Martin Duran: Searching for Change

Posted by SE Vietnam - Student Exchange Vietnam

Why Vietnam?

Martin Duran from Quito, Ecuador has come to Hanoi to work with Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, an NGO focused on helping street kids and kids with disabilities as well as rescuing kids from slavery and human trafficking in Vietnam. How did Martin come about doing this amazing work here in Vietnam? “After two years of working in my country, I felt it was time to work somewhere else. I’ve always been attracted to different cultures, so it seemed like a good option to go abroad,” Martin remarked. “I wanted to go to South East Asia because it was a region I know very little about. I ended up choosing Vietnam because I think it is the best country in the region,” he continued.



Adjusting to a New Lifestyle

Vietnam does take some getting used to however, “At first, I was a little shocked by the traffic in Hanoi, it was very loud and kind of chaotic, but now I’m used to it.” And while others have said that they notice similarities between Vietnamese and South American cultures, but being from a South American culture, Martin does not feel that is the case, “I think that Vietnam’s culture is very rich and very different than mine, so I am learning a lot.” There was one major difference that Martin was initially concerned about, “I was nervous about [the] food. I heard people in Vietnam [eat] things we are not used to eating. However, the food I’ve tried so far has been delicious and now I can handle chopsticks!” Learning to use chopsticks is always a good sign that you’re doing a good job in adjusting to Vietnamese culture!



Work Life

As expected, working at Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation (BDCF) has been wonderful for Martin, “I love the work they do to help street kids and kids who have been victims of trafficking. I currently work [in] the Communication and Fundraising Department. It is so inspiring to share the stories of children who didn’t have much, sometimes not even a family, and now live a happy life.” When asked about what the working environment was like, Martin responded, “At BDCF, there is a very positive working environment. Everyone has been very welcoming, and they have made me feel appreciated. They were very interested in getting to know me.”



Looking Forward

Martin will be with us for 19 weeks in total, so he has plenty of time to adjust himself and immerse himself in Vietnamese culture. When asked what he was looking forward to and excited about during his time here, Martin had a lot to talk about. “I look forward to learning a lot about this beautiful country and its people [in addition] to contributing somehow to the kids that are part of BDCF programs,” said Martin. “[I’m excited to] just live here, to learn about Vietnam and its cultures and traditions, to share with Vietnamese people about my own cultures, to work with people who are so passionate about helping others, and so many [other] things,” Martin responded. However, adjusting to Vietnam does not come without its challenges, “I think the most challenging thing is communicating with people who don’t speak English,” but Martin has plans to overcome this, “I plan to learn some simple phrases in Vietnamese to be able to do basic [things] such as groceries, haircuts, etc.”


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