Vietnam Team Journal

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Spring into Service" in Vietnam!!

“Spring into Service” with Global Volunteers to receive a special limited discount offer for our March and April teams!

Four or more volunteers who apply by January 31 for any of these 28 teams in 16 countries will receive a discount of $200 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for one-, two- or three-week international programs or $100 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for USA programs. No other discounts apply.

Please encourage others to volunteer in our five fundamental project areas: education (especially promotion of girls education), labor and community infrastructure, health care, child care, and food and nutrition.

Call us at 800-487-1074 for details and we'll assist you every step of the way. Our worldwide host communities can’t wait to welcome you!!

Check out this link for more details & service program dates:

Vietnam Service Program Dates, March & April Teams:
5-Mar-11 to 19-Mar-11
30-Apr-11 to 14-May-11

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Team Jounal ~ It's Hard to Say Good Bye

Vietnam Team Journal: Thursday, December 2

Quote: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.” Rilke

I am becoming friends with Miss Van Ahn and Miss Linh, the first – third grade teachers who I have been with so much. They give me my assignment when I come in and I’m getting used to the routine and the workbook the students use. I pretty much follow it, but sometimes the opportunity presents to do something else, like today when several of the little girls had “baby dolls” in little soft “cradles.” I taught them the Rock-a-Bye Baby lullaby (with some animation) and I think they got a kick out of it.

It was very nice to have the opportunity to chat informally with Miss Linh and Miss Van Ahn as I was waiting for Roger and Pam for lunch. I learned more about them and asked them directly if they think the children learn from us, the volunteers. They said “oh yes!” so that made me feel good.

This afternoon I went to the water puppet show which was totally unique and delightful. Pam met me outside the theater afterward and we walked to a wonderful café which had a third floor balcony overlooking a busy intersection. We had a very good conversation over coffee and I had mango ice cream for the first time in my life. It was delicious.

We returned to the hotel and I had just a short while to work on the computer before going out to dinner with Pam and Roger and his friend, Tang. We went to a very nice little restaurant and sat upstairs, this time at a table overlooking a small narrow dark street. Now they are out having coffee somewhere and I am very content to be in my room typing this journal.

Tomorrow is our last day. I have mixed feelings—it will be hard to say good-bye to the school and Miss Van Ahn and Miss Linh, who I will be working with all day, and yet I am ready to go home to snowy Minnesota.

Karen Alseth

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Team Journal ~ A Walking Tour with Students

Vietnam Team Journal: Wednesday, November 24

Quote: “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

Today was the long day for teaching, plus after-school activities. My classes went good, even with one seventh grade making and shooting spit wads the whole period and two cancelled classes. At lunch, a former teacher at the school, who I had kept in contact with, met me across from the school at the coffee shop where we had a nice visit and got caught up.

In the evening, we ate at our favorite pumpkin soup restaurant and then hurried back to the hotel to wait for some students to take us on a walking tour of this old quarter area. They arrived a little late, so we passed the time talking to other guests. About 20 students divided into three groups, and off we went in various directions. I had about 8 boys and one girl. My group took me to an old church, a bookstore, the Opera House, and a street coffee shop. The eleventh grade student leader was very good about trying to speak to me in English and directing the group. He even made sure we used the crosswalks, not that that makes any difference here in Vietnam.

Towards the end of the walking tour, we sat in these little Barbie-like chairs for coffee and ice cream. They told me to be careful because it might collapse, but it held nicely. And then I had to get up!! Ha!! After we got back to the hotel, students waited for their parents to pick them up. I went to my room and slept soundly until 5 a.m., my best sleep so far.

Roger Rossman

Monday, November 22, 2010

Team Journal ~ A Global Volunteers Poem!

Vietnam Team Journal: Monday, November 22

Quote: “The world is a book and those who do not travel have read only one page.”

Four adventurous Americans are we,
Came to VietNam to be
Volunteers for an organization called Global.
Some may think we are crazy or noble.

The students are what we want to reach,
And English is what we have come to teach.
Karen and Roger and Frankie and Pam,
Are the ones who must pass the students’ exam.

Will we be successful?
Or will we be dreadful?
Time will tell after the final bell.

Frankie Sugarman

Friday, November 19, 2010

Please Vote for Global Volunteers this Weekend!

Global Volunteers is engaged in a contest entitled 'Full Page Project' - put on by the Star Tribune newspaper in the Twin Cities - through November 21 amongst Minnesota non-profits and the winner will receive a free full page ad in an upcoming addition of the Sunday paper!

Please vote for us this week ~ you can vote once per hour!

Here is the link where you can register and then vote for Global Volunteers (please copy and paste the link):

We would also encourage you to pass this link along to your family and friends, colleagues, classmates or students, and post it on your personal Facebook page or blog if you are able. Let us know if you have any questions, and remember voting goes until 5 p.m. Sunday!

Thank you for your support.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


By Phil

Francoise arranged for our going-away party to be at Hoa Binh, which turned out to be an excellent decision. The food was great, and we had time to relax and say goodbye to each other, as well as to the staff of Hoa Binh who have become our family. The team shared toasts to each other and to our hosts, recognizing Vietnam for the enigmatic and promising nation that it is. Everyone’s plans for leaving Ha Noi were dissected, with intentions expressed for meeting again soon. There was general agreement that the 11th Global Volunteer team to Ha Noi was an enormous success, owing to a well-functioning and compatible team and calm leadership. Sadness tempered by knowledge of a productive experience was the general tenor as each of us got up to say goodnight and give final hugs.

Next year in Chennai, Peru, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, or Hanoi!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday, October 8th

By Roberta
NBK teachers waddled off to Thursday classes savoring the aftermath of the sumptuous Wednesday night banquet given in our honor by Mr. Hoa, Mrs. Hoa, and the English Dept of NBK.

Morning classes had some missing students who were learning songs and dances marking the 1,000 year anniversary of Ha Noi. A production will be held Friday at the school. The stage is set up and acts are rehearsing. The students are hyped up today, anticipation about weekend activities are apparent.

Friday ends our team’s teaching at NBK. It appears we have come a long way. At the primary level, we have learned to be over prepared with multiple activities for each hectic class. Middle school teachers find joy in the openness and curiosity of the students as they practice English. High School classes have a depth of discussion and breadth of information that is ripe for extension activities.

By Terry
At this point in our teaching lives, students recognize us on our way to class, smile, say “hi!” even engage in conversation. This is a distinct pleasure for all. Many classes entail presentations (or introductions to same) and our task is to offer friendly but specific feedback. Teaching the phrase “ladies and gentleman” seems a constant.

Dinner with FTU officials, at a distant restaurant was relaxed, informative, and quite delectable. Francoise – who certainly knows – remarked that the spring rolls are the best she’d ever tasted. Conversation with V.P. Nguyen Dinh Tho and Vu Hoang Nam, Manager of International Affairs, along with their assistant, was quite mutual. It centered on 3 topics: the history and development of the university, the life and times of the Vietnam nation, and small talk. Live Vietnam itself, the conversation was friendly, courteous and charming.

The penultimate day of our common sojourn was typically active. A good time! For the FTU bunch, the stroll home (after being dumped by the taxi at the opera house square due to road closure), entailed a very military parade, reminiscent of May Day on Red Square circa 1959.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday October 7th

By Tim

Thought of the day: Random acts of kindness are good – organized act of kindness are better.

The day is off to a good start with an organized team meeting. The end of our time in Ha Noi is approaching. The high school team will meet in the home of the school president before what surely will be a good dinner and party.

Our morning taxi commute was challenged by street closures and signs of people gathering for a celebration- saw some floats parked in front of the Opera House too. The street traffic seemed extra frenetic, which I believe was heightened by the blaring music from rusty speakers along the way.

At school, we reported to our scheduled classes to continue towards our goals of encouraging spoken conversations. Another go at e-commerce where discussions included advantages and disadvantages for this newly emerging method of Vietnamese commerce.

Because this is our second meeting, the students this week seem more at ease and willing to try a series of questions and answers! My afternoon writing class was a lively discussion of process analysis writing as taught by a discussion of food and how to make dinner. The students and I had fun.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday October 6th

By Dan

Thought of the day: President Teddy Roosevelt: “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

The Nguyen Binh Khiem group leaves minus its quintessential organizer and leader, Roberta, who is under the weather. Her students miss her. Al and I have two tenth graders preparing for mid-terms next week. The written material is the same for both classes, but one class is taught entirely in English and the other in Vietnamese. I am impressed with the written material and concluded that some of it would be a challenge to American students,. The eleventh grade class was a Q and A regarding the 1000th anniversary celebration of the founding of Ha Noi. There was the usual challenge of getting the students to speak up, but with a little patience, most students were able to carry on a simple conversation. Again, students generally read well and write well; speaking and pronunciation are other issues – maybe best saved for the evaluation.

Seija’s sixth grade students were captivated by a US National Park Service brochure of the White House. Seija mentioned that Francoise lived near the White House and the students wanted to know if Francoise visits with President Obama.

The Foreign Trade university group gave lectures to and received lectures from their students. Global Volunteer lectures included topics concerning contract negotiations, leadership, e-commerce, and team building. Terry’s students presented twelve lectures to include the topics of the use of the telephone, internet shopping, stress at work, and the positive and negative aspects of stress. Terry remarked that some of the lectures would have received an “A” in an American university.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday October 5th

By Alex

Rested and rejuvenated, we volunteers returned to our respective assignments on Monday of week two.

Classes at NBK greeted us with gusto. Brandishing smiles of familiarity, they enthusiastically called us by name. Like thirsty sponges, our students absorbed our English lessons and asked insightful questions, such as “what do you think of Ho Chi Minh?”

At lunch, we expressed our collective condolences to Mr Quy regarding the loss of his grandfather. As a cultural aside, we found ‘the washing of the bones” of the deceased most interesting.

At FTU, Keith was recognized as a “Distinguished Guest” at a program featuring the Ambassador from Denmark opening a new joint program. Upon completion of this professional exchange program, FTU students will be certified for further education or employment in Europe.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday October 4th

By Al
Thought of the day- Be the change you want to see in the world – M. Gandhi

We ended the first week at the start of Ha Noi’s 1000 year celebration – and wonderfully, the streets were cleared.

At the end of the week, we realized how easily school integrated us into their schedules, i.e., teachers, students and Mr. Quy. The students welcomed the break from school routine provided by the presence of the volunteers and yet welcomed the opportunity to practice their English. Many had traveled abroad to Turkey, Finland, Indonesia, Singapore, and even Germany. They are the most fluent speakers.

The teachers struggled with their English, but felt comfortable with us and we shaped our instruction to their different styles, as well as ours. Sometimes we followed the text book chapter for the day; mostly we improvised. We have learned from the teachers to appreciate their work; from the students that Vietnam has an auspicious future.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


By Francoise

Since this is the 1000th anniversary of the city of Ha Noi, I decided to pay a visit to the original capital of Vietnam; Hoa Lu, which was the capital under the Dinh Dynasty between 968 and 1009 AD. The site was situated about 2 and 1/2 hours from Ha Noi on a kamikaze bus ride on bad roads. We had about 25 tourists, I being the only American. Some of the sanctuaries have survived the years and temples have been built on the old foundations of the original palaces in the 11th and 12th centuries. After walking around the peaceful gardens, we had lunch then went on to the tour of Tam Coc nearby to enjoy a ride on the Boi river. Our “boatman” was a lady who rowed with both her hands and feet. She spoke some French, as does my Korean companion who went to school in France. The limestone formations are similar to those of Guilin China and HaLong Bay. The ride is lovely, quiet away from the Ha Noi hustle and bustle.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday October 1, 2010

By Dan & Ceil

At the University we all had classes and subjects top teach, for a few of us they even corresponded to the schedule. As usual some of the students in our classes were excellent and engaged in interesting discussions while in other classes the students were not so excellent. The students in the advanced classes were uniformly very good.

The volunteers teaching at the high school had an easy half day unlike the hard working volunteers at the university who worked a full day. They had three short classes ate lunch and took off.

Dinner at the hotel in the evening was good. After dinner some former students came over. After discussions and photos they accompanied everyone to the lake where we mingled with the throngs of people who were there.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

By Keith
Thought of the day: Not everything that counts can be counted

NBK volunteers were treated to a special program put on by the 11th year students. The gala began with tea (delicately described as “smoky sweet with mystery chunks, possibly ginseng”) and rice cakes and included a video presentation on the city of Ha Noi, highlighting places to visit and seasonal changes at Hoan Kiem Lake. Volunteers were impressed by the students’ enthusiasm and their talent in creating the video. The dedication to the student project was greatly admired and appreciated.

Yet another after-dinner visit to the lake found another enthusiastic endless parade of people participating in what must be a special event for this city and country. Each evening’s events are a little more spectacular than those of the night before. It bodes well for the next several days.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday September 29, 2010

By Mary and Deborah
Thought of the day:
"I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better." A. Lincoln

True to our expectations, our new classes were lively, and the students were quick to learn from their new-found teachers.

The upper grades were fairly structured, with more articulate conversation and sharing. In addition to highly skilled computer technology learning, the students were interested in phenomena regarding Michael Jackson and Lady GaGa. One student even demonstrated his skills in a moonwalk.

The Middle students were actively hi-fiving us, followed by eager use of their verbal skills, and exhibiting amazing map skills; just another sign of well-rounded students having varied experiences in their short lives. Their interest rallied around smaller group interaction rather than formal generalized instruction.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday, September 28th

By Barbara
Teaching is tough! Today we had our first day of teaching. Some of us went to Foreign Trade University where we were warmly welcomed by the faculty. The campus is a bustling hive of activity with thousands of students. As Terry said, feels good to be back in a college town!

We did a variety of teaching activity. Personally I had two serious classes, with two serious teachers! The subject was presentations and how to give them. It was hot as blazes and very humid, like being in a hot yoga class. My morning class was at a higher English level and more engaged than the afternoon class but both had curious and intelligent groups of students. Some things, like fear of public speaking, are no different cross continents or cross cultures. It was great to see the students gain a bit of confidence as they practiced their presentation skills.

The traffic and horns honking remain an astounding feature of Hanoi so far. The warm and welcoming faces of the students call us back for more tomorrow.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday September 27th

By Seija
The 11th Hanoi Global Volunteer group assembled Saturday evening for an "introduction/meet/greet" evening. Must say, we have a rather eclectic, well traveled, highly educated troop here ..... quite extraordinary, really..... should make for a very scintillating two weeks! Who would have thought even a short year ago, that I would be here in exotic Hanoi, about to embark on my second volunteer journey. What the heck took me so long?? Our group leader and host, Francoise made us all feel very welcome, appreciated and comfortable with each other in no time at all. Hoa Binh Palace put on a very tasty typical Vietnamese feast for us in their charming Chica Restaurant, on the 8th and top floor of the hotel.....lovely place to gather, as we continued getting to know each other, while wining and dining in fine style :)

Sunday morning, with a hearty breakfast under our belts and very very strong coffee to jolt us all into wake mode, We hit the meeting room for a further information session with Francoise on policies, philosophy, safety and health issues etc. Seems we have many repeat volunteers in our group—for some, this is their 11th time volunteering! Wow, amazing! With our imaginations fully engaged, a back wall was soon filled with colorful cards, listing all manner of goals and objectives for the weeks ahead. A common thread seemed to be both a desire to share and learn, while having a good time together.

After lunch, we had the pleasure of meeting staff from both the Nguyen Binh Khiem Secondary School (NBK) and the Foreign Trade University. They gave us a bit of a break down on what was to be expected of us during our time here, making us feel very welcome and appreciated while doing so. They assigned our schools and classrooms, at which point we broke off into two separate groups for further discussions. We decided to more or less wing it our first day and feel our way around the system ......listening, learning and helping when and where requested.