As a young Canadian university graduate, I aspired to visit a faraway country to volunteer as an English teacher. Forty years passed quickly, four lively children grew to become independent adults and after twenty-five years, I retired from a successful career of teaching.
My youthful and idealistic dream was reignited and I applied to volunteer as an English teacher in Vietnam. As a 64-year-old grandmother, I definitely had some reservations about communication, safety, and cultural sensitivity. And of course, age might pose some barriers.
On November 15, I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City to begin an incredible journey with the Green Lion team. I could not have been prepared for how welcoming, engaging, and supportive this group would be. With unsurpassed skills, they fostered team building among a very diverse group of volunteers. Staff at the Hospitality College were filled with a desire to share strategies, open their doors and share ideas. Students were highly motivated by their desire to practice English, to share their love of Vietnam, and to elicit information about my life in Canada.
It is difficult to express the gift that I received when my intention had been to give as a volunteer.
I found a country filled with people full of hope, determination, strong work ethic and gratitude for all of the gifts that life offers. I would strongly encourage anybody who has a simple gift to give and desire to share, to embrace the opportunity that volunteering in Vietnam offers.