Cameron Gray (SAC12)
The Vietnam immersion is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences that young Aloysius' and Riverview Old Boys can undertake in their early post-high school life. The immersion visits places such as Hanoi, St Vincent Diem Orphanage in Dong Hoi. Time is spent at the orphanage in central Vietnam, run by The Sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross, an order of holy nuns caring for up to 70 kids at any time. The vast majority of the children, across a range of ages, suffer from mental or physical disabilities, where time is spent feeding and playing with the children whilst also working in the potato fields or shelling peanuts. It can be a very tough emotional struggle at the orphanage, however the looks of happiness on the children’s faces every day, as well as a greater understanding of yourself and life back home is a great reward.
The faith of the Sisters and the children is inspiring. And thanks to the young Old Boys, The Cardoner Project has raised over $70,000 for the Sisters' work since 2010, allowing them to build a Chapel, and complete much-needed extensions to rooms for the children with the most severe disabilities.
Overall, the immersion is an amazing, fun opportunity to experience a new culture and the hardships faced around the world whilst also reflecting on yourself and the life you live.
Open to recent Jesuit high school graduates, the Vietnam and Thailand immersion presents participants with the opportunity to experience the urban and rural cultures of each country. In Vietnam, participants visit the Saint Vincent Diem orphanage for disabled children where they assist the Sisters with a variety of activities, and the village of Huay Tong in the mountains outside of Chiang Mai where they work with the Karen community to help contribute to improving the living conditions of this local hill tribe. Huay Tong is the site of Colombiere House where the Service Year volunteers are based.