The book your soul is writing…

Happy Friday, everyone!

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. (Marsha Norman)

The leveled area of Saigon South , District 7, has become a popular weekend kite park (Đồng Diều).

So dream away, and never stop dreaming for better things. Today (and many other days), I’m dreaming of traveling and experiencing the world outside of the Dallas bubble. After I graduate, I hope to participate in a type of “volunteer vacation” much like the ones offered through Global Aware. For those of us fortunate enough to be able to take vacations, why not visit a country and give back to an underdeveloped/developing community?

Motorcycles are by far the vehicle of choice in urban areas of Vietnam.

My parents were grew up living in a country that struggled with social and economic problems for  years (and currently is still working on those problems) and with a war that began since before they were born. They were forced to flee from their family, home and country to live in refugee camps in countries where they didn’t speak the language. I couldn’t imagine their struggles. Seven years ago, my family and I visited Vietnam and it was a wonderfully educational and enlightening experience. Even though the standard of living is still below that of the U.S., it is a beautiful country filled with vibrant cities and so many colorful, hardworking people.

Saigon’s skyline at night.
A tất niên offering being made during the Tết (Vietnamese lunar new year) festival.

According to the International Monetary Fund, which tracks the global economy, Vietnam is classified as a developing country. To put it in perspective, Vietnam’s estimated 2012 GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita is $3,358 while the United State’s is $48,386.

Many people in Vietnam’s urban cities make a living as a street food or produce vendor.

The CIA World Factbook estimates that 14.5 percent of Vietnam’s population is living below the poverty line as of 2010, and the country’s inflation rate averages at 18 percent in 2011 with a high reaching 23 percent.

Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of rice, after Thailand.

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