[OSL 1805][Youthsmile]

  1. Project overview

Project : YouthSmile – Project code : 1805

Time : 18 March – 31 March (14 days)

Place : Phong Thanh Commune, Cau Ke District, Tra Vinh Province

Participants : 24 volunteers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and 3 EVG volunteers

Achievements :

  • Built a house for orphans
  • Taught Physical Experiment in Phong Thanh Secondary School
  • Upgraded the Physical Laboratory Phong Thanh Secondary School
  • Visited 4 households in the commune
  • Visited Pagoda
  • Went fishing
  • Organized Outdoor activities for children
  • Organized Culture night and Camp fire.1234567891112131516181920212225262829303132343536373839.jpg40.jpg41.jpg42.jpg45.jpg46.jpg49.jpg50.jpg51.jpg52.jpg53.jpg54.jpg55.jpg8
  1. Working process

Pre-project:

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.

Construction

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.

 

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Conference in Hong Kong

Service-Learning, is still a new concept for Vietnamese, even though it is a well-developed method of learning in several developed countries’ university syllabus. On the middle of September 2014, Hong Kong Polytechnic University hosted a conference; attracting a hundred of professionals, as well as doctors of universities all over the world to talk about Service-Learning in each of their university.

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This event is organized periodically for every 2 years. This year is ‘The Second Summit on University Social Responsibility cum Inaugural International Conference on Service – Learning’. Experts talked to each other about advantages, disadvantages and point out notes of Service-Learning.  The way in which that Service-Learning is being applied in different educational system is also shared to all.

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The conference discussed a lot about the sharing of social responsibility of schools for the community. The objectives of the university are to train students to excel in their main subject and to be responsible to community. Besides educating the students, the university should organize more volunteering activities for both students and teachers to form the general awareness for main issues of problems in the society. This will act as a form of sustainable development for the entire society.

All conferences aim to develop Service-Learning on a bigger scale and to be more effective through sharing and researches of universities, NGO. We will learn more from other people’s experiences. Overseas Service-Learning continue to be promoted in every needy places around the world, no matter how far it is, how lacking it is in living condition, and differences in languages and color.

ECO Vietnam Group is honor to be one of two NGO/NPO invited for conference this time. EVG is on the right track as we bring the true values for students and communities, and we will remain the head of Service-Learning in Vietnam. Some universities from Hong Kong, Taiwan, US had already contacted us to work together in some of the projects in the near future.

Other than the conference, we spend some time observing the students’ street protest in Hongkong for democratic rights. We see youth taking ownership for their own rights, and the spirit of the students is something for us to learn from.

12/11/14- Service Learning Reflection in Hoa Sen

Service Learning Reflection for Hoa Sen University Students

On 12th November, 2014, Mr. Pham Van Anh, Harry did a Reflection session for Hoa Sen University Students as one of the many approaches that ECO Vietnam Group is undergoing to spread Service Learning to Vietnamese youth.

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Mr Phạm Văn Anh said: “Group of students from Hoa Sen University participated in Service Learning projects: They were sent to teach English for a few orphanages in Ho Chi Minh City. After 4 months of serving people here, I conducted a reflection session for them to share, as well as to link to their current life and people around them.
It was a successful session. For me, I hope they will remember what they shared and what they promised to be a good son/daughter, good student to teachers as well as being a good citizen.

That will be the only reason why I love what I am doing.”

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1.1. Information about the Orphanage

Hoa Mau Don Orphanage

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–          Address: 25 Doan Gioi Street, Tan Phu District, HCM city.

–          This orphanage was formed in 1998 by Ms. Pham Thien Don, who aims to receive, nurture, and protect children with special circumstances. These children face deficiencies in terms of having the lack of proper housing support, as well as access to various educational resources, compared with other children. As a private non- governmental organization, Hoa Mau Don Community’s operation is based on charitable contribution, and relies on support from the domestic and foreign community organizations and individuals.

Implementation

Nguyễn Ngọc Trúc Lam said:

“As I reported, my main task during this course was to teach English for my student – Vang A Giang. Every week, I will come to Hoa Mau Don on Thursday, from 1400 to 1600 to teach him. At the beginning of the classes, I will review the previous lessons that I had taught him. After that, I will begin on the new lesson in his textbook. I will do my best to explain the exercises or grammar that he did not understand, until he got it. On some days, I will help him with his homework. While on other days, I taught him some common grammar structures and daily expressions. I made use of many different teaching methodologies during the lessons:

–          Shadowing

–          Asking and answering

–          Explaining new vocabulary

–          Correcting pronunciation”

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The effectiveness of my methods varies in different lessons. There were some sessions that he learned really well, but he looked tired and did not pay attention to my lessons sometimes. There could be many internal and external factors leading to this situation. The internal factors might be the lesson plan that I prepared for each lesson, the health conditions and feelings of my student. The external factors were related to the noise of the community, the interactions between other children and staffs in there, the weather, the difficulty of the lessons, etc.

 

Other than the classes, we also organized some extra activities for the students. All of our extra activities gave us many opportunities to forge a closer relationship with each other. Through such activities, we brought simple joy to the children as well as, useful soft skills.

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During this internship, my intended targets are: giving a helping hand to unfortunate children, have a chance to practice my teaching ability and to be more confident and mature.

This is a great place for me to hone my teaching skills. As many of these children do not have the opportunity to learn the language due to their background, I must seek for suitable and effective method to educate them. It was by no means an easy task. Through teaching these children, my teaching skills improve.

 

24/09/2014-Training in Hoa Sen

Hoa Sen University in Ho Chi Minh City has a center that trains student about the concept of Service-Learning, named The Service-Learning Center. This is a great step ahead in Vietnam’s education system. Service-Learning concept is still relatively new in Vietnam, despite being used in many countries like the United States, Hongkong and Singapore, etc for some time. It is our honor to have EVG’s founder; Mr Harry to be invited to be the director of the Service-Learning Center. He made use of his experiences studying in Singapore, in conjunction with the knowledge from international forums such as Indonesia, Hong Kong, to inspire the next generation, who are studying in the university. The Vietnamese students from Hoa Sen University benefit a lot from such a program. Hopefully, with Service-Learning, they are able to work hand in hand, striving to further develop the country together.

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Students in Hoa Sen University are very enthusiastic during the Service Learning lessons. Mr Harry used interactive method during the sessions for them to understand the concept of Service-Learning on their own. In one of the activity, they were divided into groups. Through a situational game, Mr Harry ensured the students reflect over the activity and the students would be the one who would figure out the learning points from the activities on their own. After the entire session, Mr Harry would guide them to conceptualize the theoretical portion behind Service-Learning, and through this approach, the students would truly understand the entire meaning and values behind Service-Learning.

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After that, many groups constructed plans on their very own Service Learning Project. They raised funds and used them to support orphanage, children with disabilities…doing projects at mountainous area in Ta Nung village in Lam Dong province. After each projects, they would share to each other about what they learnt and what they felt. They would also share their experiences with other friends, along with different life values. Lastly, they would try to link the lessons with their life and the people around them.

Students are required to talk, ask questions and also to reflect about what they have done. These are the methods they used to understand more about the communities.

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Mr. Harry encouraged students to improve on the knowledge about their major, knowing the things needed for life, works, and learn about Service Learning abroad for their own personal growth. By doing all these, the students would learn more values for themselves and benefit more for those who need.

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Since the establishment of The Service Learning Center, it has attracted so many curious students and teachers. Teachers usually ask about the situation of the project or group, and engage them to think about various issues. It is pleasant to know that Service-Learning is already well-accepted by teachers within the university. On the official information page of the center, students now are more than willing to receive new projects and invite more friends to be aware of Service Learning.

We all hope that someday, Service Learning will take on an important role for students and universities in Vietnam. Hopefully by then, villages, communes, from mountainous area to seaside area, anywhere that needs help, will receive help from the society through such a program.

 

Service Learning

What is Service Learning?

Service-Learning (SL) is a method under which students or participants apply and develop what they have learnt in school through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that is conducted to meet certain needs of a community. In other words, in Service Learning, participants not only learn the practical applications of their studies, they also actively contribute to their community.

Why is Service Learning?

  • To use your knowledge effectively and not wasting it
  • To emerge yourself in new challenges, new environments
  • To learn and serve at the same time for yourself and your community

Where is it in Vietnam?

The motto of education in Vietnam emphasizes “Study must be accompanied by practice” as a guideline for all education activities .However, as the matter of fact; Vietnamese universities’ programs are still limited in the application of theory into practice. Consequently, graduate students often do not meet the actual needs of the society; their lack of practical skills becomes their barriers to further success. On the other hand, there is very few social or educational researches mention about education on community responsibility for Vietnamese students. Meanwhile, in many schools and universities’ programs around the world, both education on civic consciousness- community services and the application of theory in real life are compulsory to students.  In fact, they combine these two concepts to one method called: Service Learning. 

Since the 1960s, SL has been applied in many universities around the world,  in the United States has more than 1,000 universities and colleges that apply this method to more than 6 million students .For years, SL has proven itself as a sufficient strategy for sustainable development in a country.

Service Learning nowadays is a common study method in America, Europe and Australia; it is spreading in Asian starts with Singapore since more than 10 years ago and recently in Vietnam since 2009. 

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Service Learning 101

Service Learning is usually mistaken with soft skills courses or volunteer works where they either focus only Service or Learning. It is a misconception that can only be clarified once you actually involve in a real Service Learning Program.

Research shows that students learn by doing. Unlike those soft skill and life skill courses, Service Learning projects/courses are designed strongly close to real life. Some of the skills that can be developed through Service Learning are management skills, communication skills, team-works skills, etc. While some of these skills can be taught in a classroom or a course through class activities and team projects, they will not have as much of a long term effect, because through Service Learning there is a more personal and hands-on experiences.

Reflection is the most important process in Service Learning, where participant are becoming aware of what they are studying, they explore and link their experiences to their academic knowledge for self-criticism and learn from it. This is the Big L in Service Learning: acquiring and constructing knowledge.

Moreover, Service Learning projects are usually organized in needy places so the participants must solve the unexpected, inconvenient condition. Through Service Learning projects, they instill their civil responsibility and serve their community’s needs. This is the Big S in Service Learning: Serve disadvantaged community.

The outcome of a good Service Learning program is Big S together with Big L for both the students and the community that they come to serve.

A good service-learning program helps participants see their [service] questions in the larger context of issues of social justice and social policy — rather than in the context of charity

(Jane Kendall, 1990)

“Serve to learn. Serve to give back. But most importantly, serve to be an instrument of your gifts and talents, and to help where help is needed.”

(Niki Vaith)

EVG and Service Learning

Since establishment in 2009, EVG has embraced the values of service learning in all of our projects, EVG is the first non-governmental organization (NGO) that introduced this method in Ho Chi Minh City. We believe that every community service has to be accompanied by learning about the community’s needs and implementing our talents to further enhancement of future services. Many young people in Ho Chi Minh served the community for wrong motivations, such as a good resume or simply looking for interesting activities. EVG aims to change their mind-sets by imparting an understanding of the benefits of Service Learning Projects for their personal development and the community as well. With the never-ending supports from counterparts in Singapore, EVG has managed to slowly, but surely; bring the concept of Service Learning to other NGOs, clubs, and some universities in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

EVG’s Service Learning Conferences

1. Youth For Causes (YFC)

EVG organized the very first conference about Service Learning on June 2011. The theme for this conference is “What are community service and youths’ roles responsibilities in it?”. Based on this theme, EVG invited many representatives from various clubs and NGOs in Ho Chi Minh City to share their Service Learning: A method under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that is conducted in and meets the needs of a community. Sustained by nature, sustained by talent stories in serving the community and how they have learnt from those experiences. Also, EVG invited some students and teachers from Singapore to share about how Service Learning Project is strongly enforced in Singapore education system and how it has benefited the participants tremendously. The first Youth For Causes opened up door of opportunities for these young leaders to build connections and better understand the values of service they are doing.

2. Youth For Causes II

The success of the first YFC has encouraged EVG to make YFC an annual event for young people in Ho Chi Minh. On June 2012, EVG arranged YFC II with the theme “Building Leadership Through Community Service”. Similar to the first YFC, EVG again invited many NGOs and clubs from Vietnam and Singapore to share about deeper issues, such as, their motivation in doing community service and how it has changed their lives. Through these sharing sessions, the youth are able to understand that community service encompasses two main components of Service and Learning about ourselves and things around us. Service Leaning

Projects move beyond simple act of service, they empower future generations to be leaders in doing community works through the learning process as well

3. Service Learning in Vietnam

After introducing the concept of Service Learning (SL), EVG desires to deepen the understanding of young Vietnamese on how to apply this concept into various community projects. In August 2012, around 70 Vietnamese students attended our “Service Learning in Vietnam” workshop , from which, they were introduced to Service Learning case studies  from schools in Singapore and America and run a mini Service Learning project themselves. This workshop was very beneficial for the participants as they learnt about the benefits of SL Projects in developing their talents to serve the community more effectively. It also allows EVG to build stronger connection with Hoa Sen University and start discussions about bringing SL into academic curriculum.

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4. Servant Leader Training Course

In December 2012, EVG closed this significant year by inviting a professional trainer and inspiring teacher from Saint Andrew’s Junior College, Singapore, Mr. Louis Ho, to held a three days training course for Hoa Sen University’s lecturers and 40 young Vietnamese leaders. This interactive and meaningful training is modelled from Youth Expedition Project (YEP) in Singapore. Participants in this course were prepared to be agents that will advocate the concept of Service Learning in Vietnam. From Mr. Louis Ho’s wisdom and passion, these youth were set on fire to arrange and lead SL Projects with deep understanding of the benefits to the society.

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5. On-going Projects

EVG is working closely with Hoa Sen University’s Faculty of Languages and Cultural Studies to infuse SL into the academic curriculum. Lecturers in Hoa Sen University are extremely interested in the concept of SL and understand the importance of emphasizing SL Projects in developing a holistic education for their students. EVG also desires that more universities and schools in Vietnam can understand the importance of SL and work together with EVG to introduce SL into academic curriculum to nurture holistic future generations.