Presley McFadden, REI’s resident staff team leader in Hanoi, has taught English at three prominent universities in Hanoi (Hanoi University, Academy of Finance, and National Economic University) over the past 6 years. Last year he decided it was time for a change. Presley was already working closely with Michael Ong at Tea Talk through volunteering at a number of workshops and English clubs. Could Tea Talk become a place for full-up English courses? The answer: YES!
A new year! A time of celebration, and also a time of reflection and renewal, when people think about the past year, reviewing their direction, recommitting to doing that which is good and right and helpful, and often making resolutions to change, to improve, to make a fresh start. This is a good time for us here at REI to consider what we are doing well, where we can improve—indeed, to consider why we exist at all.
For many of us Westerners, this is the season of giving. We here at REI would like to share with you a story of giving—a story of kindness, of generosity, of devotion, of hope. It involves many people, though we will focus on only a few. May your heart be encouraged and inspired!
What should be the emphasis in health care? This question could receive a variety of responses. Better health outcomes? Patient satisfaction? A good bottom line for shareholders? Dr. Elaine Goehner, our team leader for our Nurses/Mixed Medical Team, believes that the emphasis must be on patient safety, achieved through better teamwork among the different health care professionals.
For REI, community health means more than a community having access to medical care. It means having a healthy community on every level. A community that functions well in determining its own resources, its own needs, its own priorities, and its own solutions to self-development, be it in the area of education, health care, sanitation, economic development, care for the elderly, care for the marginalized, whatever it may be—we visualize communities taking stock of their own situation and taking the initiative to improve. For the past several months REI has been training Vietnamese in how to help encourage communities to do just that.
Why train Vietnamese students in English? Because English, although not the most commonly spoken language in the world (that honor goes to Mandarin) is nevertheless our era’s lingua franca of business and academia. In most countries it is the primary second language taught in schools and can be understood to some extent by 1/3 of the world’s population. English is crucial for anyone who wants to thrive on the global stage. For the past year REI’s Zonia Go (third from left above) has been investing her life in training both students and instructors of other subjects at the Hung Yen University of Technology and Education.
REI, including its subset, REI-Vietnam, is a non-profit organization. There is an old joke about a businessman who said that his business, too, was a non-profit organization. “Although,” he said wistfully, “it wasn’t intended to be.” In our case, from our origins, our intent has been to give, to share, to train, to exchange, to build, without expectation of payment. But it does take money to do what we do. Where does that money come from?
Here at REI we take the Exchange element of our mandate seriously. From May 21 to June 16 thirteen American students lived in Hanoi, making friends, eating savory street food, and learning about Vietnamese language and culture as well as sharing their own. By all accounts all the students involved, Vietnamese and American alike, had a great time!
Building a nation includes building its economy. As the economy grows, individuals, communities, and the country as a whole enjoy a higher quality of life. REI seeks to help train business students in sound business principles, that they might succeed in their own career paths, and in so doing help build their nation.
In April our Mixed Medical Team brought further training in one of the earliest medical specialties where REI has made a contribution, ENT (Ears, Nose, and Throat). We also brought training in our newest specialty: Urology. This last makes the 20th medical specialty that we have been able to offer! Longtime volunteer Dr. Craig Hedges and his friend and first-timer to Vietnam, Dr. Darlys Hofer (above), invested two weeks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to build people to build their nation.
In the springtime, as migratory birds fly northward and young men’s fancies turn to love, our REI volunteers make their way to Vietnam. This month we are highlighting the contribution made by our Dental Specialty Team, as part of our Mixed Medical Team. (We also had an ENT Team and a Business Team serve, but space constraints, alas, only allow us to focus on one part of a greater whole!)
Duc, pictured above, was diagnosed as a young child with a life-threatening congenital heart defect. Our volunteer surgeons arranged to bring him back to the United States for surgery in December 2006, and performed a successful operation.
Jacqueline Ngin, wife of Tea Talk's Michael Ong, has been a woman of influence in the lives of many, in Vietnam and elsewhere. This month we are reprinting a tribute to her written on the occasion of her birthday by REI Hanoi Team Leader Presley McFadden.
How do you spell success for an international non-government organization (INGO) such as REI-Vietnam? When working with people this is not always obvious, but however success is defined, the government of Vietnam judges REI-Vietnam as being successful. We were one of 33 INGOs out of 568 working in the country to be honored with the Award of Excellence for 2014. Not only that, but PACCOM, the agency which oversees INGOs, asked REI to write a letter describing what we do and our relationship with our Vietnamese hosts, to be published nationally. Only three INGOs (one from Europe, one from Asia, and one from North America--us!) were asked to do that. We are honored.
“Friends and brothers” is how Dr. Le Minh Ky described Dr. Craig Hedges and Dr. Walter Lee, two of REI’s visiting professionals, who hosted Dr. Ky as a REI Fellow from September 17 to November 5 this year. Receiving these Fellows is one component of the exchange
in Resource Exchange International. What impact can a program like this have in building a man to build his nation? Click below to read more.
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