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Handling the panhandlers
After six return visits to Vietnam and being accosted by street beggars numerous times, Iââ‚¬â„¢ve decided what I will do. I usually take the "shoeshine boy" or young teen carrying a baby to the nearest stall and get them something to eat or drink. Never do I give them money or buy anything from them. If they are hungry they get fed but otherwise I ignore their pleas of "sir, money for my baby." In Hanoi, I saw little of this begging but it seems more prevalent in HCMC.
I have made many friends since returning to Vietnam. I also enjoy the food and the traveling, it's such an adventure. I'm trying to learn the Vietnamese language. It's very hard but I think it's important to make an effort. The countryside is beautiful and I have spent a lot of time traveling up and down the breadth of Vietnam. The children are also very friendly and have made a great impression on me. I live in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which is a sister city of Da Nang.
The only negatives I can think of here are the scams people try on you, mostly in HCMC, and the ubiquitous beggars. I thoroughly enjoy my time in Vietnam and hope to live there some day.
I have been living in Vietnam since June.
From what I understand, the Vietnamese people and the country are really looking forward to taking their true place in the world. And I think one of the ways to do it is education.
But I also want to something to say about the hectic life we lead in the cities. We need to slow down.
We have to stop and smell the roses. Get out of Ho Chi Minh City, view the countryside, the true Vietnam is out there. It was when I spent a weekend in Nha Trang that I really realized the tranquility, peacefulness, and beauty of Vietnam. It offered the chance to simply drift away, thinking only of the beauty that surrounded me. This interlude, free of stress and noise and pollution, served to rejuvenate and reenergize me for the next few weeks. We need to stop sometimes and take time from our busy, seemingly important lives, to enjoy what life and Vietnam has to offer.
Bonnie Thibodeau, Principal,
Canadian International School, Ho Chi Minh City