Monday, December 15, 2008

Volunteer Grateful for Service Opportunities

Dear Global Volunteers,
I so appreciate your updates, for I am a devoted volunteer and supporter of Global Volunteers! My late husband and I first went with a team to Rota, Spain in 1998 - then had planned to go Italy but had to cancel because of health problems for him. He died in June, 2007 and I felt I needed to be away for that first Christmas. That is how I went to Chennai, India - with a remarkable team - there were 8 of us. We still keep in close contact and one team member visited me in July. She is returning to Chennai in January 2009 and will be there for the baptism of the baby son of our team leaders, Stephen and Sheeba - so I am crocheting a shawl for her to take - that perhaps can be used at the christening. It is a project of love!

I have signed up to go to Hanoi in May of 2009. Like many - I have a limited income and budget very carefully, but this is a neccessity. Vietnam has special meaning for me as my husband and I volunteered at our neighborhood high school - a class taught by a friend who works with students coming in from different parts of the world - with limited English. I share your concern about the present economy - and also feel the programs of Global Volunteers are more important than ever. So I'm cutting corners on expenses in every way possible to look ahead to my next service program - maybe Christmas 2009.
- Aleatha Scholer, devoted volunteer

Monday, December 08, 2008

Finishing Up our Work in Hanoi

Millennium Development Goals

Achieved by this Team:
720 hours of classroom instruction by
14 volunteers, six hours/day
140 hours of preparation time
One high school;Two universities
4,100 students impacted

These excerpts from our team journal provide a brief glimpse into unique volunteer opportunities in Hanoi, Vietnam. We're all very grateful to be able to serve in this way, at this time, in this city. If you've ever considered visiting Vietnam, please contact Global Volunteers to learn how you can provide a truly needed service at the high school and university levels. Who knows? You may end up teaching a future leader of this developing country!

Thursday, Dec. 4

This being my second trip with Global Volunteers, after one month I’ve become a true “Hanoian.”
The pandemonium that is the streets and daily life of Vietnam is actually a controlled chaos, and finely tuned orchestra. From our vantage point above the street, we watched as the various performers played their parts…sometimes solo, sometimes in group, with the occasional cymbal crash….all without a conductor. In the school, we’re teachers….not in the sense of the tenured nine-month professionals back home, but as the old-time storytellers, passing down wisdom and knowledge to the next generation. We’re grandparents and uncles and aunts teaching what cannot be found in books….our life experiences.
Sometimes I get frustrated with the excitement and noise which follows the children from the streets through the gates and into the classroom, but I keep in mind that my main objective is to help out, and our grass-roots diplomacy provides lessons and memories that will last all their lives. - Leo Pyzynski

Friday, Dec. 5
(With apologies to Dr. Seuss): Our trip is done; Our trip was fun; Let’s hope to do another one!
Leo and Ruthanne approached their morning with a rambunctious gang of first-graders with some trepidation. With mixed feelings, we spent the last morning with the smaller first-grade class, which was fine for all. The children colored and sang songs. Leo and Ruthanne joined with them in a rousing rendition of the Hokey Pokey. We’ll miss them. After dinner, the 6th graders threw a surprise “party” for Leo and Ruthanne, complete with confetti, beautiful gifts (framed pictures and edible goodies) and undeserved adulation. Very special. Finally, our “Last Supper” as a team we began two weeks ago as individuals and now we truly have become a team. We are all very sorry to say good bye. Really “au revoir,” certainly not “adieu.” Ciao,
-Ruth DeWolfe

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Second Week of Service Vietnam Team 3

Millennium Development Goals Achieved:
14 volunteers, six hours/day

English conversational skills
One high school;
Two universities
4,100 students impacted

Monday, Dec 1

Awakened again by what I like to call the “dawn horn” – by this I refer to the incessant traffic noise, of course. The Vietnamese are early risers. Must be all that snake wine they drink.

Monday morning in Hanoi – quite the contrast to the weekend in Halong Bay. A switch from yesterday’s calm waters, caves, karsts, coves and kayaks to today’s chaotic cacophony of car horns, classrooms and kids.

The fact that I’d overeaten at breakfast became all to apparent when I sat on a classroom bench and it collapsed. What little credibility I had with Group 7A was clearly gone now!

Our high school Global Volunteers seemed to get back into the flow of teaching without too much trouble, although some groups (of students) tend to be easier than others.

Highlights of the day included classroom discussions about World AIDS Awareness Day, and Patrick being hugged by a 12th-grade girl, followed by Jenny teaching the verb: “to blush.” And, let’s not forget the overly friendly security guard whose daily big smile and handshake for me have been augmented by puckered lips and an expectant lean. It all happens in Week #2!

After a team meeting and another lesson in “survival Vietnamese” the majority of the team dined al fresco while watching the crescent moon descend (and listening to the car horns, of course). – Emma Pedgrift

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008
The team met at 7:3o to start the 7th day of teaching. Michele, our kind and knowledgeable leader, shares our meeting schedule and attempts to reach into each volunteer’s head. Most acknowledge their understanding of the times for events.

Emma read her journal entry for Monday in her wonderful British style, and her humor brought much laughter to the team. The NBK Group’s bus arrived at the hotel at 8:15. There are nine of us volunteer teachers making the 30-minute trip to school. We normally arrive while a class is going through their morning exercise routine. We then split into 4 ½ teams (Amelia is working solo) to review the day’s agenda. Each class is jammed fully of teenage energy, noise, confusion, frustration and – hopefully – joy.

Today’s lunch break marked Leo’s baseball class attempting to hit a real baseball. Leo’s teaching of the Vietnamese girls and boys is priceless. Imagine a batting tee, a 12-year-old boy swinging a bat and driving a line shot into the middle of 500 bicycles! The show goes on today!

The bus arrives back at the hotel each day around 3:45. Today, Michele leads a group on a 40-minute adventure from the hotel through Hanoi’s maze of rush-hour traffic to the Temple of Literature, an area honoring Confucius. It’s an impressive site for intellectuals from all over the world.

Dining at the Koto restaurant and shopping at the nearby Handicraft Link is rewarding. These are both non-profit ventures to serve the needs of thousands of Hanoi’s “street kids.” The Koto Training Center teaches them skills in cooking and restaurant management.

Another trek back “home” through the evening streets…this time encountering Hanoi’s kids in their pajamas outside the storefronts getting ready for bed. Lots of smiling faces as we return to the hotel, tired but satisfied with our job well done for another day. Three more to go!
-Dick McKenney