My name is Vu Thi Ngoc Anh. It has been nearly a year since I last joined the Saigon South English Camp 2019 organized by the Lawrence S. Ting Foundation. For me, being able to participate in the camp in the summer of 2017, 2018 and 2019 is one of the best experiences of my college life.
I knew about the summer camp from an email of my university teacher announcing about the Lawrence S. Ting Foundation's summer activities, and encouraging students who have received scholarships of the Foundation to participate in foundation’s activities. The purpose of the summer camp is to help junior high school students in disadvantaged areas of Vietnam have easy access to English. The kids will learn 6 subjects divided into 2 sections: Core (Science, Hello World and English) and Encore (Art, Music and PE). In the morning, students will learn Core subjects and they will continue to study Encore subjects after. All subjects are taught in English by high school students from Saigon South International School (SSIS) or volunteers from oversea countries such as Singapore, USA, Taiwan. , Korea,…
Our summer camp usually starts in the second half of June, and ends around 1 to 3 July. At the camp, volunteers from SSIS or overseas will play the role of teacher volunteers who will teach kids the above subjects. We also have parent volunteers who are SSIS teachers or parents of teacher volunteers who will be behind to review the plans, make sure all the activities are smoothly and take care of the children at the camp. We, acting as college students, will work as staff members of the Lawrence S. Ting Foundation and help students and teacher volunteers with the best facilities at the camp. The main task for me and the other college student or Lawrence S. Ting Fund’s staff at the summer camp is to prepare materials so that teacher volunteers can have enough materials for the class in a timely manner and can support teacher volunteers, parent volunteers and Lawrence S. Ting Foundation’s employees as needed. We have an inventory which stores all the materials for the class at the camp. In order to best prepare for the class, we will arrange the storage in the most scientific and tidy way if possible. We put each material for each subject in separate corners of the resource room and because there are a lot of materials, we have to try to put them in visible places, so that whenever our teacher volunteers need something, we can get it as soon as we can. And when there's a material that is running out, we can immediately tell the foundation’s staff so they can go and buy it as soon as possible. All of this is to help the children's classes go smoothly.
My normal working day would started at around haft past seven am. On the morning after breakfast, we all will take a bus from Hiep Phuoc Dormitory to school. After that, we then help check the attendance. The purpose of attendance checklist is not only to know the kid’s attendance, but also to help us determine the number of students came on that day so that be able to prepare lunch or milk for them in every morning and afternoon.
After knowing the number of students, we will inform the lunch lady then go to prepare the milk for the kids. Then we will be in the resource room for the case when the teacher volunteers need somethings.
The other task which is my favorite is to take photos of all the activities of the day. We will carry our camera and go to each class to capture their activities. We will capture all the activities of each subject, each class, or other activities such as Language Olympic, or the activities taking place on the opening ceremony or closing ceremony.
In the afternoon, in addition to Encore classes, students also participate in the activity called Olympic Language. They will gather in the school yard, draw questions in a carton, then go to some volunteer teacher in the school yard to answer the questions. If the answer is correct, they will get stickers. The stickers will be accumulated and will be exchanged for interesting gifts on the day of the end of the camp.
In the afternoon after school is over, we will take the bus back to the dormitory. We have about 2 hours of free time before dinner time at dinner hall, and almost after dinner, teacher volunteers also have meetings to prepare the curriculum for the next day.
I still remember the day when I first joined the camp in 2017. At that time, I had no idea what to do or what the summer camp would be like. The first few days of preparation days, I even felt like going home because this was the first time I was away from home and attending a summer camp like this. But all the shadow has been erased since the starting of the school day when we welcomed students to study. Seeing the students happy to learn, seeing their smiles, and being able to capture those moments is my immense joy. At the end of my first camp that year, ignoring the strange and unfamiliar feelings, for some reason, I have been used to the camp ever since. I used to get up at 6 am. I used to eat breakfast every day. I used to work all day without taking a nap. I used to see the smiles of the children. Returning to the normal rhythm of life, I missed the camp immensely. I miss the students, miss the teacher volunteers, miss the parent volunteers, and in particular, the uncles and aunts in the Lawrence S. Ting Foundation - the people I interact with and work with every day - who I am closest to.
It was amazing that after I offered to join the camp next time, the Foundation gave me the opportunity without any writing or interviewing. And so on, I went to the camp for three consecutive summers - three summers of my university time.
Now that I think about it, I still have a feeling of nostalgia going back to the summer camp - a nostalgic feeling that is hard to express in words. I miss the innocent smile of each child. I miss the fresh space of the Hiep Phuoc dormitory where we resided. I miss the delicious and nutritious meals that the uncles and aunts cooked in the dorm. I miss the interesting class of the children that I had the opportunity to see and photograph and for now, I can still vividly remember what lessons would be like. I miss the space in the inventory I looked after. I miss every little pretty thing in it, every little corner of the subjects in it. I miss the harmony of the students during music hours, interesting experiments in science class, exciting English lessons, energetic PE class, creative art sessions or funny hello world lessons. I miss the milk delivery times to each classroom for the kids. Group fun lunches. I miss the docility and the courtesy of the teacher volunteers. I miss the friendliness of the parent volunteers, and above all, it was the great friendliness and kindness of the aunts and uncles in the Lawrence S. Ting Foundation.
Thank you Ms. Joanne, uncle Diep, uncle Hien, Mr. Son, uncle Tung, Betty and other staffs of the Foundation. Thank you all the parent volunteers, teacher volunteers and all the support from lunch lady, clean lady, Hiep Phuoc dormitory staffs and all the people who are the parts of the camp. Thank you all the students for all the joy and youth. Without them, my time at the summer camp would not have been so memorable and profound.
It was great to be one of the LSTF scholarship recipients and it was great to be part of the Saigon South English Camp.
Thank you for all the wonderful experiences. See you on the nearest day.