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Day In The Life

Day In The Life

6:25am: Phone alarm goes off. Hit Snooze.

6:30am: Hit Snooze again.

6:45am: Finish getting ready and take out the bike. A little ashamed that the 4’11”, 95lb trash-lady has to help me again. How does she make it look so easy? Drive off while reminding myself to get her a present before I leave.

6:50am: Arrive at the offices for DAVA (Da Nang Association for Victims of Agent Orange). Grab a banh mi before Mr. Taxi gets here. The sandwich lady already has one wrapped and ready to go for me. It feels good to be a regular somewhere.

8:03am: Arrive at Facility 3. A straight ride from the city to this site would normally take about 30 minutes, but we go in large circles to pick up all the students. The van is only built for 12 people at most, but we regularly stuff about 30 on our morning route.

8:30am: Do some role-play of daily life skills, simple manners, how to use the bathroom, etc. It’s helpful for the kids with developmental disabilities, but most sit around bored. The range of disabilities for this group is too large to accommodate personal needs.

10:12am: The Flower Twins pull me aside to fold paper stars with them. The girls are deaf-mutes and are teaching me Vietnamese sign language. Our communication is rather disjointed, but the mini-games of charades are always fun.

11:00am: Lunch time. The kids with cerebral palsy or limited motor control have to be spoon-fed, but most serve, eat, and clean up by themselves. I’m amazed at how quickly the boys inhale their food to sneak in time for a soccer game before the afternoon nap.

12:07pm: The teachers sit down for a quick lunch. I ask some of my co-workers about how they got into social work. They all say it was the only exam they passed.

12:30pm: Pull out a straw mat and try to nap with everyone else. It’s too hot to do anything at this time of day, sleep included, and the fans seem to only move the warm air around.

2:25pm: The students are waking up. I’ve organized some games, but the group is too large to do anything all together. I decide it’s better to break off into smaller circles. Coloring, soccer, duck-duck-goose, etc. It seems to work well, but I wish I had more time to give every child at least some attention.

3:47pm: Mr. Taxi returns with the van. We pile even more kids into the van and start the trek back home.

5:50pm: Arrive at home. Call my housemates to grab some dinner. We decide on Bread of Life, since we’re all missing some traditional American fare.

6:37pm: Ordered a double cheeseburger again. I should branch out, but I like to stick with what I know is good. The restaurant itself is a glowing model for social enterprise. Here, all the staff, from the cooks to the busboys to the servers are deaf, and profits go back to support the deaf community in Vietnam. I rationalize that getting another burger is all for a good cause.

7:23pm: Dessert goes to a good cause too, right?

8:00pm: Take a walk along the Han River pier. We meet a group of breakdancers and poppers who come every night to practice. I never realized that the hip-hop scene was so big in Vietnam until now. Try (and miserably fail) to learn a few moves, but get a lot of laughs along the way.

9:35pm: Unwind with a mini-marathon of Modern Family. I’m happy to say I got a few converts on this trip.

11:03pm: Housemates are getting sleepy, so we wrap things up. Still not tired so I decide to Skype a few friends from home.

12:00am: Finally crawl into bed. Keep forgetting that I have to wake up at 6 again.

–Holy Vo


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