Mission Perspective: In My Parents' Homeland

Two people in a small motorboat on the Mekong Delta near Can Tho, Vietnam.
I’ve waited years to finally travel to Vietnam, a country of boundless significance for me, being my parents’ homeland. I never thought I’d be coming here for the first time to participate in an international medical mission project. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to join the IEP team on this trip.

A woman sitting on a hospital bed with a cast on her left ankle following a surgery as part of a medical mission.
It’s been an amazing experience to get to know so many people in one trip, from the IEP team members to the medical team in the Can Tho Central General Hospital to the patients I met while helping with translation during screening and surgery days. I had a rocky start during the first few days since I was still learning Vietnamese medical terminology and the art of interpretation. I gradually became more confident, and at the end of the trip, I’ve come away with a whole new vocabulary!

Working as a translator, I’ve been filled with pride in being able to help everyone around me with language barriers. The relief and happiness on everyone’s faces once they finally understand each other makes me happy to see each time I help with translation, not to mention the ecstatic faces of Vietnamese people when they realize I’m a fellow Vietnamese speaker! Whether it was a patient or nurse in the hospital, I always noticed how easily they could slip straight into Vietnamese and let their guard down when they heard me speak in Vietnamese. Those moments warm my heart, knowing the comfort I brought them in a time of stress and worry.

A small boy wearing a green shirt standing with a woman in a surgical mask while waiting to have his foot evaluated for surgery as part of an International Extremity Project medical mission.
Seeing patients undergo screening, surgery, and rounding has been a wonderful experience. Seeing patients’ lives changing for the better with one surgery has been amazing to see. This opportunity has helped to further solidify my plans to become a doctor. I would also like to be a catalyst in helping to improve lives. 

I’d like to thank everyone I met on this trip: the doctors who helped me understand surgical details, the IEP team members who helped me feel welcome on my first mission, and the lovely people of Vietnam who welcomed me on my first visit to the country.

— Christine Duong