Linh Khanh

Culture shock works both ways for CWY

YOUTH EXCHANGE: | Canada World Youth exchange students find challenges, motivation, pride in each other’s home countries.

The Alberni Valley News is pleased to be hosting two students from Canada World Youth while they are in Port Alberni. This week we asked Brogan Baker and Linh Khanh to introduce each other to our readers.

Linh Nguyen Thi Khanh, 20, is the Vietnamese volunteer here at the Alberni Valley News one day a week. Born and raised in the capital of Ha Noi, Linh applied to many exchange programs as she is very interested in volunteer work, and was eventually accepted into Cedeco-Canada World Youth exchange.

Brogan Marie Baker, 24, is from Cochrane, Alberta. Brogan, Linh and 16 other Vietnamese and Canadian volunteers are in the culture exchange program between Vietnam and Canada.

When she was asked why Brogan enjoyed the program, she answered that she wanted to learn lots of things. Moreover, her parents had hosted students before and there were opportunities to do volunteer work.

Brogan believes that it is a good chance to enhance skills for her resume such as: running events, setting events and organizing events.

The youth spent three months in Vietnam doing volunteer work and now they are doing the same in Port Alberni.

One aspect of the program that has helped Linh explore Canada is her host family. Linh and her counterpart from Canada were welcomed into a host family here in town, just as they were in Vietnam.

During the next three months they will get to know their host family here, similar to the first three months back home in Vietnam.

It is Linh’s first time in Canada and when asked how she is enjoying it, Linh responded “short time but I like environment in Canada, clean and fresh, people friendly and helpful. I think I will be deeply falling in love with Canada.”

Being in Vietnam for three months was a challenge for Brogan. Her first feeling in Vietnam was very hard, but it was not too different from being in Canada.

However, when she went to the province of Hoa Binh where she stayed for three months, it was very different. She experienced culture shock near the end of her stay in Vietnam. She was tired of people and tired of food, so she just wanted to stay at home for three or four days in a row.

“The solution is to be open-minded and listen a lot,” said Brogan. Now she loves Vietnamese food, especially “the wonderful vegetables.”

Brogan is so proud of what she has done in Vietnam. The volunteer team had a remarkable contribution for community: they planted trees, built a volleyball court and a playground for kids, taught English, painted a mural, and ran sector projects in schools for older youth, raising awareness of sexual health.

More specially, each volunteer had a personal project to do.

“My personal project (was) to sew a traditional Muong- ethnic minority outfit in Vietnam. It was so interesting,” Brogan shared.

“My personal project helps me improve personal skills and improve sustainability.”

Linh also finds things different in Canada. The volunteer work differs between the two countries; in Vietnam it was almost all group work like planting trees, building a playground and cleaning up memorials. Here in Canada it is more pairs working together and not so much as a group, one of the many things to get used to in a new country.

Tipping in restaurants is also something new to her and hard to navigate.

Linh’s personal project has followed her to Port Alberni. With the help of some of the other volunteers, Linh has been making wallets, passport covers and headphone wraps to sell as small Christmas gifts at local craft shows to raise money for world running NGOs.

A large cultural event is also being planned for January where Linh’s materials will be available.

The students have various placements with businesses and organizations around Port Alberni. Linh and Brogan are also working at the Ha-Shilth-Sa newspaper and Westhaven Care Facility.

Brogan revealed that the volunteer team would be here from Nov. 2 to Jan. 23.