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Concern about working/volunteering abroad in Vietnam next year..

dogilog1

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Jun 16, 2019
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I have been offered the opportunity to volunteer at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam this upcoming year. My mother is Vietnamese, and it has always been a dream of mine to spend a prolonged period of time in her home country. Learning the language, better understanding the culture, and traveling solo are just a few of the many reasons why I want to go. After searching through SDN, however, I am worried about going, because I don't want the experience to come across as 'voluntourism' in my applications. Volunteering at the hospital is a way for me to keep adding clinical experience to my resume while enabling me to live abroad. Does anyone have recommendations on what I can do to ensure that I can go to Vietnam to develop personally while not sabotaging my app by having the experience come across negatively? There are some other options I can also consider while in Vietnam including obtaining a TEFL and teaching English or volunteering with some local NGOs.
 

KnightDoc

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Mar 14, 2019
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  1. Pre-Medical
I have been offered the opportunity to volunteer at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam this upcoming year. My mother is Vietnamese, and it has always been a dream of mine to spend a prolonged period of time in her home country. Learning the language, better understanding the culture, and traveling solo are just a few of the many reasons why I want to go. After searching through SDN, however, I am worried about going, because I don't want the experience to come across as 'voluntourism' in my applications. Volunteering at the hospital is a way for me to keep adding clinical experience to my resume while enabling me to live abroad. Does anyone have recommendations on what I can do to ensure that I can go to Vietnam to develop personally while not sabotaging my app by having the experience come across negatively? There are some other options I can also consider while in Vietnam including obtaining a TEFL and teaching English or volunteering with some local NGOs.
I am not an adcom, but to me this sounds great. Voluntourism is a week or two during a break, where you are paying for the experience and are actually more in the way than anything else, where the primary purpose of the trip is for tour operators to make money and for rich kids to have experiences to put on applications. Spending a year in your mother's home country, actually doing something productive, does not sound anything at all like voluntourism. I definitely think you should go for it!!!
 
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OfMiceAndWomen

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I would recommend Fulbright or Princeton in Asia to teach/work/research/volunteer in Vietnam, if you’re worried about how it would appear on your app, as these are more “official” fellowships and are usually well-regarded. They also provide living stipends if money is a problem.
 
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