Vietnam is a vibrant, alluring country with a history stretching back over 4000 years. In the last 30 years, the country has had to recover from the ravages of war and the challenges of a planned economy. The economy is growing, but not for everyone. Vietnam has captured the imagination of travelers wanting to see misty rice paddies, dramatic karsts, and the sensory overload of the cities. Ornate Buddhist temples, sparkling silk shops, and a cuisine flavored with exotic spices constantly remind visitors of the country's rich civilization and heritage. The streets of Ho Chi Minh City are rivers of motorbikes carrying everything imaginable from families of five to kegs of beer and kitchen sinks. Outside the cities, visitors can explore Vietnam's natural wonders including Ha Long Bay, beautiful beaches, dense rainforests where new species are being discovered every year, and remote forest covered mountains. The people of Vietnam are proud survivors and gracious hosts.
ELI partners with NGOs, community development organizations, and renowned medical institutions in both Ho Chi Minh City and DaLat, creating volunteer opportunities that both benefit the community and provide a unique learning opportunity. Whether you work in a center for children affected by Agent Orange, teach in a primary school, or assist in a clinic for migrant workers, a special cultural opportunity is waiting for you.
Volunteering or interning in Vietnam may sound intimidating for those who don't speak Vietnamese, but there are excellent opportunities for English speakers.
In Vietnam, as in many developing countries, children with disabilities are often marginalized or simply rejected from their families and the community. ELI helps provide volunteer teachers and assistants to a center in the Dalat region that specifically caters to autistic and deaf children. Volunteers work with the center to do everything from planning day-to-day activities to teaching English and helping with daily chores. Experience working with autistic or deaf children is helpful but not required. Questions? Click here
Lorenzo was a medical student who also spent time with our youth program in Da Lat:
ELI places interns with highly respected clinics in DaLat. Interns start by shadowing on medical rotation, then assist as their supervising doctor deems appropriate. Working in the clinic is ideal for self-starters and highly motivated students. While many of the doctors speak English, issues of language barriers and cross-cultural interactions provide unique challenges for participants and are a great way to build skills necessary to work in the medical field in any country. Specialization in dental and pharmacy are also available.
This program is open to advanced pre-medical, medical, nursing, pharmacy or dental students. Download our PDF
Questions? Click here
"I worked in a vaccine clinic in Da Lat, Vietnam. A typical day varied for each volunteer depending on which room in the clinic we were working in. We either volunteered in the blood draw room, vaccine room, or the laboratory and there was plenty of opportunity to rotate and switch rooms. We would generally arrive at the clinic around 7:15 AM and patients would start to be seen at 7:30 AM. I remained in the blood room throughout the trip. So, I spent my mornings doing just that, drawing blood. The sample size drawn would vary depending on which labs were being completed for each patient. Each vile typically needed 2 ml of blood and some tests such as DNA, RNA and Genotyping required upwards of 4 ml each. The tests run in the lab were generally the same gamut that we would find in any US hospital with perhaps a higher frequency of parasitic and toxicology testing used. I would draw the blood using various syringes sizes (3, 5, 10, and 12 ml depending on the needed sample size). I would then inject the blood into the required lab vials and then centrifuge the appropriate vials before passing them onto the lab that was attached to the blood room via a small window. I would also write a receipt for each patient that highlighted when his or her results would be available for pickup. Generally, most results were available for patients the same day within two hours. Most of the toxicology and parasitic testing took two days and the DNA, RNA and genotyping tests took one day. I found this to be quite efficient particularly considering some of the distances these patients were travelling to receive care at the Pasteur Clinic. In addition, I helped to teach new volunteers rotating into the blood draw room the procedure followed in the clinic for how to draw blood properly. Our days ended around 11:30 AM when we would usually head off for lunch at one of the local restaurants near the clinic. Sometimes the staff would request that we return to the clinic in the afternoon when they knew in advance that it would be a particularly busy day and they could use the extra help. Otherwise, we were free to enjoy the city." - Daniel B., Sidney Kimmel Medical College MD Candidate
Ho Chi Minh City:
In Vietnam, pregnant women out of wedlock are highly stigmatized and often abandoned by their families and boyfriends. With nowhere else to go, these women are forced to live in the streets. We work with a shelter that provides meals, education, and a temporary home for single pregnant women as well as single mothers and their children. The shelter works hard to create supportive environment for the mothers and give them the necessary life skills to live independently. The shelter provides vocational training to these women so they can eventually leave the shelter and make it on their own. While the women are in their classes, volunteers assist in caring for the children. The number of children in the center varies, but usually around 40 children live in the shelter. Some of the children have been abandoned by their mothers and now live in the shelter permanently. Volunteers are also welcome to teach basic English classes. Volunteers who speak Vietnamese may be invited to lead workshops for the mothers. Importantly, the role of a volunteer is to spend time with the women and help them regain their self confidence. This program requires at least a four week time commitment. Questions? Click here
Veterinary internships are available at a veterinary clinic in Ho Chi Minh City. The veterinarians routinely perform general surgery procedures such as, spays, neuters, mass removals, etc. They also perform more specialized procedures such as orthopedic and soft tissue surgeries. English language required, Vietnamese is helpful. This internship is ideal for advanced pre-vet, vet tech and vet students. Questions? Click here
|Length of Program||Program Fee for All Placements
|2 Weeks||US $846|
|3 Weeks||US $985|
|4 Weeks||US $1120|
|5 Weeks||US $1295|
|6 Weeks||US $1430|
|7 Weeks||US $1560|
|8 Weeks||US $1690|
|9 Weeks||US $1820|
|10 Weeks||US $1950|
|11 Weeks||US $2080|
|12 Weeks||US $2210|
Programs require at least a two week commitment with a 6 month maximum.
Application Fee: $200
The application fee is a separate administrative charge for all programs. It does not apply to the program fee. (Please see our application fee refund policy here)
Credit card payments: Payment by credit card will be assessed a 3.5% surcharge. This is the fee that we will be charged for the transaction. Contact us about alternative forms of payment.
Program Does Not Include:
In most placements, volunteers stay in a comfortable local guesthouse. Volunteers either have their own bedroom or share a bedroom with another ELI volunteer. Accommodations may require $3 per day payment for food, but participants are free to eat at local restaurants or street vendors if they prefer. There is easy access to internet cafes and tourist areas through convenient local bus lines.
Visa and Plane Tickets
All travelers headed to Vietnam are required to get a visa in advance. To get your visa through an embassy, find instructions at Vietnam's Embassy. Or you can apply online and get Pre-Approved, print out your receipt so that you can board your plane, and then pick up your visa when you arrive in Vietnam. Our staff will meet you upon arrival at the Ho Chi Minh Airport (SGN). If you are not staying in Ho Chi Minh, we will arrange your transportation to Dalat.
Here is a handy tool to see what time it is in Vietnam: Time Conversion Tool. Be sure to pack for the Weather in Ho Chi Minh, and keep in mind that April tends to be the hottest month of the year. Participants need to visit a travel nurse before their arrival in Vietnam. For immunizations, we defer to the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control. Learn a few Basic Vietnamese Phrases before you arrive, you will frequently encounter language barriers - it's best to be prepared. ELI's Director blogs about the New Vietnam and all things wonderful in Dalat via his blog. Lastly, pick up a guide book - there is so much to See and Do!