Thursday, July 28, 2011


In addition to working with Friends of Hue Foundation, I also work with the VA NGO network Capacity Building and PEDfacts workshops as part of the requirements of my fellowship. I spent all of last week attending VA NGO workshops in both Saigon and Hue. A majority of the people who attended were females and all of the attendees were members of the Vietnamese education system: principles, teachers and administrators

VA NGO is a network of numerous Vietnamese-American NGOs dedicated to development in Vietnam. What it really is, is an amazing network of women who have banded together all with similar goals, passions and ideals of helping people. They share their resources and expertise amongst each other and their organizations. It is very grassroots and very beautiful.

As for the VA NGO workshops, topics that were covered included nutrition, arts and crafts, women’s well-being, early childhood to adolescent development, and basic first-aid. These conferences sought to empower women with knowledge and novel approaches to what they do on a daily basis in and outside of their profession, child development. The workshops were amazingly progressive yet also surprisingly, culturally sensitive. It was far from the typical, problematic situation of westerners coming in and imposing knowledge on people in a developing country but rather quite the opposite. It was a collaboration of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American women coming together in a beautiful exchange of information to produce a powerful product, one that has the potential for great change.

I could tell that the women who participated in the workshops thoroughly enjoyed learning new techniques and approaches to education and child development. This was conveyed by their enthusiasm during various group activities. These workshops were also beneficial in that it allowed these women in education to develop a network amongst their own peers

Being involved in education is bittersweet because ideally it targets the root of many problems but its results and affects are sometimes difficult to measure. Regardless, this past week has given me much hope.

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