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.”
Gabrielle Lewis, staff in REI's Global Headquarters, recently had the opportunity to visit REI's work in Vietnam and Laos. Here is a brief account of her observations and impressions.
Partnerships can come in many forms. There are legally binding partnerships, as defined by contracts. There are partnerships formalized in writing, expressing expectations and agreed-upon goals, as defined by Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). And there are informal partnerships, perhaps best defined as partnerships of friendship. These partnerships of friendship greatly increase the impact of REI as we seek to build people to build nations.
How do you effectively communicate business principles to university students and seasoned business professionals? This April our REI business practitioner volunteers used a variety of approaches, including content-rich presentations, interactive case studies, and, particularly, the strategic use of spaghetti noodles and marshmallows.
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!