As a kid, I hated going to Vietnamese school and learning Vietnamese. I thought it was dumb since I lived in America. As I grew up, I never thought much about my education in the Vietnamese language, in fact, I often took it for granted. That is, until Jacqueline and I met and spoke with Trang standing alone in the schoolyard. We talked about how we both wanted to be doctors, I taught her some English, and she even admitted to Jacqueline that I was the cutest boy at the work camp;) After a day of talking, playing, and learning, we left and didn’t really think we would see her again since she did not go to the school and was not participating in the completion ceremony. However, you never really know the true impact you can make on a person, even though they don’t show it. In the moment that I read the letter and saw her there at the ceremony crying, I understood the true significance of why my parents always pushed me to learn the Vietnamese language: it was a means to connect with my roots. As long as the Vietnamese language exists in me, there exists a channel with which I could use to connect with the Vietnamese people.
Trang, I wish you the best of luck in school! I hope you become the best doctor in Vietnam, and seeing how quick you picked up lego robotics, I know that is a real possibility. I’m still a bit salty I didn’t get that 10/10 from you but it’s all good:)
When I first met Trang, I thought she was a kid I would have some small talk with and probably never see again. She wasn’t in any of my classes, so I didn’t expect to develop any kind of bond with her. From our first conversation at the end of workshops, I learned her name and that she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. From there we said goodbye and left.
Trang came back to the school the next day and I recognized her face immediately. I continued conversing with her to keep her company, and even when I got up to go help pick up trash off the school yard, Trang followed me to help. I learned that being able to speak the same language as her most definitely helped me get closer to her, and I feel like it even allowed her to trust me. We ate ice cream together, told stories, and cleaned the school.
The letter Trang wrote to Dalton and I showing her love and appreciation was an emotional gift for both of us since it made us realize that being apart of this mission trip is making a bigger impact on these kids than we think. The best way to help them and make them happy is to devote our time and effort to interact with them.
We made Trang promise that she was going to work hard in school and become the greatest doctor there is so that she could turn around and help those around her. We love you, Trang! And thank you for proving to us that our work in Sunflower Mission is truly doing something to change the world!