I can't believe a month had already flown by. It seemed like just yesterday when we were at the Taipei airport excited to set foot in Vietnam. Now that we are leaving, we leave with invaluable experiences and memorable imprints that will always remain in our heart. Every time I think of Vietnam, I now see smiling faces of the amputees, orthopedic patients, the poor families we visited, the children of the street, and many others whom we have met and befriended along the way. I am fortunate to be a part of this journey. This experience has immensely impacted the lives of many and it has definitely brought inspiration to continue keeping our arms opened to help those in need.
The mission is finally done! I say finally because it seems like we did so much, yet in actuality, it was a very short period of time. The people I was able to work with, especially Dr. Ruchalski, Thao, Chi, Phoebe, Viet, and Jordanis, definitely contributed to how rewarding this trip was. I am so grateful to be able to take part in this medical mission to Vietnam to be humbled and moved by the hardships the people of Vietnam face on a daily basis. What we are able to offer these people were only temporary reliefs. This experience makes me feel that there is still so much more we can do to help, and hopefully, we will have the opportunity to do so.
Looking back at our time spent in Vietnam, I think it is important to communicate what separates this rotation from any other opportunities available to us. The educational aspect, which is our primary objective, matches if not exceeds what is learned on other clinical ambulatory rotations. Secondly cultural awareness gained from spending 4 weeks in a foreign country is unmatched. It has allowed me to learn more about my own culture and it has given the confidence to speak my native language better and more confidently then ever before. Finally what I will cherish the most about this rotation are the relationships I have built with my peers and professors. Spending everyday with these fellow missionaries has allowed me to learn so much about what makes each one of them special, because of that I have developed friendships that will last a lifetime.
It's so sad that our mission is coming to an end. However, the experience, the memories and lessons I have had on this trip will never end; they have left a huge impact on my life. I am very glad to have the opportunity to come back the second year. Dr.R is like a dad, Thao is like a mom, Chi is like a sister to me. This year I have two new brothers, Viet and Jordanis, and a new sister QA. We get a long well, work great together as well as with Mercer students and we take care of each other like a big family. We might choose different paths for our lives, going separate ways but VMCo is always the big family close to our hearts. I feel so lucky to be able to go back and help the people in need in my country. Although I may not come back next year, I will help the new students to prepare for the coming mission, hoping they will get the amazing experience with the patients, the teamwork and the country like I did.
Throughout this trip we saw various forms of art; the pearly white smiles, monumental skyscrapers, natural formations of stalagmites and stalactites, and the intricate designs of prosthetic legs. Each example is personified differently depending on the perspective of the viewer. An elastic band stretching anteriorly from the thigh socket to the leg socket of prosthetics may simply be established as a device to help the patient bend their knees better. But to the engineer who meticulously measured and positioned that elastic band; it personifies the quadriceps of the human body. Art is in the eye of the beholder and as the painting states, it gives life a shape; it allows a person to walk upright and revive their daily functioning. This trip has showed me that art is not something that's displayed in buildings; it is in everyone we meet and touch, the new bonds of friendship, the laughter we share, the smiles we see on patients, and most importantly how these relationships change you as a person.