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VietnamSee, Feel, and Experience
Written by Gyuwhan Kim | Published. 2017.05.08 20:02 | Count : 720
New Classroom built for the local school

On March 19th 2017, 9th grade students from Korea International School Jeju departed to Hanoi, Vietnam for SLL (Service Leading and Learning) trip. The trip provided an opportunity for students to directly experience Vietnamese culture through building a classroom for a local school and sightseeing. Many students responded to interviews to share their experiences from the service trip.

An interview with 9th grade student, Johnny Kil

When asked about their first impression on Vietnam, a lot of students pinpointed the messy and dangerous traffic conditions. They specifically mentioned that there were too many motorcycles on the road, making it seemingly hard to drive safely.  In Vietnam, many people are forced to ride motorcycles because the roads are narrow. To make matters worse, most parts of rural roads are not even covered with asphalt. “The most distinct aspect of Vietnam I encountered was its transportation. In Korea, we normally ride cars, but in Vietnam, they ride motorcycles.  It looked really dangerous because there were too many motorcycles out there on the road,” said Johnny Kil, a 9th grade student at KIS who participated in the service trip.

Traditional Vietnamese food, Pho

Another notable was Vietnamese food. Vietnamese food mainly features seafood, noodles, rice and vegetables. What made Vietnamese foods different from those of Korea is that they use more spices and herbs when cooking. For example, Pho, the most well-known Vietnamese cuisine, had strikingly different taste from Pho sold in Korea. It tasted much stronger as it was cooked with more spices and herbs. Another 9th grade student at KIS whose details were requested to be anonymous said, “Personally, I think the food was very different. Korean food is spicier and saltier compared to that of Vietnam, and Vietnamese dishes are more oily and full of spices.”

One of the performance from Water Puppet Show

Although lesser in number, some students also brought up the water puppet show they watched. They mentioned that it provided an opportunity to learn more about Vietnamese culture and lifestyle. The Water Puppet Show was not only about fancy performances, but also about a farmer’s and a fisher’s lives. One of the performances was about a myth from Totemism that Vietnamese people believed in. It helped students learn that Vietnamese consider dragons, tortoises, phoenixes, and unicorns as sacred animals.

An Interview with 9th grade student, Juni Park

As students experienced different customs and lifestyle of Vietnam, there were some likes and dislikes. To know more about them, three 9th grade students at KIS, Johnny Kil, Juni Park, and a student whose details were requested to be anonymous were interviewed. . When asked to point out likes and dislikes, Johnny said, “I especially liked eating Pho. When I go out for dinner in Korea, I usually eat Pho, so I liked how I could taste real Vietnamese Pho. One thing I disliked was how they treated customers. When we had free time to look around shops, some shop owners forced us to buy their products.” Another fellow student commented, “I liked that Vietnam had very well developed night markets. There were many local restaurants and souvenir shops. For the things he didn’t like, he mentioned, “Even though I liked night markets on streets, the streets were dirty, and it made me feel uncomfortable.” Lastly, Juni said, “One thing that I disliked about Vietnam is that there were too much traffic due to all the motorcycles, and sometimes it was dangerous crossing the road or walking by the road.”

Also, I discussed this trip with a teacher who had organized this program. When asked to explain about the purpose of this trip, Mr. Daly commented, “I wanted kids to gain appreciation of how fortunate they are as they are in a culture that is modern and well developed. Also, I wished the kids to try new things.” Overall, students enjoyed the SLL trip to Vietnam, and also learned a lot through this trip.



Gyuwhan Kim
Grade 9
Korea International School, Jeju

Gyuwhan Kim  student_reporter@dherald.com

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