Against the backdrop of the complicated developments of the pandemic that hit our country, in particular, Cau Ke’s local community confirmed some COVID-19 cases. To ensure people’s safety and manage to control the pandemic, the issuance of the Directive was made by the local authorities promptly.
Under the new Directive of Tra Vinh province, we decided to close our libraries. Most of the library activities temporarily came to a halt to ensure people’s safety.
To continue to fulfill the mission related to improving access to the quality of education and to enable the children to catch up with the new trend, all the activities, classes have taken place via online platform. Furthermore, the library has brought the library’s existing computers, laptops to the children’s homes. Then we guide them and their parents on how to use laptops and online classrooms of Zoom apps where they can join the Library’s online classes with other partners and volunteers both domestically and internationally.
With these actions, the children can easily access the knowledge of not only the library’s classes but also online courses. Moreover, this method will ensure health protection, reduce their parent’s anxiety, and know the ways of online learning.
After more than one week of the preparation and delivery of laptops, the first class was conducted pretty well. The students actively engaged in the lesson even though they showed their minor shyness because that was the first time they met people via computer screen. The most difficult they had to face in the first lesson was login activities (despite the careful guidance and run trials) as well as other Zoom functions to do the practice and interact with volunteer teachers. Be that as it may, most people expressed their patience and happiness when guiding and waiting for children until they could do those practices well and then moved on to other activities.
Before the lesson, the children would sing the song “Hello” together to arouse their interest and then they would give their introduction to others in English to help strengthen the bond, minimize the gap between them and volunteers. During the lesson, the majority of children tended to be quite shy and turned off the camera but after having been asked to turn it on, they followed very well and strictly. At the end of the lesson, most of them expressed their thankfulness and shared their feelings, thinking about that lesson.
In June, the classes continuously took place from Wednesday morning to Sunday every week. The morning classrooms mainly focus on primary students from age 8 to 10 years old with a wide variety of interesting topics such as animal names, tower building, learning English through songs, bathroom objects, classrooms,…
The afternoon classrooms will teach students at the secondary and higher education with the advanced level, the children discuss and study grammar rules (noun, verb, adjective, conjunction,.), topic-related vocabulary such as the bathroom, school as well as virtual reality, 3D printer, Scratch program,
During the lesson, some activities were organized in many ways, in particular, breaking down the rooms – Breakout Zoom, Annotate to draw, answering the questions in the box chat, all the students were highly interested in those activities and shown their excitement about them, which help students not only remember knowledge but also boost their interaction among them as well as develop observational skill and listening skill.
After about two lessons, the students in the morning class were more confident and did not hesitate to interact with volunteers and actively ask people. The class gradually expanded from 10 to nearly 20 participants in a class. Students were not only in Phong Thanh commune (Library) but also expanded to adjacent communes such as Phong Phu, Cau Ke, etc. Besides, students also used computers and phones at home to study with the library due to the limited number of computers. All the children expressed their preferences when participating in the class and wanted to grasp more knowledge. The ability to use computers has become much more proficient, they actively logged into class earlier than the given time to check their attendance.
Prior to COVID 19, the children mainly studied at the library and no matter how difficult they were, volunteers willingly supported in a timely manner and managed the class easier. In the new situation, it is also an advantage for them to get used to computers, have more time to learn and while introducing to their parents about access, find out the information. Volunteers also would gain valuable experience in organizing online classes and managing distance learning.
Despite the complicated developments of the pandemic, the library makes great efforts
so that more classes can be given to students, and they are not left behind.
In addition, three students of the library won the Beyond Borders scholarship. In 6 months, they have successfully completed their study period. Students persistently attended and actively engaged in all the classes. They also got many rewards from teachers and people. At the end of the class ceremony, Miss Hoa was responsible for the host and the project’s teacher. Because of her experience as MC at the Library, she was very bold, confident, and highly communicative in the activities. Some students such as Ngoc, Tram, and Anh Thu dubbed the short film Frozen. We are very happy and take a great deal of pride in them because they did a great job, they willingly put themselves out of limits, improve their English pronunciation skills, embrace proactive learning and know-how to manage their time well that do not affect their academic performance in the school
This period of time is precious to me and I totally appreciate it.
I knew this project accidentally just through a share on FB and it took quite a long time to consider whether I should apply or not, ’cause at this time I had no ideas about what I gonna do in this project, no specific info about when I would have the final exam as well as when I would start the summer semester. But finally I gave it a chance ’cause I wanted to mark something more special in my boring life, not just studying, sleeping and doing some part-time jobs :))))
And now I realize that I gain even more things than what I expected. I met some nice and talented EVG members from whom I learned a lot to expand my knowledge and change my mind about some fields of life; also we put many efforts to this project and thus created memorable things together. We became friends and will surely keep in touch in the future ❤ Besides, I had chances to work with students from Hong Kong PolyU and also received many lessons through this time. Their cuteness, their kindness and their enthusiasm during all the time we worked together also will be unforgettable in my mind ❤ And I’ll miss all the students from Sesame school a lot. Thanks for your delicious cakes and your supports during 5 days we worked together ❤ Gonna miss our cute tour- guide and my cute sister from HSU ❤
Although I sometimes made some mistakes and really got tired of my poor ability, but everything luckily went smooth and thus I learned from those mistakes to improve myself day by day. I also couldn’t be so sociable to feel free starting conversations with strangers and make friends as I had expected but it needs long long time to change ’cause it all depends on my own character, so… :)))) No matter what happened, I knew that I had tried a lot :)))))
I joined 1812 Project with no special expectation in my mind. To me, it was simply a chance to do the volunteer work and contribute something in my ability to the community.
During the preparation before the project, I start to learn about Service Learning, about learning through Reflection,… and I start to engaged myself more also understand more about the philosophy behind the project, I started to understand the difference between Community Service & Service Learning.
I also learned how to run a project: how to plan, to prepare the logistics, to plan the budget, prepare for the unexpected situations,… everything was hard for me at the beginning but the process really taught me a lot.
The journey at Hoa Tan Province was indeed an open-minded experience for me. I love everything about it: waking up early in the morning to prepare the meals, living with 28 new friends, learning to take care of myself also other people…
I learned a lot through the journey. I was really surprised to know that to run the project, the Singaporean friends had spent more than 8 months for fund-raising, preparing the textbook and other teaching tools. I realized that my response here as a volunteer is not only about the community and the children but also the S-team & V-team beside me.
As a matter of fact, I was the one who learned a lot from everyone. I learned about teamwork, helping each other, never giving up despite how hard the challenge is, & improving always. I changed a lot thanks to the love from everyone.
What I remember the most was the smiles of everyone. As a member of V-team told me “This trip to me was really fast. It was indeed a great fun. And I even didn’t notice the time flies.”
Thanks to the positive attitude and humorous of everyone, the trip was so enriching and comfortable. We would keep the memories deep in our heart: the walk to and from school, the walk under the rain, the coffee breaks, the letters, the meals with a lot of laughing, the singing time…
Everything was like a dream. I would never forget this memorable and life-changing trip. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t join the projects sooner. Thank you EVG for giving us the change to learn, to experience, and to grow! We sincerely hope that you will keep on passing these meaningful chances to more and more Vietnamese young people!
Place: Phong Thạnh commune, Cầu Kè district, Trà Vinh province
Participants: 25 volunteers from Nanyang Technological Singapore and 5 EVG volunteers (including 3 members).
Built Sports hall in CVC
Taught children at Phong Thanh B primary school
Visited 4 needy families in Phong Thanh commune
Organized outdoor activities for children
Organized Culture Night and Campfire
Project 1811 is an extremely impressive and unforgettable memory. First of all, I sincerely thank Mr.Harry Pham Van Anh and Ms. Thuan Trang for organizing these OSL projects in Vietnam. Thanks to this, Vietnamese volunteers have the opportunity to experience the service learning model in Vietnam. No need to go abroad but right here we practice English 24/24, it is a wonderful thing.
Besides, I would like to send my thanks to Vteam: Ms. Ngoc, Ms. Thuy, Dung and Thu. Thank Ms Theu for your good meals and your managing the children – I really admire you. Thank you Ms. Ngoc, you are a dedicated leader who cares us, even small things you will remind us and even though you are busy, you also spend time with us. Thank Dung, your participation made the project more fun, indeed you fulfilled your tasks very well and you are very good bonding with others. And thank you baby Thu, this project without you might have a lack, it was your innocent questions that made the atmosphere better and less stressful.
Not forget to give a thank to STeam. You are very enthusiastic, fun and willing to help VTeam. Sam, Richie, Willie, Jem and Iggy are really cute and make the most laughter for everyone. David and Fan, though I didn’t talk to you much, you are really warm. Each of you is a color that brings the project more brilliant. Thank you very much.
What did I learn after the project?
I learned a lot. About housework, I learned how to fry eggs, astronauts, learning how to cut Hanoi plum beautifully … About teaching, I learned to be flexible with each group of children, not to apply one method to every child. About construction, I learned how to wall, know how hard my father does because he is a builder.
Well, one more thing I learned is sincerity. The children here are very sincere. When I was about to go, they cried, one of them said, “If you were my sister, I would only stay at home with you,” and other asked me, “When will you come back?” The children also gave the crane paper in which they wrote for me, they also gave me a teddy bear and soup … The day I went, the kids also told me to put the stone in my hand. It’s a wish of luck and a promise to meet again.
The project has closed but the pieces of memory are still here. Every project is always unforgettable. Thank you everyone for being a great piece in the 1811 picture in my youth.
Because we only have once a life to live so please enjoy the life, devote yourself and study all your best.
Participants : 27 students and 4 teachers from ST Andrew’s Junior College and 4 EVG volunteers (including 2 members)
Built 2 water tanks
Taught basic English for students at Phong Thanh primary school
Visited 4 households in the commune
Organized Library Event for children
Organized an ASEAN youth connection – sharing workshop.
From Vietnamese volunteer
Applying and being a part of the project 1810 is the wisest decision which not only bring me a lot of unforgettable memories but also the new relationships, the experiences and a chance to look at my self again.
During the trip, as a newbie I had faced many ‘first-time ‘challenges such as the first-time volunteering in an actual community project, the first time playing with kids, the first time took over responsibility for something that not a ‘typical school works’
It was only 1 week but I had learnt a lot through our normal activities such as teaching, constrution work or even interating with other volunteers. I have learnt that a proper preparration is always better , and a good start with planning and always having back up plan for anthing will keep things on track espeacially if it is your first time doing . I also learnt how to open my heart with everyone , feel lucky and appricate what I have rightnow
In Phong Thanh Commune, we didn’t have a good living conditions like at home: no air conditioners, no hot water, no vacuum cleaner, no washing machine, etc Every day, after dinner, we all have line up waiting to bath, to wash and to go to toilet too. Not only these things but also having meal in the dark (a few times when there were power outages), sleeping on carpet, working under hot weather and being bitten by mosquitoes every night. In spite of many difficulties, we’re always together and always close to each other as a family. This project brings us – 34 people in different areas, different nations and different languages together in Phong Thanh Commune, Tra Vinh Province and buiding up a good friendship.
It’s also my pleasure to live and work with 4 lovely Vietnamese girls who are really enthusiastic, kind and responsible. They took care of me, helped me and always there for me when i needed
Finally, I want to say thank ECO Vietnam Group so much from the depth of my heart. Thank EVG for believing and giving such a great opportunity to me to be a part of this project. I have received a lot after this trip, got more friends, more experinces, more ideas and motivation to serving more for the community. Once again, thank you very much EVG!!
Before the project happened, Vietnamese volunteer had had about 1 month to prepare. We were introduced about EVG, trained about First Aid.
These conical hats were decorated meticulously by V-team as a present for new friends from Singapore.
The first day:
On 18 March, EVG volunteers gathered at EVG Hub to prepare all logistic. We went to the air port with Mr Harry and Ms Trang to meet volunteers from Ngee Ann Poly. Although this was the first time EVG volunteers attend an OSL project, they were ardent and excited for the first meeting. After taking picture, the group got on the bus and started the journey. On the bus, Mr Harry had s short introduction about ECO Vietnam Group and then everyone introduced their names, hobbies. We had first meal together at Trung Luong Restaurant. We arrived to hotel at about 10 pm, so after check-in, V-team had a meeting with Mr Harry and Ms Trang to prepare for Welcome Ceremony.
In the next morning, a Welcome Ceremony was organized by Phong Thanh Commune helped volunteers have more enthusiasm and trust for the coming days.
Working Days at Phong Thanh:
The next days, despite hard-working and working under new environment, everybody tried to learn and help together to overcome miserably hard position and challenges. The whole trip was witnessed sweat, happiness, sadness as well as friendship that maybe experience only one time.
Every day, the whole team would be divided into 3 small groups, one group would be teaching, one was construction and the last one was “house keeping”. The “house keeping” team had responsibility to cook, clean up the house and “keep” the house while the others were working at school.
On 24 March, the whole group had a meaning morning for House Hold Visit activities at Phong Thanh Commune. S-Team had chance to know more about the daily life of local people and their difficulty. In the afternoon, everybody went to library to organize Library Event for students. Despite tiredness, everyone had a memorable weekend.
From Vietnamese volunteer
Tran Kim Oanh
It was such an honor that we had a chance to be a part of OSL 1805, which is the first but probably the best project in our life. There is no regret that we were there and have done that, dedicating a part of our youth to the betterment of Phong Thanh locals. Until now, in my mind there is still the feeling of joy when receiving the announcement from EVG that we were accepted as official volunteers for this programme .
In addition to the excited mood, I was very anxious and confused whether there is interaction with some Singapore volunteer or Not, .. etc … Thinking about all the miscellaneous things on life !!!!
Until the first meeting is not the mood, remember the first time I introduced the name on the bus down Tra Vinh: ” Hi! I’m Orin! ”, Everyone greeted, ” Hello, Orin! ” It seems that every anxiety has gone away half! Now everyone has been friends!
Thanks ECO VIETNAM GROUP for creating the environment for us to try our best. All activities in the OSL are the first time in my life to do such things !!
From getting up early to go shopping, teaching physics, going to build houses, going to visit households, holding a cultural exchanges, one-on-one translation, MC, … etc. Everything is new and there is no shortage of lessons, the lessons I get more, my heart is filled with the most sincere love. The joy of helping others, giving them the smile of emotion in me can not use words to describe. It is a precious experience that I have.
Remembering the construction, sunshine, we still grinned with sweat drooling on the cheek. Love the conversation, share with Thanh, remember her affectionate eyes. I felt like my sister in family. i thought Steam volunteers felt that ,too. I felt that they had all sentimental feelings and hope for each brick, painting in Doreamon that she really liked it in the bedroom. We hoped you have a favorite house, protected the sun and rain, and motivated you to study progress in the bright future.
Remembering the warm smiles and the warm welcome from the locals, remember the woman near the building always brought out hats for us, worried if we got sick! Remember uncle cut coconut for us to drink in the middle of the sun!
Remember the hours taught in class, remember the gaze is considered the physical experiments. Because this was the first time they have been practicing physics in the lab. Remember the bright face of children playing with the Steam. Remember when We karaoke on the bus.
And as we hear the local people, there are many unfortunate circumstances surrounding us, and they need help from others to make their lives better.
14 days was not long enough for us to learn a lot of things that we could change our way of life, our way of thinking. If someone asks me if I want the project to last longer, I will answer “yes”. I wish we had more time to serve, learn, understand each other as well as to be closer together.
The project has ended but the echo as well as the beautiful memories and all the things we learn will surely be with us in the future.
Once again thank you EVG, thank you everyone.
Le Thi Nhu Y
14 days with 1805 project, especially 11 days live in Cau Ke District, taught me lot of valuable lessons that I could not find in other volunteer works. The first lesson is how difficult it is when organizing a project, especially a project relating to foreigners. We have to take care of their safety, their eating habit, and sometimes their belongings. It is more difficult when sometimes they do not realize the important to keep themselves safe. Many volunteer did not wear hats, mask when they did construction work. I think they drink too much, but I could not do anything because that was Mr Andy permission. In my opinion, they should drink in weekend only because if they drink every day, their image with local people can be affected. Some people said to me that “Nothing happen” however it does not mean “Nothing WILL NOT happen”. The second lessons is about how to communicate with not only Singapore volunteer but also local people like teachers, students. If there is any misunderstanding, it is really hard to explain later. With students, I need to be more patient and calm because they are still vulnerable and innocent. This was the first time they had chance to do physical experiments, there were many new things so I regretted that I did not have more time to explain more clearly for them.
Be a volunteer for this project is one of the most meaningful decision in my student’s live. In the begining, it was really hard for me to know what I have to do and how I can communicate with S-team. I had to learn many things and notice every single details. However, the most difficult obstacle I faced is the language barrier. After talking more with them, I learned many interesting things from them like their responsibility, talent, friendship. I realize when we open our heart with others, they can feel it without too much words to explain. About teaching activies, I can understand how difficult it is when students from a rural school learn physical experiments with forgeiners. However, they tried their best to concentrate, to follow S-team’s instruction and listen my explanation. I can feel they had strong desire to learn new things and sometimes their excitement when conducting experiments by themselves made me feel really happy. I also had chance to play with them. I love their smile very much. Sometimes, they were still shy with S-team but thanks for S-team’s friendliness, many students were more confident and there seems to be no gap between them. About construction activitied, I can feel S-team effort when they wanted to complete the house on time. Althought, they did not know anything about building the house before they came here, they leared and followed instructor seriously. I also like the way they enjoyed their work (listening to music, joking, smoking and eating ice-cream). However the most memorable imagine in my mind is the attitude of Thanh and her family members. They treated S-team with all their heart and frienliness. I can not forget Thanh’s smile and tear in the last day, she have suffered too much misfortune in her life already. She has the right to be happy like anyone else. Finally, I would like to express my deepest respect to Mr Harry Van Anh and Ms Thuan Trang. I really apprecitate their contribution for the development of voluntary service as well as sustainable community in our country. I hope they will keep up their meaningful work and be a bridge to introduce more organization coming to Vietnam in future.
It was such an honor that we had a chance to be a part of OSL 1801, which is the first but probably the best project in our life. There is no regret that we were there and have done that, dedicating a part of our youth to the betterment of Phong Thanh locals. Until now, in my mind there is still the feeling of joy when receiving the announcement from EVG that we were accepted as official volunteers for this programme.
Everything was so rewarding that 2 weeks were not ever enough for us all to be together (24 SUTD volunteers and 8 Vietnamese) and it’s adorably funny throwing back to the first days when we first met each other – when all you and I could barely say was “Hello, my name is…”. Among the 30 people who have come together to form a family, remaining in the deepest of us may be the image of our leader, similar to the image of “the mother with her babies”. This is very funny but so true that she is the one who took care of the whole team from food to sleep, giving us not only laughter but also moments of deposition, contributing to our maturity afterward. Thank you the Vteam leader!
Project “1801 WHAT’S LIFE?” Bearing the bold mark of construction work such as constructing rainwater tanks, installing gutters, building flying fox games, teaching for children at Phong Thanh A School – all are the first jobs Experienced with most of the participants. However, the way all your Singaporeans work hard and the results of your work really surprised us Vteam. In fact, you have taught us a lot in the construction industry. For our part, we try to support you in the rest as teaching or housework. The two unforgettable weeks are the months of youth we have been sweating together for the beautiful accomplishments of the library as well as for the children there.
On the way we go to teach every day regardless of sunshine, rain does not manage the rain, but go to school, with the desire to bring joy, knowledge to the children every day who in this team is over how much kilometers to go to school for the children, the Sing is always prepared carefully for the next teaching day. When teaching always create fun games for children, integrate with the children in the game. Far from it but the exchange is seeing a fresh smile on each child’s face.
A very important team in the project is the team housework, cleaned from the outside with the kitchen to bring delicious meals for everyone in the team. Teamwork team when the groove often run out to help you team Now, it has been months to go around the library to help this person.
January 17 has arrived, forced to say goodbye to the Sing. THANK YOU for coming to Vietnam and THANK YOU for your companions with your Vietnamese volunteers. We will never forget the beautiful memories in Phong Thanh. At the same time, send THANK YOU to great Vietnamese team, happy to have everyone around, help each other in trouble, remember the funny story in the kitchen corner. SLEEPING 1801 !!!
Having known about ECO VIETNAM GROUP, I feel that I have found a project that I want to bring to the community with a new model for myself. OVERSEA SERVICE LEARNING. From 1801, I realized this is a place for me to have more. a new place to practice English and do things that you have never done before. THANK YOU FOR ECO VIETNAM GROUP.
This is the first time I joined EVG’s project, so I were excited, eager and worried at the same time. However, the nervousness faded away due to the friendliness, honesty of S-team and the help of V-team. Because of those, I had the chance to feel the valuable things.
The warm smile and the kind of local people are still in my mind. The image of children waving and smiling when they saw us, women actively helped us crack open coconuts,.. All of those would never fade away.
Having listened to local people’s sharing, we relized that there were still lots of the miserable situations occuring around us, and they need other’s help to make their lives better.
14 days was not long but enough for us to have learned something, which can slightly change the lifestyle, the way of thinking about problems in life. But if somebody ask me whether I want the project to last more, I will say yes. I wish we had more time to serve, to learn things, to understand people as well as for us to be closer.
The project has ended but its echo is still there and all the things we can learn from this project surely will be with us in the future.
Location: Hoa An Commune, Cau Ke District, Tra Vinh Province
Participants: 26 students from Hall 13 of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore along with 5 Vietnamese volunteers and 1 EVG members (also the project manager).
+ Finished 5 Biogas systems
+ Taught English for local primary school’s kids.
+ Visited and gave presents to 8 local deprived households.
SPREAD THE CHANGES is a community project in Hoa An commune with the participation of 26 students from Hall 13 of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore along with 5 Vietnamese volunteers and the support of 1 ECO Vietnam Group’s members who is also the manager of Project 1612.
This project aims to finish the construction of 5 Biogas systems, attract as many Hoa An A primary school’s kids as possible to attend our English lessons, visit and give presents to 8 local deprived households, join in the Hand Over Ceremony held in Phong Thanh commune, visit a Khmer temple and also participate in the summing-up ceremony called Culture Night.
The First 2 days:
The morning of 06/06/2016, the Vietnamese volunteers along with Ms. Ngoc Phuong (manager of Project 1612) gathered at Tan Son Nhat International Airport to greet the Singaporean volunteers from Nanyang Technological University. Despite the unfamiliarity at first, everyone was quick and happy to mark the first moments of the project with group photos. Following the itinerary approved in advance, Singaporean volunteers were picked up to the hotel where each of them had some times to take a short rest then. At the end, the both team together spent initial interactive moments while going see Ben Thanh market.
The morning of 07/06/2016, the group departed for Hoa An commune. Arriving in Hoa An, everyone gave their hands in living orientation so proactively despite being tired from the long journey that we finished quickly. Thanks to the sincere assistance of the commune, the Welcome Ceremony was taken place in such a peaceful and warm harmony. Especially, we were very excited to get the attending of Mr. Van Anh- President of EVG and Ms. Vy- Operating Staff of EVG.
Right after that, we were divided into groups and had our first visitation to 4 local households. We were not only touched because of the difficulties they have to experience during their daily days but also felt great admiration for their courage to overcome through all the challenges without losing hopes or dreams of the better life in the future. We finished the first day with complicated emotions, which brought us closer to the commune living customs. On the top of that, we were inspired to work hard and contribute to the improvement there.
The work days in Hoa An:
Following the first few days of settling down and getting accustomed to the life and people of Hoa An was the series of work days, where our hard works were to be placed.
Construction works seemed to be the one that interested everyone the most, despite the long distance from the living area and its demanding nature. Biogas construction, perhaps, was the most challenging and difficult experience. In spite of Uncle Thanh’s generous help, we all had to cope with harsh environment conditions at the first household, which took us longer to complete our goals than expected. However, we could finally keep up the pace and maintain a stable process after the second household. The only difficulty we had to deal with was the Southern erratic weather.
Teaching was much better than our expectation, a lot of students attended classes though they were on their summer vacation. Singaporean and Vietnamese volunteers together made all lessons full of laughter and meaningful. In every night before the lessons, the both team gathered to have brief discussion on the ideals and together think out the solutions to make sure that what we were gonna teach would be transferred efficiently. We didn’t get how emotional and sensitive the kids are until the end of the project seeing they said goodbye to us with faces poured with tears.
Along with teaching and construction works, housework was also an essential part of our time in Hoa An. The living area needed to be kept clean and meals were to be prepared before everyone got home after work. Having received the warm instructions of the cook – the woman we were used to called “Co Hai”, we experienced preparing local special dishes. During that time, we together spent moments full of laughers. Also, we enhanced our knowledge and interest in the differences between two nation’s culture and living customs. All of these pieces of small things, little by little, brought us closer silently.
In addition to working hours, we also visited poor households, interacted with local officials and went to Khmer temple… Through practical activities, not only V-team but also S-team understood more about the Khmer lifestyle here, their difficulties and concerns as well as optimism about the lives and beautiful culture. There were tears in the afternoon at those old thatched houses where usually only the elderly and children stay in…
Hand-over Ceremony at Phong Thanh Province:
Hand-over ceremony of EVG’s projects, which was implemented by Eco Vietnam Group and students of NTU, took place in Phong Thanh commune, Cau Ke district, Tra Vinh province. The aims of the ceremony are to summed up achievements the two sides together obtained, consisting of completing Biogas systems and finishing a playground; also to consider the joint marked results and to look backward the passing time since EVG and NTU had been officially partners in 2009. The ceremony was even more meaningful because of the presence of lectures from NTU and Mr. Raymond Chow – The Singapore Deputy Director General of Foreign Affairs.
The volunteers were also served with Tra Vinh specialties. Then all together visited the community library and the playground constructed by a previous group of volunteers.
In Culture Night, we witnessed a lot of beautiful traditional performances with full of Vietnamese and Singaporean culture. The participation of local representatives, EVG volunteers, NTU students and local people has contributed to make an emotional night: excitement with local performances; enthusiasm with songs and dance from our Singaporean friends; gentleness and softness with the performances from Vietnam volunteers. We had to practice a lot to prepare for the performances but still worried that we would forget gesture. But when we came out in a long flowing Áo dài with enthusiastic encouragement from our beloved Singaporean friends, we eventually finished our performances, excellently. All the precious emotions transmitted into the flame when everyone gathered around the campfire. The flame reflected the days we had spent in Hoa An with happiness, sadness and lit up hope the next project.
Last day, we returned to the city to pay a visit to Cu Chi Tunnel and War Remnants Museum which marked an end of our memorable project.
III. Volunteers’ thoughts:
“Spread the changes” is the last project in the series of 6 projects with the main goal is to conduct Biogas systems for locals. This project, held by ECO Vietnam Group together with the help of Singaporean students from Nanyang Technological University, took place in Hoa An Commune, Cau Ke District, Tra Vinh Province. This project lasted for 14 days (from June 6 to June 20) in which we spent 12 days working and living together. On the very first day, we celebrated 25 students first landing in Vietnam; however, in the next 5 days, we welcomed one more Singaporean students to join us. From EVG’s side, there were 01 project manager and 05 volunteers living in HCM city that joined this project. After 02 weeks in commune, we completed 05 biogas systems for 05 households, taught English for 20 students as well as introduced Vietnam’s and Khmer’s traditional beauty for Singaporean friends through daily cooking, housekeeping, conducting biogas, visiting Khmer pagoda and sport exchanging with local youths….
During the 3-first days at Hoa An commune, most of us felt strange and unfamiliar with new working and living conditions. Consequently, we were in trouble with communication and understanding between each other. Biogas construction, perhaps, was the most challenging and difficult experience. In spite of Uncle Thanh’s generous help, we all had to cope with harsh environment conditions at the first household, which took us longer to complete our goals than expected. However, we could finally keep up the pace and maintain a stable process after the second household. The only difficulty we had to deal with was the Southern erratic weather. Teaching was much better than our expectation, a lot of students attended classes though they were on their summer vacation. Singaporean and Vietnamese volunteers together made all lessons full of laughter and meaningful.
After this project, we always wonder if we really could make a small change for locals. Instead of giving away, we are so lucky to receive more from this project. “Spread the changes” project officially ended but we believe that this is just a beginning of a new journey in our lives. Thank you for creating 1612 project and bringing us to Hoa An Commune. We are also thankful for hospitable local people who taught us how to serve others. Finally, thank you for giving us a chance to meet and become friends with many strangers. This project will always be a part of our college lives. Thank you!
END OF FILE
But not end of life! Keep moving forward! And you’ll see!
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.
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.