During September 15-26, a group of five people from Macedonia lived a unique experience in Ha Long, Vietnam. They went for a Youth Exchange that gathered representatives from 3 countries: Vietnam, Macedonia and Italy and that focused on promoting intercultural learning in a natural environment, as part of the project “To be or not to be formal”. Full of impressions, the participants are sharing their stories from the experience:

Aleksandra Cvetkovska:

Vietnam as a country is a mixture of a lot of different spices and fruits that grow only on that land.  My first step outside of the airport was quite confusing. Everything was different – the way in which people drive cars or interact with each other. Everything was one big market where the only way to buy things is to negotiate!

The youth exchange happened in a small village around the city of Ha Long, which is one of the biggest touristic places in Vietnam because of being close to the South Chinese Sea. The project was based on helping to raise and decorate the new youth center. The beneficiaries of the youth center are people with the disabilities who are marginalized by society. I am very proud that we have brought a bit of happiness and joy to this people. I would also mention the hospitality of the host organization with their hardworking volunteers who were all the time with us.  The cultural shock of course was big, but by the time you get used to it. The exchange between Macedonian, Italian and Macedonian groups was very interesting with a lot of diversities. Our daily tasks were to help around the youth center, while afternoons were reserved for small workshops prepared from each of the groups.

One of the best parts was the touristic visits around Ha Long Bay. This was an extraordinary experience that you can only have in Vietnam.