If you come and ask me of what is the thing that has changed me greatly, I will come up with the story when I had my English teacher coming down to my school from America teaching English for 9 months at my school in 2011. I was 16 years old and was sitting on the 11th grade of Senior high school. Every day after school, I went to the field for looking after my cows in the grass field. I had been done this thing ever since I was in the primary school. However, regardless of this very situation, the presence of my English teacher had changed me much to be a dreamer of big things as well as to use the full potential I have in English through many ways. It was such a very exciting moment. Ever since he first started to teach, he has become my role-model and the person that encourage me to study harder and dream high. Though Mr. Victor didn’t speak any Indonesian by the time he came, we still have great time trying to learn in many ways possible. During the 9 months period of time, I saw myself improving vastly. I saw how much this shepherd boy’s English has become way much better than it was after 9 months studying with Mr. Victor. This person didn’t simply taught me about English, he also had taught me about humility, respect, self-motivation, hard work as well as to be passionate on the field I love. He was not someone I knew. A complete stranger yet was able to give a great impact and has become the role model of my own until today.
Today, I am blessed to hear the similar story from a friend during my SSEAYP Journey. The story comes from a person by the name Hieu Duc Mai or known as Henry. Henry is one of Vietnam Participating Youth who has become my homestay mate here in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was few weeks back when Henry came to meet my cabin mate and by this time as well, we had the chance to talk. I was not expecting to hear this reminiscence story from him as we were talking about his current activity working for one of Indonesian company before coming on board. By this very time, we also have some opportunity to share more. Surprisingly, I found out that he actually has the same passion on education as well as I have.
Henry along with his friends, work in a project called Bamboo Builders. The project is for underprivileged students in the rural area of Vietnam since December 2017. The program aims to create future generations of future change maker as well as leaders who are empowered to create social change. This program enables the foreign fresh graduated students especially from several ASEAN Countries, India, and Australia to interact directly through sharing, mentoring and facilitating for 10 day-activity program. The program has 3 components of learning to be done by the fresh graduate student and the local students during the program. These components are design thinking or creative human-centered problem solving approach, the next components are supporting soft skills such as team work, leadership, time management and conflict management, the last component is mindset lessons including flexibility, collaboration, impressive failure, and open-mindedness. In addition to that, Henry is confident that this program can give inspirations to the children, open up the opportunity, widen the local students’ horizon, and as a pathway to share many meaningful and life-changing story between the fresh graduate and the local students.
Shortly as I heard the story, it took me again to my high school experience. The reason why I am really excited and eager to share this story is because I believe that what Henry does to the children of his home country has impacted both those fresh-graduated foreigners and particularly to the local students greatly. I do believe that this type of hard work truly gives impact and make differences to the life of those students in many ways we might have never imagined. I myself am having faith that in as much such project has impacted me this much, so also the project that Henry and the friends do to the local students. It provides more opportunity, exposures, spirits, guts, reinforcement and encouragements to the children who are struggling with various problems, starting from family issue to the issue of quality education. Furthermore, Henry shared also the story on how now they have learn on how to organized an event themselves like the last project on traffic safety where the students work hand in hand by the knowledge, skill, and confident they gain within the 10-day activity to find sponsorship, involving the neighborhood as well as inviting the policemen to talk on the event. More than that, the students have become more responsible toward the program by creating a group at their school for the recruitment of the new member of the new students for participating in the event as well as proving their awareness that they need to contribute back to the society.
The opportunity to be able to join this 45th Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Program has become a testimony for me as well as those who are around me. I want them to be aware and to think that if only children are given the same opportunity through quality of education, they will indeed shine in the best way that they can. And as I am writing this story, Henry and I are still discussing on how is it going to be possible to bring Bamboo Builders to Indonesia as well. For this entire thing, I myself am confident and encourage dedicating my life for providing equal opportunity and exposure to education to children the underprivileged children.
Meet Hieu Duc Mai (Henry)
[VPY, 45th SSEAYP]