “A Cost Efficient Approach to Poverty and Rural Development” (since I am looking at it more through an economic perspective). Later on in the week I will post it on my blog so that all of you may read it in order to learn more about a new technology that is utilized in the agricultural sector in order to help alleviate the great economic disparity in Viet Nam and ecological issues caused by the rapid growth rate in Viet Nam. In terms of my Vietnamese language test (which is Thursday) I will try to study when I can but the issue will be trying to find a balance between studying for it and finishing the writing of my paper. Tomorrow I also have due an assignment for my Field Study Seminar; a lot of academic work this week!

Note: This was written yesterday night but I fell ill a little bit (maybe it was the shrimp). Anyway, for the most part this is all still true.

Monday, March 3, 2008 0 comments

I Finally Met Vi's Parents!

So on Friday I finally got to meet Vi's parents! They are so kind and one can easily tell what loving parents they are. I went to her house and they told me to see her room but what happened when I got there (to her room) was so odd. I saw her room and I just wanted to cry. I left her room and just started crying! I think this may have to do with a number of things however, I think it mainly had to do with two things. Firstly, I finally understand what she has been going/gone through. It is so difficult to be away from the ones that one loves, ESPECIALLY when something goes wrong or one is missing out on something very important because one has decided to go to study abroad. I just remembered how she was when she found out her grandfather died and she was in the States with me and couldn't get back home for the funeral because she would be risking losing her visa and potentially not being able to come back to NEU. The second reason was that I kept thinking of how awesome it would be if she would be able to come here without problems to celebrate the Tet holiday with her parents and to spend time with me in her country (which she loves).

I have been told that I am a passionate person, though sometimes I wonder what that truly means.... Does it mean that I cry easily? Does it mean that I get angry easily? Does it mean that I can't hold back? Are these things negative or are they in retrospect things that if they are indeed true should not be a problem because really...isn't this a part of who I am? I don't think that I can change these things...nor do I really want to. I love my friends and family and no matter how far away I am these things will not change.
I have sent an email to professor Ammerel to ask for information concerning SEASI and the FLAS scholarship. Hopefully I will hear from him soon. On Thursday I have my second Vietnamese language test. On the first one I got an 82 which is not bad but I need to get that up! Though if one looked at my exam you would wonder how someone who has studied Vietnamese for a month well...2 weeks at the time could pull that grade off! Now after one month I can say I am even more serious and eager to learn more!
By the way here are some pics of me and Vi's brother and Anh and me!