Student experiences Vietnam

Pauline Yang, reporter

Manabu Sakurai (12) got an opportunity to travel to Vietnam with the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council 2011 Summer Study Tour. Originally they planned to go to Japan in March 2011, but because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the destination was changed. Sakurai wasn’t expecting this, but she was open minded and was eagerly ready for what Vietnam had to offer her.

Before heading to Vietnam, students read an 82-page Student Reader, that informed them about Vietnam’s culture and history.

“It had interesting tips like what a smile means to them” said Sakurai.

Students also had to attend an orientation from June 7-11 at Kualoa Ranch that helped them interact and build stronger relations with other members of PAAC’s 2011 study group. They were required to pick a topic on Vietnam and share their findings during orientation week. Sakurai’s topic was the Chinese influence on Vietnam.

“I chose this topic because I was interested in history. I wanted to see the Chinese influence on Vietnam.” She talked about art, architecture, food, crafts and religion. She learned that when the Chinese occupied Vietnam, they left their cultural influences.

For example, a lot of the buildings are pagodas. Religion and art ties within each other and Sakurai discovered a lot on how Vietnam’s sculptures were related to Buddhism. Lastly, Sakurai learned about the food Vietnamese eat.

“Vietnamese food is really healthy. They have more vegetables in their dishes.” Once the time came, June 15, Sakurai started off her journey in Vietnam. It was a new experience for Sakurai.

“I’m really glad they changed into going to Vietnam. I’ve never been there before. I’ve been to Japan before though. Everything was very new to me” said Sakurai.

Sakurai ventured through different places in Vietnam. Those places were Hanoi and Sapa, Halon Bay, Hoi An, Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City. She realized that people in Vietnam still live their lives happily without electronics or internet and life has so much to offer.

Sakurai had a lot of fun and did many activities including dress making and painting a mural at an elementary school. They helped the students learn English in Hoi An, fished at Halong Bay, and biked around Ho Chi Minh City. Her stay at Vietnam impacted Sakurai’s perspectives on different cultures and life.

Going to Vietnam “made me have a bigger view about the world. It made me want to travel more later in life to see what other countries are like. There’s more to life than just Hawaii. There are many opportunities, so take the chance.”

Sakurai is also in McKinley’s PAAC club.

“Manabu was the one who wanted to have a PAAC Club at McKinley High. She isn’t a student of mine, but she was the one that came to me and asked about starting a PAAC Club. The credit goes to Manabu” said history teacher Janice Kobashigawa, adviser of PAAC Club.

PAAC Club in McKinley was founded last year 2010. PAAC Club gives students the chance to go to conferences to learn and interact with different special guest speakers who talk about global issues. Conferences were held at the University of Manoa and Hawaii Convention Center. The most recent conference that the PAAC club members went to was the Fall Conference about Indonesia.

All in all, Sakurai says her experiences in Vietnam can help students broaden their horizon about the world.

Just taking that first step and letting oneself enter into one of the many doors life puts out, can change how one views what there is to life.