This experience has truly been a humbling, rewarding, and eye opening experience for me. Coming into the program, I was very anxious, and I didn't know what to expect. I was very excited after hearing stories from past participants, but the idea of teaching over 150 students made me nervous. However, I had an open heart, I looked forward to the adventure, and I was determined to make a difference. As an advocate against homelessness, I truly support and believe in the goals of the program to help others through education: "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish, and feed him for a lifetime." I was willing to do what I could to help the students in Vietnam, yet I had no idea that the impact that they would have on me would even be greater.
The students in Cau Ram were very diligent, hard working, and motivated to learn English. Many of the students were very poor, and had very little, yet they found happiness in what they had. Their families invest so much in education, and they are so determined to work hard for a better future. My students not only taught me Vietnamese, but they also inspired me to strive and to work hard toward my future goals despite any obstacles. Even through significant, unexpected obstacles, my students taught me to be strong, fearless, and we were able to make the best of every situation. I truly look up to them as role models, and I thank them for their patience, kindness, and hospitality towards me. I also thank everyone who made this experience possible. I will forever keep the lessons that I learned, the laughs that I had, and the people that I met in my heart. I miss their smiles, and I cannot wait to one day return to Vietnam.
Thank you for relaying the past volunteers' regards to us. The first week was indeed quite a trial, but at the same time, it was also very joyful and festive. Everyone here is so kind and welcoming; I feel very safe and well cared for. The outings between days and during the weekends are most definitely fun and memorable. They take off a lot of stress from teaching, which actually is not all bad.
Teaching is definitely challenging and quite difficult, but it's very fun and rewarding too. During the first and second week, I've had so much weight in my heart. Vietnam has so many wonders and beauties, but it also has so many hardships and sorrows. Seeing the conditions here is really heart-wrenching for me, because I want to help so badly that it hurts. It hurts because I feel that my ability to help is so disadvantaged by the fact I can't speak Vietnamese fluently. But again, I am trying my hardest. I understand more acutely the sentiment behind EFTP's motto:
We will go with a sweet smile on our faces With a strong determination to serve the less fortunate in our hearts With a fierce hunger for success for those who need our help Yes, we will go! We will go! We will go!!
I flew from the other side of the world to help, and I want nothing less than the best quality effort I can procure. I can already see the great improvement in myself from now since the beginning of the program. I am a better person all around because of my experiences here, and I'm very glad to contribute to the brightening of other people's lives. I want to thank you thoroughly for giving me this opportunity and helping all along the way. While I am still focusing my efforts and making the upcoming closure the best possible, I am already thinking of ways to help EFTP more in the future. If you need me for recruiting or training or designing or anything, I would absolutely love to be of assistance.
Uyen Dinh (Winnie)
I love EFTP. I've volunteered abroad before, and I think EFTP is a very carefully-designed program that looks out for both the students and the volunteers. For the students who attend EFTP classes regularly, I believe the program does help them not only improve their English, but also learn a new culture and make new friends. I've had a lot of fun volunteering for EFTP and learning about the Vietnamese culture and people, and I only hope my students had fun learning about English and talking to all of us volunteers too. YES! EFTP is helping the Vietnamese community so much, and I hope this program continue to last as long as it can. The students really benefit from it.
This program is very caring. I appreciate Co Natalie and Co Jennifer's efforts to look out for our well-being. Cha Huong and the boys at the church really take care of us. I really appreciate everything that EFTP has done for me. It is more than I could've asked for. I especially thank EFTP for the great Vinh Ha Long trip! I do think it would be fun and beneficial to have more social outings between new and old volunteers. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to participate in EFTP. My volunteering experience in Vietnam has been incredible, and I've met so many wonderful and caring people. I've learned a lot about my culture and myself through this experience. I wish EFTP the best in the future, and I hope to be able to support EFTP in any ways I can in the future. THANK YOU!
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and in only four weeks I have noticed improvements in pronunciation from many of my students. Coming into my class, they pronounced many sounds like "z" but I have since, through daily practice, conditioned them to pronounce difficult sounds like "th", "j" and "y" correctly. I think small improvements like these greatly change the way they are perceived when speaking English to native speakers, and hopefully in turn will better their chances at finding jobs in the international markets.
I found the living arrangements to be comfortable and the church members and staff to be very helpful and engaging. The learning materials were appropriate and made lesson planning a lot easier. Weekend trips and outings were refreshing and provided for a change of scenery and an escape for the weekday monotony.
Before my participation in this program I had always wanted to volunteer abroad and I think this program was a great first impression. Never having taught before, I found it came naturally to me and I felt a real sense of accomplishment seeing positive changes from my students in such a short period of time. Because of this experience, I am going to research becoming certified to teach ESL upon my return to the states. Thank you again for affording me this opportunity; it has changed my appreciation for what it is to have and to have not and reignited a fire inside of me to continue aiding the less fortunate in whatever way I can.
Yes, I think you should continue with the program. I cannot speak for the teachers of younger children, but my Intermediate and Advanced classes have a real passion for learning. They understand the opportunities being proficient in English will provide them and they are eager to learn. It is my understanding that English is not an important focus in their schools and the only places to learn intensively are very expensive. I think what you are doing here is imperative to providing a better future for this community and I would love to be part of it again.
I went in with no expectations and have been delighted by the beauty of the culture and the people, and have been moved by their contagious happiness. I am taking many memories home with me, as well as new friends and experiences I will hold dear to my heart for many years to come. A million thanks.
Education for the Poor is a solid volunteer program. Its purpose is to teach Vietnamese students English so that they can use English as a tool for success in their lives. I feel that the mission and goals of Education for the Poor are realistic, and the program has a positive impact on the lives of its students.
I think our students have taken a lot from the program. Not only have our students improved their English skills, but most are now motivated to learn English on their own; this is very impactful for our students. Especially for our pre-college students, they have learned that they can use English as a stepping stone to get into a university and/or as a career pathway.
Aside from English, I think this program has been impactful for our students in numerous ways. When we first arrived at the airport, our students were filled with joy as they grabbed our luggage and followed us on their mopeds in the rain. Seeing the pure happiness on our students' faces brought a sense of hopefulness to my heart. Our students saw that we cared about their learning and their well-being. Thus, when I taught my students, I not only taught them English, but I taught them important life skills. A student testifies, "Ms. Nguyen, thank you for not only teaching us English, but thank you for teaching us how to be a better person in this world." I am in awe in how respectful, trusting, and caring my students acted toward me. To share my life with them made it that much more meaningful during the five weeks.
I liked that the program organized a training/orientation session before the trip. I thought it was very helpful to meet the old and new volunteers so that the old volunteers were able to share their experiences. Even though it was only a one day training, I thought it was comprehensive and very productive.
I liked that the program always thought about the volunteers first. The safety and health of the volunteers was a priority, and the program did a great job protecting that. This year, more volunteers were sick than ever. Usually, when I am sick, I know that rest and fluids will help me heal; I hardly turn to medication or call a doctor to help me. However, when the volunteers were sick in Lap Thach, President Natalie, did all in her power to help us. Whether it is calling the doctor, traveling across town in the middle of the night, or taking over a class for a volunteer, Natalie ensured that the safety and health of the EFTP volunteers maintained a top priority.
Of course I think EFTP should continue to offer this English course to students in Vietnam in the future. Although the program was only for five weeks, I think our students gained a lot from that period of instruction. I truly believe that my students have come a long way within the five weeks.
The 5 weeks teaching English in Vietnam was truly an amazing and unforgettable experience. Before going to Vietnam, I had a lot of doubts and uncertainties as to whether I would be able to adapt to the local conditions and teach successfully to the students. However, in the course of 5 weeks I taught at Cau Ram, I formed my EFTP family with other English volunteers, local university students, and followers at the parish. The people at Cau Ram were so welcoming, warm, and sincere that it felt like home at the parish. The people I met and the bonds I created made every day at Cau Ram filled with fun and excitement. Hence, by the end of the program, it was very difficult to say good-bye to this new family I formed. The students' openness, the local volunteers' kindness, and the church boys' sincerity made the 5 weeks stay at Cau Ram a truly memorable one. Not only was I able to learn and grow in the process, I formed memories and friendships that I would cherish for the rest of my life. For this reason, I am truly grateful to Education for the Poor for giving me this opportunity to serve a meaningful purpose and live an unforgettable experience.
I feel that this program serves a very meaningful purpose of providing an opportunity for underprivileged children to learn another language to advance their studies and broaden their knowledge. Students not only gain exposure to a different culture and interact with people from a different environment; they also get introduced to a new language that is beneficial to their educational studies.
I personally liked the program a lot. Before joining the program, I had a lot of doubts and uncertainties but Co Natalie and Co Jennifer assured all my fears and made me feel safe about the entire trip of going to a foreign country for 5 weeks alone without my family. I really appreciated their efforts of going the extra mile to assure our safety and satisfaction.
I was very pleased with the program. The bond I created with my students turned out to be much stronger than I expected. I felt that we all made an impact on our students not only by teaching them English, but also by exposing them to a different perspective on life.
In order to improve the program, I would suggest EFTP invest more time in advertising the program. EFTP's mission and the way it takes care of its volunteers is so admiring, that I feel many people would be interested in participating.
I definitely think EFTP should continue to offer this English course to the students in Vietnam in the future. Because Vietnam is still a developing country, I feel teaching its children English will certainly help the country thrive in a primarily Western driven world.
Thank you Natalie and Jennifer for allowing me to participate in this program. Teaching in Vinh for 5 weeks has surprisingly taught me a lot about myself and culture.