On July 14th 2017
Hong Nguyen
The road that goes to Yen Son village Ba Vi district is narrow, long and steep road. This land where the Dao ethnic minority  group living, has hill, green majestic mountains. There are huge and close clouds which make me feel like I could touch by hands. All the things embracing and protecting the Dao people (a ethnic minority in Vietnam). There are no noisy, no high-rise buildings, no cars as loud as in Ha Noi. Everything is quiet but not sad, people are hospitality, sicere and have gentle smiles. Their language is not words of greetings but beautiful smiles. I like the feeling of relief and peace. The most thing I remembered was radient smile and bright eyes of the children. Finish 5 days in Yen Son, I have undescribable emotions. There are things we must really experience to see the greatness of it. On the other hands, there are small things but we never forget…
Nguyen Thi Hong is on the left (blue shirt) encouraging the children to talk about the discussion on the first day
Yen Son was strange inside me at first day. It was warm greetings from Mr Nghia; Tinh, Giap seemed to be confused. We felt a little nervous about the strange look and the embarrassed smile on the children’s faces. But we quickly became more comfortable after some games, chasing words, some three stories, soccer, some fists. We excited, laughed,
They excited, laughed about each other in the game, did not hesitate to disclose and talked about each other. On this occassion, Yen Son had sisters, brothers and Dao ethnic children. There are also large pavilions, with a special feast of vegetables that can not be tasted twice. An invisible wall was initially broken quickly after a warm smile, friendly fists, small warmed stories about wild sunflowers, traditional medicine of indigenous peoples
On the second day, we began with cleaning up the cultural area together, sweeping the yard, making weeds and finding recycling supplies for the afternoon activities, work that sounds simple but we have had great time to work together. Each drop of sweat can not remove the bright smile on their lips. A long day with a series of games with painting activities in the afternoon, but what they do more than what we expected, small hands drawn quickly each house, each boat, the buffalo, everything is extremely lively and creative. We had about two days to practice art performance. We divided into three groups and operated independently to perfrom. I were with a friend in charge of the 1st group. Perhaps we were lucky to be incharge of a group which naughty but adored us. We often had to shout the children, but seeing me fell down, all the kids ran out to ask me to make me feel very warm. Actually they are not naughty, just stubborn to get more attention. That day we danced a pretty exciting song. Rhythm swing, they learn very fast, only 1 evening had to hold the long post. A long day, although we were tired, but nothing could prevent the enthusiasm of the efforts of all 10 people.
On the third day, the morning still began with the cleanup, we were fun because we educated children with awareness of public sanitation. By activities and lectures on life around us,, we teach them to feel life through the five senses that are hard to center on. Today they have heard a day full of interesting and useful things. We seem to know each other better, we shared more, the children were no longer afraid to tell me some stories in class, at home, about friends, and gossip me if anyone bully them. And of course I became a god of justice with boys. Therefore all of them are very obedient and not too stubborn. Such lovely children, I always smile when remembering them.
On the forth day, also the most meaningful activity day. We got support from local people to make drawings to introducing medicinal leaves to the children so they can understand the culture here. Some stories about getting out of poverty with medicinal plants, thanks to the new medicine which let we know their life is very respectable. In the afternoon, we started with recycling: pigs, watches and racing cars. Every hand is dirty but not afraid to try to complete our work.
My team did not win any part in the race to reward. The children looked very sad but life is not always perfect and it was also a small race, a lesson of solidarity when the group did not work well. In the evening, we organized arts activities, many local people came to watch, as the children were dressed up beautifully.
We were not shy anymore, we were dancing together in the music, extremely fun. The most memorable memory for me was the camp fire activity and the villagers goodbye.
The fire burned brightly, we were holding hands and running around the fire. Under the rain, we were singing the victory song. I have never lived like this for a moment, to be laughed, to be happy, to be companion. I do not know what your feelings are but to me that night was so perfect and wonderful. We were together weaving a part of youth. Look forward to coming back here with such wonderful days.
Yen Son- See you another day.
Hong, other friends and the local children made a campfire
———————————————
Nguyen Thi Hong (a sophomore majoring in Construction at the National University of Civil Engineering) is one of 40 students who received the Merali scholarship. Hong and 6 other girls joined the 5-day volunteer program in Yen Son village, Ba Vi Commune, Ba Vi District, Hanoi from 1-5 / 7. The event is part of a series of activities within the Merali Scholarship program to build the skills and confidence of the scholars.

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