History and Development of the Project Michael, a Social Worker from Singapore, first came to Hanoi in 2001 to help build a Social Work curriculum at the University of Labor and Social Affairs. While still in Hanoi in 2007 he applied for and was offered a full scholarship by the McDonnell International Scholar Academy to the number one ranked social work program in the U.S., the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He took the course on social entrepreneurship while in this program. To get Michael's perspective on how the idea germinated, click on the Blog tab above and scroll down to the blog, Express Your Soul: Time for Tea. It took Michael a couple of years to garner a support team, develop a business plan, and flesh out all the details to make Tea Talk a reality. Friends from Singapore, the U.S. and other countries have contributed money, kitchen items, tea cups and saucers, wall hangings and other things to make Tea Talk Cafe happen. Michael said that one of the best things about the project was the support of so many friends. The contract for leasing the building for Tea Talk Café was signed on March 1 of this year. In just five and a half weeks the business was up and running. In those short weeks there was a flurry of excitement and activity as renovations were made, the kitchen set up, furniture purchased, walls painted and decorated, menus planned, staff hired, food tested, and voila!...Tea Talk Café opened for business. It was an amazing feat by some dedicated individuals.( See the work of the core group at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4LN7CjpFvE). After viewing the video, be sure to hit the arrow to return to this page to continue reading. With this background, let’s take a closer look at Tea Talk!
The Food Offerings Delicious, home made food is a hallmark of Tea Talk. Along with tea or coffee, if you are looking for a snack, you can select from a large variety of baked goods. Jacqueline Ong, Michael's wife, supervises the baking. If it is a meal that you are after, you can order from delicious set breakfast and lunch menus. A very special high tea menu is offered at select times. Items for high tea include delectable tea sandwiches, scones, and assorted mini pastries plus a choice of tea or coffee.
Social Service Dimension of Tea Talk While excellent food is of course a big piece of Tea Talk Cafe, Michael’s vision for Tea Talk Café goes beyond food. He wants the café to provide a safe, comfortable environment where friends meet for good food and meaningful conversations, but also where relevant social issues can be addressed. Through the introduction of mini dramas, issues that might otherwise be too difficult to discuss can be made more accessible. As this occurs, the social work students working at the café will have an opportunity to develop their skills as they interact with café patrons on these issues. Tea Talk Café is already fulfilling Michael’s dream in the social services dimension. One hundred thirty people have signed up for a Talk Show on “20’s and Crisis” on Saturday, May 11. Michael said that they are also beginning to counsel families and individuals. They have had to turn some away already due to lack of manpower.