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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Participants: 33 students of NTU; 6 Vietnam volunteers and members of ECO Vietnam Group
– Teaching children at Phuong Thinh (teaching English, thinking skills – creativity) – Curriculum prepared by NTU Hall13, volunteer translators and administrative support classes
– Building 1 class room for Kindergarten
– House Works (Clean accommodation, toilet, preparing meals,)
– Visit the poor (5 households)
– Organize night cultural exchange – Culture Night
Sunflower Project is on the 4th project of 2014, carried out by Eco Vietnam Group, in collaboration with Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). The main objective of this project is to improve the lives of people, especially the children at Phuong Thinh, Dong Thap. The project is spearheaded by 33 students from NTU, 6 volunteers from Vietnam and the support of members of EVG.
Sunflower Project is the first project in the series of 3 construction projects in the village pre-school room roof lamp, Phuong Thinh commune, Dong Thap province.
1 preschool classroom, 1 reservoir, and 1 toilet. The total value of all these projects is around 270 million.
All of these were built by the students of Vietnam and Singapore, with the guidance and support of the local construction team.
The first day of the construction was the most difficult, as the methods of evacuation is extremely rigorous. Many students described the process as a ‘never-ending chore’. Singaporean students and Vietnam volunteers were overwhelmed by the work on the first day. However, everyone was very happy, patient and enthusiastic to get the work done.
The first day construction of the Kindergarten was the most difficult day. Firstly, we have to do excavation work, which many of the students described as a ‘never-ending chore’. Singaporean students and Vietnam volunteers were shocked with the amount of construction work that had to be done on the first day. However, everyone was very happy, patient and enthusiastic to get the work done.
Teachings always bring joy and excitement to all Singaporean and Vietnam volunteers because of the enthusiasm and the friendliness of the children here. In the project, the children learnt to sing in English and fold origami.
Constructing of the classroom became easier after the tough excavation stage. We were very lucky to have the enthusiastic support of local construction worker to work together with us.
The next day, we continue with the mission of construction such as mixing tank, loading bricks. One of the Singaporean participants shared that she was most interested to learn the setting up of telegraph poles.
Night Cultural exchange was filled with a series of sophisticated repertoire of local, NTU and Vietnamese volunteers’ performance. It was certainly a memorable night, as we forged unforgettable experiences together with the people in The Thinh commune.
After the project, the group went on to Cu Chi tunnels tour. Throughout the tour, the group explored and learnt about the illustrious history of Vietnam.
At the end of the journey, we went separate ways, and what remained were the memories shared together with the volunteers, friendship and experiences etched into our heart forever.
Place: Phuong Thinh Commune, Cao Lanh District, Dong Thap Province.
Participants: 37 students of SMU (Singapore Management University); 5 Vietnamese volunteers and others members of ECO Vietnam Group.
Completing a EVG love house
Finance Teaching for local youth
Constructing 1km road
Meetings – Tonight, we are young.
Although we are prepared to not sleep before midnight during our project, the actual feeling of having minimum sleep was really a test to us mentally and physically. It was 5.5hours of sleep on the first night. 4.5 hours of sleep on the second night and 3.5 hours of sleep on the third night. Sometimes, we could not even recognize our faces in the mirror, what was all these hard work for? It was the legendary Reflection Night, with the Sing-team and Viet-team, ending off with the leader meeting.
Tears – What is pressure?
I was crushed under pressure for the very first time in my life. Mr Harry was not there, he was my helping hand, my support for every mistake I made in the previous projects, but he was not there. This was my first time being a project manager, and I can feel the huge responsibility on my shoulders. I had to deal with Sing-team when they called off the Finance-class for the local youth, I had to deal with both team to break the ice and overcome the invisible wall, I had to fix thing right. I asked myself, ‘Why did I have to do all of this? Why should I take all of this pressure for nothing?’ I answered that question myself, ‘It is because I am young, because this is my community, I wanted to grow, to learn, and to give as much as I can, since life is short.’ Nevertheless, I realized I was only 21, and suddenly I felt powerless. I cried, cried for every little hardship I have to deal with daily. However, many told me to persevere on: “No pain, no gain.”
V team Members – Warm from inside
I am lucky to be in this project, I have an amazing team. We supported each other, we care for each other. No matter how stressful it was during reflection time, they still paid attention to their teammate, they helped whenever and wherever it was possible. We were a strong team. I felt so warm inside despite the rainy season then.
Sing team leaders
I was impressed by their leader, 4 different individuals, 4 different characters, but they had something in common which truly inspired me: detail planning, fantastic leadership and being meticulous to every team member. It was the dry season in Phuong Thinh, and water supply was cut off from us every night. There was once, the 6 of us stayed up late till 3am just to discuss the solution for bathing.
5. Last project night
I always enjoy Culture Night at the end of every project. We danced around the camp fire along with stream of music. I felt young, I felt alive. THIS IS LIFE. It is now or never, I am not going to live forever, I just want to live when I am alive.
I want to join project like this, time to time, just to feel young forever.
Held by EVG and SAJC’s alumni, the main purpose of this project is that to study and spread out “Service Learning” s spirit to the youth.
The drainage system had been built for the library, the English and hygiene curriculums had been held for children, the Gia Bac’ s daily life report had been given by interviewing to local people and the geographic map of Gia Bac had been made as well …These are being some of related activities according to above mentioned project.
The most outstanding activity was the English class for Gia Bac s children with all teachers are young volunteers from Singapore and Vietnam. The children had been familiarized with English alphabet and numbering table, it sounds very simply but both teachers and students had to work engrossed and studious together. To make the lessons to be more interesting and easier to remember, the “teachers” had organized lots of related activities such as to sing and dance about alphabet and numeric table ,using body language to describe alphabet , doing exercised games… After overcoming the language and culture barriers, teacher and student have had an unforgettable time together.
We cannot neglect to mention the cleaning toilet curriculum in one primary school , the Singapore volunteers had finished their job excellently.
From 17/11 to 29/112012, ECO Vietnam Group (EVG) School was in collaboration with Singapore’s Nanyang Girl’s High School to implement the project “Crayon” at Phuong Thinh commune, Cao Lanh district, Dong Thap province. This trip has brought the community the support by many practical and meaningful works, which lead to the a better life of the resident in this area.
On 11.17.2012, the reception and meet was in the friendly atmosphere, between Vietnamese and Singaporean volunteers at Tan Son Nhat airport.
The meeting at Tan Son Nhat airport
On the morning of 18/11/2012, the volunteers had a cordial exchange with the students of Dong Thap University before starting this project at Phuong Thinh.
Celebrating student exchanges with the University of Dong Thap
When the project started, with hearts filled with passion, enthusiasm, the volunteers worked very hard. In spite of facing with the severe weather’s condition or doing the hard work such as leveling of the road, scattered rocks, mixed lake, build a house …, the volunteers did not flinch, give up.
The girls was eager to work to build ECO Love House
Harry (EVG Advisor) was mortaring with happiness showed all over his face
The volunteers are actively building house
Besides paving stones serving the vehicles and building ECO Love House, the volunteers also planted the trees, taught English to students in elementary school … It was just little things but it was the motivation for the children go to school here.
Razing to the ground for the paving stones for convenient travel
During this trip, the volunteers visited and gave 3 gifts for the poor in the village. That make the poor believe and hope for a better life, besides, volunteers also understood and sympathized with the one who have an unfortunate life.
In addition to the hours of hard working, the volunteers accumulated for themselves experience, knowledge and mutual understanding, how to work with each other in the team from the exchange.
Capture memories together
“Crayon” in the spirit of “Going to serve, go to school and go to change” even if was just only for a 2 week period, but what you had done volunteer will forever etched in Phuong Thinh people’s mind. This trip was really shot but it leave in volunteers the memorable values, experiences, lessons for the rest of their life.
In a short period of time from 17/7/2012 to 1/8/2012, ECO Vietnam Group (EVG) was having the privilege to cooperate with OVE Welfare Service Club from Nanyang Technology University (NTU) – Singapore. We worked together to run the community project – UP in Tan Quoi commune, Thanh Binh, Dong Thap District, HCMC Vietnam. With only 2 weeks in hand, but having enthusiastic spirits, hard-working and tireless determinations, our volunteers from EVG and NTU had successfully brought genuine benefits and made major improvements to the life of the people in Phuong Thinh Commune. This project is definitely one of the most memorable journeys in their lives.
Early morning 17/7/2012, the volunteers from EVG met the volunteers from NTU for the first time in a delightful and friendly atmosphere. All was looking for the journey ahead them with much joys and eagerness.
In project UP, the biggest mission and also challenge for the volunteers was building a school yard. Even though there was many obstacles and problems along way since they were all new to the job but with the enthusiasm to serve the community and the eagerness to learn new knowledge, the volunteers did become more and more like professional workers. More than that, under a very harsh weather condition with the burning sun, our young volunteers still maintained their determinations to serve and develop a better life in Phuong Thinh. They always did their best, they were ready to conquer new challenges and they did everything with much love for the community they served.
On the other hand, the volunteers not only built the school yard but also taught English to children in the commune. They shared that every time they saw the smiles and the efforts to learn in the children from this poor region, they were even more motivated to teach and help their students to learn more and more.
Moreover, the volunteers also used their precious time in Phuong Thinh effectively to every second. Beside from all the hard works, they organized game activities for the children in order to give them a fun and delightful experience that Phuong Thinh’s children rarely have a change to enjoy. To the volunteers, the laughter from all these kids was the medication for their tiresome, which motivated them to continue their hard works.
In addition, EVG and NTU also volunteers visited many poor households in the commune. This activity helped them to have a clear look at the poor life in Phuong Thinh; it also made them understand deeply about the people in this commune. Vice versa, the people in Phuong Thinh were giving the hope and belief that there is someone that care for their life condition and willing to offer help anytime.
Before closing the project in Phuong Thinh, our volunteers had organized a Culture Exchange Night, in which, they sang and danced together by the fire. They played with the children and people in Phuong Thinh and they became closer than ever to each other and to Phuong Thinh’s people as well.
This project has been a great blessing for the Phuong Thinh community and the participants as they managed to refurbishing 3 classrooms and an ECO Love House. This project cannot be completed without the hardwork of youth from Hall 14 Nanyang Technological University Singapore and volunteers from ECO Vietnam Group.
The project was conducted in Phương Thịnh commune, Cao Lãnh , Đồng Tháp District, Vietnam – where the common life is living with flood, poverty and making end meets days by days among difficulites in education , transportation any many more.
Morning 14.6.2012, volunteers form ECO Vietnam Group started the project by picking up our lovely Singaporean friends from Nanyang University of Technology . After months of working together online preparing for the project, it was pleasant to finally meet each others. The greating and welcoming were covered with delight and excitement for the journey we’d shared in the next few weeks in Phuong Thinh commune.
Pick up at Tan Son Nhat airpot 14/6/2012
Welcome Ceremony in Phuong Thinh commune – The peolpe committee
For almost all the volunteers, participating in Fire Up project was a new experience. They had the chance to work hard as a constructor. Things seemed to be easy at first turned to be extremely challenging, from carrying tons of bricks, mixing cement to bending iron and building walls, etc. Even though hardship existed in every works, our volunteers always showed the best attitude and responsibility. They pushed through all obstacles, ignored the burning sun, the unexpected rains to finish their job. What gave them the strength was the thought of a better life the people in Phuong Thinh would possibly have thanked to their hard-works.
Happiness shines on these faces when building up a house by their own hands
Carrying tons of bricks and always put a smile on their faces.
Came to Phuong Thinh commune, at first it was understandable to expect the burning sun in here would shut down all the excitement and determine. Nonetheless, it only made our volunteers’ enthusiastic burned even brighter. Along with building house for the poor households, our volunteers in Fire Up project also re-furnished many classrooms for the young generation in Phuong Thinh. They put their hearts in every single works. Seeing them carefully painted doors by doors, planted trees by trees were precious scenery could be found during those days in Phuong Thinh commune.
Painting doors by doors
Also in the project, our volunteers came and visited many poor households in Phuong Thinh commune. Each visit helped them to understand more of the harsh lives in this poor land.
Beside all the working hours during Fire Up project, the volunteers still found time to create many unforgettable memories together and with the lovely people in Phuong Thinh as well. From culture exchange stories during house-works to friendly football match with the commune’s boys , their friendship grew into a loving , unbreakable tie across countries.
Football match with the commune’s boys.
After the project, although the weather condition was harsh and facilities weren’t any close enough, with loving hearts and volunteerism nature , our volunteers had planted 100 trees, re-furnished 3 schools, visited 3 households, taught English to poor children and built one ECO Love House. These contributions, even though are small but they are the start of hope for a better life, better future in Phuong Thinh. That’s the precious achievement all volunteers in Fire Up project did.
In the farewell party, all the kids in the commune and the volunteers were in the brink of tear for saying goodbye and soon be apart. However, knowing the love that the people in Phuong Thinh had for them, our volunteers started longing for the reunion day, one day, in the not so far future
Farewell ceremony and Culture exchange party
Volunteers and the lovely kids in Phuong Thinh
“Fire Up” only lasted for 10 days, but all the things our volunteers left behind will forever stay in Phuong Thinh. A short journey in term of time but is endless in each individual mind. This is the journey that EVG volunteers and NTU students will never forget.
Starting the project in Gina Bac highlands this summer, from 26/05/2012 to 02/06/2012, more than 25 volunteers (volunteers) of EVG with the Dunman High School, Singapore succesfully completed a trip in the project “Fly up 1” in Gia Bac commune, Di Linh district, Lam Dong province. With many meaningful activities during the trip, the young people did not only help people in this underprivileged highland, but also study and accumulated precious experience for their life.
Coming to “Fly up 1” this time, the volunteers had the opportunity to get closer to the children of the poor Gia Bac. From the operation of the library, everyone could learn, have fun and more link with each other.
The lively English class of the volunteers.
The funny performances of the volunteers in the chrildren’s festival.
After those activities, Sau những hoạt động như thế, everybody became fond of each other.
Besides, in this project, project “Be A Guardian” was implemented in parallel. With the desire to help the students get over the adversity, go on learning, the volunteers together looked for and helped the children in this area.
In the end of this project, the participants had a lot of emotion. The volunteer trip make people become tiny, but it was that trip which make us grow up. Let’s be together with EVG to experience that feelings if you have never.