When SVD student Binh Tanh Nguyen first arrived in Thailand from the United States, the first thing he did was take some time to learn the language, culture and customs of the Thai people – even though it was the country of his birth.
“I was born in Thailand in a refugee camp and raised from a wee lad in the US,” he says.
Now, as part of his Overseas Training Program assignment, he is immersing himself in a variety of tasks with the SVD Thai mission, including driving children to school or to hospital and teaching English at the local high school.
“I really enjoy being with the people and being a witness to their lives,” he says.
“I found learning the language to be equally challenging and fun as well. I always loved to learn different languages in order to understand other people and, perhaps, form friendships.”
Binh joined the Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa, after graduating from high school, and began his discernment with the SVDs.
He graduated with a Masters degree in Relational Communications in May 2015 and was assigned to Thailand for the Overseas Training Program, which gives SVD students an experience of living the life of an overseas missionary.
Binh says he is still discerning whether his vocation is to brotherhood or priesthood.
“But I am attracted to brotherhood because I feel free to explore the world and am able to enjoy various ministries, contributing my gifts and talents in different situations, places and people,” he says.
With Thailand forming part of the SVD AUS Province, Binh recently spent several weeks visiting the SVD communities in Australia, including spending time in Central Australia, at Alice Springs and at the indigenous community of Santa Teresa.
“I had a really good time in Australia, being allowed to visit the communities in each city,” he says.
“Each brought its own dynamics and challenges.
“The best part of my trip was getting to know each of the candidates in temporary vows at Dorish Maru College. I was very happy to see their enthusiasm and zeal for the religious missionary vocation. I felt welcomed by their hospitality and I will cherish the time we spent together during the Cultural Workshop.”
Binh has now resumed his OTP ministry in Thailand and will return to the United States in June to complete his studies and continue his formation.