Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ben Tre Beginnings

We have now been in Ben Tre for four days, and I'd say we are mostly settled in. To begin this post, I must say a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Kristi, who turns 20 today :-) The problem of how to make a cake in the middle of Vietnam has been on the back of my mind since I found out we had a birthday to celebrate this summer. We ended up buying some angel food like circular cakes and layering them with strawberry jam, ice cream, and bananas. Though perhaps not quite up to par with the cakes I make back at school, I think we did pretty well sans oven and we will celebrate in the Karaoke room tonight (ssssh Kristi doesn't know!)

Our first two days of work showed us Americans how in shape we've gotten...or at least how much easier it is to engage in manual labor in a shaded area for only half the day. We've been divided into two groups with each group in charge of building a house. Before getting here, countless interviews were done with prospective families. The house that I am working on has a tragic story: the woman who owns the house is blind. When her son was born, he had normal sight but at age 8, his sight began to worsen. She used up all her money on what she thought was an operation that would save his eyes. The operation did not work. Now the son has a (super cute) daughter of his own who currently appears to have normal eye sight. Time will tell.

Day 1 we took down the old "house" which was basically wooden and aluminum planks tied together with metal wires. On day two, we began to make the trenches for the foundation and move the materials to the work site. It became immediately apparent how much easier the conditions are heard compared to Quang Tri - the ditches we dug in under an hour in Ben Tre would've taken an entire day of work in Quang Tri. Transporting the materials was repetitive but straight forward enough - more 50kilo bags of cement to use. Come Monday, we will begin making cement...our favorite.

In the afternoons, we have begun teaching. Our dance class was a pretty big hit on day one, and we have planned a "kbop" (Korean pop music) dance that is easy but super fun. On Friday, dance had its day off, so I got the chance to see how English, Science, Gym, and Art were doing. In art class, the kids LOVED the origami lesson. In gym, football (soccer) drills and scrimmages let the kids release some energy. The English class was surprisingly easy for the kids - they already know many basic words and phrases as well as the numbers and letters. Science is planning some cool experiments for this week including a volcano (baking soda and vinegar of course).

This weekend, we went to a coconut candy "factory" which is really a big house with lots of kids and adults wrapping and molding these caramel/fudge/taffy like concoctions that I am absolutely addicted to. In the afternoon, we played football (soccer) against some of the locals, and for the first time in DukeEngage history, we won!! And let me say that after watching first the USA and then Germany lose in the World Cup, this win was much appreciated.

No comments:

Post a Comment