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Instead of looking for a part-time job or traveling during this summer holiday, some overseas Vietnamese students have chosen to come to Vietnam and do community services to become more mature while contributing to their homeland.
Hien Luu (second, R) is teaching an English-language class of the summer program organized by The Institute for Vietnamese Culture & Education (IVCE) in Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Photo: Tuoi Tre
At 12.45pm in the afternoon in a classroom at Ho Chi Minh City’s University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Hien Luu (20), from the American Notre Dame University, writes something on a blackboard. Minh Minh (21), a Berkeley student, rereads his lesson plan and sometimes talks to some students in a Hue accent.
“Do you want to sit on the chair or on the ground?” Hien Luu asked his students as they started the lesson at 1.30pm.
Hien Luu teaches English and sometimes tries to explain some difficult words with his poor Vietnamese. Although teaching two classes in a row, from 1.30pm to 4.30pm, Hien Luu and Minh Minh always keep a smile on their faces.
They are two of several Vietnamese-American volunteers coming to Vietnam to teach TOEFL, SAT, and GMAT free of charge in a summer program organized by The Institute for Vietnamese Culture & Education (IVCE), a New York-based non-profit organization.
Started in Ho Chi Minh City in the summer of 2005, the IVCE program has brought several overseas Vietnamese to different places like Nha Trang, Thai Nguyen, and Can Tho. Some young people do not mind travelling to teach, even though they sometimes have to pay for transportation and living expenses. Some have lost their bike or fallen sick due to weather changes, but most of them participate with all their heart.
“There was one who was so into teaching that he forgot to renew his visa!” recalled Thang Tran, head at IVCE.
In early June, a group of 30 American and Vietnamese students from the University of Houston also arrived in Vietnam in the zero-interest microfinance program, part of a larger effort to reduce poverty in the country.
Some overseas Vietnamese students also joined hands with local youths to carry out community works. As an example, Vietnamese in American and Singaporean universities and students from the HCMC University of Economics have worked together to apply for licenses and bring famous speakers to give seminars in Vietnam in a knowledge-sharing program called TEDxMekong.
“While co-organizing the TEDxMekong event, the overseas students do not receive any wage. They even have to spend their own money and a lot of time. But they participate enthusiastically and do not mind hectic work,” said Truong Le Quynh Tuong, head organizer of the event.
“Growing up in America, I have developed a gap with my family. I hope this trip back to my homeland will help me understand more about Vietnamese language and culture, so that I can become close to my parents,” said Hien Luu, which is also the opinion of many young people involved in IVCE program.
After making a trip across the country and meeting less fortunate people, Sean Tran, Matthew Lakis and Sam Kahler (all 15) from the Brisbane Grammar secondary school in Australia realized they should live more meaningfully.
“Before, we only studied and did not care about housework. After this trip, we appreciate our life better and feel the need to take care of our family and community,” they said.
Minh also found himself getting tougher after spending the summer teaching English in the Mekong Delta provinces.
“My family protects me very carefully. If they had known I would get insect or mosquito bites like this, they would have prevented me from joining the program,” he said, showing his legs with several scars.
To pass on the volunteering tradition to the next generation, several seminars like “Passing of the Torch”, organized by Vietabroader, an associate of Vietnamese students in the US, or the Bootcamp 2012 by the Viet Youth Entrepreneurs, have been held.
“Through receiving support from older students in previous years, we think that it is our job to share this opportunity for other newcomers,” said Doan Nguyen Duy Anh from MIT and Diem Anh Thu from the University of Franklin and Marshall at the Torch Relay 2012 event.
Source: tuoi tre
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