The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss works in Vietnam throughout the year primarily providing training, but also supplying audiology equipment, therapy resources, and consultation support to help the Vietnamese improve pediatric audiology and auditory-verbal practice services for their children with hearing loss 0-6 years of age. We provide hearing aids to children in need who are then supported ongoing by the Vietnamese professionals we train to ensure they benefit fully from the hearing aids to learn to listen and talk.
After over six years of work, a solid foundation of support exists for young children with hearing loss that was not as evident when we started the program. There are many success stories and our program has touched lives, some in surprising ways.
For example, we expanded our pool of interpreters in 2012 by adding local university students majoring in English to our stable of professional interpreters. We were fortunate in that we could not have selected a more dedicated, proactive, interested, compassionate, and intelligent group of students. They did not know much about hearing loss when they joined us but were a quick study in the technical terms used in audiology and auditory-verbal practice and took their task seriously in learning how to serve as effective interpreters.
Over the years, many of them continued working with us. They helped translate our materials and interpreted our training programs and video sessions. Their efforts helped greatly in facilitating smooth communication between our Global Foundation professional team and the Vietnamese. In the process, these interpreters learned a great deal about pediatric hearing loss. They have all since graduated. A few of these students are now working in the hearing industry and related fields in Vietnam. This was an unexpected, wonderful bonus to know that our program inspired them.
Thuan An Center is one of the largest educational programs for children with hearing loss in Vietnam and one of our main partners. We trained their staff each year since 2010 and helped to build their early intervention and audiology programs. The high quality hearing aids provided by the Global Foundation helped the children hear as well as possible. The children benefited from the local expertise, quality hearing technology, and resources. More children are moving from Thuan An Center’s early intervention program to mainstream schools each year. This was not a reality prior to our working relationship. Thuan An Center is now recognized in Vietnam as a center of excellence in early intervention for children with hearing loss.
The Rose School is another shining example of success. The director of that program has participated in the Global Foundation’s training courses since 2010, first in early intervention, then auditory-verbal practice, and finally pediatric audiology. She started a center in her province with a curriculum that is based on the Global Foundation’s teachings and offers early intervention services for children with hearing loss. In 2014, she designated a space in the center for educational audiology services and, with our help, secured equipment. This audiology room has been beneficial for supporting the children’s hearing needs in timely fashion.
Today, there are about 70 children with hearing loss under 6 years of age who attend the Rose School for early intervention and audiology services. There are graduates of the Rose School now attending the local mainstream school. Some of these children return to Rose School for extra support as needed and/or continued therapy while pursuing their education in the mainstream setting.
Their dynamic director absorbed the teachings provided by the Global Foundation consistently over the years and has made use of those lessons in the best possible way — by establishing a center to serve children with hearing loss.
When this program started in 2010, we knew that our team of 65 talented Global Foundation professionals would contribute to making a real difference for the children, families and professionals in Vietnam. They are an exceptional group of professionals who have volunteered hours of their time to help the Vietnamese enhance their skills and knowledge. But what we did not immediately realize was the impact that the experience of developing and teaching our curriculum in Vietnam would have on our professionals’ practice at home.
Many of our team members have told us that working with the Global Foundation has made them more effective in their own careers. They point to the opportunity to collaborate and learn from other Global Foundation team members in preparing and teaching the material, consider different learning and teaching strategies, and engage with a different culture with its own set of values and ways of doing things. We think this feedback is more proof that international exchange can help us become more compassionate, understanding, and ultimately, the best people we can be.
And those are just a few examples of the impact of our work in Vietnam. The Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss and our team of professionals cast a pebble in a pond, and we are unable to see the extent of the ripples although we know they go far.