Hello! My name is Anthony Zammit, an Australian – Maltese who came to Highland Centre to help out for two months. I am not certain what I expected but what I found was nothing but exceptional. I volunteered in Peru for many years and I felt that I needed a change and I thank Heavens for doing so because the people of Ha Giang are ‘Happiness Generating People’ Their inward peace and genuine happiness brushes off on you if you like it or not. It is something you have to experience yourself for it is indescribable! Walking down the road I am greeted with Hellos, people pass on their babies to hold and take photos of me with their babies. Each time I walk into a classroom I ask myself ‘What teaching am I going to leave behind’ During these 40m I have to impart something even if I manage to make them say six and not sick for number 6, or ‘I am 6 years old’ and not ‘I am six year old’ They are smart kids but have difficulty in pronunciation and this is where we come in.
I am overwhelmed to have had this experience in Highland Centre and after I close up my projects in Peru, I think I will return here and become a ‘Village Teacher’ where I will live in a Homestay, free lodging, free food, free friendship and genuine respect and gratitude from the community and be able to share their daily life like grazing with Water buffalo (although they were afraid of me).What a great retirement plan!
But above all, my most memorable experience was coming to love the people I was home staying with, Mrs. Hang, her daughter Lien, and her friends and family. I loved hearing Mrs. Hang make strange sounds like “chiu!” I loved hearing Lien say “tickle!” and then starting a tickle war with her. I loved sitting on the floor in a circle when eating lunch and dinner and getting very full because everyone kept on giving me more food. Their key phrase was “all for you!” I loved Lien’s grandmother who called me “daughter” and who let me call her “mother”. I can go on and on. As I said before, the list is endless.Thank you. Thank you for all the “first times.” Coming to Ha Giang, to Highland Center and meeting Lien’s family was one of the best decisions I have ever made.