It was early evening and Mauro Trentin, an Australian, went to a small house on Phan Ngu Street in HCMC’s District 1, where he would give English courses to local poor children.
The class taught by Trentin is part of the Volunteer House Vietnam project initiated by Vo Thi My Linh. Now 26, Linh is the very mountaineer who was a Vietnamese survivor in Nepal’s.
According to Trentin, at first he knew little about the class except that it was an English course for disadvantaged children. “Between us, we foreigners and local children, there is limited communication,” he said. “At first, we saw children here, and we ourselves, being quite shy because we haven’t done this work before. However, when we played music and taught them English songs, they could bring out. I think music can connect people. Children and I had great time. We’d like to come back here. It’s no problem. We got emotions and feelings from pupils.” Like Mauro Trentin, some other foreign tourists to Vietnam are willing to follow suit.
The experience from last year’s trip to Nepal and her own disadvantages have encouraged Linh to launch “Volunteer House Vietnam,” a project to emphasize the importance of learning English among young Vietnamese people, as well as to call for people nationwide to offer their unoccupied houses to foreign tourists.
This project was officially launched in February this year and has attracted more than 500 volunteers across the country and 80 houses. There are three English classes in HCMC and two in Hanoi. What Linh and the volunteers are doing is to partly help disadvantaged children in Vietnam. Lan, who has sent her child to Volunteer House Vietnam, said, “It is beneficial for my child as well as other children to be able to learn English free of charge. Those with low income like us cannot afford to send our kids to an English language center. I hope this project will be maintained and expanded to help more children.”
Nevertheless, while implementing this project, Linh and her associates face tough challenges, including difficulty in helping foreigners, who are mostly travelers staying in Vietnam for a short time, get permission to do volunteer jobs in the country.
Linh and the volunteers have to spend their own money on all activities. In the immediate future, Volunteer House Vietnam will team up with AIESEC (an international organization providing young people with leadership development and crosscultural global internship and volunteer exchange experiences) in HCMC to exchange and bring foreign students to Vietnam to undertake their internships and do voluntary work in the country. Such cooperation will bring more English teachers to local underprivileged children.
By TUONG VI