This year’s 2016/17 project was the third and final year of our 3-year “Free By Three” mission. We once again partnered with “The Children’s Initiative” (TCI), and revisited Catdang – a small village 2 hours away from the city of Hanoi.
We successfully held our 8-day service trip from the 3rd-10th September, 2017. A total of 19 volunteers joined the trip (unfortunately one of the volunteers could not join the trip at the last minute due to some visa issues), and we had 4 full days of teaching at the schools. We were very pleased that the students and teachers in Catdang enjoyed our lessons and activities throughout the week, and we are very touched that our volunteers felt inspired by this special experience.
Before the trip… PLANNING!
The Committee went on a pre-trip in early August to sort out the detailed arrangements for all aspects of the trip (accommodation, transport, food, sightseeing…). The Committee members visited the schools in Catdang to meet with teachers, to finalize teaching plans, and most notably, held a Teacher Training workshop for the local teachers in hopes of widening their teaching skills and leaving a longer-lasting impact on the students’ education.
We also held two pre-trip workshops for our volunteers in Hong Kong. These workshops were not only for briefing on the logistics of the trip, but also invaluable opportunities for the volunteers to learn more about teaching skills in order to better prepare them for their first forays into teaching.
Our volunteers also spent time preparing 2-hour teaching plans on a subject of their choosing, such as music, animals, water rockets, arts, evolution, and even environmental sustainability. All the teaching plans comprised of key teaching objectives to give students the theoretical knowledge and grounding, which we hoped to teach through multiple sets of hands-on activity. We hope to enrich the students’ English speaking skills, as well as their general knowledge through a different, more interactive angle from what they usually experience in their normal lessons.
We were invited to the schools’ opening ceremonies on the first day of our visit, as it was also the first day of the school year at Vietnam. Our volunteers sat through the ceremonies as honoured guests, and thoroughly enjoyed the students’ music and dance performances.
During the week, volunteers were split into groups to teach at three Middle Schools. In the morning, volunteers assisted teachers in teaching English classes in hopes helping to improve both teachers’ and students’ English pronunciation. We also tried to introduce more lively and interactive modes of teaching English to the teachers.
In the afternoon, our volunteers carried out the extra-curricular lesson plans that they had prepared prior to the trip, and we were pleased to see all the students having fun with the volunteers.
Donation: CD players and textbooks!
For the past two years in Catdang, CHOICE had also aimed to provide infrastructural support to the villages we visited, and has built a library for a primary school in Catdang.
This year, however, we wanted to give them something different, and hopefully, something more useful that will have a more direct impact on the children’s education standard. Therefore, we donated new textbooks and CD players to each of the schools. We hope that they will help improve students’ English pronunciation by giving them the opportunity to listen to more English conversations spoken by native speakers.
Although we could only spend a week with the students in Catdang, we believe and hope that our short stay can make a lasting impact.
The education system in Vietnam is known to be very rigid – and the only goal of education is to perform well in exams. We hope that we have showed our students that education in itself is an enjoyable experience, and that education is not only about exams, but an aid in helping them to achieve a better future.
A learning experience
As for our CHOICE volunteers, it was rewarding experience for us all. During our daily post-teaching evaluations, many volunteers expressed their strengthened belief in the importance of education, and children’s education in particular. We also realised how blessed and privileged we have been in our lives, and hope to pass on some of the things we have learnt to other students.
Do visit our “Photos” page to see our photos from the 2017 Service Trip!
The success of this service trip is the fruition of the tremendous amount effort put in by committee members and volunteers, as well as our partner TCI. We will continue to endeavour to improve international children’s education as we truly believe that it will be a life-long, but worthwhile, mission.