Reflecting on personal growth

August 22, 2018 | Ashley, International Development and Globalization, Mines Action Canada, Vietnam, Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Program Support Officer

Having been back in Canada for a while now, I often find myself reflecting on my three months in Vietnam. My greatest fear upon returning home was that as time went on, the time I spent at AEPD this summer would gradually begin to feel less real, and more like a dream. I am already starting to feel that that happening, so I am trying to find concrete memories to hold onto.

Above all, I am grateful for the friendships and connections I made during my time in Vietnam, friendships that will continue long past the end of my internship. In general, the moments that stand out to me when I reflect on the internship are not big trips I went on, or important landmarks I visited; it is the mundane, everyday activities and interactions that I cherish the most. I think of meals shared with people I care about, or quiet walks through Dong Hoi. Jokes and snacks shared in the office, learning to ride a bike on roads that seem more like a free-for-all. I also think of my time at work, the valuable skills I’ve learned brainstorming and writing project proposals with my coworkers and meeting the people we were working to help – sharing smiles and making connections with people despite the language barrier. I also think of all the aspects of Vietnamese culture and the foods (and coffee!) I came to love and take part in, as well as those I have adopted even now.

While many of these experiences are ones that I did not need to travel across the world to discover, they are all made so much more special by the the country they took place in. While being a tourist in a foreign country is an incredible experience, it is a totally different experience from having the opportunity to build a life in one.

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