Tis the season of thanks and giving, so we wanted to share a couple inspirational stories from abroad with you. We are pleased to report on the amazing work of two of our Teachers: one in Thailand and one in Vietnam. We hope that their stories will open your hearts and inspire you to support their efforts, or perhaps to give back to your community with some volunteer undertakings of your own.
Flooding in Thailand
We have all seen the heartbreaking news stories about the flooding in and around Bangkok this year. Thankfully, most of our teachers were not affected and have continued to teach. Many have jumped in to help where they can, and we are pleased to profile one of them.
Kate Lindell has been in Thailand since she participated in our TESOL Plus program in January of this year. Shortly after the program ended, she moved to Bangkok and where she does research for a mobile technology company. It is one thing to see the devastation on the news, but another to be right where it is happening.
In Kate’s words… I thought I would leave BKK and go to London, Australia, Singapore – somewhere to get out of here. And then it hit me: how could I abandon a place that has been SO good to me. I have to stay. And I have to help. All I can do now is help out in every way possible – running away is not the person my mom and dad raised me to be.
Kate and others have organized a dedicated group of volunteers who teach children in refugee centers throughout the city. As the situation changes, centers are opened, closed and relocated so that each day presents a new challenge. But this dedicated group of teachers continues to do what they can to help these children make the best of a bad situation.
For more information, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org check out their program at their website, learningwithsmiles.org. If you are a teacher in Thailand, you’ll learn how you can join in and help. Or if you want to assist financially, they will tell you how to do that too.
Charity Ride in Vietnam
In August of 2010, Michael Tatarski participated in the LanguageCorps TESOL Plus program in Vietnam. He is still there, enjoying teaching, and reports on his plans to participate in a charity event in February of 2012. In his words:
What am I doing? Riding a bicycle from Hanoi to Saigon (that’s about 1,200 miles), through Vietnam’s rugged mountains, idyllic rice paddies, and chaotic towns and cities, all under a tropical sun. Around 20 other people, mostly fellow expatriates and teachers, will be taking part. A van carrying our belongings will follow us the whole time, and we will stay in hotels or guesthouses along the way. The ride is called H2H, which stands for ‘Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City’ (which is Saigon’s boring official name). We cover all of our own expenses, so 100% of your donations will go towards the charities we are working with. I should note that each participant is required to raise a minimum of $750 each, though I want to raise far more than that.
Why? Several of my friends here have asked why I’m putting myself through such an arduous journey. Perhaps I am crazy, or perhaps I just REALLY like cycling. I want to see as much as possible of this amazing country while I’m still here, and what better way to do that than travel the length of it? Also, the people of Vietnam have been incredible to me. Usually smiling, and almost always helpful, they have made life here very enjoyable…well, except for the taxi drivers. I want to give something back to the community. This will also give me the ultimate opportunity to continue to show people overseas, through pictures and my blog, what life is like in this vastly misunderstood place.
How can you help? The people of Vietnam have been through a lot in the past few decades – two brutal wars against major powers, and crushing poverty into the 90s. The future is bright, but there are still a lot of people that need help. Many people I talked to before I left the U.S. last year seemed to think I would be living on a rice paddy and commuting to work by ox. I’ve made a point of telling folks back home about the Rolls-Royces and BMWs I see on a daily basis; the skyscrapers sprouting up all over the city; that I drive to modern, well-equipped language centers on a motorbike, on paved roads.While this is all well and good, there are also orphans, severely disabled people, homeless, and diseased, for which there is little safety net. In order to help these less fortunate groups, the money donated through H2H will go to:
- The Saigon Children’s Charity (www.saigonchildren.com), where funds will help support the Thang Long Vocational School, which provides education to 300 students from ages 12-19 who cannot afford regular school.
- The Children’s Initiative (www.childrensinitiative.org), a group that is building a kindergarden and also provides micro loans to small businesses.
- The ILA Community Network (www.discovereltvietnam.com/page.php?p=197), which works with 5 local organizations that help street children, disabled orphans, abused girls, and cancer patients.
Please visit the websites to learn more.
To make a donation, please visit my Firstgiving account page at: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/michaeltatarski/bikeride Once you’ve opened the link, simply click on “Donate”. This website is 100% secure. I’m not asking for a lot – perhaps you could have one less drink the next time you’re at a bar, restaurant, or football game, or something like that. Every little bit counts, and I thank you in advance for your contribution.
Finally, I’d like to add a few more links. Visit H2H’s website to find out more about ride:
We are blogging about our preparations and, once the ride starts, you will be able to follow our progress down the country through pictures and words. Address is:
Lastly, if you don’t already have the link, I invite you to check out my personal blog about life in Vietnam, and the chances I’ve had to travel to other countries in the area. People tell me it’s pretty good.
We would like to thank all of our current teachers for their hard work and determination. It’s not always easy, but teaching English abroad is a powerful way to make a positive impact on a community. It’s amazing to see people going above and beyond their job description, and helping out others with their valuable free time. We hope to have more stories to share with you soon!