Parents across Ho Chi Minh City are finding new and exciting ways for their children to enjoy meaningful summers – a serious departure from the traditional extra tutoring classes that commonly fill most summer schedules.
Thang, originally from Quynh Luu District, north-central Nghe An Province, has lived in Ho Chi Minh City for 25 years.
He currently lives with his wife and children near the city center.
With two very young children, Thang has found it difficult to visit his hometown in summertime.
This year, for the first time in nearly a decade, he has planned to finally make a trip home so that his children can experience the environment their father grew up in, even if it means shelling out quite a bit of money to afford the high travel costs involved.
“You shouldn’t wait to do what you want because the opportunity might suddenly disappear, and that would lead to regret,” he said.
Thang plans to make the trip in late July and is most looking forward to his mother’s home cooking.
He believes it will be the most meaningful summer he could possibly provide for his children.
Hanh, hailing from Binh Duong Province, just outside Ho Chi Minh City, also hopes to create meaningful summer memories for her child.
This summertime, Hanh would like to visit Da Lat, Phan Thiet, and the Mekong Delta region.
She believes it will be an escape from both the bustling city and from the pressures of daily life and electronic devices.
Bin, Hang’s 11-year-old son, had a successful school year and she hopes her planned vacations will be a fitting reward for a job well done.
“Everyone needs to refresh and find a new point of view," Hanh explained.
“What we have now is not natural.
"Our ancestors have a saying that goes, ‘Go out one day, and come back with a basket full of wisdom.’”
Hanh hopes this ‘wisdom’ will come in the form of soft skills and a recognition of the importance of caring for the natural environment.
Loan and Thong, a couple, plan to use the summer to teach their children about charity.
Each Christmas, Lunar New Year, or summer holiday, they bring their kids to various charity centers, orphanages, and mental asylums so that they can help those less fortunate than themselves.
Thong explained that he tries to teach his children that each person is born different and experiences their own issues and problems, and it is up to each and every human being to help others overcome their problems.
While older generations typically had full three-month summer breaks, newer generations typically spend their summers enrolled in extra classes.
“We have to balance and guide the way we educate our children," said Le Truong An from the Ho Chi Minh City Open University.
"We need to let them connect with nature.”
Bringing children to visit their grandparents can help families connect, especially during visits to parks, zoos, swimming pools, and martial arts centers.