On January 24th, I went on a field trip to Thuyan Rehabilitation Center with 40 female university students who are participating in CED scholarship program. Even though the weather was windy and rainy, I was very excited. It was my first time to have the opportunity to meet Vietnamese university students and also visit rehabilitation center in Vietnam. Students and CED staffs met at the National University of Civil Engineering and then we moved to the center by bus. When we arrived at the center, children greeted us with a big smile and a hug. They seemed very excited to meet new people as well as receiving food and clothes from donators. Since most of them are deaf, they used sign language to communicate with each other. Even though female students did not know sign language, they talked with their eyes and had a great time while playing with them.
Dao XuanQuyen, the director, gave us a brief introduction about the center in Vietnamese. I could not understand it, but I was lucky to know two Vietnamese volunteers, Cao Trang and Huong Trang, who translated it to English for me. The director said that they provide food, shelter, educational support, and medical care for more than 200 mentally and physically disabled children.
After that we had time for entertainment. I was very impressed by children’s wonderful performance. Later, I found out that they had to practice for a month to perform for 5 minutes. They sang a song and danced with rhythmic body movements and hand motions. We gave them a big round of applause. The female student from CED sang a song in return for their performance.
Unfortunately, due to the rainy weather we did not have a chance to clean the campus garden which was on the schedule. Instead, we just took a tour around the center. It surprised me that the center had very well equipped facilities. They were providing everything that the children need. First, they had various training rooms. One, for example, allowed for children to learn how to sew, embroider, and make artificial flower, and so on. I could see fabulous artworks that were hanging on the wall. I am definitely sure that these educations can improve their life skills and help them with rehabilitation. Secondly, they had playground and volleyball court, so the children can play around and do remedial exercises. Furthermore, they had clinic which is very essential to taking care of the children’s health.
Upon this, I had lunch with university students. We did not talk much because of the language barrier but I can tell they are open-minded and warm-hearted by their behavior towards the children. In the afternoon, we took pictures in the conference room and we had time to exchange information and taught them how to access the program of CED.
Accordingly, spending time in the center with female university students and handicapped children was a meaningful experience for me to get to know more about civil society in Vietnam. Their smile has left a deep impression on me. I am sure that it was also a great experience for the other female students to help the people who are living on the margins of society. I hope they realized the true meaning of sharing which is to have empathy with others as I did.
SEUL BIN YOO