From Iris Nguyen, teacher at An Giang University

March 20, 2013 marked the first annual United Nations International Day of Happiness. I was actually not aware of this day until a day prior when my German friend Christian mentioned it to me and our group of friends. I like to think of Christian as Superman because he is always going above and beyond for the community in Long Xuyen and surrounding areas. He is one of the most selfless people I know and he is such an inspiration. We have a running joke within our group of friends that Christian is forever smiling. But in reality, it is true. He always has a permanent smile on his face and it is so infectious.

The day before the International Day of Happiness, Christian had bought a lottery ticket from a little girl and he ended up winning 1,000,000VND. Instead of pocketing that money and using it on himself, he decided to pay a local ice cream man for an entire day in order to hand out ice cream on March 20th. All of the proceeds would go to free ice cream for the local children in the city.

On the afternoon of the day, me and few friends went over to this street along the river to set up. Luckily, I had decided to be an ice cream cone for Halloween so I brought along my costume that I had made, along with the same costume I made for Annie. I made a sign saying ‘Free ice cream for children’ so that people would be able to see what we were doing, rather than wonder why a bunch of foreigners were standing along a sidewalk. Within the course of two hours, I felt as if we gave 100 kids ice cream cones. Many people driving on their motorbikes saw our sign and pulled over to get ice cream cones for their children. We even had two trolleys full of children from a daycare come by for ice cream.

To end the night, the group went out for dinner next door to where we were giving out ice cream. The same little girl that sold Christian the lottery ticket came up and Christian instantly remembered her. He pulled out 200,000VND and told her that it was for her because she had sold him that lottery ticket. She looked quite confused but I knew she was happy inside.

The best part about the entire night was seeing all of the smiles on each child’s face. Their reaction to free ice cream was priceless. I felt incredibly happy that night because I kept on thinking about how these children must have felt to receive ice cream. It is a special treat that many children cannot afford so it is nice to be able to give them a little treat. It puts things into perspective because there are so many things that we take advantage of that many people cannot afford and do not have the luxury to enjoy.

Overall, I think each person that night found their own way to the pursuit of happiness. I found my own happiness through the joy of seeing each child smile.