- Project Overview
Project Name: BEE
Time : 5/6/2016 – 11/6/2016
Location: Phong Thạnh Commune, Cầu Kè District, Trà Vinh Province
Participant : 14 females, 4 males, 3 teachers from ST Andrew’s Junior College along with 3 Vietnamese volunteers (including 1 EVG member)
+ Built 5 water tanks .
+ Taught English for local primary school’s kids.
+ Give rice for local family
+ Attended Environmental Workshop
BEE is a community project in Phong Thanh commune with the participation of 14 female, 4 male students and 3 teachers ST Andrew’s Junior College with 3 Vietnamese volunteers support (including 1 EVG member)
This project has been constructed 5 water tank, taught English as well as organized library event for local primary school’s kids and had a warm sharing night between SAJC and EVG in Phong Thanh commune.
- Working Process
The First 3 days:
The morning of 5/6/2016, the Vietnamese volunteers along with Ms. Kim Yến (Project manager) gathered at Tan Son Nhat International Airport to greet the Singaporean students from ST Andrew’s Junior College. Although the first meet is unfamiliar, everyone was quick and happy to mark the first moments of the project with group photos, and be energetically ready for the project.
Then, everyone departed for Hoa Sen University to attend the sharing between EVG and SAJC at LIN center belonged to the university.
On 6/6/2016, the group departed for Phong Thanh commune. . After 4-hour travel , everyone was eager to help bring all the logistics for living and working into the storage area. Despite the tiredness, the settling of the group in the living area was quick.
First lunch at Phong Thanh commune after setting up living space.
The Welcome Ceremony was also organized by the local authority in a friendly and warm manner.
The work days in Phong Thanh:
After the Welcome ceremony, people started the series of work days. Among building, teaching and doing chores , construction works seemed to be the one that interested everyone the most. Not only walking a long distance from the living area , but also requiring patience and high techniques in mixing mortar, carring heavy brick, spading ,is it actually challenged for the volunteers to learn how to do it properly and the results were usually not as good as expected. However, with the maximum effort and passion for job, everybody quickly get accustomed with it and work more efficiency even more aesthetical. Eventually, everyone had built 5 water tanks, bring happiness for 5 local family in phong Thanh commune.
Teaching was also interesting. First, the volunteers was still unfamiliar when they taught for children because of their curiosity and lack of concentration. However, after understanding the children, the volunteers had performed very well and had wonderful and effective classes. Beside indoor class, there were some outdoor teaching activities conducting under fresh air. The student learnt not only theory but also its application through mini games during that time. The volunteers taught them about life, animal, tool and some physical as well as chemical experiments by using some easy-to-find material in daily life. They also make their students relaxed by combining some songs. Interacting with kids was no longer a challenge. At the end of the project, to see the kids use some English words we taught to describe simple things or just to greet us made us happy and emotional. Despite the short time we had there, at the least we had instilled the interest of learning English to the kids.
Team housework was also important.The volunteers had chance to go to the market with Ms Tu – Main cook at Phong Thanh commune ,where local culture embodied vividly. They had time to talk , cook, do chores with Ms Tu such as cleaning the toilets , mopping the corridor, clearing trash bin.Through that activities, people understanded each other more entirely. Singaporean volunteers also be taugt to buy fresh food in market as well as taste traditional dishes in Viet Nam.
During the final construction time, teachers and volunteers talk with local family which was selected to be built the water tank for. This activity brigded the gap, allowed Singaporean known more about Khmer people, their difficulty as well as their optimistic spirit at any time. The volunteers contributed together and then give a small but meaningful gift for family.
Giving gift for Ms Tu
For children, this was a good summer holiday with many interesting games and big presents. Library event also generate more space for parent having a chance to participate with their child in recreational area fulled of joy ans laugh.For volunteers, organizing this event allowed them to know each other. All people had worked together, prepare gifts and decorated game show space beautifully. The spontaneity and excitement of the children here helped the volunteers recalled childhood and feel more cherish this time which bring happiness to the children .
Sharing Night was organized in a cozy atmosphere, two groups EVG and SAJC sit around the candles which were light the project name “BEE”, and then together light up the candle and expropriate the emotions after working three days at local area with all of the memories and lessons during the project. The Sharing Session have left many emotions such as excitement, deep feeling and hoping that the project could be extent to be able to experience more. Sharing sessions ended with the honest sharing, everyone went out together and played hard in a campfire atmosphere,dance freestyle and sang along to music and fired hard together in the last night.
… and there was still many other precious moment not be spoken out yet. Seven days with everyone in 16S2 project actually made impression and unforgettable memory. EVG volunteers be more friendly trough reflection and working time. Say goodbye to Phong Thạnh , but love, friendship, sharing and meaningful anniversary will always stay in the volunteers heart.
III. Volunteers sharing:
This is the first project that members from V-team participate. We were excited and worried at the same time, maybe because the definition of “Service Learning” is still new to all of us. Despite having received helpful training and many advices even of smallest activities, we worried that we wouldn’t complete the project nicely, wouldn’t accomplish the learning outcomes from S-team, and there were many other nameless fears.
The first day when we welcomed and picked up members from Singapore at the airport, the teachers and students of S-team immediately made us feel the friendly, cheerful atmosphere and a high spirit of learning. With the guidance of the teachers, the students of S-team participated under discipline, self-awareness and punctuality. Every day, the teachers always created chances for the students to improve leadership ability by giving the students the leader roles in many work groups. Furthermore, the teachers and students of S-team supported V-team a lot, whenever a guy saw any girl from V-team being busy with lots of items, he would give a hand immediately and they always asked to help the V-team. Well, we can say that they are our extremely nice and cute friends.
In building activities with the locals, they firstly paid attention to every movement of the locals and then started. There were times they were not satisfied with their work, but it’s great how they didn’t give up, they continued on learning and started again. Everyone dispelled the hot afternoons by singing hot songs and sharing their stories, many laughters made us not feel tired anymore, no matter sunny or rainy days. Looking at the faces glistened with sweat under the blazing sun and the satisfying smiles when the cement water tanks were built, you somehow can understand our feeling: a proud and great feeling after using our strength to contribute to bring a better life for people here, even just a little. And we can’t forget to mention the interesting English lessons, even though this is vacation time and the number of children came to class not as much as in the academic year, but the S-team still prepared lesson plans carefully. The content of each lesson is very interesting, accompanied practical exercises to help the children more understandable and more excitement for learning English. Each lesson is very rewarding and funny with the children, even though the S-team group didn’t communicate with childrens in Vietnamese, but the language barrier was not a problem when people put all their mind in every lecture and every action. The voice reading aloud, shout with laughter and funny game in breaktime as well as bright faces of the children were always a priceless gift and were also the answer to all the efforts of us. The most meaningful event was “Library event” for childrens. In preparation for this meeting, V-team and S-team got together to brainstorm a lot of games and perform them. In early days of arrival, after dinner, all of peoples come form two teams gathered together, drawed, cut and paste some plates and necessary instruments. When we saw all of childrens try to decorated their own bookmark, carefully folded each origami animals, playing hard in the game hitting the ball, throwing the ball, the shiny face when they first put their hands with the ink on banner with the words “I will diligently read book” which left a strong impression for the team, what is the pleasure of seeing all this childrens with childish and cute face were played hard, learned and stayed with all of things they deserved to have. 3 days in local area was 3 days for us and them understand each other better, to share with them more about the suburb situation, beside the dynamism, modernity of the big cities is the other circumtances of the difficult environments that the people here are facing.
In spite of being busy with daily construction work, teaching, housework, the students never whined. Every night, we had opportunity to observe the reflection time under methodical guidance of the teachers, we learned many useful things: how the teachers question about the things they did during the day to evoke thinking, analyzing ability in different aspects, how to evaluate the activities they did in the day and what they had learn from those activities. Those reflection times are useful not only for the students of S-team but also the members of V-team, we can know our strengths and how to promote them and which points we need to improve to have more successful projects. Of the days, we missed the last night most-a warm sharing night of everyone. We talked about what we had learned, how much our thought had changed, which thing were most impressive and talked about many many other feelings. I am convinces that after this project, all of members have learned something, which can slightly change the lifestyle, the way of thinking about problems in life. If somebody ask me what else I still want, then the answer will always be: I want the project to last longer than 3 days with the local. 7 days are not enough for us to serve, to learn things, to understand people as well as for us to being closer. The project has ended for one week but its echo is still there and all the things we can learn from this project surely will be with us in the future.
Thanks you to all the members of ECO Vietnam Group, without your support, the project didn’t take place so smoothly. I hope to be able to participate in the upcoming projects.