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A teacher's diary
24 May 2011
By Blue Dream Volunteer Group/linvn.org

Although I am not a professional “teacher”, upon hearing that a tutorial project by Nhung Uoc Mo Xanh Voluntary Group was in need of volunteers to teach poor children in Xom Ghe, Binh Chanh Ward, I was enthusiastic enough to join regardless of my teaching ability, thinking that the challenge could be overcome by my diligence. I teach, or rather, “go to school” once a week to learn how to view life from a different angle.
 

I learned to discover other beautiful sides of my friends when they rushed to class after school or work. The roads were crowded, dark, wet, and slippery… The girls’ soft hands were firm although they were hungry; those of the boys, although clumsy and rough, were gentle when they took the students’ hands to write a difficult stroke.

I learned what real poverty is when a student confided to me that her family only had rice with salt for meals that whole week and when some of the kids were unable to come to class at 8pm because they had to work.

I learned how to verify Einstein’s relativity theory: the distance from any house in this city to Binh Chanh can’t be as long as that of the route to the kids’ literacy; it was only after we were accustomed to the kids’ smiling eyes, to images of meticulous “teachers” sitting by their students that the distance became miraculously close. Two hours chatting with friends could be long, but with all the lessons reviewing and checking, exercises giving, soothing, encouraging as well as reproving, explaining, and… mosquitoes discharging, two hours are just in the blink of an eye.

I was able to see more clearly the value of “professionalism” in any job, inclusively volunteering: we need a unified syllabus, which is understandable for everyone in a class that has 15 students only but is split into 4 different learning ability levels.

I learned to live with more tolerance when I saw how some people, because of trivial conflicts, forgot their ultimate goals – knowledge and love for the kids – and made the kids suffer.

I learned to try my best to achieve results as perfectly as possible instead of waiting to be provided with a perfect working condition. Substandard tables and chairs, dimly-lit lights, no fans… Both teachers and students have been working hard to make up for the shortages.

I learned to be patient to sow the first seeds and enjoyed success when my “students” managed to write a round letter O for the first time.

I learned to… write beautiful handwriting again after a long time used to computer keyboard and mouse all these years. How bad it would be to write a deformed model letter!
I have learned, given, and received.

I am neither a veteran nor a new member of the group. What I have done for the tutorial project is only a minor contribution. This writing is dedicated to you, my friends from Nhung Uoc Mo Xanh Voluntary Group, who have been silently devoting time and energies to this meaningful activity for the past years. Why do I call it a silent devotion? Because even in “volunteer diaries”, we only see “journals” of short, exciting, and attention-attractive events. Nobody could take pictures of motorbikes passing silently through the nights to reach the kids every week. Nobody could quantify the achievements. Nobody could “pay” for the countless “spendings” (or better called “gifts”) made by your efforts.

I hope you will retain the fire of zeal in your heart, as well as the fire in our students’ eyes. Knowledge is a life-time present, and learning to share love is one, too.

Our tutoring group is seeking teacher volunteers for a class in Binh Chanh Ward and District 7. Would you like to go “learn” with me?

 
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