Skip to main content Skip to site utility navigation Skip to main site navigation Skip to site search Skip to footer

Lolita Ward's Story

Lolita Ward in Vietnam in 2023

This year, I attended two international trips. One to Tanzania Africa, and another to Vietnam three weeks later. Each trip had valuable learning opportunities, and they were both great in their own way, but Vietnam was my favorite destination by far. I learned many lessons from traveling to Africa first, and what I learned, helped me to connect better in Vietnam.

My greatest regret when leaving Africa was how I wish I had tried more things, participated with the group more, and came out of my shell sooner. I am very introverted, so I did not seize the day, nor did I seize the full two weeks of my first international journey. I vowed to myself that I would be different in Vietnam. I knew I would learn about the culture, the lifestyle, and the business aspect of Vietnam, and I expected to be teaching the students at Tra Vinh University some of the things I learned from my previous trip. Little did I realize just what the students would teach me.

The language and communication were a huge and unsettling barrier, as I struggled to understand, and to be understood. I became inwardly frustrated, and I expressed just how stressing this was, to my faculty. They did what they could to help bridge the gap. We met with a translator to guide us through our business plan. His expertise was extremely helpful, and I was grateful for it all.

Even through the frustration, struggles, and stress, the Tra Vinh students were so kind, and supportive. They responded in love and compassion. I never once experienced frustration from their end. These beautiful humans were the most gracious and tender souls that I have ever had the privilege to meet. I fell in love with these students, and with the group that I traveled with, so easily.

During this trip there was not one lapse of support between anyone. Everyone accepted each other as a family. If you told me that I would love our little group so much, and only 14 short days, I wouldn't have believed you.
If you needed a hand, one was outstretched for you. If you needed an ear, many were offered. If you needed a cab, no one made you feel less than. I never felt ashamed because I couldn't do all the things the group took part in, instead they brought me back food and coffee, and during one adventure they even flagged down the trolley car to help me get back up the hill, so we could enjoy the sights together.

I learned, that even though the word togetherness is a 12-letter word, it has 22 parts, one part represents each person who shared the experience of being in Vietnam, both local and tourist, for this learning opportunity. I love this group; I loved this trip; I did not love the heat, but I truly loved the warmth of the students of Tra Vinh. Even though I am back in Canada, Vietnam, the Tra Vinh students, and my wonderful traveling companions are never far from my memories, and will always have a piece of my heart.