I. What is OSL?
OSL stands for Overseas Service Learning.
It is a program from Foreigner’ schools and Universities, in which, a group of elected and trained students are send to developing countries to do community projects. This model is preferred as Service Learning. This is why OSL project is called Overseas Service Learning Projects.
ECO Vietnam Group is proud to be the host for these projects in Vietnam since we were first established in 2009. Together with our partners from Singapore, we have made more than 20 successful OSL projects in poor regions and ethnic minority communities around Vietnam to make a better life and education in these areas.
OSL projects also have another name such as Regional Community Involvement Project or Overseas Service Learning where overseas students to come to Vietnam for providing the support and at the same time to learn from the community. It strictly follow the model called Service Learning.
II. What we have done
In each OCIP, our partners and we have worked for months of research (includes reece trips), preparation and training to come up with the best plan and the best solution for our 2 weeks working in the chosen region.
Since each OCIP has different targets, each with different needs, therefore our projects serve various causes depend on the actual needs of these areas.
For more than 3 years, our Singaporean and Vietnamese volunteers (all are students) have done many jobs from painting classrooms, repairing houses to building roads, kitchens, houses, toilets, and teaching as well, etc.
III. Where have we been?
+ GiaBắc commune , Di Linh, LâmĐồng province , Vietnam
+ PhươngThịnh commune,Cao Lãnh, ĐồngTháp province, Vietnam
+ TânQuới commune , ThanhBình, ĐồngTháp province, Vietnam
+ An Hiệp commune, Ba Tri, Bến Tre provine, Vietnam
+ Lộc Khánh Commune, Lộc Ninh, Bình Phước province, Vietnam
IV. Who have we worked with?
+ Nanyang Technological University
+ National University of Singapore
+ Singapore Management University
+ National Institute of Education
+ Hwa Chong Junior College
+ Saint Andrew Junior College
+ Dunman High School
+ PayaLebar Methodist School
+ Nanyang Girl High School
During our five years in action, 1,037 Singaporean students and 708 Vietnamese young people have participated in our projects, with a total spending of 286,739 USD for contributing to community service and education. We have received awards and merit certificates from the government for numerous projects. More than 700 Singaporean teachers and students, 200 Vietnamese volunteers, 30 ECO Vietnam Group members.
v. What have we got?
Through these projects, our young generation of Singaporean and Vietnamese students has had the opportunity to experience a new –different world, to adapt into a different life routine to make friends across countries, to understand, learn and grow together.
Thanks to all the life lessons they achieve from the people they served, from their teachers, EVG’s advisor, their friends and also their self’s criticism during the project, these volunteers have become more confident, responsible and extremely enthusiastic with community service.
+ 1 IT library room values more than 100 million VND for a Secondary School in Gia Bac commune.
+ 1 school-yard (800 meter square) for a secondary school in Tan Quoi Commune.
+ 3.5km road.
+ 5 kitchens.
+ 3 ECO Love Houses for the poor in Phuong Thinh commune.
+ 500 trees.
+ 1000 kg rice for the poor.
+ 3 Letters of Appreciation from Committee of Vietnam Fatherland Front – Cao Lanh District, the People Committee- Phuong Thinh Commune and Association of Vietnamese Youth League – Cao Lanh District.
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 :)))))
Thank you guys a lot for everything ❤
Project : Fountain – Project code : 1812
Time : 05 – 18 June 2018
Place : Hoa Tan Commune, Tra Vinh Province
Participants : 25 volunteers from Nanyang Technological Singapore and 4 EVG volunteers (including 2 members)
- Built a water filtration system at Hoà Tân B primary school
- Teach the pupils in Hoà Tân B primary school
- Visit 04 households
- Paint the wall in Hoa Tan B primary school
- Organize outdoor activities for pupils at Hoa Tan B primary school
- Culture Session, Culture Night, Vietnamese Cooking Class.
From EVG’s Volunteers
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!
Project: Dynamic – Project code: 1811
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.
Project : Youth Heart– Project code : 1810
Time : 2nd June – 8th June 2018
Place : Phong Thanh commune, Tra Vinh province
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!!
- 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
- 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.8
- Working process
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.
Thank you EVG, thank you everyone!