I enjoyed seeing friends and familiar faces. There was Giao who took the day off from his work to watch over me when I fractured my knee here in Vietnam last March and landed in the hospital. There were the teachers from Nha Trang whom I enjoyed getting to know better during our last Mobile Mission. I looked out on the audience as I started my welcome spiel and was warmed by teachers I know from Danang, Dalat, and Ho Chi Minh City who sought to catch my eye and give me acknowledging nods and smiles. It is times like these when the world suddenly becomes a smaller, friendlier place.
Hillary Ganek and Helen Zuganelis got the Level 2 Teacher Training program curriculum underway and set the stage for the two weeks ahead with a review of material from last year. Martha Harney and Amy Northern Hardie then presented lectures on audiology and parent counseling, respectively. From this point forward, the program participants will engage in two breakouts in the morning followed by a “lecture of the day” in the afternoon. Our professionals designed the two breakout series to provide, first, a practicum for the daily lecture and, second, guidance on strategies for working with parents to help their children with hearing loss develop auditory and spoken language skills.
Throughout the day, the Level 2 participants step out of the program to attend individualized sessions with one of our professionals. These 45 minute meetings are intended to provide the participants with an opportunity to ask questions about the material they are learning, discuss problems they are facing in their classrooms at home, and.or to trouble-shoot and discuss issues around children they serve. I think all our Global Foundation professionals appreciate these sessions for the real-life glimpse into the lives and daily reality of the Vietnamese teachers.
Meanwhile, Maura Berndsen is leading a workshop this week for Vietnamese teachers working at primary schools to prepare them to support the education of children with hearing loss in their classrooms. Vietnam has an inclusive education policy mandating that children with disabilities have access to mainstream education. As more children are identified with hearing loss earlier in life and benefit from early intervention, the potential for these children to attend mainstream schools will increase. We added this workshop to our program this year as a stepping stone towards more collaboration and support for teachers working in mainstream schools in the Thuan An district.
One of the highlights at this half-way point of our summer program has witnessing the Hoa Sen University students who have been lending their English skills to our program as interpreters really start to bond. When we first started this summer’s effort, these Vietnamese students did not know each other and were shy around each other. Now? Quite the opposite. They hang out together outside of our program, help each other with translations and interpreting, and even banded together to take some of our team members out in Ho Chi Minh City for some fun last weekend. It is a great feeling to know that our program has inspired new friendships.
Representatives from their university came this week to observe our program and watch their students do their interpretive work. They seemed pleased by what they saw and we are exploring the potential for collaboration with the university throughout the year in support of the Global Foundation’s work in Vietnam.