Category – Agriculture/Veterinary
Alyssa Meyer, a student at Iowa State University, experienced Vietnam through four different roles this past summer. She was a student conducting research, a tourist and temporary resident, an English teacher, and a team member on a university campus. She lived in the hustle-bustle of Hanoi and in the more isolated, rural Thai Nguyen. It was a stretching experience as she strove to immerse herself in the language and culture of her host country. In establishing relationships she endeared herself to Vietnamese nationals and to REI-VN resident team members. Alyssa is bright, approachable and friendly, and most importantly, she has the courage and sense of adventure required to flourish independently in an unfamiliar setting and culture. She fell in love with the people of Vietnam, and her return there would be more than welcomed by many.
Paul Vankleek retired last month as REI-Vietnam’s Agriculture/Veterinary Program Director. He and his wife, Judy, have been working and traveling from Michigan to Vietnam for twenty years! What’s kept them going? To hear them tell it, it’s been their special relationships with so many Vietnamese friends in Vietnam.
In November the Veterinary Team returned to Vietnam to train Vietnamese veterinarians in the field of small animal primary care. Highlights of the trip included a clinic grand opening and an impromptu television interview as well as many rich interactions between the REI-VN team, students and professors.
Lien Tran, REI's Representative for Vietnam Relations, may be small in stature, but in every other way she is big for REI-Vietnam. Her head, hands and heart are all engaged to meet the needs of anyone who is in need of her help. This may be expressed by getting medicine for a visiting professional who is sick, taking a visiting professional to the best shop for buying embroidery pictures, visiting a sick family member of a Vietnamese friend, helping one of REI-Vietnam’s resident professional with visa issues, or waiting at Noibai airport to greet an arriving team member’s midnight arrival. When asked for help if it is within her power to do so, her answer is always “yes”.
What do you get when you combine two enthusiastic couples (one a small animal orthopedic husband/wife surgeon team and the other a dialysis nurse /English teacher team) with eager veterinary students and professionals? A fun filled and powerful learning environment! That was the atmosphere last April in Vietnam in the cities of Hanoi and Hue with Drs. John and Deb Mauterer and Kent and Julia VanKleek .