Today we had an orientation about Volunteers for Peace Vietnam (VPV) and about Vietnamese culture.

The thing about my PE is that it involves a network of organizations.  VPV is one of them.  Essentially, VPV is a non-profit organization that partners with other organizations which the ; it is the administrative / logistical backbone for international volunteers.  It is the organization that runs the Peace House, the dormitory in which I am staying.  It coordinates volunteers with their individual projects, making sure they know how to get to their organization and necessary information on how to navigate the city.

Another organization is UBELONG, a third-party organization that placed me with CECAD, the actual organization I will be working with.

In addition to learning about VPV, we learned about Vietnamese culture.  There are several key points that were made.

  1. Vietnamese people generally don’t stand in queue, unless that line is defined in the ground.  They kind of crowd around an area.
  2. Pushing and smiling is normal here.
  3. Punctuality is not a thing.  People generally show up late and people know that people will show up late.  If plans to hang out with friends are made for 7pm, people will probably all show up around 8pm.
  4. Vietnamese people value collectivism, probably because many of them have large families or that in the past, they worked in farms and needed a lot of people around.
  5. Vietnamese people try to avoid problems or are flexible on how to deal with a problem.  Eventually, the problem does get solved.
  6. Avoid law enforcement at all costs.  Act innocent.
  7. Greet others with a handshake.  Vietnamese people do not hug one another, not even family members.
  8. I’ve already talked about the road rules, but honking and flashing lights is more common than using the brake.
  9. There is no bus timetable.  It is always late and more than 1 of the same bus can come at once.
  10. Bargain for a fair price.  Foreigners are generally charged more, but you shouldn’t have to pay a ludicrous price.

After orientation, we had lunch.  Then, after that, we were escorted to our individual organizations.

Every day, I will be taking the bus to work.  It will take approximately 40 mins, but it could be over and hour during the rush hours.  I am actually not quite sure what bus stop I should be getting off of, but I am on my own tomorrow.  I am very afraid of getting lost.  I hope I survive!

When I arrived at CECAD the first time, I met Ms. Hue, who speaks very good English.  She was very kind and she explained to me the project that CECAD was currently working on.  She currently wants me to work on a grant proposal that is due on Wednesday, so that will be my task tomorrow.

But, she did mention that besides fundraising and grant writing, I may be traveling to the rural community where the ethnic minority, the Muong, live to work in the field office and do some research.

As of now, I am required to be extremely flexible, but hopefully in the future, I can find my place and be able to contribute positively.


Tangent: I had a Vietnamese lesson today with some of the volunteers.  Even though some basic Vietnamese is the same in both the Northern and Southern dialect, there were definitely some words that are different.  My teacher was interested to learn about my dialect too.

Another tangent: It was over 100ºF today, and I have to wear pants to work!!  I’m going to melt here!


Over and out!

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