Our fourth annual Vietnam Summer Training Program got underway this week at Thuan An Center. As we gathered in the room on the second floor of the early intervention building for the opening ceremony, I smiled to myself thinking how this event has become a reunion just as much as a conference. I remember during our first summer here in 2010, the Vietnamese were shy about asking questions of our professionals or sharing much emotion with us. All that formality went by wayside long ago. Trust and friendship have settled in to stay, making our program all the stronger for it.

There were many familiar faces among the Vietnamese participants at the opening ceremony and they were just as excited to see us again as we were them. All but one of the Global Foundation professionals this year has been involved with our Vietnam program for at least two years and some for all four. I am very grateful for their generosity in volunteering their expertise over time to this effort as it has brought consistency to our program here.

Hillary got the Vietnamese singing the popular hello song (hello, hello, hello…how are you, and you, and you?”). They all cheered as each of our professionals said a few words of introduction and they gave a burst of applause in welcoming Sherri as the Global Foundation team’s sole new member.

Over the weekend, our team arrived at the Din Ky hotel and easily settled back into its quirky but friendly hospitality. The Din Ky was built in 2009 when our Vietnam Deaf Education Program was still just a vision. It is designed to be a sort of Vietnamese-style non-elitist country club/hotel and their huge pool is a popular draw for local families.

Thuan An Center is situated in a non-touristy area of Vietnam where the list of hotels is very short. Thankfully, the Din Ky was built at just the right time as I have little idea where else we would have accommodated all our professionals over the years.  In a sort of “build it and they will come” situation, we take over most of the rooms at the Din Ky during our Summer Training Programs and Mobile Missions and it has has become our home away from home. The Din Ky is as much a part of our team’s experience here as the training effort. 

Our Summer Training Program is a multi-faceted initiative spanning across education and audiology. This year, we have six different tracks involving over 145 Vietnamese teachers, therapists, technicians, administrators, and other professionals over the course of the month. 
This week, our Therapy, Classroom, and Early Intervention tracks get things started. The first two days focused on review, assessment, lesson planning, and introducing the new Global Foundation curriculum charts.

For the balance of the week, 50 children under 6 years of age are taking part in therapy, classroom, and early intervention sessions with the Vietnamese participants, providing them with a practical learning experience. The Global Foundation professionals coach the Vietnamese and help them progress in their understanding of how to help young children with hearing loss develop listening and spoken language skills and progress in their education

Last night, we hosted the first of our weekly Parent Program meetings. Amy and Becky talked about vocabulary development and the strategies that parents can do at home to help their children build vocabulary and language.

There are 38 schools and early intervention programs in our Deaf Education Program spread across 20 provinces in South Vietnam.  Several families traveled from these schools to board at Thuan An Center this week so their teachers can practice with their own children as part of our Therapy and Early Intervention tracks. Last night’s full house of over 50 parents in attendance during our Parent Program was yet another demonstration of these families’ commitment to help their children with hearing loss.

 We’re looking forward to a great month ahead!