To Vung Tau and Back

The Intel Education Service Corp team from Vietnam has returned. Here is Melissa William’s final post about their team’s adventures and learnings as they helped train teachers and students at the Vung Tau Orphanage. If you missed her first two posts, check them out:

Intel Education Service Corp: Vietnam here we come! and PC’s and no Power? No Problem!


To Vung Tau and Back

by Melissa Williams

Our last week in Vietnam was exciting with travel to The Vung Tau Providence by a 90 minute ferry ride to teach at the Vung Tau Orphanage. The ferry ride was an adventure on its own, and a beautiful way to see more of the country. Ho Chi Minh City is really the hustle and bustle place to be and once we arrived at Vung Tau, it was clear that this was a more laid back costal town. With beaches and beautiful greenery, and tropical afternoon rain, it was almost like time slowed down a little bit working here.

IESC Vietnam boys.jpgWe spent 3 days at the Orphanage working with kids from ages 6 to 17 years old. These kids were at varying levels of education with many not able to read or write and did not know the alphabet to some who have worked with computers to some degree. There was a sharp contrast between the children we were working with in Ho Chi Minh City and the ones here in Vung Tau, some of whom have never been exposed to formal schooling. The children here all have been signed over to the state and do not have parents to speak of. We saw this process take place first hand on day one when a father came with his two sons and had to drop them off because he wife had ran off and he could not support the kids on his own. It was apparent that they were not able to be taken care of for a long time with how completely malnourished they both were and rotting teeth. Minh walked with the man back to the bus station and talked with him as he had tears streaming down his face. This was not an easy decision for him, but he wanted his kids to have something better. All they have is the clothes on their back, and the father gave the older seven year-old boy the last little money the father had in case the boys needed it. It was heart breaking to see how sad these to brothers were. They knew what was going on and they were not sure what to do about it, but you could see the sadness in their eyes, but it was inspiring that at the same time with attention and love from those around them they smiled and talked with us and the other kids. The other children all have very similar stories and come from similar situations.

IESC Vietnam teachers with students.jpgSo we did what we could and got the kids on the computers and taught them what we could. They were extremely excited to be introduced to this new technology and really have the team spend time with them. They are starved for attention and by the second day they were hugging and clinging to each of us. As a group we also went out and purchased a new clean outfit for each of the kids. The teachers will wrap these outfits and ensure that they each have for a Christmas gift so that they will all have something new to look forward to come that special holiday. They also now know that someone from the Orphan Overseas program will come to visit them once a week with the Intel Classmate PC’s to continue that ongoing learning and this will be something that hopefully they will look forward to. We did a separate teacher training session at this Orphanage with 8 dedicated teachers and helpers that came in on their Sunday to work with us and learn how to use the computers. Their dedication to the kids and helping them is admirable and what makes programs like these work.

IESC Vietnam at Intel.jpgWe wrapped up the program in Ho Chi Minh City ensuring that we had all of the computer units up and running and formatted with all of the correct software. We also did a final session with the students from the Tu Xuong Center where we brought them on a factory tour of the new Intel ATM facility in district 9. The children were amazed with the facility and many got very excited about potentially working there one day. They had a chance to explore the different areas from the factory floor through a window tour, to the cafeteria, gym, and conference rooms. It made the entire team proud to work at Intel and share our work place with these kids to see how excited they were about it. As a team we headed out on this program to teach in Vietnam, but I think as a group we all learned so much from these children through this entire process and we all feel thankful to have been given the opportunity to have this experience.