Volunteering around the world

What do you think about when you hear “Vietnam”? Something like on this photo? We improvised with a donkey, but they don’t have them there. They worked the land with those beautifully lashed buffalos.

Nice hats

My associations were: this type of hats, ricefields, men and women in chinese-like suits. If your knowledge is not up-to-date, you reach to the old-fashioned stuff.

I didn’t know much about that part of the world, so it’s nice to hear about it firsthand.

It’s all a bit different nowadays. After the war the people started rebuilding the country – of course, that is what people do after a war. Linh’s parents were amongst them. They live in Hanoi, where people walk the streets and seem to be “a bit lost” – as Linh puts it.


Vietnam was an agricultural society, and jumped into a technological one. They didn’t slowly grow into it as other countries did. It’s a big change for many people, but they have to adapt. They go to the city, try to live their lives as well as possible, but like in every big city lots of people are lonely.

Linh only moved away because her parents were going to the Ukrain. Het father got a job there as an architect. They had to stay there for two years. In Vietnam it’s custom that you live with your parents untill you marry. But if your parents are not there, you can’t live with them!

And Linh doesn’t want to marry. To start with, there’s no suitable candidate. Quite an important ingredient for a marriage. So instead, she quit her gouvernment job (and left all the security that comes with that) and went to Finland to finish her masters in Environmental studies.

My guess is, that she is lucky to grow up in such a friendly society, that made it possible to adapt quite easily. Asian and European cultures are very different, allthough I recognize the friendliness in the (traditionally agricultural) society here in Portugal.

People in the city

City folk in general are not so open, relaxed and kind. That’s nothing special vietnamese or portuguese, but a global effect. Life in a city affects you – you change, if you want it or not.

There are lots of advantages, but there’s also the dark side. If there’s no-one to relate to, and you’re living with strangers, what do you care?

You can act out. You can express yourself in various ways. You can be shut off or an exhibitionist – whatever you like. The ideal is that you spend some time of your life in the city, and some time in the country side. As long as you get the best of both worlds.

The best of both worlds

Linh is getting that. Studying, travelling, volunteering, working here and there – and if she is going back to Vietnam, she will teach the children the in’s and out’s about the environment. Maybe in the city, maybe in the country. Maybe we should all go back to living in the country and working the land …. only not with those beautiful buffaloes, they are not there anymore.


This was an episode of our weekly blog about all kinds of things concerning the Termas-da-Azenha and/or Portugal. Every week on sundaymorning we publish an episode on this site, on Facebook, Google+ and on mondaymorning on Linkedin. We appreciate your input – could be a like, could be a share, could be a comment.