Today was full of a variety of activities and a range of emotions. We started off at UEF learning about Buddhism. I remember learning small details about it’s teachings in 6th grade when I first heard the name Siddhartha Gautama. Having the opportunity to have a lecture specifically on Buddha and Buddhism, finally let me understand what the religion/philosophy is. In terms of Professor Khoa, Buddhism can be simplified to “Life sucks. Life sucks because we want stuff. If we don’t want life to suck, stop wanting stuff. The Eightfold path us the way to stop wanting stuff.” When he told us this, everyone in the classroom laughed but secretly we all were thankful he simplified it for us. After a short break, we got to continue our lesson outside of the classroom at a Xa Loi Pagoda, a Buddhist Temple. Since the Buddha’s birthday is this Sunday, there were people hanging decorations and preparing for a celebration. When entering the temple, the beauty of the statues and flowers and all decorations inside are breathtaking and I am not surprised an environment like that promotes peace. Learning that Buddha isn’t a God-like figure but an actual person and when people “pray” to him it is just in remembrance and in search of a path to enlightenment, it was surprising since I have only known the Christianity faith and assumed other types of religions we’re very similar.
After the trip to the Buddhist temple, lunch, and a short nap, we walked to the War Remnants Museum. Even though I learned most of the history of the Vietnam War in school, todays visit to the museum was difficult to handle. As an American, we only learn about the parts of history that are in favor of the Americans. Going to this museum that displays how awful the Americans treated the Vietnamese people was heartbreaking. I knew some of what occurred in terms of Agent Orange and mass bombings but learning more in detail of what occurred and how the Vietnamese perceived the Americans just made me question even more why U.S. handled things the way they did. I wish schools in the U.S. would allow the students to learn more about the perspective of the Vietnamese in the war so there would be a full, less-bias understanding of what happened in the war.
When we finished touring the museum, we headed to Bến Thành Market. The market is where vendors set up shop to sell things from clothes to food to toys. This type of market is different that what we have in the U.S. because you are able to bargain prices. Although I was hesitant in the beginning, once I heard other people bargaining prices, I thought I would give it a try. My most successful negotiation experience was when I was buying a fan but when he told me the price was 140,000 VND, I was no longer interested and decided to just move on with my shopping. He started shouting after me lower prices and since I wasn’t interested, I kept walking. When he finally shouted 50,000 VND, I decided it was worth it and to purchase it. Even though I’m not sure what an appropriate price for that product was, it still boosted my confidence in bartering.
We headed to language class from the market. Sadly, today was our last day of classes so we had a few UEF students come in to play music for us for the first half of class then spent only a few minutes reviewing the language. It was a hard goodbye to our professor who has been extremely patient with us during our time at UEF.