“Generations come and generations go,” says an ancient book of wisdom. We here at REI are in a transitional phase of leadership, as Brian and Ginny Teel prepare to pass the baton to Craig and Kris Slater. Craig has been serving as Deputy Director of REI-Vietnam since April 2018, and will assume the full directorship at the beginning of next year. We think you might like to get to know him and his family!
Have you ever received a postcard or seen a friend’s posted photos of an internationally known site such as the Grand Canyon, or Yosemite, or Halong Bay, and then had the opportunity of actually visiting the area? Often one’s response is, wow, I had no idea that it was really like that. As part of REI’s emphasis on building people to build their nation, we bring motivated Vietnamese business students to the USA to be exposed to successful businessmen and businesswomen in a variety of fields. The response? Wow.
Conference, forum, or family reunion? Resource Exchange International’s gathering of our worldwide staff in Colorado this July was all the above. The last time our global staff came together in this way was in 2014. It was time to sit down together as field and administrative staff, share our stories, refresh our vision of building people to build their nation, and tool up to advance our work!
REI has the pleasure of working with many professionals all over the country each year. From our medical to business short-term teams, we love seeing the personal friendships that flourish out of each meeting. So much so, that several years ago we started sending one or even two teams every summer to focus solely on building relationships and to learn about the beautiful Vietnamese culture.
Among our volunteer teams, our medical teams are arguably the largest and consequently bring the most impact. Among our medical teams, our ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) teams are arguably the largest and consequently bring the most impact. This spring REI fielded two ENT teams, serving in Vietnam’s two largest cities, with quite different emphases, but also with significant overlap.
“Where did you get that?” asked a Vietnamese friend of ours who works at one of our partner universities, as he stared at the medal pinned to Brian’s lapel. “Twenty-two REI staff and volunteers were just awarded this medal and a Certificate of Merit by the Ministry of Education and Training,” Brian replied. “Do you know what it is?” “Yes I do,” replied our friend. “That’s the highest national award given by the Ministry! What did you do to deserve it?” Good question!
We all thrill to the drama of rescue, be it a rescue of stranded and injured mountaineers, the Coast Guard coming to the aid of a sinking boat, or even a dramatic, life-saving surgery. But while these situations can hold us spellbound, riveted to the TV screen, by and large we would prefer that the climbers simply make an uneventful ascent, that the boats all stay afloat, and that no surgery would be necessary. This month Dr. Laura Bishop’s recent OBGYN Team invested 10 days in Hanoi and Hue, giving instruction and training in how to avoid the dramatic, or, when unavoidable, how to deal with it.
Hey, culture vultures! Rather than focus on REI-specific teams and activities this month, we are changing the pace to give you a larger view of Vietnamese culture through this month’s special holiday, Tet, or the Lunar New Year. Don’t worry; we’ll be back with news from the REI world next month!
REI works in five strategic sectors in Vietnam (Medical, Agriculture, Social Work, Business Education and English Education). Of these, our medical work has the greatest number of short-term volunteer teams. What do we foresee for 2018?
The end of 2017 is upon us! A time for reflection and gratitude for what has been accomplished as we continue to build people to build their nation. As we look back, here are some of the highlights of the year that come to mind.
“Today, we go farther together” was the rallying point of this year’s Fall Business Team. And go farther they did, giving presentations in 15 universities and government institutions in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, expanding our Applied Management Competency Certificate (AMCC) program from one to two cohorts, and selecting 2018’s two J-1 business candidates from Hanoi University (HANU). But if we had to choose one word to describe this team’s experience, that word would be celebration!
Significant, meaningful change rarely happens overnight. REI’s Mixed Medical Team (i.e., made up of doctors and nurses), led by Dr. Elaine Goehner (at center above), has been serving in hospitals in Vietnam for 10 years (or 20, depending on perspective; more on that below). We are seeing genuine advances in healthcare. One especially encouraging change is the dramatic increase in teamwork between hospitals as they share what they know with one another and work together to provide better healthcare to the Vietnamese people.
October 4th has seen a number of significant events over the years. In 1927 sculptor Gutzon Borglum began working on Mount Rushmore. In 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. And in 2011, our dear friend and colleague Luong met Tea Talk’s founder Michael Ong for the first time.
A few months ago long-time REI friends and volunteers, Dr. Austin Raunikar (third from left above) and Dr. Mark Duster (far left above), were invited to attend the 10th Annual Symposium of the Cardiovascular Center of Hue Central Hospital, held in June, as guest lecturers. While they were there something unexpected happened.
“You will have two major beneficiaries if you accept this position,” Brian Teel told Randy and Jill Vernon on a cold winter morning in 2014. “One is direct and obvious: our volunteers who serve in Vietnam, as you help them succeed in their service. The second is more indirect but fully as important: the Vietnamese themselves, who are receiving the service of our volunteers.”