Visiting Vietnam: Brain stuffed to serenity

Rachel D., Michigan State University, '16

March 7, 2013

I'm a person who loves titles. I love finding that one or two words that describe something as perfectly as possible, in the simplest of forms. And if I had to give this trip (thus far) a title, I would give it one that crosses educational and busy, so ... "Brain Stuffed"? In any case, I'm on sensory overload. So much to see. So much to learn. So many people to meet. (Insert deep breath here.)

But, today we had a change of pace. We went from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, to the quaint village of Mai Chau. We set off at eight hundred and thirty hours, and arrived at approximately thirteen hundred and thirty hours. We dined together, and then, we had nothing scheduled until seven (nineteen hundred hours). Which meant four hours of pure, beautiful down time. 

And if I could title this afternoon, it would be "Serenity."

Serenity -noun: in the state of being serene. [1]

Serene -adjective: calm, peaceful, or tranquil; unruffled. 

I spent the first two hours having my introvert time. 

And for the second two hours, I spent walking through the neighboring villages with George[2] and Tuan[3]. It was wonderful. We were just taking a stroll in Northwest Vietnam. That's it. That's my favorite part of today. In fact, it was probably my favorite part of this trip. 

We saw a father rocking his child to sleep. And workmen fixing their brick maker. And a woman weaving scarves. And farmers hard at work. 

I heard George's view on busyness, and history of Tuan's family, all while experiencing a whole new culture and environment. There was no agenda, no tourist fluff, and no distractions.

I'll leave you with this: "We are human beings, not human doings."

Over and out. 

Side note: The first day, I taught all of the educators what YOLO (You Only Live Once) means, and today at breakfast, Dr. Powers used it in the correct context. Mission accomplished. 

Rachel and her classmates studied in Vietnam March 2 to 10, 2013 as a part of a Michigan State University class on emerging issues and sustainability in international agriculture.


  1. Courtesy of 
  2. George is an educator on this trip. He's from Sri Lanka, and an INTP Myers Briggs personality type.
  3. Tuan is an organizer and translator from Hanoi University of Agriculture. His type is unidentified, however, I'm guessing an ISFP or INFJ. 

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