Students Without Borders is a WUSC and CECI program that enables Canadian university and college students to participate in exciting, volunteer learning opportunities in South America, Africa, and Asia.

WUSC Field

June 23, 2006

If you plan to travel to Vietnam through WUSC this year …

Michael Emblem, Field Director in Vietnam

You will undoubtedly meet Michael Emblem, Field Director for that country. He has been with WUSC for the past ten months and has long experience in the sector having spent the previous 6 years working for CECI in Nepal. Michael was in the WUSC Ottawa office this week and spoke to us about his role in WUSC and his work in Vietnam.

Students Without Borders (SWB) is one of Michael’s many duties. For SWB Michael and the WUSC Vietnam staff process requests from partner organizations, meet with them and assess matches between students’ skills and workplace opportunities. They also provide orientation for the volunteers arriving in Vietnam and support in times of emergency. Michael’s advice for student interns in Vietnam is that they bond with their workplace partner organization as much as possible and minimize the role of WUSC to one of backup support if required. He believes that the experience for the student is usually better that way as they learn to work more closely with the local people and partners.

Michael says: “Vietnamese are a delightful people. They enjoy social events, eating at street side restaurants and taking an interest in getting to know the foreigners that come to the country. They find foreigners fascinating and are curious about our culture and work style. It is important for foreigners to have an open mind to a different culture and find a balance between their own work style and that of their colleagues. Many foreigners love the country and culture of Vietnam and make it their home on a long-term basis. Vietnam is a rapidly modernizing and vibrant area. As well, it offers some of the most diverse scenery in the regions ranging from tranquility of Halong Bay to the mountains of Sapa.”

There are exciting plans for the future of WUSC and SWB in Vietnam. A field school has been in the planning stages for the past year (read more) and new SWB placements are being developed for the upcoming winter and summer of 2007. Check the placements section of the SWB section of the WUSC website or contact the SWB at WUSC at swb@wusc.ca for further details.

Promotes education through a Breakfast Program

by Jacob Mapemba

Malawi is currently suffering from hunger and poverty due to drought and a shortage of rainfall during the 2004/05 growing season. The extent of the drought and the severity of food shortage have forced the government of Malawi to declare a crisis situation at the national level. Last year, Ms. Amy Clancy, a WUSC Development Worker, embarked on a project to alleviate some of the burden impending famine would have on families. She decided to provide food supplies to nursery school students for several reasons:

  1. food shortage greatly affects the development of young children
  2. nursery schools provide a structure within which she could work and
  3. there was no current project addressing immediate hunger needs of young children.

This project began with the first disbursement of food supplies (maize, soybeans and sugar) in September, 2005 in Nkhoma. The project targeted 21 nursery schools surrounding Nkhoma with a total number of 2,100 children. In December, the project expanded to Dedza Diocese targeting 51 nursery school children with a total number of 3,060 children. To date, the project has spent $ 9,714 to purchase a total of 240-50 Kg bags of maize, 74-50 Kg bags of soybeans and 786-1 Kg packets of sugar which have been distributed to Nkhoma and Dedza Diocese. The food supplies are used to make porridge which is given as breakfast to the children. The food supplies are expected to last to the end April when the harvesting of the new crop starts.

Funds used to implement the project were donated by Amy’s friends in Canada and the United States and the Rotary Club of Quebec. Thank you all!

Photo (taken by Jacob Mapemba) shows children in Dedza receiving porridge.

Vietnam Mission Accomplished!

Between May 2nd and May 11 WUSC brought a delegation of 13 representatives from 10 Canadian Universities, 1 College and an AUCC rep to meet with officials from 10 Vietnamese Universities. The Canadian delegation also met with representatives from two key Vietnamese departments including the International Cooperation Department (ICD) from the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and the People�s Aid Coordinating Committee (PACCOM). The delegation represented a wide cross section of Canadian Universities not only in geographical representation but also in size, length of establishment and specialization. The host Universities equally ranged in size, strengths, needs and location. The delegation met with 7 northern Universities (in Hanoi and Hai Phong) and 3 southern institutions (Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho).

In addition to some long days of meetings, the group made time for some great food, good company and of course some shopping and even a bit of relaxing.

All aboard in Halong Bay!

In between all the hard work and the relaxing the group also helped celebrate WUSC�s 15 years in Vietnam at an evening reception with representatives from the Canadian Embassy, Vietnamese government, partner institutions, university partners, past WUSC volunteers and former WUSC Staff.

In the end there were some very exciting opportunities currently being discussed, as a result of the mission, include:

  • Tropical semesters in Vietnam for Canadian Students
  • Upgrading of Vietnamese Professor’s qualification at Canadian Institutions with financial support for from the Ministry of Education and Training or scholarships
  • Increasing the capacity of teacher training methods and facilities
  • A consortium of Canadian colleges and Universities to work in partnership with Vietnamese institutions
  • Exchange programs
  • University administration shadowing programs
  • Collaborative research opportunities

In some cases there has been a great deal of progress, for example the Vice Chancellor of Thompson Rivers University is heading to Ho Chi Minh City the end of June to sign a MOU with International University focusing on Student exchanges!

In the evaluation forms the Canadian participants ALL indicated that they had identified potential partners with whom they intended to follow up. Several participants listed 3-4 potential partners with one participant indicating that they had developed as many as 7 potential partners (out of a possible 10!).

There was also nothing but thanks and congratulations to WUSC for putting together what was describes as “very valuable trip”. Congratulations in particular to WUSC Vietnam, namely Michael Emblem, Ngoc, Loan, Hien, Huong, Elaine and one of our Students Without Borders “poster girls” Maija Lewis, who all help put together a fantastic mission! Thanks and well done!

Stay tuned for more developments that result from the 2006 mission to Vietnam.

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