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July 01 2019

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To many students, summer is the time for relaxation after a year of intense learning. This year, 190 students from 5 junior-high schools in Nha Be District have spent some memorable summer days experiencing interesting subjects taught by 39 volunteers coming from Saigon South International School; Lawrence S. Ting School and from abroad.

2019 Saigon South English Camp was organized for 10 days, from 21st to 30th, June 2010, providing an immersive environment for students to improve their English communication skills and spread the community spirit. This is the 5th Camp held by our foundation in partnership with Saigon South International School. This year, the Camp welcomed 190 disadvantaged students from 5 junior-high schools in Nha Be District (including Hai Ba Trung, Nguyen Thi Huong, Hiep Phuoc, Nguyen Van Quy and Le Thanh Cong junior-high schools) and 39 volunteers from Saigon South International School; Lawrence S. Ting School, and from abroad. 

During the 10-day Camp, different subjects like English, Hello World (Social Studies), Science, Art, Music and Physical Education were communicated completely in English to the students by volunteer teachers. In addition, all students’ daily activities were subject to the Camp’s English-only rules. Through learning, playing, and communicating directly to volunteer teachers schools with a strong English background, students are trained to improve their English speaking and communication skills.

The selection criteria for the English Camp’s volunteers are English proficiency, teamwork ability, and most importantly a sense of community service. After applying, volunteers go through many rounds of interviews and stringent selection eventually being assigned to be in charge of specific subjects. Furthermore, before the Camp begins, volunteer teachers test students’ English speaking and listening skills so they can divide them into classes based on their English ability.

“What I like most is that the volunteer teachers are the main people in charge of organizing, managing and running Saigon South English Camp. Lawrence S. Ting Foundation supports us logistically. We developed our own plan; prepared our answers and worked together to implement them. This makes us more aware of our responsibilities, as well as improving our teamwork skills.” Tong Le Han – Volunteer from Saigon South International School (SSIS), said.

I learned a lot from other volunteer friends about the spirit of community service and from student campers about their determination to overcome difficult circumstances - Tong Le Han, Volunteer from Saigon South International School

With the roles assigned clearly, volunteer teachers coordinate the activities of the Camp in an immersive way providing students different modes of knowledge in English rather than just redundant memorization. This also requires volunteer teachers to have diversified knowledge and a thorough curriculum preparation process to ensure that the course load is easy to teach, lively, and enable students to learn and enjoy English at the same time.

To Nguyen Hoang Phuoc Thinh, 7th grader at Nguyen Van Quy Secondary School, “The first time I heard about the English summer camp, we were kind of afraid that we could not keep up. But when participating, we see that all the volunteer brothers and sisters are all very nice and friendly, and they are very patient with us. Anything that we didn’t understand, they would repeat slowly and clearly for us to catch up. It is very interesting as all subjects are lively and explained through the games with prizes, so we like them very much. ”

From her first time knowing about the Camp through a Vietnamese friend, this is Maya Neckles’s second year participating the English camp as a volunteer. Maya who attends Brooks School in the United States said: “I told my parents about all the friendly and affectionate greetings of the students at the camp. They were both very surprised about how people with differences in skin color and language can be so close. At the camp, I was a teacher and taught me how to improve my strengths, overcome my weaknesses, and become more mature. The students shared their dreams with me and teaching them English was like giving a tool to help them achieve their dreams. I taught them the necessary skills and received valuable life lessons in return.”

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This year's camp brings both the students and volunteer teachers a very different summer. For students, it is about their making new friends and becoming more confident when communicating in English. As for the volunteer teachers, they had opportunities for maturation, to share and spread good values to the community, and making their own lives more meaningful by helping others.