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ROBERT THIEM, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Volunteer VN 2012 and 2014 and 2015
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Dr. Lan Jones
Posted 4/26/2014 11:08 PM (#68)
Subject: ROBERT THIEM, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Volunteer VN 2012 and 2014 and 2015


Posts: 52

     As an American I have not known suffering.We all experience heart ache and disappointment, but I have never experienced revolution or a change of currency, or being forced to leave my home. So I like to go to VN to interact with people who have. People who I find to be happy and strong and resourceful and loving. I work with children there. Although I am a father of seven I don't really feel I am good with children. I can watch and protect them but the cutesy interaction I leave to others more suited.
     I find in VN much of what we have lost in my country. A silly example is meals served in a family style where everyone can pick and choose what they like and converse about it afterwards. Or maybe the importance of how you treat the friends of your friends, not the size of your bank account, or how many hits you have on face book, but how you treat people face to face.
     I have read that X percent of communication is  non-verbal, something like 80. So I watch people and do not get hung up on language. It works. Watch someone's body language and you can tell what they think of you. Some people get concerned when Vietnamese speak Vietnamese. I tell them not to. The Vietnamese people speaking English do a wonderful job,as I judge by the English speakers attempting Vietnamese, but some things you can only convey in your mother tongue. I was talking to Patrick who speaks Gallic as a second language. He told me he could ask where the restroom was in Gallic, but pondering the truths of the universe in that language was beyond him. If Vietnamese people were talking about me as often some think they are talking about them I would be thoroughly impressed with myself.
    I also like to work with professionals and hear the problems and adventures they are having in their lives. It makes me realize it is not how much money you make but the relationships you increase that matters in life. We all struggle but at different levels.
     I guess I go to Vietnam to learn how to struggle through hard times with a happy face and looking to better days with people I love. When Vietnam has nothing more to teach me I will stop going. I think that will be a long time.
     If you are a dentist you are a driven person. You basically have given up your twenties for your career. You most likely work at a practice where you are in charge not only of dentistry, but also hiring/firing staff,maintaining office space, ordering supplies, setting up and attending continuing training, and oh yeah your family obligations. So to devout two weeks seems crazy; after all you probably work for yourself and if you are not there the work continues to build up until you get to it .Oh yeah and it is not cheap; you will be expected to pay your way over and a fee for the privilege of working. So why do it?
     May be you should look inside yourself and see if you are content. If you believe that all you have you have worked for and deserved then perhaps you should stay home. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Some of you may think that you owe some one: a grandfather, parent, scholarship or spouse. I am no expert or philosopher, but did you become a dentist but to help people. Fifty weeks a year amass all your fortunes, but two weeks a year consider helping others.
     DDS4Kids teams go to remote villages in Vietnam to give dental care to children who otherwise would not have access. We see in the area of seven hundred kids a day with a volunteer staff of six dentists and other helpers. We set up shop in schools and work without dentist chairs, suction, music, internet, x-rays and many other things that are essential in the USA. We bring healing to those who would not have it otherwise. The work is hard and steady but it is fulfilling.
    I am not a dentist. I clean the tools and prepare the syringes to keep those who are dentists moving. The dentists that I work with are all special people. They give. My dad always said there are two types of people: givers and takers. If you are a giver and thinking about doing a trip with DDS4Kids I applaud you. I will personally try to make your trip as fun as possible. The work is hard, the people are great, and you will remember your time in Vietnam.


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