- Project Overview
Name: I’M WITH YOU
Time: 11/05/2016 – 24/05/2016
Location: Hòa Ân Commune, Cầu Kè District, Trà Vinh Province.
Participants: 16 students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – Hall 6 along with 4 Vietnamese volunteers.
- Finished 5 biogas tanks
- Taught English for local primary school’s kids
I’M WITH YOU is a community project in Hoa An Commune with the participation of 16 students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – Hall 6, along with 4 Vietnamese volunteers.
This project aims to finish the installation of 5 biogas tanks for the local community as well as teaching English and science for local children at Hoa An A Primary School. Holding a joint performance called Culture Night is also a part of the project’s main objectives.
- Working Process
- The First 2 days:
On 11/05 in the afternoon, Vietnamese volunteers along with Ms.Yen welcomed Singaporean volunteers from Nanyang Technology University at Tan Son Nhat airport.
After greeting each other, everyone took a group photo and then headed for Ha My 3 hotel. The group rested at the hotel for about 2 hours and had a quick visit to Vinmart Supermarket (Vincom A Center) and Nguyen Hue walking street afterward.
For dinner, we had a warm meal in a traditional Vietnamese restaurant with the presence of Mr.Harry (president of EVG). While on the bus, everyone had chance to know more about each other through the bonding game “Name Introduction” and teaching Singaporean friends the song “Con vit”.
The group departed for Hoa An commune in the early morning of 12th May. Having arrived 2 hours earlier than the planned time, we were confused at first, but everyone quickly tried to set up the place, had lunch and prepared for the welcome ceremony.
The welcome ceremony was also organized by the local authority in a friendly and warm manner.
Then, everyone continued setting up the living space and having living orientation before dinner. In the evening, despite all the tiredness after a long day, we spared 45 minutes to teach Singaporean friends some Vietnamese songs with all of their eagerness.
- The Working days in Hoa An Commune:
Biogas: For the first few working sections on biogas, everyone was new to digging and biogas tank installation, so our work was a little bit inefficient.
However, due to the willingness to learn and the effort, everyone had gradually learnt how to make our work more productive.
We tried to coordinate, assigned suitable tasks to suitable people, took over one another tasks if we were tired.
Some were named “master digger” for boys and girls, “strong girl” during the biogas working days.
Every biogas working day is a new challenge because different households have different biogas tanks’ sizes and digging sites, but we saw it as a game and made our best effort to complete our tasks while trying to learn and have fun.
Moreover, we really appreciated the help from EVG’s local supervisors – Ms. Vy and Ms. Uyen, and the technician – Mr. Thanh, thanks to their helpful and timely guidance, we were able to finish the installation of 5 biogas tanks.
We also want to extend our gratitude to the household owners for helping us in our work and treating us their local specialties with all of their hospitality.
Teaching: Teaching was also an area that the project focused on and put a lot of effort because we saw the meaningful impact that we might have on them in the long term. On the first day, the children were very shy and we find it hard to control the 70-student class effectively.
From the second day on, the students were divided into two classes, so it was much easier. Along with the exciting and stimulating lessons, the children were more confident and involving.
The volunteers taught the children simple topics like greeting, animals, days and months, personal hygiene, etc., through colorful teaching materials, short songs, funny demonstrative gestures and so on.
We were impressed by their willingness to learn, their hunger for new knowledge and novel teaching methods.
Every day, both the “teachers” and “children” came home and could not wait until the next lesson. Not only the children learned our lesson, we learned a lot from them as well. While we can choose what is good for us, the children there just have what someone chooses to give them, which makes us cherish more what we have now (education, facilities, urban environment, etc.). In the final lessons, both children and volunteers were sad and some even cried when saying goodbye.
Housework: Along with teaching and construction works, housework was also an important part of our time in Hoa An.
The housework team was responsible for keeping the living area clean and helping the cook to prepare meals before everyone getting home after work.
They did a very good job by preparing iced lemonade or coconut to ease everyone’s thirst in the boiling hot weather every afternoon. The housework team also went to the local market with the cook, it was also another cultural experience for the volunteers to get immersed in the local culture.
- Culture Night
It was a fantastic night which helped the local people know more about EVG, Singaporean volunteers, help S-team friends learn more about Vietnamese culture and people. There are a lot of lovely performances by the local students, EVG members and Singaporean volunteers. The most special was the Vietnamese song “Mot con vit” performed by Singaporean volunteers and a joint dance of both V-S teams through which any language, culture barrier disappeared and we all became one.
After the culture night came the campfire, joined by S-V volunteers and children of Hoa An A primary school, we danced to the music, run around the fire and sang happily with each other.
- Agricultural exchange.
This is the activity that most of us are curious about and look forward to doing it. We walked to the farm on a peaceful countryside road under the shade of bamboo trees, being excited to do an activity we had never done before.
After having been instructed how to planted cucumber, we worked hard despite the hot morning sunshine. All the tiredness seemed to disappear with our jokes and chats. This activity not only taught us how to plant cucumber with coconut organic compost but also showed us how hard the lives of Vietnamese farmers are.
- Visiting households
We visited the local poor households in the afternoon the day we had agricultural exchange with the local farmers. Having been tired for hard-working labour activities, two Singaporean members being sick and having the cultural night ahead, we divided into 3 teams, two teams of 3 to 4 members to visit the poor households.
We were surprised at first because of the difficult plight of those poor households. Not only were they impoverished but also having fatal diseases. Each household has different stories which touch the deepest parts of our hearts. Those memories of the household-visiting experiences are the most memorable moments to us throughout this trip.
- Feelings of Evg volunteers:
Bảo Ngọc (Ane):
Project 1605 has gone – 15 days together, at first I thought that it would be a very long time (and I also intended to register any projects which were a little bit shorter than this one: D) but when I actually experienced 15 days, I realized half of a month wasn’t enough, I want to stay there much longer. Right now it is still a mix of feeling inside me, I miss the feeling of digging, filling each piece of land in order to install the biogas bags, I miss the feeling of standing in front of a class, in front of the children who were only about 9-10 years old and called “Các em ơi, các em àaaa” every time I wanted to draw the attention of students with the lessons from S-team, I miss the feeling of chatting with the S-team and V-team members on the ways walking from our work sites to the living area, I miss the feeling of saying the sentence “Mời ăn cơm” (good appetite) and then everyone just focused on eating after a hard-working day, I also miss the feeling of playing the super “brain corruption” but very funny and interesting bonding games with the S-team like black magic, how many memes jump over the wall, bang bang… oh noooo, I do really miss those feelings!
1605 – I’m with you, has left many feelings, memories, the bloody experience, valuable lessons, the truths of life which are unforgettable. 1605 is actually a burst-into-tear project for me, with this project, I had seen the tears of happiness, sadness, moments of tiredness and also the tears of feeling stressed, and also I could see the smiles, the anxiety, the happy faces because we had contributed a little bit of effort on enhancing the quality of lives for the unprivileged communities surrounding us, these were actually the breaking emotions.
Thanks EVG, thanks NTU – hall 6 members, thanks V-team for everything, thank you all of you guys for giving me a chance to experience a full-filled and memorable project like this!
Hải Yến (Amy)
I involved in this project in a lucky and accidental way. I got rejected for project 1609 but then accepted to this amazing project after asking for the second chance. It has been a challenging yet life-changing experience to me. I’ve got more truly friends, learnt from all the great people who have different perspectives to teach me and have many memorable moments that I really cherish.
For the 2 weeks with new friends in a new different environment, it felt like I’m back the real world with my phone totally being broken, losing connection to the world. I felt alive, great and there are no-words-to-describe-how-wonderful-it-is!!!! Even for the time being when I’m back home, the afterglow in me seems to ever exist.
Finally, I would like to thank Eco Vietnam Group for giving me the opportunity to involve in this amazing service learning project. I really appreciate what you have done to make it happen. Thank you!!!!
Perhaps the most unfortunate thing for me is to leave the project early when my happiness had just started. Because when I left, I began to realize the true value. Anyway, I had a few memories with my friends. 8 days together, sometimes it had made me sad and disappointed, and I thought I would give up. But thanks to the whole team’s encouragement, I tried and felt the joy in the last minute.
I want to thank you sincerely to the V-team and S-team for helping me, sharing my work with me when I didn’t feel better.
Finally, I want to thank ECO Vietnam Group for giving me the opportunity to experience. 8 days together, although the learning outcomes I wanted to learn were not perfect, until I know what I need to do to improve them in the future. Maybe I need more experience.
When participating this project,I didn’t think I must prepare many things like that. I simply thought it’s an usual volunteer trip. The first day of this project,I felt very tired because the workload is relatively more. Our rest time became fewer,worked all day was very tired but we must have reflection at night. There were some reflections lated until 2 am. In addition,the environment was one of the reason that made me want to give up:many mosquitos,hot weather,no wifi,homesick,… and I had a big problem is it was hardly for me to connect with S-team because of the language barrier and I was very shy. But when I wantted to give up, Ngoc,Hang,Yen encouraged me and I started to involve with S-team. Thenceforward, everything becam easier. I was more confident, open-minded and began to get used to being there. Through the project,I studied many things from V-leader,S-team and Hoa An’s people. It made me stronger and mature. This trip not only taught me many useful things but also gave me many great memories,help me create good relationships with international friends. I sencerely thank ECO Vietnam Group has created an opportunity for me to work and learn many useful things