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volunteer in Hanoi Vietnam

We are students from the University of Sydney and will soon be commencing our fourth (and final) year of speech pathology. For the past month, we have been lucky enough to have worked at Xa Dan Primary school, particularly focusing our efforts with those children with hearing impairments. In Australia, speech pathology is the study of speech, voice, fluency, language and communication. As therapy is usually conducted in English and the children at the school primarily spoke Vietnamese, there were some challenges along the way. We worked hard however and, with the help and cooperation of the teachers and students, we were able to successfully implement therapy which was beneficial to the students' speech and communication skills.

When we first started, we were informed by the teachers that many students of the school chose not to speak due to lack of confidence in their speech. For this reason, we agreed that our main focus of therapy in Hanoi would be: to encourage children's' communicative participation in everyday life. We conducted this therapy mainly in small-group therapy activities. We hoped that by providing structured communicative opportunities for the struggling students and heavy modeling of good communicative skills, we would have in turn increased their self confidence and awareness of such skills. Thus, following therapy, the children would hopefully want to participate more in conversations in everyday life. We also attempted, to the best of our ability, to provide a multi-disciplinary approach, by involving refinement of fine-motor skills (i.e. handwriting and pen holding skills) during structured language activities.

Each week, we focused on 2+ topics within therapy; including the alphabet, shapes, colours, animals, etc. An example of a 'alphabet' session is as follows: we went through the English Alphabet from A-Z, first phonetically and then with mono and bi-syllabic words, (e.g. /a/ - /ant/ - /apple/). Those hearing impaired children had great difficulty with voiceless consonants, such as /h/, /k/ and /s/. We found that kinesthetic cues such as breathing on the back of their hands for /h/, or providing cues for voiced vs. voiceless fricatives (e.g. /s/ vs. /z/ : placing hand on throat to feel the vibration/lack there of the vocal folds) proved very helpful for these children. Following this, we completed some worksheets on each sound and discussed these sounds. We completed the session by singing the Alphabet song. During our time here, we have also completed a hand-out on hearing impairments, which outlined ways in which parents can help their child hear, speak and participate in social activities. For more information on this, please contact the Projects Abroad Office.

We have greatly enjoyed our time in Hanoi and we are very grateful to the staff, parents and children on Xa Dan Primary. We strongly encourage other speech pathology students to volunteer in Hanoi if given the chance, as this is currently an area of health care which is practically unknown in Vietnam, despite the desperate need for it. Just outside of Hanoi is a little village known for the inhabitants’ ability to capture snakes and make delicious meals out of them. It costs about 120,000VND to get there in a taxi from the volunteer houses and there are many restaurants in the village that serve snake.

We went to the Quoc Trieu restaurant, which is one of the biggest and well known. For a set price of about £5 per person they will bring you a cobra (literally bring a cobra to your table), play with it and then kill it. They first drain its blood directly into little glasses and then pour another glass per person of snake elixir and then they cut out the heart and place it, still beating onto a plate. So the right way to consume this is to drink the blood then the elixir and then the heart. We had the heart cut up into pieces so everyone could have a piece. It is really not as bad as you may think, the blood tastes like wine, the elixir like tequila and the heart like chicken.
After this they take what is left of your snake and make several dishes out of it for your culinary pleasure. Overall it is definitely an experience you should try however it is not recommended for animal rights activists and the faint hearted.

In our Next Stop! Series we explore areas that are accessible from Halong Bay that can be combined with a Halong Bay tour. With Paradise Vietnam opening the Paradise Suites Hotel, which extends the services of a Halong luxury cruises on land, moving to and on from Halong Bay is easier than ever before. We’ve looked at the beautiful natural scenery available in Ninh Binh, Cat Ba, Sapa and Mai Chau, so we think it’s now time to feature an interesting urban environment. At just 2-3 hours by car, transfer to Haiphong (Hai Phong in Vietnamese) from Halong Bay is quick and easy. The Haiphong harbor facilitates easy access to Cat Ba Island and the Haiphong airport is getting an increased number of flights, making it easier to transfer to other destinations in Vietnam from here.

Haiphong is an interesting urban environment that worths being your next stop.
But let’s look at the city itself. Overshadowed by the commercially successful Haiphong port, the Haiphong old town often goes unnoticed, which is a mixed blessing for this fabulous collection of grand French buildings. Haiphong benefits very little from tourism, but fortunately the city authorities haven’t allowed that to impact negatively on the stunning architecture. If there were only one reason to visit Haiphong, it’s to take in the breathtaking buildings.

Haiphong Opera House – a signature building for the city’s French colonical architecture.
The two grandest are the striking opera house and the gorgeous train station. The opera house (nha hat in Vietnamese) is over 100 years old and is typical of the French colonial neo-classical design. Just like it’s more famous counterpart in Hanoi, it was modeled on the Palais Garnier in Paris though this may not be as obvious. The Haiphong train station was built at around the same time as the opera house and still has most of its original features- notice the original stone floor panels next to the tracks.

Haiphong Train Station with most of its original design features.
Another reason to visit Haiphong is the food. Although the seafood quality can’t quite match that of Halong Bay, the city specialty of banh da cua can now be found across Vietnam. This is a shellfish broth poured over brown flat noodles and topped with a number of delicious additions including tofu, whole pieces of crab, fish cakes (and snails, if you like!).

For activities, there are a number of interesting museums found on Dien Bien Phu Street, including the Navy Museum and the Hai Phong Museum, the latter housed in a striking colonial building. There are also several temples dotted around the city, which are worth venturing into if you get the time. Hai Phong may not have the urban charm of Hanoi or the visual magnificence of Halong Bay but it is still worth a pleasant afternoon stroll at the very least. Best of all, you’re likely to be the only tourist in the area!

Source: Đặt khách sạn