REI has hosted a large number of volunteer teams serving in Vietnam over the past 25 years. Generally we seek to field one team at a time, to simplify logistics. But this month we had three volunteer teams of specialists serve simultaneously! Our Dental Team, Cochlear Implant/Otology Team, and a new initiative, our Art Journaling Team, served in Hanoi the final week of March—our own version of March Madness!
A new year, a new series of volunteer teams serving in Vietnam! Our first team of the season, our Medical Team, invested the week of February 20-24 serving in Hanoi. In the past we have called this our ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) Team, but this year the team, our largest ever, served in a greater variety of venues than simply ENT.
How would you describe REI? An ancient Indian story speaks of six blind men who were brought to an elephant and asked to describe it. Each spoke of the part he touched. To the one who touched the leg, the elephant was like a pillar. To the one who touched the side, it was like a wall, to the one who touched the tusk, it was like a spear, and so forth. How would you describe our work? It may be bigger and more varied than you think! This month we want to give a birds-eye view of the work of Resource Exchange International.
Chris Sayles has been part of REI’s resident staff in Hanoi for several years now. This month we asked Chris if he would describe his service in building up the people of Vietnam to build their nation, and how he came to serve in this way. The following is Chris’s reply. Enjoy!
Which is better? A variety of relevant presentations on current business practices, issues, and solutions, or a structured multi-year program which lays a solid foundation in Strategic Planning, Strategic Leadership, Ethics, Communication, and Financial Structure, Analysis and Reporting? REI’s answer: Yes. Both. Absolutely.
“Before you came I didn't know that my knowledge was limited. You were the first person to work beside me and teach me that I can do more!” This from a young nurse at Hanoi Medical University to a member of our Nurses and Physician Team who served in Hanoi in September and October of this year. In fact, we saw an incredible amount of progress in health care in the hospitals where we have been working over the past several years. What advancements did we see?
“Building People to Build a Nation” has been REI’s heartbeat since its inception. Building capacity in individuals, done rightly and with the right people, should lead to increased capacity on a national level. But there are also possible midpoints, one of which is building communities through enabling them to take charge of their own development. Our Community Based Health Care (CBHC) program is specifically designed to do just that.
The Exchange in Resource Exchange International means just that: the act of giving something and receiving something in return. Much of REI’s service consists of sending teams of volunteer specialists to Vietnam and elsewhere, to share their expertise and learn a few things themselves. But we also bring Vietnamese to the USA for the same purpose. This past month we received two guests from Hanoi University (HANU) as part of our recently launched Applied Management Competency Certificate (AMCC) program, Professor Dzung (pronounced “Zoom”) and recent graduate Ms. My (pronounced “Mee”).
REI’s first Business Team visited Hanoi University (HANU) in 2004, presenting a variety of topics designed to help train young business students in the ways of success. We have generally followed that model ever since, in a number of universities. BUT... higher up and further in! We are not abandoning this model, but at HANU we are launching something new, something more!
The fireworks and celebration taking place as REI’s summer exchange students landed in Hanoi on May 19 were extremely gratifying! Of course, the celebration was for the birthday of Ho Chi Minh, founder of the present republic of Vietnam, not for us, but no matter. There were also some who were equally excited about the arrival of our students and the launch of this year’s Summer Cultural Exchange program! Read more...
If you follow the news, you already know that President Barack Obama visited Vietnam in May in order to continue strengthening U.S. - Vietnam relations. During a reception on May 24 he gave a speech on that topic to a number of specially invited guests. Among those guests was Madame Lien, our REI Representative in Hanoi.
Congenital heart defects affect 8 out of 1000 newborns, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Even 15 years ago, many of these newborns would simply die in Vietnam. Today, with the advances made in pediatric cardiology, most of these infants can be successfully treated and go on to live healthy, normal lives. Long-time REI volunteer Dr. Austin Raunikar is seeking to help raise the standard of children’s heart care in Vietnam.
How do you fit a size 12 foot into a size 9 shoe? Sometimes we here at REI have so much going on that we can’t quite communicate everything that has been happening! The work of our Business Education Teams (or Business Teams, if you prefer) is an example. It has been nearly a year since we wrote about this work, but since then we have had 2 teams of skilled and experienced business practitioners serve in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, in November 2015 and again in March 2016. Why did they come? To help build up the future business leaders of Vietnam.
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.