Vietnam Team two arrived excited, eager, and ready to start the trip June 11th after a slight flight delay in South Korea the day prior, that had them stay in the city of Incheon, SK for the night at a local hotel. The journey officially began for Team two Wednesday morning with a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam and Team 2 could not be any more ecstatic to finally be headed off on their once in a lifetime experience.
Team two’s members consist of Cadet Jennifer Babula from Marquette University, Cadet Jonathan Nguyen from Kutztown University of PA, Cadet Michael Ramos from California State Fullerton, Cadet Philip Tanenbaum from University of Pittsburgh, Cadet Adam Schafer from Northern Michigan University, Cadet Darren Singh from University of San Francisco, Cadet Zachary Lanctot form Texas A&M, Cadet Paching Yang from Minnesota State University, and Cadet Sebika Mazumdar from University of New Haven-Connecticut. The team leader for Team two is SM Sgt Larry Keller from Oregon and is a full time technician in the Oregon Air National Guard along with Lt. Col. Whitaker, Capt. Pham, and Sgt. 1st Class Doyle serving as mission leaders.
As Team two got settled in their hotel in Vietnam, the cadets were briefed by Defense Language Instructors from San Antonio, TX on the English instruction they will be undertaking in the following week. As it was seen across the room, all cadets were enthusiastic and excited about the classroom opportunity and learning experience from the Vietnamese military.
The location the cadets are assigned to is Unit 871 and rotates between two classes during the week. During the classroom week, the cadets will be paired up and will teach subjects in English grammar, vocabulary, U.S. customs and courtesies, and societal infrastructure along with some basic U.S. military fundamentals such as rank structure, and military academy information. In exchange ROTC cadets will learn about the Vietnamese military, country customs and culture and language.
As the cadets began their pre-classroom week long journey, Team two was quickly immersed into the Vietnamese culture by experiencing the hectic and rigorous traffic of Hanoi, Vietnam. For most cadets, riding the van into traffic with cars and mopeds swerving and coming within inches of them was a different and experience due to the vastly different controlled traffic flow in the U.S. This experience alone is one story all cadets will be able to bring back to the U.S. and be able to remember forever. As for the places the cadets have visited in Hanoi during their pre-classroom education week, Team two sampled the local food and ate a vast amount of Vietnamese cuisine for their meals.
The meals Team two ate were called banh cuon, buon bo nam bo, pho, nuoc my, chom chom, manh cot and Vietnamese barbeque and looks forward to eating more local dishes.
Team 2 also was able to experience some local sightseeing attractions such as the Ngoc Son Temple, the Vietnamese Military Museum and the night street vendor shopping scene all the while learning basic Vietnamese vocabulary as part of an exercise.
While the pronunciation was difficult for much of the team, the concept was much understood and they got a good laugh at themselves in the learning process. For example, cadets were able to shop for souvenirs along with refining their bargaining skills with the local vendors in the French Quarter of Hanoi Vietnam.
Many items that were bought ranged from a hand made origami card to a kimora dress and many expressed excitement in purchasing items “for cheap” compared to the United States. “I love that the stuff here is cheap and my money goes that much further.” Cadet Michael Ramos expressed excitedly. In the upcoming days, Vietnam Team two will begin their classroom instruction with the Vietnamese military, while immersing themselves further into the Vietnamese culture and learning more about what Vietnam has to offer as visitors.