Excerpts from a voice message in Vietnam
*Excerpts from a voice message I sent to a few of my friends*
Starts: Monday December 11th – 22:03
Hi. I just want to share this or something. I need to channel this. Well, I just had – I meet people here that are so inspiring and at the same time there are so many problems here and we are so f* fortunate in The Netherlands. And I know that we know that, but I do know as well that there are so many people at home who have no clue about some situations here. I just had such a good and intense conversation with one of the girls of the project and *gets slightly emotional* I don’t know – they’re talking about children being beaten in school, but also a girl from China, she’s also been beaten all throughout her school experience by her teachers. *stumbles*
In some areas there are certain traditions where guys or men can literally grab girls – as young as 13 years old – and then she HAS to marry him. And I don’t know – but like all these things happen here sort of in front of me.
What I notice as well in the project I’m working on is that so many teens are just afraid of asking questions. Because asking a question here in school is seen as ‘stupid’. Because it means that you don’t know a certain thing. And there was a girl that had some sort of injury on her wrist – I don’t know what exactly – but it meant that she couldn’t write for a while. Which made her fail her exam because they wouldn’t offer her a different way to take her exam or delay it for her. And then her family told her that she’s a burden to the family. Because – *raises voice* – she didn’t pass a fucking exam.
And these things just happen here so often and it’s really touching. And also because people at home don’t realise this enough or close their eyes and – I don’t know. *sighs*.
And in a way it’s really special because, because of the fact that there so many problems there are people here with this immense inner power and so much passion to change something. The passion of these people is incredibly beautiful. I don’t think I have ever met any Dutch person my age with such a passion for improving something in this world. Uhhmm – but yeah it’s like it’s being pushed right into my face.
And oh my god, WE ARE FUCKING FORTUNATE. WE NEED TO KNOW THAT AND REALISE THAT. And I knew it before coming that things would be different here but then I see things here that happen right in front of me and I’m like *swears*. It’s so unfair. And the world is unfair, I know. And I do find a lot of beautiful things here as well.
But there are some things that are incredibly different and painful. And most of those teens here are afraid of speaking up, they won’t share their opinion. The confidence of these teens is so low. It’s not okay. It’s so freaking low. But yeah I get it now, because parents, teachers barely, if never, give any compliments. They’ll only say when you fail. And that of course, is very destructive for someone’s self image.
Anyway I just wanted to share this. Because I’ll go to a party in a bit, but I just needed to get this off my chest and I thought that maybe you’d find it interesting to hear this as well. Oh well. Love you! Bye!!
Ends: Monday December 11th 22:07.
So yeah, I thought sharing this voice message might be a good way to show what I’m experiencing in Vietnam as well. I am not here among backpackers. I won’t be here for a few days and then move of to some place else. I am among only Asian people and by that I’m really experiencing their culture. Sometimes it’s tough, because there are some things that are very different. Western people share their opinions way more, where here some people (not all) just keep silent most of the time. It’s hard for me to work with that, I mean I cannot guess what you’re thinking right? First I got annoyed by that. I felt like I was constantly making sure that things actually got done or I was the only one telling my opinion even though I knew others agreed but they just wouldn’t say anything. Now I realize more that it’s a cultural thing. And that by staying my ‘western’ self, I wasn’t being rude but I might give them other ways to tackle certain situations as well. It flows both ways I guess.
I also realize a lot about myself, I won’t share all of these things because that’s kind of personal, but one of them is about what kind of people I actually like. And I’ve really realized that I like active people instead of passive ones. People who get up and just do it, instead of waiting for others to do so. I like that kind of energy and actually really dislike passiveness (and I’m not very good at dealing with that haha). And when I think about it, the people that I really call my friends at home are all active people.
The teens attending the project are just awesome. They’re all so committed and interested in all that we do and we have to say. (Very different from a lot of European teens, I guess they don’t realise how fortunate we are.) There are a lot of special things happening in the project, I won’t share all of them because it’s mostly kind of private for them. But one girl told me she pushed herself to present something in front of everybody (and she’s actually really scared of that) because of something I had said to her earlier. And that now she did it, she was really, really proud of herself. And that just warms my heart and also was kind of special to me. The fact that I apparently could have that impact on someone I just met!
I’ve been traveling as well, I went to this little village called Mai Chau, which is the most primitive village I’ve ever seen. Cows, buffalos and chickens just walk around freely and women and men are either weaving or working on the rice fields all day. I won’t get too much into that because my letter is already way too long. I’m very excited for the upcoming two weeks, I think they’re going to be the best ones yet!