Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. Last week we highlighted Vietnam. Children ages 4 through grade 6 are invited to join us in the Catacombs at 6:30 PM every Sunday throughout the summer as we explore what God is doing around the world.

Focus on Vietnam

According to tradition, everyone in Vietnam celebrates their birthday on the same day: Têt, the first day of the lunar new year. Children put on new clothes, receive red envelopes full of money, and count themselves as one year older. The holiday lasts up to a week; and floor cleaning during Têt is frowned on, because you might sweep your luck away. Besides special food and visits with friends, Têt includes time to honor dead ancestors. People who die are thought to live in another realm and are dependent on the living to provide them food and other things they need. Most homes have a family altar where people can place food and offerings–often paper replicas of things like motorbikes or houses. Only one out of every hundred people in Vietnam is an evangelical Christian.

What's it Like to Live in Vietnam?

Most people in Vietnam are farmers. Terraces for growing rice cut across the hillsides like stairs. In these rural areas, families live together with their grandparents and great grandparents all in the same house. The houses may have thatch roofs and mud walls. In some areas, they tower high on stilts to protect them from flooding.  Life in the cities is far different. There bikes, motorcycles, and cars crowd the streets, and people live in more modern houses or apartments. 

Every school uses the same books and teaches the same subjects, and, at the end of fifth grade, children take a very important test. How well they do determines what kind of school they go to next. Four years later, they take another big test. This time students who don’t do well have to stop going to school. Instead they go to work in a factory or on the family farm. Everyone else is assigned a high school: The higher your score, the better the school. They take two more exams when they finally reach the end of high school: one to graduate and on to get into the university. Taking all these exams makes school very stressful. Most students take extra classes in the evenings or weekends to try to get better scores. Even elementary school students study from 7:30 in the morning till 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

Food in Vietnam

Vietnamese is a mixture of French and Asian cuisine. Rice or rice noodles and fish sauce are part of almost every meal. In the cities, people often buy their meals from street vendors. Pho, or soup with strips of meat, is a common breakfast. You can find recipes and a discussion of Vietnamese food culture on this site.

Chè (Black bean soup–it’s sweet like dessert!)

1 cup uncooked black beans 1 can coconut milk (250 ml)
1 cup sugar 2 cups grated coconut

Soak beans overnight in lightly salted water. Drain and add 1 cup fresh water, and a pinch of salt and boil till beans are soft. Remove beans from water; add sugar to the water and heat so the sugar dissolves. Use tall glasses and put 2 T beans in each. Add ice cubes and fill with the sweetened bean liquid and coconut milk. Garnish with grated coconut and serve with a wide straw.

Craft Project

Vietnamese myths say the people are the children of a dragon and fairy. They linked the dragon to the emperor and their artwork is full of dragon images. Look up “Vietnamese Dragon” on wikipedia and try drawing one. Or pretend you are celebrating  the Vietnamese New Year and make a dragon puppet. Instructions can be found here


Find answers to the questions below by visiting this site

  1. What does Bui Duy Binh eat for breakfast?
  2. How does he get back and forth to school?
  3. How do students at his school start the school day? 
  4. Extra credit: What five countries are Communist?

Learn Vietnamese

Vietnamese is a tonal language. You really have to hear it to learn it. Saying the same sounds with different intonations changes the meaning. The Vietnamese like to make jokes that play off these changes of meaning. If you want to try speaking a few phrases, visit TIME for kids' page on Vietnam.

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Terri Taylor. © 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org