I’m back in Vancouver now, recovering from jetlag, re-adjusting, and reflecting on my experience. I have many wonderful memories and feel privileged that I was able to work with and get to know some interesting and amazing people in Hanoi through the Leave for Change program.
As I shift back into life in Vancouver, I’m keeping in mind “three P’s” that stood out for me during my time in Vietnam:
Positivity—rather than living in the past, people are mainly focused on moving forward. They talk about here and now and what’s next, instead of dwelling on or complaining about previous challenges and hardships.
Possibility—before I left Canada, I’d read that, in Vietnam, people say “not yet” rather than “no.” During my time there, instead of “no,” I heard “how can we make this work?” or “we can do it.” This even extended to small things—for example, the café near the WUSC office didn’t have ice cream, but rather than saying we don’t have any, they went and got some from a shop down the street (which apparently is usual).
Perspective – many of the local people I met work long hours. However, rather than getting stressed and harried, they still take care of themselves and each other. At North Thang Long Economic-Technical College, many of the staff would leave the campus over the two-hour lunch break to spend time with their families. At the WUSC office, people always took a real lunch and either went out, or ate a delicious, hot freshly cooked meal together in the lunch room.
Now that I’ve returned to Canada, I think it’s natural to compare what I experienced in Vietnam to what I’ve come back to. There are a lot of things I’ll really miss about Vietnam, and there are many things that I’m glad to have back.
Most of all, I hope that as I get reacquainted with my city, I’ll see things with fresh eyes and an open mind, and continue along this path of discovery that I’ve been on.