Ryan McGovern (Vietnam)

Ryan McGovern (Association for the Empowerment of People with Disabilities - AEPD): Ryan enlisted in the US Army immediately after High School. He was stationed at Fort Bragg North Carolina, and attained the rank of Sergeant. During his four years of service, Ryan completed US Army Ranger School, the Military Free Fall Parachutist course (HALO) and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following his military service, Ryan earned a BS in International Economics at Suffolk University in Boston Massachusetts. Prior to his fellowship, Ryan was pursuing a Master of Arts degree at The American University in Cairo. His interest in remnants of war was sparked by his experience in Northern Iraq, a region devastated by landmines and UXO from years of armed conflict. After his fellowship Ryan wrote: “[This experience] reminded me that all cultures are different… Certainly I gained a new perspective in a region I was very unfamiliar with.”

Day in the Life

17 Aug

No day for me is ever quite the same. Different projects come up and impromptu trips to the field are common. My mornings however seem to start the same. I wake up at around 6 am, then realize that this is far too early and go back to bed. Sounds of chickens and construction workers tend to wake me up for good around 7 though, which means it’s time to start my day with……….

Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese Coffee

Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to real coffee. I’ve drank my weight in this stuff and I’m a little concerned nothing will ever compare.

After my injection of concentrated caffeine, it’s a short walk to the AEPD office where I get to work with amazing people. Like these guys….

AEPD Staff Members

AEPD Staff Members

The gentlemen in the photo are both outreach workers. Mr. Luu has an amazing life story that a previous peace fellow (Simon Klantschi) has written about. I’d highly suggest checking it out here. In the middle is the amazing Mrs. Nga, the monitoring and evaluation officer for AEPD. She is always with me during my field visits, and I owe her a huge debt of gratitude for all her help.

Generally I have some office work to do in the morning. Editing reports, writing profiles of their beneficiaries, and whatever else comes up. The Vietnamese workday generally go’s from 8am – 6pm, but with a longer lunch break. This gives plenty of time to take in all the sights and sounds of Dong Hoi, which is best done on the seat of motorbike.

If I’m lucky, I get to spend the rest of my day travelling off the beaten path to the rural communes of Quang Binh Province. The scenery is beautiful, and I always get to meet to the most incredible individuals. During my last trip, I got to meet the following people, who I’m hoping I’ll be able to profile more in depth.
Mr Tuan, IT specialist and aspiring philanthropist

Mr Tuan, IT specialist and aspiring philanthropist

Mr. Huan the Engineer

Mr. Huan the Engineer

Mr. My who is blind, provides weather updates for local fishermen with his radio

Mr. My who is blind, provides weather updates for local fishermen with his radio

Every time I go to the field I meet the most interesting people, but Mr. My is exceptional. Born blind, life is a constant struggle for him. His family is always struggling financially, yet he finds the time to volunteer as the weather liaison for the local fishermen of his commune, providing updates on approaching storms. There’s no way to know how many lives he’s saved in total, but fishermen often go to his house to provide him gifts in appreciation. I’m planning on writing a much more in depth profile on him, so stay tuned.

Central Vietnam isn’t exactly known for it’s nightlife. Most shops close down by 8 or 9pm. This has it’s advantages and disadvantages. After living in a place like Cairo however, it’s nice to be in such a serene place. Generally I do some more writing in the evening before dinner, then I enjoy the views from my balcony and call it night.

Another great day in Dong Hoi.


Posted By Ryan McGovern (Vietnam)

Posted Aug 17th, 2011

1 Comment

  • Joan Mansour

    August 19, 2011


    It sounds like you have really enjoyed your time in Vietnam and will miss it when you have to leave. I love reading the profiles of the various people. You have really provided me with insight into a country about which I knew very little and cleared up some misconceptions as well.

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