Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Value of Education

The following day (Thursday), we visited a school in the Quang Loi province, sponsored by Aid to Children Without Parents (ACWP), where we were met with 57 energetic second and third graders. All of these children were either orphans or from poor families. Since the two classes were taking time out of their schedules to accommodate our visit, we decided to use our personal money to purchase some small gifts for each of the school children. They were very excited to receive the goody bags of jelly treats, crackers, and chocolate milk. While ACWP sponsored the school, the room was still very basic and there were barely enough seats to go around. Regardless, the children were happy to see us and one even gasped when he heard that we were students from America. Almost every child performed an array of Vietnamese songs and dances for us. In exchange, we were asked to perform two American songs--we chose the "Little Teapot" and N'Sync's "Bye, Bye, Bye." The students were also curious about our backgrounds and what school we were from. They asked us thoughtful questions such as, "Why do you care so much about us?

Second and third graders singing and dancing

Though the American educational system is not perfect, at least there is still free education, even for those who can't afford it. However, in Vietnam, students have to pay to go to school. If the ACWP-sponsored school didn't exist, these kids would not have a chance to receive any education. As UC Berkeley students, we value education as a priority and we wanted to have a firsthand look at the state of the educational system in Vietnam. By seeing this, we can determine student needs in order to provide them further assistance in the future.

VMO and school children gather together for a photograph

-Fanny Du, Sophia Yang, Duy-Hoa Huynh
UC Berkeley students

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