- About the Project
– Project Chalk Talk
– Time: 05/12/2015 – 12/14/2015
– Place: Phong Thanh commune, Cau Ke District, Tra Vinh Province
– Participants: 12 volunteers Singapore (9 Youth Corps Singapore and 3 Lakeside Family Services) and 3 volunteers Vietnam (including 2 members EVG)
+ Teaching personal development skills for 190 pupils of grade 4 and grade 5 of Phong Thanh A primary school
+ 1 Sport Day for students
Chalk Talk is a completely new project for not only new contents but also new partners. This is the first project that ECO Vietnam Group worked with partners Youth Corps Singapore and Lakeside Family Services Center Singapore – 2 NGOs in project. Youth Corps Singapore’s projects focused on issues such as education, environment, health, special needs, arts, sport and culture. So in this project, we focused on matters of education, personal development for students. The activities of this project were teaching skills through outdoor activities that made it different from other projects made by ECO Vietnam Group. The project has the participation of 12 Singaporean volunteers who all had experience in working, 3 Vietnamese volunteers and the support of two members of ECO Vietnam Group to help the students built, trained and developed their personality to become outstanding leaders in the future.
The main activities of the project included:
– Teaching program about personal development skills for students grade 4 and grade 5 to become future leaders
– Doing chores every day
– Organizing Culture Night and Campfire with local people and students.
– 8 am: 3 Vietnamese volunteers and 3 Singaporean volunteers who came 1 day ago, gathered at Tan Son Nhat airport to welcome the rest of Singaporean volunteers
– 9 am: All Vietnamese volunteers met and took photos with all Singaporean volunteers at the airport.
– After taking photos, 9.45am departing to Tra Vinh. Because the check-out time of the Singapore volunteers was last longer, the starting time may be later than schedule.
– 12 am: the whole team had lunch at Minh Tam restaurant.
– 3pm: the whole team came Phong Thanh
– 3.10 pm: attending Welcome Ceremony by the organization of local Authorities.
– 3.40 pm: moving to Phong Thanh A primary school to join in Teacher Session
-5.30 pm: having the first dinner in commune
– 6.30 pm: washing dishes and cleaning.
– 7.30 pm: on the bus back to the hotel in Tra Vinh City
6/12/2015: preparing lessons, discussing about curriculum, trying playing the games, completing logistic preparation, eating in commune and moving from hotel to commune
7/12-13/12/2015: The main activities in 10 days in Phong Thanh, teaching skills through games and outdoor activities for grade 4 and grade 5 primary school students, doing chores, organizing Culture Night and Campfire with local people and students.
- Teaching skills, training personal development for students
+ Program content:
15 members of the project has built the training programs to develop character based on P.E.T framework (Perseverance, Endurance and Teamwork) for the pupils. Through these games and outdoor activities, we concluded that the lessons were understandable and helpful to convey to them. On the final day of the project, we conducted a test to apply what they have learned. 9 students were selected to plan for Sport Day for over 80 students. Then the course ended and we awarded for students.
We have 2 periods every day, each period lasted 3 hours. We taught the students the games and outdoor activities which students could understand the importance of communication skills, teamwork, listening, leadership skills … After each game, students were asked to sit down and summarize the lessons they learned from each game. Not only in the game, but the lessons and skills they learnt will help them a lot in studying in school and the future.
For us, teaching is truly a wonderful job. Looking at lovely faces of students enjoying the game was what made us feel happy the most. Through games, they recognized the lessons and the messages we want to send. All these things made us feel glad because the efforts of the whole team achieved success .Not only that we found out the ability of some students, but also some of them were very capable and creative that made us really surprised. The students loved us very much, every break time, they organized their own games and invited us to join in. The Singaporean volunteers also taught Singaporean songs for students and they are extremely excited.
But teaching is not an easy job. However, this work was sometimes really difficult and complex. The first problem was that the game was not intersting enough for the students. Because the objective of some games is to develope skills and ability to think of the children, some games need them to be quiet, some children are not eager to participate in. The second problem was that it was not easy to made students focus on lectures. They are still young, so very hyperactive. On the other hand is due to operating outside, the lectures and also the students were affected by outdoor factors. The third is that the young age limited the students to recognize the significance of the lessons, they were too timid to share all thoughts. The final problem was that arranging teaching hours to suit with the school schedule was difficult, so we could not teach all the classes all of the games we prepared.
So we tried to organize them some warm-up games to create excitement before the lessons. When teaching, we had to use body language and gestures so the students can understand without explaining much. After every lesson, we had to sit down and sharing experience for bettering our teaching skills and improving curriculum. When finding students difficult in expressing their thoughts, the team had to change the way to ask questions for them to share more and confidently express their thoughts and their ability. Besides, with each game, we also offered more challenging, increased the difficulty, more time for the students to fulfill their own potential.
Results: We have taught for over 190 students grade 4 and grade 5 skills to let them be patient and teamwork, creativity,…through games such as Silent Line up, Draw what I draw, Tallest Structure, Human Knot …They gradually became familiar with the activities and enjoyed the game. And Sport Day was organized successfully by grade 5 students. All students enjoyed playing the games. They also loved us very much. Looking them around, calling our names, inviting us to play with tem,.. the whole team felt really happy. Overcoming those difficulties and seeing students gradually change, we increasingly had more motivation to each next class.
- Doing chores
The volunteers were willing to engage in washing dishes, cleaning toilet. All tasks are clearly divided and shared among all team. Washing dishes was done after each meal, cleaning toilet was done every 2 days. Volunteers worked very well, not only that, they were very happy to participate in. Doing chore was filled with laughs everytime.
Results: All the chores are fully implemented with high responsibility and collaboration.
Culture Night took place from 6:30 am until about 8pm, then the Campfire lasted until 9:30, with the participation of President of local commune, vice president of ECO Vietnam Group, Principal of Phong Thanh A Primary School, local people, students, Vietnamese volunteers and Singaporean voluneers.
Culture Night had 2 performances of students, 2 performances of Vietnamese volunteers and 1 performance of Singaporean volunteers. All the performances which all shown the traditional culture were very unique and special. One special performance was the cordination of Singaporean volunteers and the students, despite very short preparation time, the performance was very successful.
Campfire was held with great enthusiasm and enjoyed by everyone. We danced together in a warm atmosphere. The campfire was a lot of fun.
Results: The Culture Night took place in a warm and friendly atmosphere and plenty of laughs. All the children and local people were really happy together, enjoyed campfire. It could be said that the Culture Night was really successful.
- Thoughts about the projects
Thoughts of Uyen, Vietnamese volunteers of ECO Vietnam Group
Joining in this project is the first time that I step out of my comfort zone to go to learning zone and be more confident. The challenges were firstly hard for me that I used to think that I would not overcome, but finally I overcame better than I expected.
Remembering those first days of the project, because I was too timid and my English was not good enough that unwittingly created significant barriers for me to communicate and connect with S-team members. Each meal, each team meeting for me was like listening IELTS test. All that reasons were a great pressure and I just wanted the project to pass quickly. But luckily Singaporean volunteers understand the difficulties that V-team members were facing so that they tried to talk slower in order for us to understand and actively they created the relaxing atmosphere, .. How grateful they were!
Everything became different during teaching days when I could teach pupils with S-team members and play games with the students. All my childhood memories came out, I found myself in each pupil and felt in love with this place so much.
During the days of teaching, I myself learned so many things from the way our team together improving curriculum to be more suitable for kids. Each Singaporean volunteer also had something that I could learn from through the way they taught, how they observed the improvement of the pupil or the way they made questions for students, each day the questions asked were improved and encouraged students to share and recognize the value they were getting. The comments in team meetings every night were very sincere and precious words for me not only in the present but also the future.
Especially on those final days of the project, we had to prepare carefully, be anxious enough not to swallow the rice. I was just worried that the kids were so naughty and did not listen to us that could made Sport Day was not as expected. Yeah, but then Sport Day also took place, which was a mess-in-order and successful. I also concerned about Culture Night, a timid girl scared of the crowd was about to be a MC. I felt that nightmares were set before. Ultimately, Culture Night was done, there are some big shortcomings and we were grumbled but in my opinion it was successful despite the shortcomings. Campfire was extremely happy, S-team members were so enthusiastic. At last, when all students and the locals were gone, just only 4-5 people still run around the fire and danced.
These days at home, when the project ended, the project for me just liked a dream. Not to go to school every morning; no students followed me, called my name and asked everything, not games as in my childhood to play with students, not with everyone to shout “Moi an com!” every meal, not to ask Miss Tu what to eat tomorrow, not to devide into 2 teams to play football with kids every afternoon before dinner, no team meetings every night though everytime I was really sleepy … Feeling miss, feeling love, feeling regret, feeling sad.
The thing that I remember most was when playing bonding games on bus, I was the one to be punished most. But to create happy atmosphere on bus and to entertain people, I, the one who sing very badly, had to sing and dance in many crazy ways. After all, it was the fasted way to be more comfortable, more confident. I had to thank you everyone so much for their support and perseverance, patience at most to hear me sing.
The thing that I regret most was that on those first days of the project I was not confident to start chatting with everyone, especially with 5 S-team members who got back Singapore early, I even did not have a long conversation with some of them, so that when they returned Singapore that I realized they were the funniest and cutest people that I had ever met. One more thing that I regret most was that I could not write letters for all S-team members on the day they all got back Singapore, so that I had to wait until we saw them off at the airport to hug each person and told a few words …
Now when I look at these lines, I feel like I am the lucky one. It’s hard to find an opportunity that I can meet all the great people who accept the one I truly am and support me as much as possible. Entering the project, challenge myself and overcome well, only when I feel alive and useful. Dare to believe in the things that I used to think I can not do will be done if I dare to accept and try my best. Age 19 was a little “growing up”!