My Butt is Sore

10:00PM last night: Went on the bus to Saigon from Long Xuyen

3:00AM: Arrive in Saigon then went to sleep at company apartment

8:00AM: Wake up to work and finish prepping my GRACES values training for career panel presenters.

12:40PM: Quick coffee stop. Also bought cheesecake and tiramisu because I couldn’t resist ūüėõ

1:00PM: Training began for people from various companies such as Talisman Energy, some fashion company, and a few others that I forgot. These people will be siting on the career panel at the two summer camps so my role is to train them on GRACES values, which is the central theme of the camp as well as workshop guidelines and how they should answer FAQS in way that is understandable and relevant to the girls who will be in attendance.

–>¬†GRACES stands for Gratitude, Respect, Accountability, Courage, Engagement, and Safety. Each value¬†is extremely important for us all to embody and practice everyday. I would love to go into further detail about each one and why it is the central theme of the camp. Those are values we wish for all volunteers and staff to embody throughout camp and all activities and workshops shall reflect them and the girls shall take away those values from the camp. My favorite part of the presentation was when I reached the part about the 6 different types of courage. Maybe I will do a separate post on GRACES because I truly believe in their importance and impact (just so tired right now).

3:30PM: Finished training and left company to go get some PIZZA HUT. I honestly have had Pizza Hut more here than when I am in the States. Somehow I just keep craving it… My coworker has never had it so I took her there. She loved it, but her stomach was only able to handle one slice of pizza due to the cheese, LOL more for me!

5:15PM: Arrived at bus stop to head back to Long Xuyen office. Found the lady I usually buy bread from (it’s seriously so fresh and delicious) and bartered and got my delicious bread. ^_^

9:50PM: Arrived in Long Xuyen.

DONEEEZOOOOO. I wish the bus had wifi so that so much time wouldn’t be wasted each time I have to travel back and forth to the city though. It was a good day being back in Saigon for a bit because it’s so lively compared to Long Xuyen.

This week at the office has been super hectic since the first summer camp will begin this weekend! Wooot!

 

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Home Visitations at the Mekong Delta

On my first day with PALS, we got out of the office at 5:30AM to begin our first series of home visits for potential female scholarship recipients for the ADAPT program. If qualified, the girls will receive scholarships to continue higher education until Grade 12. These girls are chosen by their schools to be interviewed by PALS if they are living in extreme poverty or come from families with only one working mother/father Р any scenario that may make them more prone to getting tricked by traffickers through promises of making a lot of money through unreal job offers. 8th and 7th grade girls have higher priority for the scholarships than younger girls, but from the results of these home visits, I am sure some 6th graders will be receiving scholarships as well.

We traveled about 2 hours until we got to our first school, where we met with the teachers and broke out into groups to do home visits. We went to a total of two schools that day, and I went on about 10-12 home visits. Each home visit lasted anywhere from 45 mins to an hour.

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On the ferry

On the ferry, then we had to travel about another 1.5 hours by van to get to the schools. After that teachers took us on their motorbikes to the different homes.

 The survey questions were very detailed and included questions such as:

  • “What is your future career goal and how much do you think you’d make?”
  • “What kind of student (below average, average, above average) are you & what is your favorite subject in school?” – these girls tend to be “above average”
  • “What is your weakest subject?”
  • “How do you get to school?”
  • “Does your family have any debt/assets?”
  • “Highest education level of parents?”¬†
  • “Have you heard about trafficking stories?” – some have and others haven’t

and many more that went into thorough detail of the families’ living conditions and indicators of whether or not the girls are strong-willed enough to finish school to at least 12th grade if given the scholarship.

The importance of: “What is your future career goal & how much do you think you’ll make?” question: some girls haven’t thought about this yet, which was a great way to provoke some thought into this. Whereas for girls who had a career goal in mind, they would come up with a salary that was above and beyond any real salary. For example, one girl said she dreamed of being a famous singer who would make 30 million dong/mth. However, a doctor in Vietnam barely makes about 3 million dong/mth. The interviewer had to give the girl some comparison because with an MD degree, you have to go through all that schooling,and yet still do not even make that much. This girl is considered as highly at risk for being trafficked because she can easily be tricked by men who claim that they will pay her a beyond realistic salary without her even realizing that she is being fooled. We had to explain to her that if a girl had no education and was offered a job that anyone can do (for ex: a guy says he will offer her a dish washing job in another country that will pay an extremely high salary, but why would he pay her that much when he can easily find someone to do that job in his own country), that job offer would most likely be unrealistic.¬†

This is only one case. A few of the girls said they wanted to be doctors, among other careers. They’re book smart but some are far from being street smart, which makes them prone to being trafficked. As with parents, I met families where at least one parent was blind or deaf, thus leaving only one parent capable of making a living, further making the girls prone to quitting school to find jobs to support their family.

Shadowing the interviews was such a humbling experience. I observed so many different living¬†situations and listened to so many stories that I never thought I’d get the chance to hear. The girls are so gentle, shy, and intelligent. However, they lack so many opportunities that American children have the luxury to easily grasp. From the results of the home visits that I attended, I’m pretty sure most of the girls I met will be getting the scholarships!! I’m so happy.¬†

Unfortunately due to privacy reasons, I cannot post their pictures, which is a shame because their faces show so much emotion and beauty. Although I cannot show you their pictures, here are a few shots of some of their homes & the beautiful Mekong Delta surroundings:

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We got back to Long Xuyen at about 10PM. It was a long but fruitful day <3. I’m going to miss the girls so much.¬†

They make me want study my GRE’s already.