Mim '19, Vietnam, 4/24/2016
Today our group biked around Hoi An in the morning. First we went to an organic garden where we also learned how to make rice paper. A local woman explained why it was important to do things that are safer for the environment; it seems as though sometimes we forget that going back to natural ways can truly benefit the way we live.
We later went to visit a coconut field and were challenged to grab one. The boys were more than happy to oblige, and I realized that patience is the key.
As the sun was setting, we visited a traditional Vietnamese house that incorporated three different architectural styles--Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese. We learned about a type of Confucian cup that drains if filled over 80%, teaching you to avoid greed. This trip has taught so many things, and I appreciate all of them.--
Ella '19, Vietnam, 4/24/2016
I went biking today. Instead of staying back, I decided to challenge myself. The experience required patience and a lot of effort. I felt stronger in a way--like I had regained some of my independence. Ever since I hurt my hand a little, I have felt as though I couldn't do as many things for myself. However, this experience has simultaneously taught me how to ask for help and how to be more reliant on myself when needed.
In Vietnam, there is an air of healing. There are still reminders of the war; however, the Vietnamese have found ways to use them for good. Casings from old, defused bombs are used as school bells and fish traps. Multiple veterans of "The American War" have shaken my hand and said variations of "We will never forget, but we have the power to forgive." This way of being, in my opinion, is a major reason why we can travel here safely and be able to take in everything this beautiful country has to offer.
Vi '17, Vietnam, 4/21/2016
Traveling in many different ways brings many different experiences. Experiences here do not just mean staying in nice places and eating good food; experiences also mean getting out of our comfort zones. Our GIS trip makes my home country seem different to me. Today in Chay Lap, I experienced a part of the country which I had previously only seen on TV. I painted an elementary school with my group. After all, travel and education are not just about truly being part of a community; they are also about collaboration -- seeing my friends and teachers working together, and their happiness. Travel is also about learning more skills in life; I have been learning to ask more questions and be even more curious. The thing that makes GIS such a great learning opportunity is that everything we have done is a part of growing up. Traveling makes your perspective bigger: "Sometimes, it is all about the sounds of cicadas, the smell of grass, and the ancient, simple, but elegant taste of traditional foods."
Gabe '19, Vietnam, 4/21/2016
April 18, 2016: One of the high points of today was hanging out in a local park in Hanoi. Here, we got to experience the park both as children and from a more grown-up perspective. When we first walked into the park, we played in the bouncy house and went on all the rides that were offered. Later, we got to calm down and take in the views of the park. Here I noticed the beauty of the plant life and the variety of people walking, playing games and exercising on outdoor ellipticals, stationary bikes and gym equipment. Altogether, the day was fun, calming, and a day that allowed us to grow as observers.
April 19, 2016: After sleeping on the night train, we made it to our homestay in Chay Lap. We settled in, then headed to Paradise Cave, which was only discovered b a local farmer in 2010. After a hike up to the entrance, we descended into the cool, slightly misty cave, which is one of the largest in the world. We got to see huge formations of stalactites and stalagmites which formed over thousands of years with no human interaction. Now, thousands come every year to see the beautiful sights, just as we did.