To this day, the scene from Vietnam remains lingering deep inside me. I was only fifteen and it was the second time I was travelling to Vietnam; I travelled to my parents’ country before when I was two, but I was too young to remember anything. And so there I was on the ‘Hoa Mai’ tour bus with my parents, older sister, younger brother, and the other tourists, heading toward northern Vietnam. I remembered the touring guide stepping out to the middle of the bus, and announcing that we were now entering Hu?, a city in Vietnam located in the center of the country. He said the bus will be stopping shortly at a market for tourists to shop for souvenirs.
Looking out the window, I saw a crowd of Vietnamese civilians squatting on the floor. They were getting up and vanishing behind the bus, as the bus parked before an old flea market. It made me wonder where they all disappeared off to. As soon as the bus door opened, I followed the rest of the tourists off the bus, excited to take a break and shop.
My smile disappeared when I stepped down to the cement floor, finding myself bombarded by poor and ill civilians; I realized they were actually the civilians from before. Many of them were children who either wore dirty and torn clothes, were half-paralyzed, or had amputated limps. The scene was gruesome and heartbreaking, because they tried to cling on my legs and beg for my money. One child actually came up close to me, while holding her baby brother. She pleaded me to buy lottery tickets from her, and said she needed money to buy milk for her brother. I stood inert because I was confused on what was going on; my sister had to pull me back on the bus and away from the crowd. I sat down beside the window, looking out at them; the girl was looking back at me. I felt miserable deep inside because I couldn’t help her then.
The scene clearly left a mark on me as I can still remember her face, to this day. I wouldn’t have realized that my family’s heritage country was a third world country, until I went on that trip. The most distressing part I find about it was that most of those civilians were born unfairly in a poor family or with a disease. Yet, Vietnam is not developed enough to help them.
Thinking about it today, I am glad that I got to see it for myself. It has changed me for the better. Before, I have taken things for granted, but after what I saw and experienced, I began to cherish the things I have. The trip has changed my aspects of life, but has also helped me to pick my career. It has convinced me to set my mind on becoming a pharmacist; Hopefully as a pharmacist, I’ll get the chance to make medicine and help the people in my heritage country in the near future.
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