Vietnam - Jessica
Traveling to Vietnam was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I most likely would not have had if it wasn't for the Take a Friend Home Program. Through the program I was able to spend two weeks with a good friend of mine, Nhung, and her family in Ho Chi Minh City.
During my stay in Vietnam, Nhung and her family (and extended family and friends) showed me a great deal of their beautiful country, food, and their culture. My first days in the country were spent at beautiful Mui Ne Beach on the South China Sea, followed by another four day stint in Dalat. Ho Chi Minh City itself was very unique and beautiful in its own way and the various open markets were definitely a sight to see. Other places we visited included some Cham
towers near Mui Ne, multiple temples, Datala Falls, the Cu Chi Tunnels, War Remnants Museum, one of Bao Dai's palaces located in Dalat, and a place called the Lake of Gold, also located near Dalat.
One of my favorite experiences during the trip would have to have been our visit to a mountain tribe in Dalat where we were treated to their traditional songs, dances, and food (including the famous rice wine) and were even allowed to get involved. The second event that was truly a lesson in Vietnamese culture was the 80th birthday party of Nhung's grandmother. All of the family arrived for the event as well as a small group of monks to perform a ceremony for the family. Watching part of the ceremony and meeting and observing Nhung's family was an incredibly enriching experience that I doubt I'll ever forget.
I learned a great deal about Vietnamese culture, language, food, and history during my short stay but also
learned to see myself and my own country from another view point. At the same time I think that I helped Nhung and her family learn as well, even about their own country. Without the Take a Friend Home Program, however, we would never have had such a wonderful opportunity to broaden our horizons.