Amidst Sai Gon’s scenes of urban poverty and of lack of education for the poor, NGO’s like our local partner the Gentle Fund Organization (GFO) are making solid steps towards widening education opportunities by providing alternative sources of education to less privileged students. However, such programs often suffer from unsustainable attendance and low levels of student-driven academic discipline. In an effort to strengthen these programs, Project Vietnam ’10 aims to establish a foundational and sustainable interactive-teaching model for the middle school English Curriculum at GFO’s Long Hoa Learning Center where male orphaned students come for extra classes. Through this new program, we hope to generate and maintain high attendance rates, motivate the students to learn, and inspire them to control their own futures. To further these goals, we will also establish the foundation for a mentoring program at Long Hoa Learning Center through several partnerships with local college service groups.
The educational culture of Vietnam differs greatly from that of the United States. Outside of normal schooling, most students attend extra lessons often taught by the same teachers who teach them in school. These extra lessons are often dubbed “supplementary learning.” In order for students to do well and stay on top of the standard lessons in school, they must attend these extra lessons in order to receive in-depth educational materials from the teachers. Unfortunately, due to the lack of governmentally funded public education and high poverty rates in a struggling economy, many Vietnamese children often do not receive a normal education, let alone supplementary learning. Therefore, the poor students not only need standard schooling but also a source they can go to for the supplementary learning.
With this social challenge in mind, the Gentle Fund Organization(GFO) has stepped in to establish learning centers in order to provide less fortunate students with enough knowledge and skills to be able to strive towards better futures. At the Long Hoa Learning Center where our project will take place, GFO has forged a partnership with the pre-existing Long Hoa Orphanage. The orphanage and learning center are right next door to each other; however, each operate under a different management team. For our project, we will be working on a new English curriculum and teaching model for the all-male middle school students at Long Hoa.
A Successful Teaching Model:
Through the new English teaching model as well as mentoring program, we aim to help the Long Hoa students discover their potentials, inspire them to fully utilize the educational resources around them, and thereby take their futures into their own hands through an increased academic awareness.
Before laying down the lesson plans, we have gathered data and documentation of the past English programs at Long Hoa Learning Center. Additionally, GFO has conducted an aptitude test for the middle school students in order to help us grasp the students’ English level. These tools will allow us to determine the material content of the lesson plans. We have also created a survey to gage the interests and daily routines of the students. Our team will then tailor the active learning components to the interests of the students.
The teaching style and methodology also have as much weigh towards the success of the teaching model. While the lessons’ content will ensure the quality of the materials the students will be learning, the teaching tools of the new model will directly affect the sustainability of Long Hoa Learning Center’s new English program. Through the use of an experienced native-English speaking teaching staff, comedic situational skits, motivational/leadership workshops, etc, we hope to get the middle school students excited about learning English. This will then generate a high attendance rate. Additionally, our teaching model will depend on the teaching staff to enforce strict academic guidelines to ensure the students’ focus and commitment.
Jump-starting a mentoring program:
Through this program, we firstly aim to encourage the Long Hoa students to open up to others about their insecurities and aspirations. From there, the program will establish lasting bonds between the Long Hoa students and their mentors that would inspire them to also come to their mentors for academic help. After establishing the bonds between mentors and mentees, the program will evolve to become a sustainable tutoring program. The success of the program will allow for more academic commitment and communication within the Long Hoa community.
Currently, a few of our core team members in Vietnam are reaching out to fellow college students who are passionate about service and leadership. District 7, the location of Long Hoa Learning Center, is home to many great local colleges that use only English in their educational programs. Therefore, Long Hoa has very high chances of receiving sustainable commitment from local college volunteers due to the convenient location.
Quantitative Measures of Success:
For the new Teaching Model:
- attendance rate (measured as a percentage of X attendees out of the total amount of students at the orphanage within the same age range)
- bi-weekly record of retention rate (based on comparison of attendance rates from beginning and end of each period)
- monthly or bi-monthly aptitude tests on verbal and listening skills
- quarterly aptitude tests on writing and reading skills
For the Mentoring program:
- number of college participants after 3 months
- retention rate of college participants after 6 months
- growth rate of local college students’ leadership initiatives for the mentoring program
From the start of the partnership, our team has worked very closely with GFO to better understand each other’s needs, goals, and working process. This has allowed for a very trusting line of communication between the two parties and a very sustainable partnership. After we finish establishing the new teaching model, GFO will immediately apply the model to new classes. GFO will also come back to us with responses and feedback regarding the effectiveness of the model, and we will closely work with them to input changes that will help better the program. This process of bettering the program together will allow for GFO to have a direct stake and creative role in the teaching model. Therefore, our program will have high chances of being continued within the Long Hoa Learning Center even after the conclusion of Project Vietnam 2010. GFO has also suggested to apply the new teaching model to their other learning centers once it proves to be successful.
August will come in time for the new teaching to wrap up its initial implementation period. By this time the PV10 team will have inputted changes to the program in accordance with the feedback and response from the Long Hoa teaching and management staff, as well as the middle school students. During the two weeks of the project, our team members will further motivate the students through a series of fun leadership workshops, as well as special English classes prepared by the team members themselves. We will also work hand-in-hand with the local college students to begin implementation of the mentoring program.
By choosing the dedicated local college students as our mentors, the mentoring program will also have high chances of success and sustainability. Additionally, the program will start off with the goal of creating personal bonds between mentors and mentees. After achieving that milestone, we will slowly lay down more goals for the program and begin build upon those bonds with more academic interactions between the mentors and mentees. Similar to our program for a new English teaching model at Long Hoa, we seek to build a strong foundation for the mentoring program that would allow it to grow in the coming years. With both programs, we started with goals that meet the visions of both sides of the partnership. First and foremost, our team also strives towards a transparent and comfortable line of communication to ensure lasting partnerships that later SEALNet teams can build upon for their own projects as well.
Team Member Responsibilities
- Designing, planning, and carrying out motivational/leadership workshops for the Long Hoa middle school students
- Offering and creating solutions to help make the local college mentoring program stronger and more sustainable
- Working in groups of two to mentor the Long Hoa middle school students
- Inspiring the middle school students to be more academically committed and motivated
by sharing personal experiences and values
- Helping fellow team members with cultural adjustments, ideas generating, mentoring challenges, etc. (help each other inspire and teach the students!)
- Passion for service and leadership
- Previous leadership experiences and/or willingness to take initiatives
- Reliability and responsibility
- Flexibility when working in new environments and interacting with new people
- Excellent communication and organization skills
- Existing knowledge of/a deep interest in Vietnam
- Creative thinking
- Love of creating positive impacts on others
As much as we’re looking forward to having passionate and fun members to be a part of our team, you are also looking for project most suited to your interests and passions. Want to know more about our project? Confused about any of the project details/descriptions? Send an email our way and we will respond as quickly as we can!
- Huong Le: huongle ‘at’ sealnetonline.org
- Duong Huynh: duongth ‘at’ sealnetonline.org