Khiri Campus has organized many service-learning programs in the Mai Chau district of the Hoa Binh province in Vietnam. The community relies on agriculture for most of their income and there has been little opportunity for economic development in it for the past few decades. Many people in Mai Chau live below the UN’s international poverty line because of this. To assist in the community’s development, student groups can come to this area to work with local families and tradesmen to build kitchens, toilets, and bathrooms. The aim is to improve the living standards and sanitation in this community. Not only does Khiri Campus try to create valuable learning experiences, but we also try to help the students embrace the culture through local activities after their hard-working days at the project sites. These activities can include:
1. Making bamboo-tube rice (Com Lam)
The Mai Chau people largely live in the forest. Their nomadic life includes farming and livestock breeding for food, and they often do not use items we may be used to, such as pots and bowls, in their kitchens. One of the more popular ways to cook there is by grilling bamboo filled with rice, which is a convenient way to make delicious meals in difficult conditions. The rice is soaked for hours, then washed, and put into small bamboo tubes. A banana leaf is usually rolled and put inside the tube before the rice is put into it. In the true version of Com Lam, no other spices are included. Tubes are then blocked in one end and added with water to a certain level. After learning the technique, students will get to taste what they have made for dinner.
2. Weaving bamboo baskets
Bamboo is everywhere in these mountainous areas, especially in Mai Chau. As a result, local people take advantage of the bamboo to make many daily items, including the famous bamboo basket. While the majority of the world has gotten used to plastic containers, the people here – especially the older generation – still try to preserve the national cultural identity through their handmade bamboo baskets. The students will be guided on how to make these bamboo baskets by the older locals and they are encouraged to use them for their trekking excursions.
3. Enjoying local food
After a long day at the project site, students will be excited to replenish their strength with local food. The dishes are well-prepared and cooked by a local chef, and the students will learn how to use chopsticks for their meals, just as the local Vietnamese do. The food has gotten great reviews from students and educators in the past – we all love Mai Chau food!
4.Playing football and volleyball with local people
A great way to explore the culture of a place is to talk and interact with people who live there. Khiri Campus always tries to bring students and locals together. After coming back from the project site, our students are encouraged to play football or volleyball with local people here. Those who are not particularly interested in the sports can watch and interact with the local people in Vietnamese after a quick lesson from our coordinator at the beginning of the program. This can be challenging, but very fun!
5.Watching traditional music performances
In the farewell dinner with the locals in Mai Chau, students will get to enjoy a traditional Vietnamese dance performance. The dancers will wear their traditional costumes, which are usually worn during special events. At the end of the performance, students will get to participate in the traditional bamboo dancing, which famously require rhythm and a sense of adventure!
Join Khiri Campus’ service-learning programs to experience the once-in-a-lifetime cultural activities listed above, and more!