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HUMAN CONNECTIONS ARE TOP OUTCOMES FOR VOLUNTEER IN VIETNAM

Post 2022-05-18 14:15:09

HUMAN CONNECTIONS ARE TOP OUTCOMES FOR VOLUNTEER IN VIETNAM

Three-time volunteer Melinda Staveley says she chooses Global Volunteers service for her travel abroad for the deeper human connection and cultural learning. In Vietnam, Melinda taught conversational English to visually impaired young massage therapists. The non-profit spa where they train and work serves mainly international clients where English language skills are essential. Read on for Melinda’s “deeper dive” as a volunteer in Vietnam.

What inspired you to serve? Why did you decide to volunteer in Vietnam?

I retired from hospital administration five years ago, and I decided that I wanted to travel and see parts of the world I have not been to before. So I researched online for a program that I thought would be meet my own needs as well as give me the opportunity to get to know people in a more meaningful way by doing something with them in their country. So my first trip was to Cuba, then to Ipalamwa, Tanzania twice, and now in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Vietnam has been of an interest to me for many years of my life. I have several friends in California who are Vietnamese. Serving in Vietnam became a possibility for me this year and I’m delighted to be here. It’s a great opportunity.


Melinda helps a student with a game in interactive conversational English classes as a volunteer in Vietnam.

How did you choose your multiple Global Volunteers programs?

After my first experience with Global Volunteers in Cuba, which was excellent, I realized that the most meaningful travel for me is an intense experience, a deeper dive. I wanted the opportunity to interact with people on a meaningful level, and Global Volunteers offers that. I started traveling when I was 15 with a program called American Field Service Exchange Program, and I lived in Norway for a year. So traveling for me ever since that experience is not just going in and out and see all the tourist sights. It’s meeting people and interacting with people in a give-and-take way.

What’s an average day for a volunteer in Hanoi?

We have breakfast at 7:00 or 7:30, and those who teach at Omamori Spa arrive by 8:30 in the morning. We have teaching sessions with the students throughout the morning, with a couple of stretch breaks until noon. Then we have lunch, which is delicious. The food is absolutely delicious, by the way. After lunch, we are back at the spa for more teaching sessions until 3:30 p.m. We work with students in a group or one on one. At 3:30 p.m. we take a taxi back to the hotel and we have free time for the rest of the afternoon to rest or explore the city or do as we like. Then in evening, at dinner we meet with our Team Leader and teammates to discuss the day.


Melinda trades places with a banana vendor in Hanoi.


Can you tell us a bit more about teaching conversational English to the students at Omamori Spa?

I have noticed a wide difference in the amount of English that one person knows from another. The levels vary greatly. Many of these folks speak really developed English, and there are others who do not speak much English at all. Part of that is because they are shy and not able to practice a lot and part of it is because they didn’t have a lot of opportunity to learn English. So we have figured out how to work with people of different levels. Helping them help each other has worked really well. Something that we are trying out and enjoying is songs and opportunities that build in a lot of humor. It’s relaxing for everybody and then people are more willing to practice their English skills. The other thing we have talked a lot about is pronouncing very clearly and it feels exaggerated a bit, but it works much better because people can hear the sounds more clearly.

When people are visually impaired, one needs to use voice and intonation more clearly than when you are able to use facial expressions or hand gestures. So this has been a learning experience for me.


You are reading: HUMAN CONNECTIONS ARE TOP OUTCOMES FOR VOLUNTEER IN VIETNAM

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