by Codie Fraley, Greenheart Travel Volunteer in Vietnam
Current soundtrack to my travels:
Although it was a short 10 days, this trip has made what I believe will be a lasting effect on me. I hope to have made a lasting effect on those I met and helped as well. Vietnam is a beautiful country with beautiful people.
To be honest my first intentions of this trip were to have unique nursing experience to set me apart from the other nursing students. Surely if I raised $3,000+ to volunteer in Vietnam I would be accepted into any nursing college. But over time it became so much more than that. This became a transformative experience for me as a person and a man. I also have in mind a quote that I remember reading long ago, “the beginning of life starts when you leave your comfort zone”. This was definitely the case in Hanoi. Hanoi was the complete opposite of the US but I told myself to just go with the flow and embrace every little experience. I’ve been comparing it to the Spartans. In Spartan culture a boy would leave home to hunt a lion and return a man. Although there were no lions involved I feel as if I left a boy and I’m returning a man. I feel more confident, competent, cultured, motivated, and determined. If I could do all of this by myself is there anything I can’t do? And I feel more determined to finish college strong so I can become a nurse and one day return to Vietnam, and furthermore other countries. That is my dream after all, to travel the world and do humanitarian work with Chandler. I believe we can make a difference, and my experience in Vietnam gave me a taste of how great my career will be.
Working with the children was wonderful. The center took care of kids with mental and physical disabilities and tried to prepare them for independent life by the time they reach 18. At first I didn’t know how I’d react around mentally disabled children, but I went into it with a positive outlook and went with the flow. Almost instantly I fell in love with the kids. They were all so hilarious and just being around them made you feel so happy. They were surprisingly intelligent as well, many of them taught me Vietnamese and in return I taught them English. I also spent time helping them exercise and massaging the more physically disabled children. When the children found out I was leaving many of them were sad and gave me hugs, this was really touching to me.
So where do I go from here? Well I’m currently on my third and final flight. I’m coming home to my amazing girlfriend whom I’ve missed more than anything. I plan on enjoying every day more than I already have, cherishing the things that the Vietnamese value like friends and family and less of the material things. I want to keep pushing myself to become a better person and not let this Vietnam trip be the end. This means daily reading, starting my own autobiography, continuing with my artwork, joining BJJ with Chandler, and just spreading my light with those around me.