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This has been the trip of my first-time experiences. A trip left a lot of unforgettable memories in my life. A trip has changed me a lot from a girl just graduating from university and everything outside the lecture hall seemed very strange and new.

(Nhóm mình tự làm những chiếc mặt nạ này và cùng nhau biểu diễn trong các làng ở Mysore)

(Our group made these masks by ourselves and performed together in the villages of Mysore)

For the first time, I was able to go abroad and my destination was India – according to the media and many Vietnamese at that time (I went in 2011), India still existed many prejudices about lifestyle, economy and social evils, especially “Sexual Harassment” was being severely criticized by society in India. However, with my 6-week experience in Bangalore city and the countryside in Mysore in southern India, I found the locals very friendly and hospitable. Moreover, the locality was surprisingly rich in traditional culture.

For the first time, I experienced living and working 24/24 with foreign volunteers from all over the world like European volunteers, Asian volunteers, Latin Americans, etc. Everyone was very strange on the first day but became attached and close until the last day when we said goodbye to each other at the airport. Of course, I wouldn’t sugarcoat everything because each different culture would create different characteristics, thus we inevitably encountered misunderstandings in the process of working together. However, what I learned here was how to live, work and reconcile with other people of different cultures and skin colors.

(Thiếu đạo cụ nên mọi người đều phải vừa diễn và vừa tưởng tượng)

(Due to the shortage of props, everyone had to act and imagine at the same time)

For the first time, I was able to act and freely express myself even though my English was not very good. I learned how to express myself in the most natural way in front of the crowd, immersed myself in traditional dance tunes and real characters in the daily life of the people here through performances and their traditional costumes.

(Đây là mẹ của cả đoàn, cùng diễn kịch, phiên dịch và chăm lo cho các TNV trong đoàn. Dễ thương lắm!)

(This was the mother of the whole group who acted, translated, and took care of the volunteers in the group. So cute!)

We and the locals discussed issues related to how to use clean water and how to live in the most hygienic way to help improve the lives of people here.

(P/S: Các bạn trong camp của mình đã đến VN thăm mình vài năm sau đó và chúng mình vẫn luôn giữ liên lạc đến bây giờ)

(P/S: My camp friends came to Vietnam to visit me a few years later and we have still kept in touch so far)

And there were many other first time experiences in my 6 weeks of volunteering in India, each of those first experiences has helped me grow a lot and has contributed to my character as I am today. It’s been 8 years since I completed the project and returned to Vietnam, things may change, but the friendship and memories I made during that trip will always stay.