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Aliénor, a 20-year-old French law student in Lyon, arrived in Maison Chance at the beginning of July. She, as a volunteer, takes care of the Village Chance primary school children on a daily basis. She has always wanted to be involved in a humanitarian mission and chose Maison Chance to do so because it was highly recommended to her by one of her friends who was a volunteer last summer. Today, she gives us her testimony:

“Since I started college, I really wanted to go on a humanitarian mission. I have always wanted to discover the world and I wanted to feel useful by helping others. In fact, when studying, we only work for ourselves without looking around us. It was important to me to be confronted with the difficulties that some people might have and to go see what’s out there in the world, far from our routine. I also wished to live an intense and exceptional experience. I arrived in Maison Chance following the recommendation of one of my friends who volunteered last year. But contrary to him, I was going for this adventure all by myself for 6 beautiful weeks!

The culture choc was immediate. Vietnamese lifestyle is so different from ours in Europe… I was mind-blowned to see 5 people on one motorbike! I was also surprised to see that life is literally happening on the street: people cook there, eat there, take a nap, sell their goods… We instantly feel this atmosphere of sharing. It is quite extraordinary. Adapting was no easy, but coming here, I was looking to live a completely different experience. As early as on my third day, I found myself in a local bar watching a World Cup game with another volunteer from Maison Chance…

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At Maison Chance, my job consists of teaching English to the primary school children (6 to 14 years old), playing sports and creating crafts. The beginnings were a bit difficult. Being confronted to 30 kids who don’t speak neither French nor English, knowing that I don’t speak Vietnamese, was not easy. Having no specific training in teaching or education, I was still on law university benches a few days before.

Being loved and respected by the kids was a real challenge. I had to find my footing and the tricks with the kids: what they like doing, what they are able to do depending on their grade, while keeping it educational. I understood fast how teaching was working at Village Chance: I used my creativity to imagine playful exercises and games in English. I had to develop my sense of adaptation, creativity, autonomy, and determination. This also makes the experience awesome.

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Today, I am satisfied with my work here: the children don’t want me to go, and neither do I. I think I found how to have a real relationship with them, through games and diverse sport activities, and I had as much fun as they did! A funny anecdote would be how they pronounced my name on my first days here, I got everything from Aliono to Oyao.

I met extraordinary people at Maison Chance, caring and cheerful despite the difficulties they encounter. Whether they were volunteers’ managers, other volunteers, Maison Chance employees or the residents of Village Chance, they were all extremely nice to me. I also discovered how powerful an NGO could be and how it could accomplish so many wonderful things for people in need. Such generosity and devotion are incredible.

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Obviously, I spent the majority of my time with the kids, and it’s with them that I keep the best memories. Being in contact with children requires to be patient, persistent, creative but more importantly devoted. They were not always easy, but they brought me a limitless affection, pretty hard to describe… Finally, the fact that we don’t speak the same language made this experience even more magic: we could find other forms of communication through gestures, looks, expressions…

Going so far away from home is not always easy, I lived some harder times due to tiredness and loneliness… But those times are quickly forgotten when you live such an intense experience! This was my first long trip, my first experience with kids and my first time in Asia. When I think about it, it was a little crazy to just leave like that, alone, not being able to speak Vietnamese, in a country so different from mine… In other words, I achieved a personal challenge and I have no regrets. My experience at Maison Chance brought me self-confidence, patience, autonomy, adaptation skills and generosity! I would recommend to anyone to take the leap even if it’s difficult. You’ll feel way prouder of yourself.

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My volunteering at Maison Chance is ending soon. Leaving is going to be difficult. Once we are here, we don’t want to leave anymore. Thank you, Maison Chance, to have allowed me to live this adventure. I hope I could bring my help to your extraordinary organization!”

Thank you, Aliénor, for the time you spent with the Village Chance kids, they already miss you! Maison Chance and its team wishes you safe travels back to France and to your family and friends, to whom you’ll have plenty of stories to share!

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