Vietnam - The Experience
This project has been specially designed for Round Square students looking to participate in a unique International Service project and are aged 16 and over, and returning to their school after the trip. This project offer will offer students the opportunity to make new friends, grow as a leader, experience a new culture and to give back to a community that is in much need of help.
This experience is the perfect balance between working on your service project and experiencing the local culture and having fun with your new friends from all over the world.
Students will spend most of their time in the rural district Mai Chau, approximately four hours drive outside of Hanoi. Set in an idyllic valley, hemmed in by hills, the Mai Chau area is a world away from Hanoi's hustle.
In addition to working on the construction project, the group will be split into smaller groups to join in with local activities each day including teaching English and sports at the local school and helping the local farming community.
The Big Build Project
Under the banner of "The Round Square Big Build", this International Service Project will see 50 students working with the local community in Na Mon, Vietnam to build a water dam. This work will help improve the local farming infrastructure and will help to store water in the dry season and drain water during monsoon season.
Na Mon's current water dam is inefficient. The dam, which provides water to five hectors of fields is built out of compounded dirt and after decades of use has started to erode. The village renovates the current structure twice a year to maintain it, however this sometimes fails and fields and their valuable crops are spoiled.
Na Mon, is one of the poorest villages in the area with an average family income of 20-30 US dollars per month. The construction of this new, more permanent dam will significantly improve the farming infrastructure.
During this project students will help design the most effective and economical drainage for the village and help construct the dam.
Accommodation while in the village community will be 'homestays', which are large, wooden, stilted building. The house is laid out over one upstairs level, with one very large living/sleeping area and a kitchen in an adjoining room or at the end of the living area. Underneath the main house, between the house stilts, is where you will be served your meals.
The area you will sleep in is very large, accommodating up to 15 people. Males and females will sleep in different homes. You are provided with a mosquito net, thin mattress, pillow and blankets but you are recommended to bring a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner for additional warmth and comfort as it can get cool at night. Beds are set up on the wooden floor in rows. You are recommended to bring ear plugs.
Accommodation while in Hanoi at the beginning and end of the project will be a three star hotel, well situated for sightseeing.
Washing and Toilet Facilities
There are basic shared shower facilities at the homestay located across the courtyard next to the main stilt house. There may not be any hot water. You are also recommended to bring a pack of baby wipes to freshen up during the day.
Toilet facilities are Asian-style squat toilets. Most of the toilets flush but some may have a water bucket which is used to flush with. Toilet paper must only be put into the bins provided, never flushed. The sewer pipes are not large enough to cope with toilet paper and if you attempt to flush it, you are likely to block the pipes and make the facilities unusable for everyone else.
Food and Water
All meals in the community will be provided by a dedicated local cook team, using fresh food bought daily from the local markets. Food will be plentiful, delicious and filling.
Students should be prepared to try new foods, and while we can cater for most diets, we do not cater for fussy eaters. There will be a rota so that team members can lend a hand each day and learn a bit about Vietnamese cuisine.
You will be served delicious traditional Vietnamese meals throughout the trip. The food is freshly prepared, locally sourced and delicious. Vietnamese food isn’t spicy but if you like your food with a kick, chilli or chilli sauce is often available if you ask.
Tables, chairs, plates, mugs and cutlery is all provided and you may be able to purchase soft drinks at the homestay depending on availability (payable locally).
Special dietary requirements can be accommodated if requested in advance.
Tap water is not safe to drink in Vietnam, even at the hotel. You must not brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with the tap water, only use bottled or purified water. Drinking water is provided.
Unfortunately, the weather is the one thing we cannot control and can be very difficult to predict!
Hanoi and North Vietnam has a distinct winter and summer season. The cool but mostly dry winter lasts from November to April when temperatures average 17-22°C with the coldest months being January - March.
Please note: the temperatures and conditions above are historically accurate for this time of year but climate change can impact the seasons so you may experience uncharacteristic conditions during the trip which are out of our control. Should unexpected climate conditions occur the Adult Leadership team will assess the situation and make decisions to ensure the best enjoyment and ultimately safety of the group as a whole.
The team will be transported by the private transfers. The local Moving different travel team carry out checks on all the companies who are providing our private hire bus to ensure that and drivers and vehicles are road-worthy and fitted with the best locally available equipment. Round Square leaders will also carry out dynamic checks during the Project.
No mobile phones
Enjoy the liberating feeling of being off the grid. Mobile phones are prohibited for the duration of the trip which means you can fully immerse yourself in the experience of your trip and not be distracted by your life at home.
Students will have the opportunity to experience some of Vietnam's local culture with a visit to the Temple of Literature and the One Pillar Pagoda.
During the trip there will be lots of opportunity to mix with the community at every level. While staying with the community in Mai Chau, students will have the opportunity to learn local dances and handicrafts and will learn to cook the local cuisines.
While on the project site, there will be opportunities for hikes and exploring Mai Chau's beautiful rolling hills and stepped rice paddies. Students will celebrate the end of the project with a breathtaking boat trip around the stunning limestone cliffs of Halong Bay.
Take on your project and see it from start to finish; develop your leadership skills; make a difference; true community interaction and immersion; build new friendships; delicious local food; a beautiful Asian Culture with a French twist.
The trip has made me want to help people more, it makes a person grow mentally and this is important. The international setting made me learn a lot about other people's customs and settings.
John Mbako, St George's College, RSIS Big Build Nepal