Vietnam 2020 tentative trip dates:
June 24 – July 8, 2020
Buoc, Mai Chau, Vietnam
Vietnam is more than rice paddies, conical hats, and conflict with America. Vietnam is bursting with energy and forward motion. You’ll feel it in the hum and activity on the streets. You’ll see it in the way Vietnamese welcome you to their homes, invite you to taste their food, and proudly show you their rich culture. You’ll sense it in the options and opportunities all around.
Vietnam is home of over 90 million people. Each part of the county has it’s own customs, language dialects, and indiginous people. Youthlinc is thrilled to be opening our first Service Year site in Vietnam since 2013 when we worked in Song Cau, Tuy Hoa in Central Vietnam.
Youthlinc is partnering with SJ Vietnam, who has been working with us since 2012 with the first Service Year teams and the with our Global Community Leadership program. They have introduced us to a village in the northern highlands that is a gem of gems. The village we will be working in is called Buoc in Mai Chau province.
Buoc is home to 310 people from 77 families. Most folks in this area are subsistence farmers and raise some livestock. Most people living in Buoc are ethnic Thai, although none of them have ever lived in Thailand. Their first language is a variation of Thai, but they say that they only understand 60% of what is said in Thai movies, for example. They speak Vietnamese as their 2nd language and receive most of their education in Vietnamese.
Youthlinc will help Buoc to raise money for tap into water sources in the nearby mountains that will then add to the community water tank so that they will have enough water for their needs year round. Right now they often run out of water during some parts of the year because the current, sole water source is not sufficient for the village’s needs. Also, Youthlinc can help them find funds and continue installing updated bathrooms at people’s homes. Many people in the village still use unsanitary pit latrines that causes illness to be more common.
One of Buoc’s main goals is to become a more desirable destination for travelers. They would like to work on programs to encourage environmentally sustainable tourism, including becoming a single-use plastic free area, provide locally grown organic food, and encourage visitor’s activities to be healthy and active. Youthlinc is excited to find team members that can help them acheive their goals, including developing marketing and tourism-related skills.
There is a women’s association in Buoc that is eager to work with Youthlinc on developing and improving opportunities for women in the area to develop skills that can earn extra income for their families.
The people in this are are very interested in learning and practicing English. The students are eager to engage in a STEM camp that Youthlinc will organize and the adults are eager to learn and practice business-related and travel/tourism-related English.
Lastly, Buoc can use improvement in access to health-related information. There is village nurse that helps where she can but then refers more complicated issues a nearby government-funded clinic. The nurse reports that there is a lot of education that can be done to improve the public health knowledge in the area, which would decrease frequency of illness and improve quality of life.
2020 Vietnam Team Leader: Kevin Biddle
I am so thankful for the opportunities that Youthlinc has brought me over the past 4 years. I discovered Youthlinc when my daughter Emma said she wanted to go to Cambodia but only if I went as a mentor with her. The decision to go was one of the best choices in my life. After an eye opening and absolutely life changing trip to Cambodia I was hooked. The next year I was chosen to be a team leader for a trip to Nepal and the following year to Kenya. This year is Vietnam and I am excited to see our team come together and have the same life changing experiences that myself and my daughter have had. My favorite part about the entire year is the students. Seeing where they start at the beginning of the year and watching them grow and become close friends is always special. Seeing all of their hard work pay off with such an amazing trip to cap it off is something that none of them will soon forget.
2020 Vietnam Assistant Team Leader: Joy Bergstrom
Joy Bergstrom is a senior at East High School. She has been on three previous Youthlinc trips, two to Cambodia (one of which with Kevin, the Vietnam TL!) and one to Peru, and is so excited to be heading to Vietnam next summer. A lover of Southeast Asian history (and food!), she can’t wait to discover more of one of her favorite areas on earth. Joy is excited to be an ATL because she wants to help students have the same eye-opening and life-changing experiences she had during her first service year. When Joy is not in school or doing her homework, she can almost exclusively be found at the ballet studio or the ski resort. She is a lover of Dr.Pepper, historical documentaries, and the national parks, and can’t wait to see what adventures this service year brings!