This program is organized by CET Academic Programs in collaboration with DukeEngage.
June 13 - August 8
Participating in building and education projects with local Vietnamese roommates in a rural area of Central Vietnam.
DukeEngage students’ projects aim to serve needy communities through providing unique educational opportunities for Vietnamese school children as well as renovating and building infrastructure such as schools, roads, and houses. After an orientation and intensive Vietnamese language training in Ho Chi Minh City, students travel to a rural area of the Central Region in Vietnam. DukeEngage students participate in the program alongside Vietnamese college students who will also serve as roommates, service project team members, and an avenue towards gaining a greater linguistic and cultural understanding of contemporary Vietnam.
Students participate in various education and infrastructure projects within needy communities.
Students start at one of several building worksites (with their roommates) before dawn; around mid-morning the group breaks for lunch which is typically served at a local community member’s home. In the afternoon, students teach classes to elementary through high school students in a local school building. The content of the classes depends on the requests of the local community. Most schools request only English classes. Other schools are open to receiving what Duke students want to teach.
Former participants made the following infrastructure contributions:
· Built a three-bedroom brick house for a needy family that previously lived in a one-room shack. The students helped in all aspects of building the house: digging the foundation, carrying building supplies, and laying brick.
· Improved sanitation by constructing the first-ever toilet for an elementary school. Students continue to use the toilet today.
· Renovated elementary schools by repainting doors and walls, cleaning desks, paving walkways, and constructing a parking structure.
· Added to the aesthetic integrity of a community space through landscaping projects such as building a fence and creating a fishpond.
Additionally, students participate in various intercultural exchange events that aim to promote international understanding with both the local community and their roommates. Past students have participated in a cultural fair that showcases American and Vietnam culture, facilitated a youth soccer tournament, and organized a “fun run” fundraiser.
Language/Other Prerequisites: None, however, students will take intensive Vietnamese classes during orientation.
Reflection Sessions: Your site coordinator will lead regular reflection sessions in which you’ll be expected to participate. More details will be shared once you arrive on-site.
Neighborhood: Students will begin the program with a cultural orientation and Vietnamese language training in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Students will then relocate to a rural area in the Central Region where they will conduct their project work.
Housing and Accommodations: Students will live in guest houses with Vietnamese roommates who will also participate in the program. In both the rural and urban areas, students will have simple yet comfortable rooms. Air conditioning, hot water, western-style toilets, and internet are usually available in Ho Chi Minh City, but are most likely unavailable in the rural area. In the rural area, students usually wash clothes by hand, have irregular access to the internet, and experience frequent power outages.
Meals: Students will primarily eat as a group enjoying traditional Vietnamese food: pho (rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, and beef both), vegetables stir fried with sauces over rice, small portions of cooked meat over white rice or rice noodles. Students will also have some opportunities to buy their own food from vendors selling exotic fruits, Vietnamese sandwiches, and various rice-based stir-fry dishes. In the rural area, students may take their meals at a local community cooks home and share meals family-style as a group. Due to the high level of physical activity and the limited availability of a variety of foods in the rural area, students are encouraged to practice flexible eating habits. Cooking for yourself, vegetarian diets, and severe allergies may be difficult to accommodate.
Communication: Students are encouraged to bring a laptop computer (with lock) as their main source of communication via email and Skype. While internet connections in Vietnam can often be spotty, the guest house or nearby internet cafes should have a connection. Students are lent a cell phone in Vietnam and are required to keep a minimal balance during the duration of the program. The cell phone should be used to remain in touch with group members and program staff and can also be used to call home. Coverage is moderate to good depending upon one’s location. Some US cell phones will work in Vietnam if they have been unlocked.
Transportation: In Ho Chi Minh City students will travel primarily by foot, bus, or taxi. When the group takes enrichment trips a private van will be used. In rural Vietnam most students will travel by foot and bike to the worksites daily and must be comfortable riding for approximately 30 minutes each way. When biking all students should wear a bike helmet. Students are prohibited from riding Vietnamese motor bikes (mini motorcycles).
Volunteer Placement Logistics: Students will be required to participate in extensive physical labor during their service work. These tasks could range from: painting, transporting building materials, pouring concrete for a foundation, cleaning up rivers and roads, assisting with building construction and restoration. Students should bring clothes and shoes that are appropriate for manual labor. The climate is tropical and often muddy, thus students should dress accordingly. Exact infrastructure and educational projects are determined in consultation with local partners’ needs and thus are subject to change.
Opportunities for Autonomy / Private Space: Students will participate in service projects all morning and afternoon. Many evenings and some weekends may include other activities, teaching preparation, or discussions. In general, students will have limited free time for downtime or to pursue social activities.
Miscellaneous: Living with Vietnamese roommates provides DukeEngage students with a unique perspective on contemporary and historical issues in Vietnam. Students address these by participating in service projects that aim to benefit the community.
Students will perform physical labor for the majority of the program and thus should be in good physical health. Students must know how to ride a bicycle. Students must be flexible to frequent scheduling change.