The 2014/2015 project was based in Catdang, Vietnam, and we have committed to engage in a two-year project partnering with The Children Initiative (TCI). We decided to fundraise to support the construction of a library in Catdang Primary School in the span of two years, and it is expected to be completed by summer 2016. Catdang is a small village outside the city of Hanoi. We were very fortunate to have collaborated with TCI, an international NGO with a base in Vietnam. TCI shared much of their expertise and manpower with us and hence facilitate a successful service trip which concluded with the 8-day service trip from September 5-12, involving 17 volunteers and 7 committee members (i.e. 24 people on the trip). We are pleased to see many of the volunteers were inspired by the service trip and are willing to further support charity work for children’s education. Students from the school enjoyed our presence and appreciated the rare opportunity to practice English with foreigners.
Fundraising: Building a library
Our intention in respect of the construction aspect of our project was to supply with the village what was most needed and underprovided. Having liaised with the Director of TCI, we found out that the primary school in Catdang, which services most primary school students in the village, was in need of a library. Thus, we proposed to raise funds to support the building of the library, which included the costs of raw materials (e.g. bricks, cement) and labour costs etc.
Whereas in previous years the fundraising component runs on a yearly basis, we opted for a 2-year project due to the greater budget that is needed to build a library complex from scratch. The library is expected to be available for use by next summer when the next batch of CHOICE committee return to complete the second leg of the project. A total of USD$8500 has been raised this year, and a further USD$8450 will be raised in the coming academic year to fulfil the fundraising target.
The teaching was conducted across 3 middle schools and a kindergarten. 5 full days of lesson time were given to CHOICE volunteers for English, Science, Drama teaching. In the morning sessions, 2 volunteers paired up in teaching English to middle school students ranging from sixth graders to ninth graders. Then in the afternoon, our volunteers ran two streams of classes of science workshops and drama workshops respectively. On the kindergarten side, volunteers ran educational activities to two classes of 5-year-olds in the morning, and assisted the afternoon science and drama workshops afterwards.
For the drama workshops, our volunteers’ created tailor-made scripts to be used in lessons, and prepared materials which can be used to make props. These were all utilized in the duration of the weeklong teaching, after which our students performed excerpts from stories like Jack and the Bean Stalk, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.
As for the science workshops, our volunteers designed experiments that would go hand-in-hand with the scientific concepts being taught. This included the egg-drop challenge (gravity and acceleration), water rocket (action and reaction forces), ‘fruit battery’ experiment (voltage and current) and activities related to animal classification.
During breaks in between lessons, volunteers would lead students into the playground for outdoor activities. These included “group games”, ball games and other sports like rope-jumping and football. This was a more relaxed part of the day where volunteers and students were able to bond outside the classroom environment – and many volunteers were defeated mercilessly in games that involved running due to the seemingly endless energy of the younger children.
We are particularly pleased to see all volunteers were inspired by the trip. They understood the importance of children’s education in developing countries and are happy to further support similar charity work. An alumni network will be set up where volunteers of CHOICE can share their experience with each other and be informed about volunteering opportunities.
We are grateful to see the students in Yên Tiến Middle School, Yên Đồng Middle School, Yên Thành Middle School, and Catdang Kindergarten being benefited by our visit. We heard from the schools that this was a great opportunity for the students to meet young foreigners who are energetic and encouraging. We served as role models to the students and showed them that learning English enables them to connect with the rest of the world, and that learning can be fun. It was demonstrated to the teachers how students can be engaged by fun and interactive lessons as well.
CHOICE President 2014-2015