Tu Do Commune, Vietnam
Information: The group will fly from Houston to Hanoi, Vietnam, clear customs and immigration, meet your Rustic Pathways leaders and transfer to a comfortable hotel, located a short drive from the airport. Once settled in, we will participate in an orientation to learn more about the community we will serve and enjoy dinner together in Hanoi’s old quarter.
In the morning, you will board two vans and head out into the countryside, deep into the majestic mountains of Northern Vietnam. Upon arrival to the village, we’ll have lunch at the home of a local family and then trek the remaining distance to your host family’s community for the next few nights.
Welcome to the Tu Do Commune. Village life in Vietnam is much different than life in Houston. Each morning, you will wake up to the smells of freshly cooked breakfast and become more and more comfortable with life in the far reaches of Asia. Rustic Pathways has set up close relationships with 6 villages and two schools within Tu Do Commune over the past 8 years. During your time in Vietnam, you will find yourselves contributing to an infrastructure improvement project to help local communities better their daily lives. This could include building a new water tank for a local kindergarten, working to fix aging water pipelines that bring clean water to local households, or assisting with construction efforts at the Tu Do Commune primary and middle school. Most of the time, community members join in with us for the projects, since they’re community-initiated and overseen by community leaders. These projects have been designed by a community-based association to support the protection of the area’s natural and cultural resources, create alternative income opportunities and to improve infrastructure of the surrounding villages.
After a hardworking day at your service site, return to your homestay for a delicious local food cooked by our very own host mother. You will join a cooking class with our host family to learn how to make Vietnamese local delicacies and also help them preparing dinners, learn how to weave traditional Muong scarfs with your host mother and enjoy beautiful scenes of lush rice fields as you learn how to cultivate and plant rice. On the final night in the village, end your time with a community celebration showcasing traditional Muong culture through song and dance.
Please be aware of the openness and flexibility to the schedule; things in Vietnam run at a different pace and with a different idea of organization and efficiency than we are used to in the US. Some of the best experiences are in simply spending time with the people you serve.
Boarding and Lodging: Throughout the program, students from Strake Jesuit will stay in a hotel in Hanoi, a local vetted homestay in Tu D Commune, and on a Traditional Boat in Ha Long Bay. All meals will be provided by a ‘local chef’ in the community and/or with families during your homestay. Drinking water will be provided for the entirety of the program.
Excursion Information: After six days of incredible, life-changing service, students from Strake Jesuit will head off for one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders, Ha Long Bay. With jagged limestone karts and crystal-clear waters, Ha Long Bay is a cherished jewel of Southeast Asia. Students from Strake Jesuit will spend time kayaking amongst the islands, swimming at Ti Top Beach, learning about local wildlife, and spend the night on the boat rocked to sleep by the gentle waves of the Bay.
Depending on flight times, the first or last day of the trip will be spent visiting local sites in the city of Hanoi. Students will learn about the country’s 54 ethnic groups at the Museum of Ethnology, visit the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and take a stroll around the famous Hoan Kiem Lake.
Trip Costs: $2,495 + airfare. The cost includes all travel expenses, all food and lodging, and program fees. Students are not required to bring additional spending money, but it is suggested for personal items/souvenirs that may be purchased in country. Please note, visa and passport fees are not included in the listed price.
Dates: July 16 - 28, +/- a day or so