Vietnam part 2: Cao Bang, 30 km from China / dec 23 – dec 30, 2015
After flying from Hué to Hanoi, we were met by Thuy from the MCNV office in Hanoi, and Lan, who was to be our translator for the training in Cao Bang. A six hour drive on a 2 lane mountain road got us all there about 7 pm. Our driver was excellent, and a good thing as he’d never met a blind curve he couldn’t pass on!
The next morning, December 24, Thuy took us to the training venue, which was the government office of Population and Family Planning.
After tea with the director, a kind and lovely woman called Ms. Tang, we met our 12 students. They were all health workers in village health clinics and organizations for disabled people; 4 women, 8 guys, ages 20 something to 60+. Ms. Tang made a welcome speech and we were each presented with an enormous bouquet of glorious flowers!
The next thing we had to do was learn names and pronunciation; Vietnamese has the same 5 pesky tones that Thai does! For the next 7 days we were to be gently corrected; Thaó, rising tone, Yen, flat tone… Here they are:
And so we began; showing images, asking them to pick ones they liked and explain why, and setting photo assignments. As is often the case, the first pictures were stilted, subjects too far away, or blurred. But after day 2, that started to change as the photographers began to think about what was in the frame, what the light was doing, what was in the background. For example:
Before going back to Hanoi, Thuy was determined that we should try every Vietnamese dish available in Cao Bang:
We did a field trip to the market with the students assigned to producing a group story from the trip; one photo from each participant. Much discussion as to whether 12 photographers converging on one market stall might get in the way of business until they realized that all 12 didn’t have to go to one stall, there were lots to choose from.
These beautiful spring rolls came from Pizza Chi, where Zum, the owner, made pizza in an ancient wood-fired pizza oven. He was also an amateur photographer who started a camera club in Cao Bang. We invited him to the workshop closing ceremony and introduced him to the students, some of whom live in Cao Bang. Maybe a spark will ignite!
Although Cao Bang was full of Santa Claus figures, Christmas trees, carols blasting, Christmas day was just another work day for all of us.
Some of the assignment images:
And here are some classroom pics ( note the presence of coats!):
The photographers all have to agree on everyone’s choices for the exhibition.
Between translating for the students and looking after us, for 9 days Lan has been kept busy!
And back in Hanoi:
A foot-note for our Nova Scotia friends; look what we found in Hanoi!