Not only can VLS help the students to efficiently learn Vietnamese but we also to create conditions for them to “live in Vietnamese”, on the morning of April 22nd, 2017, Vietnamese Language Studies held a wonderful half-day field trip “Be A Saigonese – Xe Buýt” for 34 students to practice Vietnamese while experiencing the lifestyle of a typical Saigonese.
We started our field trip at 7:00 am at VLS. Despite the early departure time, everyone arrived on time. After being divided into small groups, we moved to Cà phê Bệt. The most interesting thing about this half-day field trip is that all traveling is done completely on foot and by bus, which is an exciting idea for a Saturday morning. While walking on the pavement, we enjoyed the fresh air and started conversations with one another.
Having arrived at Cà phê Bệt, each of us received a newspaper and an itinerary called “be Saigonese”. The so-call name Cà phê Bệt was given to this special place because it has no tables, no chairs. When customers come, the vendors will give them a newspaper to sit on and then order drinks. Most of our students chose Cà phê sữa đá, the most popular drink of Saigon. While enjoying their drinks, each student took turn to introduce themselves in Vietnamese. Suddenly, the trip became aroused.
Leaving Cà phê Bệt, we moved to the bus stop to catch a double-decker. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long. The bus was not crowded, so we took over the upper deck. Experiencing a double-decker for the first time has left many students feeling excited. The air became hotter when our MC began organizing quick games for them to practice Vietnamese while enjoying themselves.
30 minutes passed in the blink of an eye, we arrived at Thien Hau temple of the goddess. The temple impressed us with its ancient and eye-catching architecture. The smell of joss sticks lingering in the air ease our mind – we found our own inner peace. The sweltering heat of Saigon did not harness our desire to learn Vietnamese. The Vietnamese learners had the opportunities to write on red paper and experience the blessing ceremony.
While traveling through the Chinese drugstores on Trieu Quang Phuc Street, we were able to learn many new things about the Chinese community in this city. We then continued the journey by catching bus no. 1 to a place serving Bánh xèo (a Vietnamese traditional food) called Ngọc Sơn on Ngô Quyền Street. At this time, the students were quite worn out, so nothing more than such a delectable treat would be heavenly satisfying to them.
The students were guided to enjoy this dish with vegetables in the traditional way. They also had the chance to taste Bánh khọt, Gỏi cuốn and drink iced-tea, while warding away the summer heat. When the trip came to the end, we could clearly see the delighted-yet-desiring-for-more face of the students. They shared their learning Vietnamese experiences in their time-being in Vietnam and VLS in particular. VLS will bear in mind the two words ‘rất vui’ that Mr. Kelvin said about this wonderful trip.
Through this adventure, we all gained many things for ourselves, while living and exploring a Saigon of its very own cultures and beauty. The participation of the students who learning Vietnamese in VLS will also act as a motivation for VLS to keep going, on the journey to help foreigners “Learn Vietnamese and Live in Vietnamese”.