5 Unconventional ways to stay warm this winter.

No heater, no fire, no crafty DIY hacks, here are 5 ways you can keep yourself and others warm this winter:

1.    Bring a blanket/jacket you no longer use. Keep an extra jacket in your car/bike and when you see someone who needs to stay warm, give it to them. They will be warm and your heart will be warmed too! Whichever city you live in, there are homeless people sleeping outside every night, share the warmth! If you have an old coat that hasn’t been worn for months, this is a great way to pass it on to someone else.

Take it further: Make it a rule, each time you buy a new clothing item, give away an old one.

 

2.    Make gift packages for kids. Tet holiday is around the corner and kids are excited to receive presents from their families. Why not throw together some candies, school supplies or toys to help put a smile on someone’s face? You are guaranteed to feel warmer inside after seeing that smile! If you live in Vietnam, there are bound to be some kids selling gums/lotto tickets on the street. Keep a gift package with you next time you go out and chances are you’ll make a kid’s day.

Take it further: Stay and spend time with the kids.

 

3.    Encourage someone. Kind words can lift you up on a bad day, so why not send them to someone else? You can write a card, letter, or email or text message, or a message on social media. And if you can’t think of who to send them to other than family, friends and co-workers, there are people in hospitals hurting, children living in orphanages and many more people who can use a word of encouragement.

Take it further: Get out of your comfort zone and encourage someone you don’t know.

 

4.    Cook a little more. When you make dinner tonight, make a little more than you normally would, then you can pack that food and give it to someone who’s hungry. Not a cook? Next time you buy food or snacks, buy a little more and you can keep them in your car/bike and pass them out next time you see a homeless person. Eating food surely can keep a hungry person warm, but giving food can too! Win-win.

Take it further: Buy those bulk packages to save some money and pass them out.

 

5.    Listen. Spend time with someone you know, listen to them with all your senses, Sometimes just being listened to can mean the world to someone. Listen to their stories. Seniors often have a lot of stories to tell, kids have the wildest dreams that will make you smile. Being able to share and speak and be listened to can bring healing too!

Take it further: Spend time and listen to someone you don’t know.

 

There you have it, 5 very unusual ways to stay warm. If you choose to do any of the above, you are super duper awesome and we would love to hear about it! You can keep us warm that way. You can send us mail, emails, or reach us on social media! Feel free to share pictures if you have them too. Stay warm!

Decades of passion, love and understanding - Medical Domain Engagement with Dr. King

“Serving, loving, growing”. These three words are how doctor Chris King summarizes his experience in Vietnam. For over two decade of serving in Vietnam, Chris has been using his talents and skills as a doctor to serve various communities throughout the country. Working directly with local patients, doctors and hospitals, he has gained an invaluable understanding of the Vietnamese healthcare system and practices. Follow our interview with Chris below to learn about his experience as our volunteer serving in the medical domain.

 

What was your favorite memory/experience from your trips to Vietnam?

 

My favorite memory of Vietnam, besides the people I have gotten to know best, is the hiking from village to village around SaPa. I did this on my first trip in 2002 and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the area and the terraced farmlands, and I was intrigued by the lifestyles of the different minority groups of that region. 

 

How did your experience in Vietnam change you as a person and a doctor?

 

Visiting Vietnam keeps me grounded in the things that are most important.  We have way too much at our fingertips in the U.S so we can't help but become spoiled without knowing it. In Vietnam I can get away from the unnecessary surpluses of home and see the goodness of a simpler life.  I especially appreciate this in the villages of the Lao Cai Province.  As a doctor it becomes more evident to me how many of our diseases are self-inflicted by bad choices and over-indulgence. 

 

How can a doctor/medical personnel serve in Vietnam?

 

Anyone with medical training in the U.S can be of great value in Vietnam.  When I talk to the mostly highly trained doctors in Vietnam and ask them what is the one thing they want most to improve health care in Vietnam, they all say the same thing.  "Come share with us what you know.  We need more education and to learn from your experience.  Please come train our doctors and nurses and all our medical staff.  We want to learn more."

 

What were the challenges you faced while serving in Vietnam?

 

 

The greatest challenge while serving in Vietnam is understanding how the culture and history affect the health care system.  With my most recent visit and the invaluable help of Little Thao, I gained tremendous insight from doctors and hospital administrators who shared valuable information to help me understand. Now we have a focused plan to serve and make a difference. 

 

Dear My Teacher - Education Domain Engagement 2016

Dear my teacher,

I heard you were going to that cool conference in Hanoi. How was it? I saw you guys playing games and having such a fun time. I wish I was there too. How many times have you been there, like 12 times already?

I really like that frog story they told, I can’t help but feel like frog sometimes. Once in a while, I wish I was more athletic, or artistic, or smarter. By the way, I saw something called “Play with purpose”, I’m not sure what it was but I hope I get to play more games next year. You know I saw pictures of you laughing and smiling while learning, I would love to learn like that too.

Among all the fun and excitement, it seemed like you and some other teachers came to this conference looking for a miracle. A miracle toy to keep children like me from crying. A miracle expert who will solve all my problems. A miracle that will cure autism, rid ADHD, and all my disabilities. A miracle that will make me a “normal” child. Are you frustrated because you didn’t find this miracle?

There may not be a cure for my disabilities but let me tell you this: Miracles do exist.

You, you are a miracle. You have always been there for me, even on the days you were tired, even when you had no interest in teaching. You had other careers to choose from, but you chose to be with me. Remember the times you sat next to me and helped me with my homework? I couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you for motivating me when I feel low and incapable. Do you remember that morning when I was very angry and started punching my desk? You gave me a space where I felt safe and comfortable. Thank you for showing me patience and kindness. Do you remember that dot I marked when you asked me to draw? I didn’t think I could draw, but after seeing my dot framed on your wall, I thought well maybe I could try. My painting are in galleries now. Thank you for believing in me.

Guess what, teacher, my family is a miracle too! They are the first faces I see in the morning and the last at night. They are my cocoon when the world seems too much. They love me even when I don’t know how to show how much I love them. And I saw so many parents at that conference you went to. Can you please tell them that their kids love them? Can you tell them that as long as their kids are screaming, throwing tantrum or crying like I did, they are trying to reach out to the parents? I didn’t know how else I could explain my thoughts and feeling. Can you tell those parents that they are a miracle too? Like my own family, they never gave up.

You want to know a secret? I’ll tell you. Sometimes I think I’m a miracle. Really, I can wake up everyday, I can eat my favorite food, I can play my favorite games. Sure, some days are more difficult but I’m not giving up, because you, my family and everyone else have not. So if you ever feel like you are fighting a losing battle alone, just remember that I am here. Know I am with you, and I’m trying too. You are never alone.

And remember, we live in a world full of miracles.

With much love,

A special child

Transformed Nurses - Medical Domain Engagement

Last year, 30 students graduated from the first Master of Nursing Program in Nam Dinh Nursing University. This program was the first graduate program for nursing Vietnam has ever had. After the success of the first class, the second class of Graduate Nursing students are now enrolling in courses taught by both Vietnamese and international instructors from the US, Thailand.

The Master of Program attracts students from diverse medical professions and disciplines. The 56 students of the second class consist of instructors in educational institution and nurses currently working in hospitals.

In order to give you a better understanding of our work with Nam Dinh in the medical domain, we conducted a series of interviews from students, instructors, and facilitator. For this part, we interviewed Thuy and Duong, current students of the 2nd class.

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Thuy

College Instructor

Where are you working currently?

I am an instructor at Ninh Binh Medical College; I teach Basic Nursing.

Tell us about yourself. Why did you choose nursing?

I’ve always like taking care of patients. I also want to support them when they face challenges in their daily activities. But more importantly, I want to provide better health care for my own family.

What have you learned from the course?

I learned a lot. One of the things I’ve learned is how important of evidence based researches. Our current subject is *Evidence based practices*, which means everything you do as a nurse needs to be reasoned from actual, specific evidences to be effective. 

Other than nursing and medical knowledge, what else did you learn from this course?

There was a lot to learn from the different cultures that the instructors brought with them from the US and Thailand. For example, the professionalism was something to learn. They were always on time; we clearly understood when it was class time and when it was break time. We can also learn from their ability to inspire others. Both instructors were very willing to answer our questions and concerns. Even when we ran out of class time, they stayed to explain the answers until we understood the material.

What were the challenges you face during the course?

The language barrier was the biggest obstacle. Sometimes it was difficult to understand the subject at hand, but we had Vietnamese instructors to help translate.

What are some challenges you face at work?

The biggest challenge is the lack of an environment that allows me to fully apply the knowledge I’ve learned in Nam Dinh. I have to find out how to apply what I’ve learned into my work environment. The implementation process is complex; it depends on various parties and systems in order to work.

After this course, what personal changes would you want to make?

I can change my professionalism and passion at work. I want to be a more proactive learner and researcher.

How else can we support you through these courses?

We could use more information sources and research databases from around the globe. I would like to learn how to conduct research based on evidence.

In three words, summarize your experience.

Friendly, Useful, Exciting.

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Duong

Nurse

Where are you working currently?

I am a nurse at Ninh Binh Maternity and Pediatric Hospital.

What do you think about this course?

I feel very luck and happy, because we have the chance to learn from excellent instructors from Baylor. I gained not only knowledge, but also a wider vision.

What challenges did you face during this course?

The challenge was the academic material itself. The subjects we covered may be covered in undergraduate colleges and universities overseas, but in Vietnam, these subjects have never been taught in universities, even graduate programs. We were very unfamiliar with evidence based researches and practices.

How would you apply your knowledge to your work?

I will build a program for the nurses at my hospital to start using evidence based practices. This change will be hard to implement because our staff nurses are not familiar with evidence based practices, we have old habits, and management may not support the idea.

What other challenges are you facing at work?

Applying evidence based researches and practices can be difficult in Vietnam because we lack information and reference sources. One, there is not enough databases for us to draw from, to obtain information. Two, finding the information needed is difficult. Three, if we are able to get our hands on needed information, it may not be accepted in our research/work. The sources of information we have access to is not officially accepted and cannot be cited. If we cited English journals and papers as sources, our papers/project would then become irrelevant to local practices. The language barrier inhibits our managers and readers from understanding the cited information.

In your profession, what are some disadvantages of working in and with two different cultures?

The cultural difference hinders us from fully applying what we’ve learned here to our work environment. For example, we talked about a method to measure blood lost, that method would not work well here due to the overwhelming number of patients we have.

What are some advantages of these cultural differences?

Because we can’t exactly transfer every practice, we have to improvise and make adjustments. This course gives us the tools and methods, we have to find our own application. For example, for measuring blood lost, since we don’t have enough time here, we can incorporate that measurement to weight diapers when we give the patients medicines.

In three words, summarize your experience.

Excellent, Comfortable, Useful.

A Rainbow Kinder New Year

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The scent of peach blossom lingered in the dry cold air. The Lunar New year was almost over and things are going back to their routine. A few of the seniors walked around the garden; a few others did their morning exercise. The teenager s started getting ready for school as the roosters crow. In the room next to the rainbow colored class, ten toddlers were just waking up. Normally, they would start class in their classroom next door in an hour, but today was different.

After eating breakfast and putting on proper clothes, the ten cheerfully ran to the classroom. Ms. Hue was waiting for them at the door. With a usual smile on her face, she asked the class to get in line before walking into class. Waiting for them inside was a bag of traditional Vietnamese clothes for the special occasion.

One by one, each of the ten put on their clothes. Trang, Hanh, and Mai chose the traditional Ao Dai with bright colors while Thuong went for one with some modern touches. The six boys were rocking the male version of Ao Dai in red and blue. This was the second time they got to wear traditional clothes but the excitement was still through the roof.

All dressed, it was time for pictures. Ms. Hue pulled out a camera and the boys were the first to rush in front of her lens. Taking pictures of them was a challenge two years ago but now it was a joy.

Tet is the time for families to unite and send each other well wishes so the ten kids spent their morning visiting the seniors and staffs in the orphanage. For them the director and the other staffs are the moms and dads of their family. The staffs were delighted to see them in cute outfits and the director even invited them to his office for a proper visit! Being treated as proper visitors, the ten kids sent their well wishes to the director. Despite being short and simple, these wishes brought a radiant smile on the director’s face. In return, New Year special candies and treats were available and Rainbow kids did not have any problem munching on these sweets.

Once filled up with treats, they proceeded toward the houses where seniors of the orphanage reside. The seniors who live here rarely get visits from their own families, even in holiday seasons. For the kids, these seniors are their grandmas and grandpas. With their short yet loving wishes, ten kids skipped house to house and spread joy everywhere they went. The grandparents didn’t have loads of candy to offer, but Rainbow kids were happy with the hugs and smiles they received. Plus, they already had plenty from earlier.

The sun was now gleaming bright and the warm air filled the atmosphere. The trees stretched out their leaves as the town noises rumbles in the background. That peach blossom scent was now even stronger, seemed like the sun warmth gave it a dose of sweet aroma. But as the ten kids return to their rainbow colored classroom, another sort of warmth radiates the through the orphanage. It was the warmth of family, a rather big family. And just as the blossom flowers bloomed and adorned the orphanage with lively colors, Rainbow Kinder kids sprinkled love and happiness in everyone that day.

 

Dental Care - Medical Domain Engagement with Amelia

Hanoi, 2015.

Four ladies from Texas set foot on Vietnamese soil for the first time in their lives. Amelia, Grace, Amanda and Autumn spent the next four days providing dental care for children in Hanoi. On the first day, the Dental Team went to Birla orphanage. While half of the team was prodding dental checks and fixes, the other members entertained and socialized with the children. They were accompanied by a local dentist, Mrs. Hau, for the trip and two GVI translators to help communicate with the children.

Day 2 was spent at SS3, where GVI has been sponsoring a kindergarten. All 15 of kindergarteners were checked. Fortunately, their first dentist appointment was a fun experience, because they each came home with new tooth brushes and toothpastes. Amelia also gave the whole class a lesson on dental hygiene in an exciting demonstration with their stuffed fish. Once the dental work was done, the four friends continued to wash hands and paint nails for the elderly who also lived at SS3.

The next day was a real test of teamwork for the group. With the help of another dentist from Chuong My hospital, the team headed to the local middle school. Here, Amelia and the two local dentists set up three stations for dental checks and Amanda, Grace and Autumn worked on brushing the 517 student’s teeth with fluoride. The fourth day was busy with lots and lots of tooth extractions and fillings. By the end of the afternoon, more than a hundred teeth were pulled and filled. The students were so happy to make new friends, they stuck around after school to ask for autographs from everyone on the team. Amelia and her team were rock stars for doing what they’ve done and here, they were seen as rock stars for many students.

Amelia Baugh grew up hearing about the Vietnam War, and that was all she knew about Vietnam. “I want to see it for myself, and learn about Vietnam’s perspective” said Amelia. Her friends and teammates each had different expectations prior to their trip to Vietnam, but they all shared the same feeling once they had left the country. Grace Brown explained: “I was surprised by how much people seemed to welcome us and appreciate us being there. My trip gave me a deep love for the people of Vietnam and also serving others.” When asked to summarize her experience in Vietnam in three words, Autumn answered: “Life changing opportunity”.

Child Abuse Engagement - Kurt's trip

Child Abuse

Hanoi, November 2015. Social worker Kurt Pafford led a team of three to hold workshops in Hanoi to provide information on Child Abuse and how we can build strong familes. Sharing his own stories as a child growing up in an abusive environment, Kurt was able to connect with students, teachers and parents on a deeper level. On their first day, Kurt Pafford, Kelly Gibbs and Taylor Rosier explained the foundations of a strong family to the students, teachers and parents at Ban Mai School. The most fun part was when Kelly, who works as a nurse, talked about different love languages. Children and adults alike shared their own love language and how they want to be loved. The team were very impressed by the student’s English skills and confidence.

Taylor Rosier, who is a firefighter and paramedic, had the hard job of talking about traumas and hurtful experiences everyone had in their lives. While uncomfortable to talk about, this part of the workshop offered a safe environment for healing and peace. One student from Ban Mai went home after the workshop and talked to her mother, whose relationship with her had been hard. Kurt and his team were beyond happy when they heard that this mother – daughter relationship has improved drastically thanks to their workshop.

For the next two days, the team of three worked with the Social Service Department of the Hanoi National University. The social-worker-to-be students were engaging with every topic being discussed. For some, this workshop was a chance to make peace with their own past; for others, it was a learning experience about how to raise a strong family. Hang, a senior social work major explained: “Prior to this workshop, I’ve always thought I’d become a mom who makes enough money for my kids. But after today, I realized that it’s not just about the money or the job, or social status, but the love and emotional connections that will create and maintain family relationships”.

As for the team, Kurt, Kelly and Taylor all agreed that they have received back far more than what they had given Vietnam. Kurt claimed: “Since I’ve come to Vietnam, I have learned to love people better”.