Wednesday, 13 March 2013

H2H Goes Back to School

Earlier today around 15 of your intrepid H2H riders cycled to District 4, just across the canal from District 1, to visit the Thang Long Vocational School, which Saigon Children's Charity helps fund. Some of your donations (You have donated already, right? No? Check the links on the right of the page.) to H2H will go towards this school, so we were looking forward seeing it.

The problem is that Thang Long isn't actually located on the street its address says it is. We found the street we thought it was on and stopped when we realized we didn't see the correct number. I asked a man standing in front of a house (in Vietnamese) if he knew where it was, but he just giggled and said something about bicycles. A couple of us headed into the maze of alleys branching off the street in search of the elusive school. Every person I asked for directions from pointed me a different way. We were running late for our scheduled arrival, and I was getting annoyed. I pride myself on never getting lost here, but this was ridiculous.

After nearly 45 minutes of futile searching I called a friend to see if they could fine a number for the school. They did, and a few minutes later I was talking to a manager from SCC. I finally found him on a completely different street, where the school is tucked down an alley that is somehow part of the original road we were on. Clearly logical address numbering hasn't made its way to good old D4 yet.

We were welcomed with bottles of water and smiles from the school management, who called us 'heroes' and said it was amazing that we are undertaking such a physical challenge. They explained that the school trains disadvantaged students, none of whom attend regular school, in English and a number of subjects ranging from photography to hair styling and computers. Tuition is completely free.

Then we checked out the English class that was going on, where the students nervously eyed us in awkward silence. The class leader thanked us for what we were doing, and a few questions were asked. ('What do you expect to be the most beautiful part of the country?" Ho Chi Minh City, obviously.)
 We then moved on to the salon training room, where female students learn to paint nails and apply makeup. (The school principal quietly pointed out that one of the students was 'abnormal' - half boy/half girl.) A few of our female riders decided to test out the quality of the student's training.
smiles all around
Sydney getting her nails did
Amy and Ann Marie getting something painted. I forget.
 Finally we headed upstairs and visited the computer training room, where students learn how to use programs such as Microsoft Office and put together hardware. All of the computers had been donated from RMIT. The principal explained that none of the students have computers at home, and they had never had the opportunity to use before coming to Thang Long.
 It was really great to see concrete proof of where part of H2H's funds will go, and confusing address aside this was a nice afternoon. Ride on!

part of the crew that visited today
Mike T.

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