Blog post by HKI-Vietnam Interns, Casey McCormick and Michael Wilson
After a long, but uneventful set of flights, Casey and I finally arrived in the bustling city of Hanoi just shy of 30 hours after leaving the North Carolina/Virginia area. We were very fortunate to find a very hospitable taxi driver who, aside from a persistent use of his high beams in order to make oncoming traffic aware of his presence, was extremely helpful in helping us to find the apartment Linh, from HKI Viet Nam, had arranged for us in the Bah Dinh district.
After waking up from a somewhat jetlagged slumber, we decided to try our luck at finding the nearest grocery store. We realized that English wasn’t spoken quite as prevalent as we had expected, so we scoped out the nearest hotel in hopes of finding someone who could point us in the right direction. Within minutes we were on our way to 5 Foods, a supermarket about 5 minutes away from the apartment. Obviously, we were in a different world, and I was loving every second of it. Our first full day was probably a bit hazy from the jet lag, but we both were enjoying the new sounds, smells, sights, and mostly the laughs we got at the grocery store when we tried to say Thank you. (Cam on)
Wednesday was our first day of work. We had looked up walking directions the night before and decided based on the proximity of the HKI office to our apartment that we should give ourselves about 15-20 minutes to walk to work. This was lesson number one. For those of you who haven’t traveled to Vietnam, rush hour in Vietnam is filled with a sea of mopeds, not cars. When I say a sea, I mean a vast, sea of speeding mopeds so thick that you can barely squeeze in between two of these whizzing machines. Because our walk involved a couple of street crossings where there are no stop signs or traffic lights, we had to venture into the traffic on foot, quite a frightening experience. After a few crossings, I think we begun to get the hang of it (Casey might not agree), but I still think it will take couple weeks before we are comfortable with these hairy encounters. We arrived at the Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound which houses HKI along with several other NGO’s and other public and private organizations. We were greeted by Pham Ngoc, our supervisor, and enjoyed a nice, cool drink of water while she introduced us to the other employees we will be working with this summer: Doan Linh, Dinh Son, and Don Lam. We had an informal meeting in the office’s conference room where we discussed roles and talked about past, current, and future HKI projects including ChildSight® and the Homestead Food Production program.
The highlight of the day was lunch with the HKI Vietnam staff. They took us to Ngoc Thuy, a Vietnamese restaurant where we got to try some local cuisine as well as interact with one another and learn a little more about the current projects going on in Vietnam. We are both very excited to be here and have been grateful for the very warm welcome both by the HKI Vietnam staff and the Hanoi people.
Our first task will be to familiarize ourselves with the data from the ChildSight® programs in the rural Kon Tum district and the Quoc Oai district of Hanoi. We will then use this data to produce two articles explaining how the program impacted Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice (KAP) and Quality of Life (QOL) of those enrolled in the program.
Until Next time,
Michael and Casey
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller