Vietnam – Japan Exchange Project – VJEP 2017

The first day is always the hardest. I didn’t really know what to expect that day, except… arraging and allocating. I didn’t know whether we could blend in or have the chance to even try that. At first, the atmosphere was all… ceremonic and the participants from both sides astounded us by their well-prepared performances. However, the ice breaker game was in the second part of the afternoon, when we sat together in a circle and had to remember every one’s name, lest we would be punished. Our UEH team was also invited to play with others.

 

 

People started to laugh and talked to each other. I was quite amazed, to be honest, because just hours before, none dared to go to the other side. In retrospect, I must admit we did rather well.

I signed up for the second day, which comprised a Vietnamese class, the city tour and the tò he  class. After setting up everything in place, we started the first part of the day.

 

 

Fortunately as I brought my camera with me, I had the chance to be an acute observer. As a Vietnamese citizen for 20 years, I didn’t realize Vietnamese language was that hard. The efforts that the foreigners, in this case, Japanese, made to learn the language, were tremendous. Some grasped the basic rules quite quickly, but some struggled to the very end, for example, Mr. Seki. He made me laugh when he said he gave up on learning it. Even the Vietnamese participants enjoyed the lesson. I had to admit, the teacher was excellent in lightening up the atmosphere and controlling the class because not many people could do that. Lunch came right after the class finished, so we had about 2 hours to rest before our afternoon program started. At that moment, I was lucky to have a chance to sit behind Mr. Seki and shared a talk with him.

 

He talked to me in a very warm way and often asked me about my opinions, not the distant or overpolite I usually experienced, especially with an outsider as I was. I admired his passion for changing the mindset in order to help the Japanese students come out of their shells. From that moment on, I truly felt welcome in their company. The city tours didn’t happen like what we had planned. The weather was quite hot and humid so most of us were exhausted fast. We visited The War Museum first, then our next stop was The Independence Palace, but it closed sooner on Saturday so we were left wandering around the centre, until we reached our next destination at The City Post Office. In the end, I found all of us tired and spent, just waiting for the time of dinner. But also in that afternoon, I made friend with Saki. Accidental as it was, I really enjoyed our new blooming friendship and we talked all the way through the tour. Dinner was served with Phở. Our Japanese friends told us they had tried it before in their country, which was surprising news for me, but they all agreed it was more delicious here. Natsuki praised the taste of the food continually, and she closed her eyes every time she sipped the soup, which made me quite proud and happy. My duty ended before the evening class began, but I felt my mind tugging me to stay. So clingy already!

 

 

Nguyễn Lâm Ngọc Bích, TG02-K40

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