The sky was blue, terribly blue, like agathe and laundry liquid. The sweet summer breeze grazed over my paint-stained palm. I looked at the phoenix tree burning with scarlet flowers before me, I drank in its youth and joy with my bare heart. Below where I was standing, the kids yelled words of encouragement aloud as I left colourful strokes on the wall.
I never felt prouder than when I looked at the painted walls, together with the students of Thuy Hai Primary School, and thought of how beautiful they were.
I missed the first day of the trip as I was going on a holiday spree with my parents. Therefore, when I arrived at Vinh Sang Hotel – where we were staying – I felt really awkward as I knew none of my roomates except for Thuc Phuong, whom I barely talked to before either. I thought my days in Thai Binh were going to be a suffer. And so the first thing I did when I just arrived was sitting on the side of the bed, warrily, as my roommates slept sound in utter silence.
But then they woke up and it turned out not so bad, as there were a lot of delicious boba yogurts and we totally bonded over that. After 3 days together, I discovered a lot more about the girls in my room. Phuong and Diep were the souls of the party, while Giang was more on the introvert side. And Thao was a talented, funny, artsy spirit. They were all wonderful people, and I’m glad to have met them, known them, and befriended them in this trip.
The first activity I got to experience was decorating the walls. (Now, just to be clear, I wasn’t so excited because there was a handsome artist there. Truly.) What we were doing, was to painted on the walls pictures of 12 cities and regions in Vietnam. I fell in love with the whole thing when I just picked up the brush. There was something so fascinating, so mesmerizing in the musky smell of the paint, the graceful yet fierce strokes on the wall, the feeling of creating something that beautiful from scratch. I also got the chance to climbed up the stairs and drew on a high point from the ground. The wind was calling me to be alive, to love and be loved by the beauty of arts – making. And under a sky so blue and blooming crimson phoenix flowers, I felt like anything was possible. The results of what I was doing gave a sweet ending – the kids absolutely loved the picture, and I’m on cloud nine everytime I think that what I did might inspire them to be slightly more eager to go to school. Ruined clothes and cinderella – inspired makeup were so worth it. Beautifying the walls together with other members of the Decoration Team and Mr Tho is certainly going to be valuable memories I carried with on my future journey.
Another memory that was carved in my heart was the learning trip to the rainforest of Thai Binh. Mr Vinh – the one who taught us of the flora and fauna of the forest – was so wholehearted and passionate about what he was doing. Everybody was all ears to his words. I got to discover a lot about a part of my country, one so close to the Hanoi that I spent my whole life in, yet I knew nothing about before. My eyes were opened. And Thai Binh scenery was more than breathtaking. There was no words to captivate my feelings when I dipped half of my legs in the muddy water of the river, watching sunset on the peaceful, poetic, gorgeous Thai Binh province. I fell hard in love. I just wish to have the chance to come back, to feel more, and to give more of my heart to this beautiful region than I already had.
Although I was not an official member of the Teaching Team, I had a chance to participate in their lessons. My class’ subject lesson was “What are habits?”. It was definitely tiring to try to set a class full of energetic children into order (I’m so, so, so sorry I fell asleep. I wasn’t used to that). But, again, I’d say it was worth it. It was worth the crowd of kids surrounding us to ask for our signatures, and trying to remember our names. It was worth the smiles and the heartfelt praises. I’m glad to have participated in this activity when I had the chance to, because it is simply wonderful to inspire others, regardless of how young they are.
Last words: The trip was fantastic. And now for the thank yous. Thank you, the staff of American Study, for have given us such an experience. It enriched my 11th grade a lot. Thanks Mr Dũng Bùi for having drunk 3 bottles of water just to give us entertainment. Special thanks to his family for having greeted us so hospitally too. Thanks for the new friends I made. Thanks for the higher stamina and tougher endurance. I have grown up from this, maybe not much, but I did.
And to me, that’s the greatest gift anyone can give to me.