From London to Hanoi, a 5971 mile travel of young hearts by Phung Minh “Jade” Ngoc

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June 12, 2017, early in the morning, we headed to Noi Bai International Airport from Hanoi University on a bus to pick up our friends from 5971-mile-away London.

Before we met, I had always been wondering about all of you, the people from other countries that I was about to meet for the first time. We are from different culture, with different education and religion, I did not know whether you cared about what I cared, whether we shared something in common, whether you wanted to hear about stories I had prepared. Million questions kept spinning in my head, leaving me with a delighted yet a little bit nervous feeling.

And here you were, 26 shining faces, no tiredness at all though you had travelled for a long journey. We greeted, shook hands; I talked to some of you, being ready to explore the city (you did not stop and rest for a moment; some people immediately travelled to the Old Town; some people even tried my motorbike). Your energy, enthusiasm and excitement impressed me a lot! You amazing people!

As you are the travelers coming to Vietnam in the attempts to learn about the long history, the rich and diversified culture, and the combination between traditional and modern in the lifestyle of people in Vietnam, and I can say that you have seen and perceived a lot, I learned from you as well in every aspect. Some of you are originally from London, some of you are from Spain, some others are from Italy, Russia and many other places in the world, which made our meeting a cross-cultural communication in multidimensional perspective. We shared something about the Buddhism and the Christian, about the differences of educational system in London and Hanoi; some of you are vegan and vegetarian, so I had a great chance to talk about the distinction between them (the concepts are ambiguous here) and about healthy diet, and I have to admit that my brain exploded in new ideas!

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I have had hundred times coming to famous places in Hanoi such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature or anywhere else we had been in our field trip; however, being there with people from other regions on earth makes everything seem totally different to me. I was not the one who came to visit, to listen to all the stories and legends and myths anymore. This time it was me, a representer of Vietnamese citizens, who was supposed to be the stories teller, and maybe it was not obvious, that thing actually put me under pressure. In effect, to make sure that I would not be at a loss what to do if anyone gave me a question, I had the chance to do a lot of in-depth reading and researching about every place we went to.
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Also, I shall give my peers an absolute admiration for the huge amount of comprehensive knowledge that surprisingly amazed me all the way.  Some of them are very good at political and historical things, providing us an informative precise presentation about the process of development of Vietnam even from the very first dynasties and kings with outstanding milestones, making me take off my hat to them. For your information, in Vietnam, students are usually considered normal to skip some subjects in school such as History, Geography (parents and teachers are dangerously misleading) and they take it for granted. However, looking at how much my friends are passionate had warmed my heart up. Though they are mostly younger than me in terms of age, seeing how talented, knowledgeable and conscientious they were gave me the belief that in the very near future, our country as well as our world is going to welcome a new generation of brilliant leaders.

I know that in our trip we had shared a lot but for me it is never enough. If I had one wish, I would wish that to have another chance of us gathering together, maybe in Hanoi, maybe in London or anywhere else since there are still so much I need to tell you as well as learn from you. Thank all of you for coming here to show me that the world is bigger than I thought and there are still a lot of miracle waiting to be discover, to prove to me the awesomeness of global friendships, to strengthen my ambition to discover the big big world one day.

Love,
Jade.

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