I am a day away from leaving Saigon and it feels like I’ve only just arrived. Since arriving in Vietnam in August I have been volunteering at Saigon Children’s Charity (SCC). I have participated in a variety of activities while I have been here ranging from vocational training classes, fundraising, research, to the wonderful Christmas Choir. I love singing but have never taught a singing class let alone taken any singing classes. I will admit, it was challenging; especially getting in the Christmas mood before Halloween even passed. Each Saturday, I went to Thang Long School and met with a group of over twenty students who wanted to sing, work on English pronunciation, vocabulary, and build their confidence speaking. Most of the students had no previous singing training, not unlike myself, and were very nervous to sing aloud in front of me and their peers. To break the ice for all of us I found ways to make the students laugh. I would jokingly imitate Santa Claus, or start dancing around. Most of the laughs came out when their teacher (me) couldn’t hit the high notes and her voice gave out. Choir rehearsal quickly became something the students were no longer anxious about but actually really looking forward too. Since I don’t speak Vietnamese a few of the students stepped up to help me. Those particular students were excellent at English and really became leaders of the choir. They were always ready to sing with smiling faces, and help translate when their peers didn’t understand me. That type of leadership convinced me of the students’ potential.
Over the four months that I have been in Saigon I have had the chance to interact with SCC both in the office administratively and directly with the students at Thang Long School. This allowed me to see the great things being done in Vietnam to help under-privileged youth. I got to meet kind-hearted, motivated, and intelligent students who were immensely excited about their futures. Each student had a dream to be and do something great. I also got to work alongside wonderful volunteers who were passionate about making a difference. Even if that difference was small it was still significant; like the Christmas choir. Singing for two hours may seem just like fun, which it was, but I truly believe that the students learned something really important from it. They learned that they can do anything; even sing beautifully in another language. I immensely enjoyed my experience working with these students and now every time the Christmas season rolls around and I’m far far away, I will always be reminded of all my friends at SCC.