Category – English Education
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!
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!
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.
Presley McFadden, newly appointed Team Leader for our resident professionals in Vietnam, has impacted Vietnamese students since 2004 as an English language instructor. A two month visit to Vietnam in 2001 kindled a desire to return in some capacity after graduation from college. After two years of planning, he was disappointed to learn that he was not accepted by the first program to which he applied. But Presley’s disappointment turned into anticipation after discovering a new opportunity made available to him through partnership with REI-Vietnam.
Zonia Go is returning to Vietnam, where she previously taught English, to apply her newly acquired knowledge in intercultural studies and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), gained while earning an M.A. at Wheaton College in Illinois. Her vocational pursuits today differ greatly from what she pursued a decade ago.
Diana Dudzik, a Senior English Language Fellow with the US Department of State’s English Language Fellow Program working with Vietnam’s National Foreign Language 2020 Project (NFL2020), has her roots in REI-Vietnam. Diana’s work involves helping the NFL2020 Project to build the nation’s English capacity. “It involves impacting systems and strategic planning at the macro level,” says Diana, “and that’s what motivates me.” A desire to help Vietnam develop their English education sector has been on Diana’s heart and mind for a number of years. So where does Diana’s love for English Education and Vietnam have its roots?
Last year REI began a cultural exchange program with Vietnam National University's ULIS (University of Languages and International Studies). This year, for four weeks in June, a second group of American university students flew to Hanoi to trade our language and culture for those of Vietnam.
This past June, REI-Vietnam and the University of Languages and International Studies, or ULIS—one of several colleges in Vietnam National University—conducted their first cultural exchange program. Eight college students from three universities in Kansas and Missouri arrived in Hanoi on June 8th. They were joined by REI’s Jeff Stebbins, a Ph.D. in Vietnamese linguistics who has lived in Vietnam for more than 20 years.
Lien Tran, REI's Representative for Vietnam Relations, may be small in stature, but in every other way she is big for REI-Vietnam. Her head, hands and heart are all engaged to meet the needs of anyone who is in need of her help. This may be expressed by getting medicine for a visiting professional who is sick, taking a visiting professional to the best shop for buying embroidery pictures, visiting a sick family member of a Vietnamese friend, helping one of REI-Vietnam’s resident professional with visa issues, or waiting at Noibai airport to greet an arriving team member’s midnight arrival. When asked for help if it is within her power to do so, her answer is always “yes”.
What do you get when you combine two enthusiastic couples (one a small animal orthopedic husband/wife surgeon team and the other a dialysis nurse /English teacher team) with eager veterinary students and professionals? A fun filled and powerful learning environment! That was the atmosphere last April in Vietnam in the cities of Hanoi and Hue with Drs. John and Deb Mauterer and Kent and Julia VanKleek .
In December of 2010 William C. Cole-French was awarded a Certificate of Merit for his work with a team of Vietnamese educators to design a contextualized reading curriculum for university students studying English. This project culminated in the publication of the textbook, Reading the Daily News, one of the first publications to use materials written by Vietnamese about Vietnam for English language study. The award was given by the People’s Education Committee of Hanoi in celebration of Hanoi’s 1000 year celebration.
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