I have two favorite quotes – the first, “if you think you are too small to make a difference, you have never been in bed with a mosquito”. And the second – “never underestimate the power of a small group of committed citizens to change the world…indeed it is the only thing that ever has”
There is the power of one and there is also the power of collective.
Our Vietnam Deaf Education Program has been so successful because of the accountability and dedication that each person involved has brought to the effort. The Global Foundation professionals volunteer their time and expertise year-round to helping the Vietnamese develop the skills, knowledge, and processes they need to support children with hearing loss. Its about empowering others to help their own.
The Vietnamese are applying what they learn to their work and sharing that knowledge. And, they are also acting as stewards of this program. For instance, we had an evening educational seminar for families of children with hearing loss a couple of programs ago that was held at a hotel instead of our usual school or hospital venue. The conference room where the seminar was to take place was difficult to find. Without any prompt from us, one of the Vietnamese teachers in our program – who drove four hours to attend, by the way — stood outside and directed families into the hotel and up to the conference room. She missed the first hour of the seminar but it was more important to her that the families got the information they needed.
In another example, we had a need for a large volume of interpreters for our Summer Training Program. Concerned about the cost of so many interpreters and the potential impact on our budget, Thuy, our program partner, sought out a new relationship with the Hoa Sen University English department. She worked out an agreement with the administration there whereby students would have the opportunity to volunteer their translation and interpreting skills to our program in exchange for credit hours. This was her own idea and I only found out about it when the deal was done and all the pieces were in place. These students have stayed involved over time, bringing wonderful energy and compassion to the program.
At the same time, this program is about bringing together great minds in Vietnam and abroad to find and address gaps in the system of support so that children with hearing loss can reach their full potential in their hearing communities. Such a clearly articulated goal and a shared commitment towards achieving it makes the process of getting there much easier. There is no “us” and “them” but rather a cross-cultural team that inspires – and is inspired by – each other.
We have such an opportunity to leverage the power of team to set clear goals and drive to great outcomes. In the process, if we can each take personal responsibility for our contribution to the whole while also encouraging each other to do the same, well…the possibilities for achievement are truly unlimited.