A key goal of our Vietnam Program is to develop Vietnamese professionals in audiology and auditory-verbal practice who will not only be better prepared to work with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, but also have the skills and confidence to train other Vietnamese professionals and families.

We have 38 schools for the deaf and early intervention centers and 2 hospitals in this program representing 20 provinces throughout South Vietnam. More and more children are directly benefiting from the understanding and expertise of those we are training in our program.  The scale of our work has helped to spread awareness that young children with hearing loss can indeed learn to listen and talk if they have appropriate support and hearing technology. There has been growing interest in our work and the training we provide.

Thuy and I made a decision early on that we would would focus our program on the same group of Vietnamese educational professionals over time. We could have chosen to add more Vietnamese teachers and therapists to our program each year, as the demand was certainly there. However, we felt sustainability would be more easily achieved if we focused our efforts on a core group of 72 Vietnamese teachers and therapists. Then, they could go back to their home communities and share their learning with others, making the result of our efforts exponential and sustainable.

This week and next week, our Global Foundation professionals are working with our most advanced group of Vietnamese education professionals in the Level 5 early intervention, therapy, and classroom tracks. The majority of them are demonstrating outstanding competencies in key areas of AV Practice. It has been wonderful to observe the therapy and classroom sessions this week and see the children engaged and learning — and having fun while doing so — under the tutelage of their Vietnamese teachers and therapists. It is clear that several of our participants are ready to learn the art of teaching what they know to other professionals.

Our Global Foundation team turned over leadership of this week’s Family Night to the Level 5 early intervention therapists.  Together, they developed presentations on topics related to auditory memory, vocabulary, and speech development.  On Wednesday night, the Vietnamese proudly stood at the front of the room, confident and ready to present the material to the parents. Several of their peers were in attendance as well, lending moral support. It was like watching one’s children at a graduation or something – we were all so proud of them! They did a good job presenting and answering the families’ questions at the end of the night.

Our team is helping the Vietnamese professionals further develop skills to teach other professionals.  But, many in our Level 5 program have already been sharing.  Earlier this year, a group of our Level 5 Vietnamese therapists took part in a training program in Nha Trang where they educated therapists and families there about AV Practice. Vietnamese taking initiative to teach other Vietnamese.  The Vietnamese contacted me to tell me about this training and to request permission to use our materials in this effort. I  could not have been more pleased and prouder to say, “Yes, of course.”

The commitment of our Vietnamese participants has helped make our program the success it is. We plan to support their efforts to share knowledge derived from our teachings to more and more people.  The result will be sustainability and an overall improvement to a system of support for young children with hearing loss throughout their country.