Sandrine: “Here I am in Vietnam and I would like to share my experience with you”
I have been in Vietnam for three weeks and I would like to share my experiences with you all!
I live in Pavi, a village located in the city of Meo Vac. Meo Vac is a small town in the Ha Giang province of northern Vietnam. This is the poorest region of the country, but the magnificent landscapes are creating opportunities because tourism to the area continues to expand. The citizens there want to learn English in order to be able to work in tourism (as guides, work in hospitality, etc.) but schools do not offer English lessons and access to education is difficult for most.
Little Yen’s association was created with the goal of providing the Hmong minority with access to English classes. I teach classes to the hostel staff on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoons, and to the children on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons. In Vietnam, there are several ethnic minorities (53 are registered). Yen herself, part of the staff, and all the children are members are from the Hmong minority.
I live in a very pretty homestay with Yen (the creator of the association who also owns the homestay), part of her family, and other members of the staff. The homestay has only been open for three weeks, but it is already very successful. Yen had owned another homestay in downtown Meo Vac for over a year which became very popular in the backpacker world! This new hostel was built in a brand new village created to perpetuate Hmong tradition (all the buildings were built according to the Hmong tradition with specific materials used by the Hmong) and to promote tourism to Meo Vac as well. The village is where the homestay is located and it is really beautiful!
I really enjoy living at the homestay because it allows me to really live with the Vietnamese people all day long, cook with them, witness their habits, and meet their friends and neighbors while also meeting other international travellers!
I really enjoy teaching English to children, they are all so cute! Above all, they have a real desire to learn the language. Last week, the parents of one of my students invited me to their home to eat with their whole family. It was a great experience as it was really different from my culture and the traditions I am familiar with (especially from a culinary standpoint, but also from the way they live with practically nothing in their homes, and also the famous tradition of taking shots of corn alcohol with every meal!). I was very happy to have had this experience!
In my spare time, I explore a lot (trek through the mountains, take trips on my bike, etc.). The landscape is really breathtaking! All the hosts I met told me that northern Vietnam, especially La Loop, was the most beautiful part of the country they had seen. I think I really came at the right time.