- Project Overview
Name: NEW HORIZON
Time: 17/05/2016 – 27/05/2016
Location: Phong Thạnh Commune, Cầu Kè District, Trà Vinh Province
Participants: NEW HORIZON is the first project in which EVG works with American students, cooperating with Peacework organization. Participants are 5 students and 2 teachers from Hendrix College, 1 Peacework staff along with 4 Vietnamese volunteers (including 1 EVG member)
+ Finished 1 Kitchen at CVC. This kitchen will be used to cook free meals for local kids in the future.
+ Taught English for local primary school’s kids.
+ Conducted Mobile Library Service for local kids
+ Visited 4 difficult households and joined farming session which is guided by an agriculture expert in the commune.
- Working Process
The first 2 days:
17/05/2016, EVG volunteers and Ms.Mai Anh (EVG Vice President) met Peacework representative and Hendrix College teachers and volunteers at Cosmopolitan Hotel 191 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa St., Dist.3. We introduced ourselves and started to discuss more details about the project’s activities, then had dinner and went sight-seeing the sity by night.
18/05/2016, we departed to visit Tay Ninh Province and Cu chi tunnel.
The working days in Phong Thanh:
In the morning 19/05/2016, we departed to Phong Thạnh Commune. We attended Welcoming Ceremony and have a brief interview with Mr.Tuan – President of the Commune. In the afternoon, we went visit the local market and some households in the area to learn more about the life and the culture there.
The day later, volunteers started working.
It was a bit difficult for volunteers in getting used to building work. For most of us, that was the first time doing the construction. However, after taking good efforts observing and trying, we finally know how to mix the cement and apply it on to the walls. Later days, we were very excited in painting the walls with white paint, and all of us were happy seeing the achievement we had made.
Teaching English at primary school achieved good and positive results. Lesson plans were creative and teaching activities were very inspiring and fascinating to the pupils. There were songs, games and experiments to help the kids memorize new words as well as to help them learn more about physics, biology, and environment.
The Mobile Library Service for local kids was also effective and interesting. The purpose of this activity was to inspire kids to read books and, at the same time, let them interact more with the volunteers, therefore help them build self-confidence. We read out loud books, then acting some plays according to the stories in the books. The kids then also chose their favorite books and read them out loud. Local kids were excited, especially with the funny play “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” acted by Hendrix team.
In the last day staying in Phong Thanh, we had a farming session, guided by an agriculture expert in the commune. This helped us learn more about the agricultural activities there. Then we came to visit and gave some presents to 4 difficult households. People we met and stories we heard in each family leaf us with many deep thinking and feeling.
Final days in the commune were the beginning of rainy season in the Mekong Delta area. What our volunteers had worried about finally happened: the culture night which was supposed to be taken place at the Phong Thanh A Primary School yard had to be canceled because of the rain. But this, however, became what made the culture night of our project became such a special one ever. Being permitted to use the People Committee’s Hall, we all performed our best what we had prepared with the enthusiastic support and cheer from 1608 Project’s volunteers which were doing their projects at the same time in the commune. There were no professional sounds and lightings. There were no microphones and speakers. There were no speeches and reports. But there were times we volunteers of both projects came on stages to perform together. That was a great and unforgettable night because of friendliness and enthusiasm of multinational young ones, without differentiating between projects and nationalities. That was a real Culture Night!
We together sang and performed the Cup Song, with the rhythm and the lyrics which are now still replaying in our head:
“I’ve got my ticket for the long way ’round
Two bottle whiskey for the way
And I sure would like some sweet company
And I’m leaving tomorrow. What d’you say?”
Beside working days, volunteers also had the chance to discover the culture and lifestyle in Tra Vinh Province (in specific) as well as in the Mekong Delta (in general) by visiting local temples, Ba Dong beach, enjoying coconut candies, various kinds of fruits as well as traditional music performances in the four famous islands in Mekong Delta.
All of the above-mentioned activities, trips, experience, together with unforgettable reflection sessions, have become valuable lessons, great memories, as well as a special part of each volunteer’s youth.
III. Volunteer’s thought after project
(From Ngan Nguyen, volunteer of NEW HORIZON project – ECO Vietnam Group)
NEW HORIZON is my 4th project volunteering at EVG. It all started from an evening when I saw Ms. Chau – supervisor of my first project 3 years ago in Gia Bac shared Mr. Harry’s post about additional recruitment for NEW HORIZON project. I applied, received a phone call from EVG’s HR department within the night, and became volunteers for the project the day later.
It was quite a special project because it was the first project in which EVG worked with volunteers coming from America, with the cooperating from third party Peacework Organization. This not only created the new points for the projects but also challenged our volunteers because we need to figure out a clear and effective way to cooperate in work as well as to deliver information between parties. Moreover, the cultural differences between America and Vietnam are much more than between Singapore and Vietnam.
The biggest lessons I learnt during 16S1 project are: first – just only when you step out of your comfort zone can you know what you really can do; and second – the support from teammate is very valuable. That was the time when I really couldn’t catch up the whole team when we practiced for the cup song. I was about to give up, but then Mai Anh realized that, looked straight into my eyes and said “Jenny, don’t give up!”. I started to try again and in the end I could catch up with the others in just about 5 minutes later. That was in a reflection session when I admitted I was not good at kids, and the day later I could magically stand in front of the class and manage to have the pupils focus on the lessons. I even enjoyed playing with them later on.
One more special thing is that it was almost the same time like in 3 years ago, I was in Gia Bắc for my first project with EVG.
3 years ago was Gia Bắc, 2 years ago was Phương Thịnh, and this year is Phong Thạnh. I recognize that no where, no matter when, every journey does give me lessons, every project does change me and inspire me a lot.
You go, you live, you learn. Thank you EVG!