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UNIS Hanoi Revives Exchange Programme with UNIS New York!

After a 4 year hiatus, the UNIS New York / UNIS Hanoi exchange is back! Nineteen high school students and three chaperones arrived last Saturday to connect, explore and learn about the rich cultural history of Vietnam, our school and our shared connection to the United Nations.

This exchange also marks the return of Homestays with 10 UNIS families volunteering to welcome the NY students into their homes. This trip wouldn’t be possible without them. The school would like to thank the families of Linus Scheibe G10), Hami Taggart (G9), Aiden Lee (G9), Vitoria Lakhavani (G9), Lily Piggott (G10), Brian Stam (G9), Lina Yongpiyanon (G10), Mirabel Bean (G8), Arshan Chikkatur (G9) and Breighton Fuller (G9).

After a fun-filled morning on Easter Sunday touring the Temple of Literature and the Hoa Lo Prison, the Unicorns were on campus Monday morning to get a sense of student life at UNIS Hanoi by shadowing their host students in homebase and period 2. The two groups then got together to share and present the history of the United Nations in our respective countries and schools. And as a lead up to the following day’s activity, the students proudly shared which UNESCO Heritage sites they have visited.

Following the collaborative session, the NY group jumped on a bus to visit Bat Trang Pottery Village where they got a chance to learn more about the unique products that are created there and all had a chance to get their hand on the wheel!

On Tuesday, a visit to Trang An Landscape Complex was on the docket. This remarkable destination officially became recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014. They took in the beautiful scenery of limestone mountains, caves and dynamic waterways through a leisurely ride down the river of a raft boat.

Following the boat ride, they had the opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal at a local restaurant. Upon their return to Hanoi, they shared their experiences enthusiastically with their host families.

Excitement was in the air when New Yorkers arrived at school on Wednesday with duffle bags packed. After a morning at the Museum of Ethnology, they returned to campus to experience an ‘insider’s tour” of the UNIS Hanoi Cultural Collection with the donor Mark Rapoport. Then the group connected with Greta M. (G9) who introduced the Helping Hands service group to give them some insight into their service activity at a local school in Sapa on Friday. Before leaving for Sapa, the students had a chance to engage with another service group, the KOTO and Blue Dragon Service Learning. 

After an overnight train to Sapa, the Unicorns hit the ground running by being exposed to the unique ethnicities and culture that are thriving in the North. They learned about embroidery in a Hmong village. It was a beautiful day, so the group rode their way up to the peak of Fansipang to take in the sights.

Friday morning the group ventured to the Sa Seng Lower School where Think Playgrounds, a social enterprise based in Sapa, to build playground equipment for the local children. They return to Hanoi on Saturday and will spend one final night with their hosts before departing for the United States on Sunday. 

We are looking forward to many more exchanges with our UNIS New York friends and hope that this one to Hanoi will create memories that will last a lifetime.