One of the challenges that we’ve faced with the families in our consultation sessions has been that lack of audiograms and/or incomplete hearing test results. Without such information, it it very difficult to assess a child’s hearing ability and whether they are getting access to sound through their hearing aids.

This morning, Jill, Ali, and Martha conducted a hearing test called VROCA with a 3-year-old girl and her father. The child does not have an audiogram and had never participated in such a hearing test before. Our team of audiologists made it a playful activity involving the headphones and a puppet VRA response toy. It took several demonstrations by Jill and her father, but this little girl was smart and she quickly caught on. At the end of the session, she correctly responded to a tone on her own for the first time. She laughed her sweet giggle as we all erupted in celebration of her success.

The session was short as her attention and interest waned, but it was a good first learning session. It warmed me to see her father smiling and really encouraged. With time, she will be prepared to conduct a full hearing test and get the measurements the family needs to properly assess her hearing.

Today was the last day of lectures as we enter our review sessions next week. Hillary was wrapping up the speech program with a lesson about books and how to make reading fun for children. The participants broke into small groups and practiced animated reading to each other. Another class had completed this exercise last week and were now studying with Helen. Helen proposed a competition between the two groups to determine who was best at reading aloud in entertaining fashion. When Hillary announced to the class that they had been challenged, one of the participants, Sister Mary Ann, sat straight up in her chair. This woman may be a nun who practices serenity, but she’s got a great sense of fun and humor. Hillary asked who should represent the class in the challenge, and without missing a beat, everyone immediately pointed to Sister Mary Ann who grinned her wide smile, eyes bright in anticipation.

And so the competition began. Sister Mary Ann read from a child’s book, pacing the room in animated verse with the book in hand, reading to us as if we were 4-year-old children. Phuong, from Helen’s class, followed suit. She settled in her chair with a large water bottle acting as a baby, and involved the”baby” in the reading of a book while using many facial expressions and role playing to act out the scenes in the book.

I couldn’t understand either of these contestants as they were reading aloud in Vietnamese, but it didn’t even matter. It was such fun to watch them — and all the teachers having a blast with it all. Phuong was announced the “winner’ of the contest after getting the louder applause, but both of these women did a great job. With that, the week of lectures ended on a very high note.

Mary and Martha departed our program and were sent off with well wishes. The rest of us were treated to a second invitation to a family’s home for dinner. This particular family owns the only workout gym in the province and lives in the building next door. It was ironic that as we ate too much of an amazing home-cooked meal, we could watch people working out next door through the one-way view window into the gym. Sister Dao cheekily commented that perhaps we should all go work out after we ate. It was a wonderful evening and we headed home full and sleepy, but very happy too. Tomorrow, our team heads to Mui Ne for a weekend of relaxation and fun on the popular sand dunes and warm beaches.