Youth Imprint

Explore and Learning Trip: Youth Imprint

In the period from 09.16.2014 to 09.19.2014, the members of ECO Vietnam Group had a ‘Explore and Learning’ trip in Singapore. Throughout this trip, EVGers understand more about Singapore – EVG welcomes students from Singapore for various projects in Vietnam each year. This trip was not only a fun-filled trip. It acts as an opportunity for EVGers to discover our personal capacity, identify our knowledge gaps and reflect on personal skills that can be improved upon.

 

The ‘Explore and Learning’ trip was only for a few days, but the knowledge and lessons which EVGers gained were invaluable. Within these 4 days, EVGers visited the teachers, the students of Nanyang Girls’ School and Nanyang Technology University. EVGers learnt more about Singapore’s education, the learning spirit of Singapore student and the enthusiasm of the Singapore teachers. In additional, EVGers are also impressed with the country’s educational system.  Education in Singapore is present everywhere, from schools to the subway. The public were educated with different reminder signboards that cultivate the ethical and cultural portion of Singapore. All of these were reflected in the lifestyle of Singaporean from the way of queuing; minimum rubbish on the streets, designated smoking area, as well as courtesy signboard to offer seat to the needy.

During the trip, EVGers also visited Little India, Chinatown, Merlion Park, Sentosa, Garden by the Bay, Orchard Road … From all these places, EVGers learnt more about the multi-ethnic cultures of Singapore, as well as overseeing the prosperous development of this Lion City.

 

After the trip, the members of EVG have an own reflections. EVG worked with many Singaporeans before coming to this trip, so we were eager to find out more about the place where we seemed to have plenty of imagination and knowledge of it, yet never once had we stepped into this island before. It was a pleasant surprise to witness the importance of education all over the country. It was also an admiration to be able to witness the successful development of a young country, Singapore. We were glad to be given this opportunity to learn and understand more about Singapore. Lastly, it is also a pride to know that Singapore had worked with EVG for many projects and EVG remains          
  IMG_5121  
   the top choice for Service-Learning, if they are coming to Vietnam. We are pleased to have many future opportunities to work with Singapore as EVG attempts to assert itself and bring the best to the society.

“I am a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”

The members of EVG realize the importance of globalization, and are keen to travel to different new places and see the world. The world is great and wonderful. This trip enhanced the knowledge and thinking of EVGers, helping EVGers to understand the role and mission of them in the organization, the society and the country. Each person has a role in the image of a country.  Let’s mature each day, dream big, work hard for the country, for the world!

Advertisements

S2-Bep Xanh

Project: Bep Xanh (Rocket Stove)

Time: 12 Sept – 14 Sept, 2014 (3 days)

Sponsor/partner: HSBC

Member: HSBC staffs & EVG volunteers

Achievement:

  • Building 50 rocket stove for ethnic people on mountainous area Gia Bac village, Di Linh district, Lam Dong province.
  • Teaching personal hygiene for children.
  • Giving gifts to 350 children of Gia Bac’s primary school.

‘Project Rocket Stove’ is one of the many EVG project with the partner, HSBC. In the past, we build many water tanks to save water for people who don’t have the money to build their own. This time, we come to Gia Bac village to help people to build Rocket stove.

Untitled

Rocket Stove uses the concept of maximizing the heat from burning wood to for cooking purposes. It releases little exhausted air. The air it releases is CO, less poisonous than CO2, which normal stove release. Due to the lifestyle of the people in Gia Bac, their houses do not have window and the stoves are usually near to where they sleep. These normal stoves within the house are hazardous to health. Thus, the Rocket Stove will be a better alternative to people in Gia Bac.

On Sept 12, all EVG volunteers and partners departed from Ho Chi Minh City, arriving at Gia Bac village after 7 hours on bus. In spite of the tiredness from the long transport journey, we had our lunch and prepare for work immediately. We are highly motivated, to have the opportunity of serving the village, and make a difference to the villagers’ life.

10606361_10152687540865977_946639135881057912_n

“Never give up and keeping working hard” is the motto that the volunteers and our partners uphold throughout the work. In our life, we have been working long hours for the company, studying hard for the school, in the midst of all the hectic lifestyle, we tend to forget about a lot of basic life values. We forget about being passionate about our work, we become cold-hearted and do not give back to the community, and we no longer feel the youthful exuberance in us. Thankfully for this project, we discovered the spirit of giving back to the society and what it means to be aware of what is around us.

We worked as a team to build stove step by step, starting from constructing of frames to mixing of concrete, build stove, gathering of bricks… etc. We changed our job scope with another one so that everyone gets to experience the different job scope.

1424459_10152687543750977_7684826335481102526_n

  • Besides building stove, one part of the project was to educate the children with personal hygiene. They were very excited to attend the lessons, and gain a lot of useful knowledge from the sessions. We used reward system, to encourage them to participate more during the lessons.10410872_10152687550210977_2156947081469641136_n
  • 10606517_10152687544345977_8151073871537679793_n

After teaching, we gave them 350 token of gifts. We hoped that these gifts will encourage them, to study hard and be optimistic about life. We gave them from the bottom of our heart, and we want them to know that they are not alone despite their hardships. There are many out there, who wants to share the love with them, they have to be confident that the world is full of opportunities. They got to keep the belief, and only then, they will have the strength to overcome all challenges.

At the end of the project, we all learned our useful life skills, forging new friendship, and gave a hand in helping to improve the society, and ensure sustainability in the life of Gia Bac Village.

 

S1-A Simple Wish

“A Simple Wish Arup” is one of the company- partnered projects that ECO Vietnam Group has implemented in 2014. The project was completed as expected under the cooperation of the ARUP company- Singapore during the period from 28/5 / 2014- 06/01/2014.

10435415_10152427601130977_6653632606524603176_n10260014_10152427599980977_1346771628264795022_n (1)    in An Hiep commune, Ba Tri district, Ben Tre province. We have successfully completed the initial target set that is to cement 900m2 elementary school yard for the children.

1390763_10152427606970977_2774867705015555156_n

Unlike other OSL projects, project S1 took place for a short period of time but it still had positive effects to the community. We gave knowledge to the children through the lively lectures; helped them to be more confident and engage proactive communication in learning. Besides teaching activities, the project had a festival-cultural exchange which people can exchange and, learn from each other, unleashing the talents of each individual through songs and dance, theater acting and storytelling. These activities pull people closer together, helping children and students to better understanding the culture and people of Vietnam.

7605_10152428739375977_4431055413175221173_n

EVG still hold a particular view about volunteering in any of our projects. ‘We are not simply going to give, to bestow. We volunteer to “serve and learn”, and to learn from the people we met.’ With that, we organized the visit, gifts and hold close conversation with people here. As for the participants themselves, they feel and write reflection on the experiences.

We can see the values that the project brings to the community. We do not just help the children with difficult lives, but educate them with soft skills training that are useful for the students. EVG provides a chance for youth to have direct access to the Service Learning model and foster many friendships with international youths.

ECO Vietnam Group hopes that in the future, we  will cooperate with many more parties to work together , to build a beautiful country.

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.

10950218_10203344926329530_372902441_n

IMG_6631

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.

IMG_6748

IMG_6766

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.

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.

10660153_850892984929217_3937502571078049045_n

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.

10635935_850891928262656_3356720680692349607_n

10689884_850892201595962_3518731649124106698_n

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.

1496624_10152798662675977_8473601753240373857_n

10665056_850892834929232_420267003800206696_n

10686838_850892921595890_3556905353851527361_n

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.

10378925_757880454290356_8731156093125849049_n

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.

 

1406-Heartstrings Project

DSCF2641

About :

  • Project: HEARTSTRINGS – 1406
  • Theme: Bring love from heart to heart
  • Time: 26/7/2014 – 05/08/2014
  • Place: Phuong Thinh commune, Cao Lanh District. Dong Thap Province.
  • Participants: 18 students from Nanyang Technological University – SCE, 6 Vietnam volunteers and other members of ECO Vietnam Group

Achievements:

  • English teaching
  • Construction of Kindergarten school building
  • Poor families visiting

HEART STRINGS is the last project of ECO Vietnam Group at Phuong Thinh commune, in association with Nanyang Technological University – SCE, the official participation of 6 Vietnamese volunteers and the help of other EVG members, to improve life of villagers, specifically the children in Phuong Thinh commune, Dong Thap province.

The main activities of the project are the construction of kindergarten building, teaching the students of Phuong Thinh 2 primary school English, visiting the poor and perform for Culture Night for the children and the people there.

Project timeline

Day 26/7/2014:

  • 08.00: 6 Vietnamese volunteers and Harry (EVG’s founder and advisor) gathered at Tan Son Nhat airport.
  • 0900: Vietnamese team met and took picture with Singaporean volunteers at the airport.
  • 0920: Leave Airport for Cao Lanh via one 45-seater bus. Breakfast eaten on the bus: Vietnamese Meat Bread & Plain Water.
  • 1300 : Arrive at Cao Lanh. Lunch in A Chau restaurant. Change from 45-seater bus to two 16-seater buses
  • 1400: Depart to Phuong Thinh Commune.
  • 1600: Arrive at Phuong Thinh Commune. Settle down – Unload belongings and setting up of logistics(if any) at the right place.
  • 17.00 : V.Team 1405 and 1406 meeting.
  • 17.30 : Dinner.
  • 22.00: Set up sleeping area and then lights out

Day 27/7/2014 – 2/8/2014

The main jobs in 7 days here were: Building a kindergarten, knitting and cleaning the doors; housework; teaching daily in Phuong Thinh commune.

HOUSEWORK

This is implemented by a group including 3-4 Sing Volunteers and 1 Viet Volunteer every day; it was changed alternatively every day. The main tasks were: setting up of meal tables, cleaning up of meal tables, washing up of dishes, cleaning up bed zone and restroom twice per day( morning and afternoon). In addition we had to support the local to prepare, pre-processing food and dessert, plus we had to change the rubbish plastic bag daily, and clean up the area around the commune hall.

The essential facilities for work had been supplied adequately. Various job scope were  assigned .As most people were not familiar with household as washing dishes, cleaning, sweeping of floor… the housework portion did not receive desired result for the first few days. Meanwhile, during mealtime, both project leaders had conflicts over the dishwashing errands. However, as we got more used to the job scope, the volunteers were able to collaborate and work more efficiently. The cleanliness of the house and living areas were cleaned met the required expectations.

Results: Commune hall were cleaned up, and everyone took responsibility of their job scope, and everybody motivated each other.

DSCF2543

BUILDING KINDERGARTEN

It was the last few days of the building process, and we were constructing the buildings in the morning and afternoon daily. At the beginning, we all had many difficulties as this was the first time we did construction work. The construction looked simple but in actual fact it was quite difficult and took up a lot of our time. We mixed the cement, filled up the filler exterior on the walls and painted the walls and windows. Some members climbed up to the scaffoldings. These work required precision and had to be done in a cautious manner. After a few days, we got used to the work and did everything faster with more efficiency. Moreover, due to excellent job allocation, we were able to cooperate smoothly.

 

IMG_9152

Result: Everyone worked hard to finish the construction in time, and prepared for the opening ceremony. Everyone felt glad and proud when the kindergarten was completed. We all learned about values such as being patience and not to give up easily. We understood the importance of teamwork and how to operate as a team, covering up for each other’s mistakes.

CULTURAL NIGHT

The Cultural Night took place from 1900 to 2000, including:

ü 1 performance from Phuong Thinh Primary School

ü 1 performance from Phuong Thinh Commune Youth Union

ü 3 performances in 1 musical from NTU SCE

ü 1 performance from NTU OVE

ü 1 performance from V-team Project 1405 and 1406

ü Camp Fire

Result: All performances were well-planned and everyone was engrossed in the warm and friendly atmosphere. There were a lot of kids and residents that come for the the culture night. Overall, the program was a success.

TEACHING

The teaching portion was done concurrently with the construction of schools. There would be 2 members of V.team combining with some members of S.team to conduct the lessons together. In the first day, the size of whole class was 24 children, consisting of many children aged 8-10 years old. They were very obedient students. On the following day, the size increased gradually to 30-31 children till the last lesson. Most of them were attentive and joined all the activities enthusiastically in class. Teaching the students work was not too difficult but it required the volunteers to spontaneously modify their teaching method for the students to understand better. The volunteers were able to motivate the children to learn, and whenever the children had problems, volunteers had to be proactive in answering to the needs of different children.   The volunteers showed great patience and enthusiasm during teaching and therefore, it requires that every volunteer had to have patience and enthusiasm with children. Volunteers tried various methods to communicate and catch the children’s attention during lessons. They end off with a sharing session with the children, encouraging them to be more positive about life, and understand more about the situation of their own families. The children were glad to be taught by all the volunteers and we forged a strong and emotional bond with them.

DSC_0283

DSCF2641

Results: The children learnt basic English communication phrases(greetings, family vocabulary, colours, transportation…) Both volunteers of S team and V team understood the children more, as well as knowing more about the daily situation in remote Phuong Thinh commune.

VISITING POOR FAMILIES

The group was divided into three small teams; each team visited at least one poor family. Each family has different difficulties. We were there to understand more about the people in Phuong Thinh, as well as to give them token of gifts.

Result: Everyone was able to achieve their goal of visiting at least one family. We understood more about their life and we hope we can motivate them to be more optimistic about their life.

Thoughts about the project:

A member from NTU-SCE:

“It was a very meaningful project!  We hoped to have inspire their life by exposing them to one more Language, English! Hopefully this exposure will ignite the passion in them to continue to learn English” – Lindsey Tan (NTU-SCE)

 Thoughts of V.team – Volunteer of ECO Vietnam Group:

To talk about the project and Phuong Thinh commune:

To the project, I would sum it up in few words for it: awesome, learning, experiencing.

As with regards to Phuong Thinh, the two words I thought of would be : Difficulties, and insufficient.

During the first days of the project, sometimes, the intended plan and the list of things to- do become burdens on our shoulders. We were really nervous every day.  We (V.Team) had to work with our passion and have to forever responsible. We must also have patient and not forgot to keep learning to deal with unforeseen circumstance such as the lack of resources in the venue, different situations in the activities and also to deal with everyone’s emotions. Adding onto that, we have to adapt to the different working manner of S-team.

S-team motivated us and kept me moving forward, and in the end we were able to achieve our objectives. We worked a team.

After the project, I have been thinking a lot about my English vocabulary, and I feel the need to improve. We also think a lot about the different between cultures and educations, attitudes and working style with co-operators. We have grown up after joining this project. This could be one of our first stepping stone in life, as we stepped out and interact with the world.  It is a wonderful first-time experience for the Singaporean volunteers and the V.team, working together hand in hand.

We would like to thank EVG for letting us to join this great project, as we learn new things and establish new friendships – which V.team will cherish for a lifetime.We wish everyone in the project to have a meaningful life ahead.

1405-Warm Smiles Project

About the project:

  • WARM SMILES Project
  • Time : 21/7/2014 – 05/8/2014
  • Place: Phuong Thinh Commune, Cao Lanh District, Dong Thap Province.
  • Participants: 22 students of Nanyang Technological University – OVE (Overseas Volunteer Expedition); 5 Vietnamese volunteers and others members of ECO Vietnam Group.

10608927_10152420499553171_307883351_n

10592188_10152420499433171_573051088_n

  • Achievements:
    • Completing the Kindergarten with an open ceremony
    • English Teaching
    • Making “Non la” for auction selling
    • Culture Night

10609075_10152420499458171_1121067217_n

Warm Smiles is the fifth project in 2014, in cooperation with Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), 5 Vietnamese volunteers and the help of other EVG members. The project aims to improve the standard of living of the villagers, specifically the children in Phuong Thinh commune, Dong Thap province.

The main activities of the project would be the building of the kindergarten in Phuong Thinh, teaching English for a primary school in Phuong Thinh, visiting the poor in the community, organizing the Culture Night for the community.

Our jobs here for 10 days are mainly: 1) building the kindergarten; 2) housework; 3) teaching every afternoon in Phuong Thinh commune. Adding on to that, we had one afternoon to make auction items together with the  Singapore students and children in Phuong Thinh.

10578897_10152420499563171_749264885_n

  • Building of Kindergarten

With regards to the physical construction works, the previous project in Phuong Thinh had laid the foundation and built up the wall. Our job was to mainly finish the floor and paint the wall. For the first 5 days, the main work was to mix cement and scattered rock on the ground to build the floor. From 27/7 onwards, NTU SCE(another team which was also hosted by EVG) joined in. The speed of the construction work increased tremendously with the help of more people. We completed laying tiles on the floor and moved on to paint the wall. The entire building required a lot work, with each task requiring different skills. We needed strength and precision when we are mixing the cement. As for painting work, we needed craftsmanship. Thanks to the detailed instructions of the construction workers and the enthusiasm of all NTU students and Vietnamese volunteers, we were able to complete the kindergarten and handed it over to the people of Phuong Thinh on 2/8. From now on, parents in Phuong Thinh will have a better place to send their children to.

Results: Officially inaugurated the kindergarten with toilet and 2 water tank. Everybody felt happy and satisfied with the results. We learnt about 1) being patient in our work, 2) not being afraid of difficulties, 3) ever- ready to solve problems, 4) listen to others more and 5)solidarity between volunteers.

10583242_10152420499503171_441657361_n

  • Teaching:

The NTU-OVE team taught English to children of Phuong Thinh 1 primary school. The syllabus was designed by Singapore students and Vietnamese volunteers help them with the translation for the children to better understand the English lessons. We had classes on all afternoon, except Saturday and Sunday. The children of Phuong Thinh were very fond of the lessons and attended classes eagerly. After two week, we realize the importance is not what the children had learnt but the close-knitted bonds that had been forged between the children (and people of Phuong Thinh in general as well) and all the volunteers. All the children and volunteers were very disappointed when it was time to part goodbye.     10589898_10152420499548171_1980988478_n

Results: What we achieved so far is knowledge and hope we can act as an inspiration to the children of Phuong Thinh and, with the hope that they will encourage them to fulfil their dream.

  •  Auction item

On 1/8, The Sing-team, V-team and children of Phuong Thinh decorated a ‘Non La’ together to sell in a fundraising auction which will take place later in Ho Chi Minh City.

Results: The ‘Non La’ was beautifully decorated with the help of all Singapore volunteers and children of Phuong Thinh.

10603079_10152420499483171_523269641_n

  • Housework

This was done by a team of 4 to 5 Singaporean volunteers and 1 Vietnamese volunteer. We would change the team doing housework everyday so that they could try other work too. All we had to do was to: set up the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, wash dishes, clean up the sleeping area and toilet twice a day. Moreover, we would help the cook to prepare the food, dessert, replacing of the garbage bags and collect the garbage around the house and library.

All the logistics needed were provided. The different job scopes were divided to the team clearly. As the S-team was not used to washing dishes or cleaning up areas, the cleaning up was not of the best results in the first day. After a few tries, we got used to the cleaning work, cooperated well with each other and the work was done more efficiently. All the areas required being clean for accommodation and activity met the intended expectations.

 Results: Everybody cooperated very well, and the cleaning up was done with ease.

10602635_10152420499558171_72484019_n

  • Culture night

The culture night was from 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm, with the performance by the people of Phuong Thinh, students from NTU, Vietnamese volunteers and members of EVG. After the culture night, it was campfire, all of us were enjoying, and we had a great time together.

Results: The performances occurred in a warm and friendly atmosphere with a lot of laughs from everybody. Everybody enjoyed the show. It was a successful night.

Thoughts about the project

10613845_10152420499508171_216560499_n

10613842_10152420499443171_1278466728_n

These words are on the behalf of all Vietnamese volunteers for this project:

After two weeks in Phuong Thinh, we had gained great experience. We learned how to work together as a team in order to complete the project. We learned how to find joy in our everyday tasks by keeping the morale high when the construction work was tiring. We learned how take care of ourselves and also to take care of each other in a place far away from home. We learned about the lives of people in a situation that are less fortunate than us and what we can do, more or less, to have a positively impact on their lives. We learned the value of serving the community, not only for those people we helped but for ourselves as well.

Above all, we learn about love and friendship with strangers that we had just met. That will be the most valuable thing that will etch in our hearts. The project has ended, but the memory forge lives on.

10579048_10152420499463171_2039536479_n