This summer I was lucky enough to receive the Go Abroad fund, which allowed me to travel to Hanoi, Vietnam to teach English as a foreign language. I was teaching at a student-run NGO called Bamboo for three weeks and had the most amazing time there.
Bamboo was founded by a group of students who wanted to learn English but did not have the means to afford a decent school education. Through advertising on social media and volunteer databases, they managed to reach people across the world who were willing to volunteer their time to come and teach English. Over time they gradually grew their school, which is run out of one of the student’s houses, and now they barely have room to fit everyone in. The age in our class ranged from 13 to 27. They were the most amazing students – extremely keen to learn and so appreciative of your teaching. They were determined not to be limited by their background and gain meaningful and respected jobs in the future.
In exchange for teaching, you lived with the students who founded the organisation and they cooked amazing meals everyday. The students also loved taking us around Hanoi to both the main attractions and some beautiful less touristy places. We also got to know them this way and it was so interesting to learn about their culture and traditions. At the weekends, the volunteers had to time to explore other nearby cities in Vietnam which was incredible.
Before I left, I was worried about culture shock and feeling isolated being so far away from home. However, I found the Vietnamese people to be so welcoming and friendly wherever we went. I loved especially how people would stop you in the street to practice their English with you. Our students were so keen to teach us about Vietnamese culture and even taught us how to cook a few things! Overall, this was the trip of a lifetime and I’m so grateful to have been awarded the Principal’s Go Abroad fund to allow me to have this experience.