Student Leaders: SPRINT

Summer 2010 SPRINT Teams: Vietnam

Trip Dates: June 13-July 8, 2010

Project Description:
Students will learn about Vietnamese history and culture at Duy Tan University, a SPU partner, interact with college students, and support English language teaching with Fisher’s Superkids Center.

Host: Duy Tan University, Fisher's Superkids Center

View the team's photos

View the team's personal blog

Download tax-deductible donation information

Download the team photo

Vietnam SPRINT Team

Team Updates

July 8

After four weeks in Vietnam, the team will return to the United States this afternoon.  

As the group returns, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives.  It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:

Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,

Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,

Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,

And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.

It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives.  The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing retreat in October, and will be encouraged to continue meeting with their SPRINT team to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.

I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep and collect her thoughts, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories.  Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time.  We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account. 

I’ve e-mailed team members a list of debriefing questions designed to help students think through their experience and its meaning as they move forward in their lives.  If you’ve got time, I’d encourage you to talk though some of these questions with your student.

Thanks for your support of students on this team!   Please let me know if you have questions.


July 3

On Wednesday we had our last day of class! We reviewed a little of what we had learned in the past two weeks and then went to a marble carving village near marble mountains. Ms. Huyen came along too and we were overjoyed to have her along! The marble village was amazing. If was full of huge intricate marble sculptures! (Puts Marble, CO to shame if anyone happens to be familiar with small towns in the Rockies...) Marble figurines are one of the main handicrafts made in this area, we learned that in Vietnamese culture class.

After we got back we were preparing for lunch when suddenly the power went out. The power is shut of quite regularly here because of the heat and strain on the system, but usually the university uses back up generators so it is not a problem for us. Shortly after, Teresa from the Superkids Center called us to inform us that the power was scheduled to go off three days that week for the entire city. She said that it had been in the newspapers and on the news, but for obvious reasons we did not catch these messages. She told us that it has to do with the large casinos and resorts that foreign investors are putting in along the beach here. Undaunted we continued with our lunch plans and even tried frog for the first time!

That afternoon we met with a new class of students at DTU. It's a long story, but let's just say that by the end of our hour and a half meeting we ended up in traditional Vietnamese Ao dai, guitar in hand, singing Taylor Swift to about 50 Vietnamese students, half of which were filming us on their cell phones. Haha, yeah. We really enjoy talking with students, it has been one of the highlights of our trip thus far! That night we went to Ms. Huyen's house for dinner. She made us seafood and we ate with some of her friends on a mat on the floor. Clams and shrimp mmm, but we passed on the jellyfish.

Thursday was our first day working with Fisher's Superkids English Center since the day camps two weeks ago. We went in early to help them paint and decorate before teaching that evening. The center just recently lost many of their teachers and we couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Classes went well and we love being able to work with the kids and get to know the staff at the center who are all amazing! Friday was much like Thursday, although in the evening there was randomly a huge concert across the street from the University. Four words: Vietnamese Kelly Clarkson covers.

This morning we went back to the school in the outskirts of the city. It was a lot of fun and they are very appreciative to have us there! We are at Superkids again tonight. On that note, we have some lessons to plan =)

June 29

Hello from Vietnam!

On Saturday we successfully made it back from the scorching heat that is Hue during the summer. Other than the citadel that we filmed our last vlog from, we also visited a famous Buddhist Pagoda and the tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh who ruled during the early 20th century in Vietnam. We later found out that he was one of the most unpopular emperors that Vietnam has seen, but his tomb was amazing. It was like Chinese Dragons meets French Baroque architecture meets Lord of the Rings status stone work. Regardless of the heat it was still one of the coolest things (pun!) we have seen thus far! We also learned that the food in Hue is particularly spicy, it was an interesting experience to say the least. We were exhausted when we got back and took it easy for awhile.

The next day we traveled to a school in the outskirts of the city that is only open on Saturday and Sunday to teach English to the children of working class Vietnamese. They have never had native english speaking visitors and were all very excited to have us there. We each worked in a classrooms of kids varying in range from 5 to 12. We taught them "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and with more time remaining we continued adding body parts and creating various games to go along with them. They were all very friendly and while all of us our quite a bit out of our comfort zones teaching classes we are excited to go back next weekend!

Yesterday, which was Monday for us, we went with one of our Vietnamese professors to visit several places in the city. We visited and Agent Orange Center which is a place for people who have suffered physical and mental birth defects due to the use of the Agent Orange chemical by Americans during the Vietnam War. We were given a tour and even sang one of the Vietnamese songs we learned with the children there. When we left we asked Mr. Thinh (our professor) if Vietnamese people have negative feelings towards Americans because of the war and he said not at all, that they deal with the effects of the war, but that they are not a vengeful people. We also visited an orphanage of sorts run by the government. It serves orphans, the mentally and physically disabled, the elderly who have no family, and the homeless (a few years back, the government passed a law that made it illegal for beggars to be on the streets). We toured the facility and met some Vietnamese college students who were helping out there and a doctor from Australia who was working with the disabled children and said that she thought she recognized us from the airport! Even though the center is government funded, they still need a lot of outside help.

After this we traveled to Mr. Thinh's sister's house to meet with some of his students and family. It was the first Vietnamese home we had been into and we enjoyed our time there immensely listening to Mr. Thinh's nephew play the piano and singing Taylor Swift songs with his niece, before heading back to the University.

This morning we had our second to last Vietnamese culture class. We have enjoyed learning about their culture and language a lot but 3 hours every morning makes us summer moded college students a little antsy so we are excited to begin working with the Fisher's Superkids English Center to work with children for the next week! Today we have the afternoon off (a first since we got here!) so we are going to do a little exploring!

Much Love,

June 28

Here's another video blog update, this time from Hue, Vietnam. The team apologizes for the sideways camera angle. (Trust us, they're not sideways in real life...)

Vietnam Vlog

June 24

The last few days have been a mix of classes in the morning, exploring the area surrounding Da Nang in the afternoon, and having fun with the students at  DTU in the evenings. We are really enjoying learning phrases in Vietnamese in our classes in the morning, and are starting to feel brave enough to use them when we are walking around and buying food. On Tuesday afternoon, our host Ms. Chi here at DTU took us on a tour of Hoi An, an ancient town about an hour south of Da Nang. We loved it there! The town had some really neat old buildings and streets and bridges over a small river than ran straight through the town. We even did a little shopping with the street vendors and shops along the old street. Megan practiced her bargaining skills, and it turned out very well, with lots of smiling!

When we got back to DTU that evening, we decided to invite some of our friends to get ice cream with us. We sent them a text message, and quickly

received a phone call back saying they were up on the 6th floor of DTU, and they asked us if we could come up there. We agreed and happily left. On the way up, we started wondering why they were on the 6th floor... and why there were so many people talking in the background.... We got to the 6th floor and saw the entire class standing in their classroom yelling and waving at us. We were shocked and nervous when the teacher invited us in to the classroom and told us she was going to let the class go early since we had invited them to ice cream. Apparently the invitation had spread to the whole class! Fifteen minutes later, we were sitting in an ice cream shop down the street crowded around three small tables with 20 of our Vietnamese friends. It was a very fun night! We were able to talk more with all of them, and they are incredibly friendly and eager to practice their English.

Yesterday our host took us to the Cham museum in Da Nang in the afternoon. We learned about the Cham culture in our class that morning, and how they are the original people in the central Vietnam region. The museum was full of ancient sculptures that had been recovered from the Cham people. After the museum, we went with Ms. Chi to the Han market, a huge market near the river in Da Nang. We had never seen so much interesting food before!

We finished off the night by watching America beat Algeria in the World Cup game and by going to a local 'Tra Sua' place to enjoy some tasty treats!

That's all for now!


June 21

We just finished Camp Superheroes this last weekend and the SPU team was awesome.  They did one of the five stations and gave the kids lots of fun and learning.  I'm so glad they could help out at short notice as we had to change our plan the last minute. But everything worked out great. 

The APU team really enjoyed meeting Megan, Erin and Emily as well.  Interesting so far we've had more than 60% of teachers and volunteers from WA!

Thank you for your support!

Hai Huynh - Director, Fisher's SuperKids Center

Vietnam DayCamp

June 20

It has been awhile since we last wrote so we have a lot to update on! Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to head to a park to play games with the Superkid's center. It was a lot of fun, but definitely wore us out a bit. Then we went out to lunch to the staff from the center and the team from APU. They leave on Tuesday and we will be sad to see them go. That evening Ms. Huyen, who is in charge of our stay at the university, took us to the beach. It was super crowded, but we swam in the warmest ocean water any of us has every felt and then ate a bunch of Vietnamese fruit that Ms. Huyen brought us. We are learning a lot about Vietnamese culture through our chats with Ms. Huyen and she learns some surprising things about American culture as well. That night we got a phone call from more Vietnamese friends who took us out to what is, I think, the equivalent of a Bubble Tea cafe. Lady Gaga and Kesha were playing in the background and we felt right at home.
Sunday we arose early once again and went on a breakfast adventure. We ordered randomly off the menu and were brought beef, a loaf of bread, and an egg sunnyside up. It was the closest thing to an American breakfast we found. We struggled to use our chopsticks before we realized everyone else was using knives and forks, which seemed really weird after a week of chopsticks. We then traveled out of the city for the first time since we got here to Ba Na Hills. It is up in the mountains which means that it was cooler than what we have seen so far! We were once again accompanied by Ms. Huyen, who's time we greatly enjoyed. We wandered around old Buddhists statues and temples. There were also several large and very impressive hotels. It was very fun, but we were very tired. We took it easy that evening and only went out for dinner.
This morning we woke up at 4am to go to the beach to watch the sunrise. Again, there were a ton of people there, but it was beautiful. We came back to catch a little more sleep before heading to culture class at 8. Hopefully it will be another good day!

June 1

We finally made Vietnamese friends!!! On Thursday we worked with a class of Vietnamese students. We divided into groups and just talked about everything from general personal information to American pop culture. It took them a little while to feel comfortable talking to us but we were soon giggling, talking about Harry Potter and Avatar, and singing Taylor Swift songs. We learned a lot of things about the life of a college student in Vietnam and they learned some surprising things about us, for example, that Americans often keep cats and dogs as pets and allow them to live in their homes. We exchanged phone numbers and emails and are very excited to work in their class again next week!
After class we walked down Quang Trung (savvy Vietnamese, I know) St. and picked a nice restaurant to eat dinner at that had the world cup Argentina game projected on a screen near our table. We randomly picked things off the menu and were very successful! We found the Vietnamese equivalent of French Fries (score!) and heard "Mot Hai Ba Yo" (a Vietnamese drinking cheer) for the first time and were very excited. That night when we were getting ready for bed we got a call from some of our new Vietnamese friends that wanted to hang out! So we did the spontaneous college thing and went out with them. We walked by the river and they treated us to coconut juice out of an actual coconut. It was a lot of fun!
We woke up early this morning to go to Fisher’s Superkids English Center. We worked hard all day playing teambuilding games with Vietnamese children and then watched "How to Train Your Dragon" in a theater that Hai, the head of the Center rented out. Needless to say, the best way to watch any movie is in a theater full of one hundred chatty Vietnamese students! It was great! Hai's wife Teresa gave us a ride home and told us that there is a Pizza place down the street from where we are staying. We know that we are supposed to be exploring with Vietnamese foods, but it had been a long day and we really wanted pizza so we ventured over. And what do ya know! Teresa was there with her children. She was very excited to see us and invited us to eat with her. She told us amazing stories about her time in Vietnam and how she and Hai started the English Center. We are very very excited to spend time with their family in the coming weeks!

June 1

We are halfway through day 3 and starting to adjust well to Vietnam. The heat hasn't killed us yet and we've had some interesting food adventures (nothing too crazy, we are working our way up!) We met Hai yesterday and the team leaders from APU and they are fantastic! We are soooooo excited to work with them this weekend! We took our first class yesterday and then had another today. They are good because it helps us understand why certain people have acted in certain ways. We work with our first Vietnamese class in about an hour and are excited to meet some students.

So far our contact with them has been smiling as we walk by as we didn't think it was very culturally sensitive to just walk up and introduce ourselves. We are slowly learning different Vietnamese social customs, the kind of things that you don't learn about in a culture class. Since we don't have much contact with students yet, we have been exlporing Da Nang on our own which has been a lot of fun! Random people say hi to us and we answer with "Xin Chao" and they get really excited. Little kids stop and point at us, it's great. We would just like to reiterate how awesome Hai is and how much we are looking forward to working at the kids center. Calling Taxis still scares us.

June 16 - Video Update!

The team posted their first video update from Danang last night. VN Video Update 1

June 15

After an overnight hotel stay in Ho Chi Minh City, the group arrived at  Duy Tan University in Danang today.  They’re updating their blog at; I’ll repeat some of their posting here:

After many many hours of traveling and a few too many airplane meals, we have finally arrived in DaNang! We spent last night in Ho Chi Minh City and got our first taste of authentic Vietnamese food.... for breakfast. After kindly denying the chicken liver and frog, we boarded a plane for DaNang and arrived later this morning. To say the heat here is like the surface of the sun would be an understatement. We were taken under the charge of Ms. Huyen and Mr. Phuoc, who picked us up from the airport, took us to our rooms at DTU.

We realized that dodging motorbikes is quite common as we walked with our hosts to lunch. We ate a wide a variety of Vietnamese food with fans blowing and without lights due to a power outage. After dining on corn and crab soup, beef and onions, chicken soup with something... and something else a bit unidentifiable, we are back in our gloriously air-conditioned rooms until later this afternoon when we will meet with our hosts again.

It’s currently Tuesday night in Danang; in the morning the group will begin their first Vietnamese culture class: Introduction and Pronunciation.  On Thursday they’ll learn about food and greetings, and will spend time with students in DTU’s Travel and Tourism program.

June 13

The team departed SeaTac Airport on Sunday, June 13. More updates soon!

Vietnam Departure

Back to SPRINT

Let Justice Roll OnLet Justice Roll On: The Life and Legacy of John M. Perkins

Watch the documentary's trailer and order your copy today.

read up and sign up! Sign up now! Read about reconciliation issues and news through the online journal of the John Perkins Center at SPU.

Upcoming Events

Find out what's happening at the John Perkins Center and see how you can join us.

Find us on FacebookFind us on Flickr