Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kien Phouc School

Tuesday was the big day when we visited Kien Phouc School in Tien Giang Province. Public school costs money here and 15% of the children do not attend for lack of funds. It costs $50 per year, per child. This is the school that Paul's Kids supports. Amity raised money (with help from many of you) to send 8 children to school this year. We met the children, photographed them with their friends at school, went home with them to meet their parents and view their communities. What a wonderful day! We spent the morning with the children at school. Photographically speaking, the light was right, the background was great, the children were natural (no one said "cheese" like American children are constantly being urged to do), and we were actually given some time to take pictures. The kids adored Amity and circled her. She was the local celebrity and we were the paparazzi. Going home with the children, hiking through the rising dust of their rural communities, made us feel like we were National Geographic photographers and truly gave us a sense of how little people around the world exist on and how much we think we "need." These are great kids - smart, sensitive, wiser than their years and thrilled for the opportunity to relinquish the daily work of home life, carefully dress in their freshly washed and unwrinkled school uniforms and march off to school in the morning. We intend to make sure they're back in school next year! The head teacher treated us and the children to a sumptuous lunch at a roadside makeshift cafe in the province. Apparently, all localities have their own unique style of Vietnamese cuisine. One of this area's specialties is hard boiled eggs with an actual hard boiled chick inside. To be polite, I turned off my mind and ate one. It tasted like chopped liver! Our hosts were so happy to see me enjoying the local favorites that they kept feeding me more, which I of course ate. There was pho, shrimp and stir-fried beef. Always there were noodles and steamed white rice, which Amity lived on. She never complained about all the rounds of Pepsi forced upon us. We all know how Americans love their Pepsi. Even we, the no sugar/no junk food family, did our part to keep that image alive.

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