Swirls and Wings

The young hands of a first grader; the brown hands of a sixth grader. All are the same: small, light, and warm, with calloused palms from the dusty work in Vietnam. This completely opposed my own hands: large, heavy, and overbearingly hot, with calloused fingers from the writing that I do. This was what I noticed as I held the hands of growing students in the Da Nang province, painting elegant swirls and cheerful bumblebees on the backs of their hands. Seeing their bright smiles and happy steps as they walked away to show their friends their new decorations certainly made the hard, sweaty days leading up to this point worth it.


Katie paints a window (Photo : Dan Q. Dao)

Katie paints a window (Photo : Dan Q. Dao)

So, back to the beginning. This is my third Sunflower Mission trip and with each journey, I learn more and more new things. I have met new people, gotten more life advice, seen things I never thought had existed. Additionally, I have never worked so hard in my life before. My daily grind at home will never compare to the daily grind at the workcamp: painting walls, hauling buckets, and attacking spiders. However, the pain falls to zero when I see the children’s energetic faces as they play with Legos in the robots classroom and sing songs in the English classroom in their newly painted school. Seeing them challenge themselves and grow reminds me of young birds, ready to take off and fly into the sky.

I won’t lie. I’ve certainly done my fair share of painting and sweated enough to fill a paint bucket. But, it is all worth it to design the wings of these young birds and send them off into a hopeful future.

Cindy Au