On Thursday, we went on our first group visit to one of the projects here in HCMC. Thang Long Vocational School is an SCC project in District 4 and mainly serves children living in the same district. As the name suggests, it offers a variety of vocational courses for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
We arrived at about 10:30 after a brief diversion caused by Chris' excellent sense of direction. We were greeted by Ms Oanh, the headteacher, and were given a quick introduction in the library. There were two classes being taught during our visit: an English class and a beauty therapy class. We quickly split into two groups, with one group being grilled in English by an eager bunch of students, and the other enjoying half-an-hour of being prodded, pulled and painted by the beauty therapy team. The students were keen to show off their skills, and impressive they were too. Particularly good were the nail technicians (had to look that one up on Wikipedia). I could never get the hang of model painting when I was younger, so I'll always be full of admiration of anyone who can paint a detailed Xmas tree, complete with star, baubles and glittery presents in a space less than 1cm across. It's not surprising that this course is the most successful in the school, with over 90% of students gaining paid employment after the year-long training.
The one thing that stood out from our visit, I think, was the attitude of the students. The teachers among us generally teach students for whom school is sometimes a bit of a chore. Getting teenagers motivated can be a bit of a challenge at times, yet for the teachers at Thang Long, there's none of this. The students seemed really grateful for the opportunity that the school offers them, and are willing to give it their best. I'm sure there are other challenges that are unique to this group of students, but the attitude of the students isn't one of them.
Anyway, enough of me waffling on. I know what you really come here for is the pictures.
Thang Long Vocational School
Chris meets the head teacher, Ms Oanh.
Joe is interviewed by students in English class.
Tin and Anna enjoy a head massage.
Sarah gets a hair cut.
Sandra gets her nails done.
Anna gets......something done to her hair.
The students practising on their classmate.