Better Life Vietnam took another trip giving books to the students of Tien Hai secondary school in Ha Nam province last Friday. This time, our books giving ceremony was combined with the students’ reading competition. Our trip was very successful thanks to the wonderful support from the teachers of Tien Hai school who share our passion of providing the children with access to the books and encouraging them to study harder for a better future. Our trip also gained an unexpected (or more than expectation) outcome thank to creative engagement of Cameron who was kindly volunteering his time with us.
Upon arrival, the BLV team was warmly welcomed by the school teachers and the students of Tien Hai school. We had a meeting with principal, Ms Ngan and were inspired by her will to do the best for her students. The books reading competition was also her initiative to encourage the students to not only read books but also practice skills such as storytelling and public speaking. At the meeting, we thanked Ms. Ngan and the whole school for warmly welcoming us, reaffirmed our will to support students of Tien Hai to have books to read and also expressed our expectation of having the commitment from the school teachers to help encourage the students to read books and to preserve the books. Ms Ngan then represented the whole school to thank our program for giving books to the children and commit to encourage students to read and preserve the books.
The team then went to the schoolyard where 178 students gathered for the books giving ceremony and books reading competition. Ms. Thinh Nguyen, founder of Better Life Vietnam, and Ms. Nhung Nguyen, representative of sponsors, had an opportunity to talk to the students about their books library program. The two “big sisters” (that was how Thinh and Nhung addressed themselves when they talked to the students) started by telling their stories of how they were in the same situation like the students, having a lack of resources to access books and other education opportunities, however they were managed to study really hard and tried their best to get higher education. The two big sisters also shared with the children their wonderful journeys exploring many countries in the world. Through this experience sharing session, Thinh, Nhung and the whole BLV team hope to inspire the students to study hard and to read books to gain variety of knowledge so that the students can also be the world explorers one day.
Giving books to students’ representative
The highlight of the trip was the gaming session with Cameron, a BLV volunteer. He is, perhaps, born to be an entertainer and beyond it, a professional educator. It was the first time the students had ever met a foreigner so they were very shy. Cameron did a wonderful job to break the ice and make the children laugh. He then added more color into the gaming session by making it as a presentation skill training session. He asked the student who did the book reading competition in English to come on stage again and gave her feedback on her presentation skill.
Quick presentation skill training session
In this trip, we heard about a story of a student, Quang, whose bad record. He used to steal money from others. Ms Ngan, who is the principle of the school, told us that she had taken a different approach in educating students with bad behaviors. Instead of yelling at them and punished them for what they did, the school engaged those students in activities at school. For example, Quang was encouraged to join this books reading competition and he won the first prize. According to Ms Ngan, “the students whose bad records are maybe not good at studying but are good at other things, we should show them their strengths as a way to encourage them”. Cameron invited Quang to come up the stage to repeat a paragraph of the book which he read for the competition. He then provided Quang with feedback saying that Quang has such a great voice to tell the story and the way he put his emotion in it was perfect. Cameron told Quang that he could teach the whole school how to tell a story. We could see the happiness on Quang’s eyes hearing the feedback. The little boy must have been very proud of himself.
Quang and friends at reading competition
Thank to Cameron’s gaming session that changed the students from being shy and inconfident to be the ones who can express themselves in public confidently.
We left the school with wonderful memories in our minds. The memories of children’s smiles, their eagerness of discovering the new books, and the commitment from the teachers and the students to preserve the books made our day!