University of Oregon

Caring for Children with Disabilities in Hanoi

Program Overview

As in most countries, children with disabilities are very vulnerable in Vietnam. Those with mental and physical disabilities often do not receive the care they need for a variety of reasons, including limited family resources, parental neglect and social stigma. In addition, the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War has left many of the children and grandchildren of those exposed to the chemical with serious health conditions.

The caregiving project supports various centers that give care to children with disabilities with special education and therapy.

Program Description:

  • Work four (4) to five (5) hours a day in local orphanages and centers
    • some of the children have autism, cerebral palsy or Down's syndrome, while others suffer from birth defects related to Agent Orange exposure;
  • Interns assist the local staff in:
    • feeding the children
    • helping them during their therapy exercises
    • leading activities like: painting, planting organic gardens, playing sports
  • Depending on local need, there may also be some adults with disabilities at the project whom interns can work with too.


  • Eager to contribute.
  • The energy to keep young children stimulated.
  • Approach experience with a caring, humble, proactive and respectful attitude.
  • Have the emotional intelligence and maturity to relate to people from difficult backgrounds.


  • It is each intern's role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes an international internship so special.

This internship is self-directed. Participants must be able to work independently and contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities you were not expecting to work in.

This service learning internship opportunity is made possible through a partnership with UBELONG, the world's leading social organization for high-impact volunteering and learning opportunities abroad. UBELONG's mission is to bring people together across borders to share their humanity and take action for positive change.

Internship Details

Students must intern for a minimum of 30 hours per week, for a total of at least 240 hours for an 8-week internship.  This will earn 8 internship credits.

In addition to 8 internship credits, students will enroll in a 1-4 credit Intercultural Communication online course.  This course is designed to provide ongoing support to students who do internships abroad.  Students will observe, explore and investigate the core cultural values in their host country during the service learning internship, conduct comparison in the differences between their host and home country, and develop critical thinking skills and culture learning strategies. Some of the topics discussed in this course include: attitudes toward time, space, age, gender and authority, different views on self/others, conflict styles and culture shock. 

A weekly assignment for the online course includes: reading assignments, group discussions and/or a weekly journal.  The number of enrolled credits will determine the course workload.  It will begin one week before your internship begins and end one week after completion.

Eligible applicants will be considered automatically for a Freeman Fellowship for up to $6,000 in funding toward internships in East and Southeast Asia.

Housing Description

The Intern House is part of a lively hostel located in the city center near restaurants and shops. Staff is available 24/7 at the house to assist interns with any needs. Interns generally share a room with one to three other interns.

Additional Requirements

Prior to arrival, participants must provide a police background check.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.