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Study Abroad

Our connection to the SOS Children is growing.

January 10, 2020

Lasell students perform Cotton Eye Joe

Week one has passed and we are getting into deeper communication with the SOS children. It is also prep in Vietnam for the "Year of the Metal Mouse." Red decorations are appearing everywhere, as are cartoon rats and mice. It's all very festive and beautiful. In the photo above, the Lasell students entertained the Village children by dancing "Cotton Eye Joe."

This blog's reporters are Karinna Meckler and Lian Painchaud

Karinna Mekler   

On this Vietnam Shoulder to Shoulder trip, we are working with children ages 11 through 17 at the SOS Children's  Village in Da Nang. The main curriculum we were given involves teaching the children various pronunciations of particular letters and words from the English language. We found that most of the students actually know English very well. They are taught it from an early age, and have a larger English vocabulary than expected. This makes it easier for us to all communicate with each other. So instead of really teaching the students, we are helping them with their pronunciations of words.   Karinna and Sarah with SOS children

The first lesson involved teaching the sounds of S and Sh. First, we would make sure that the students could pronounce the different sounds correctly. Then, we would have each of the students come up with their own words, one beginning with S and one beginning with Sh. If they could not come up with a word, we would come up with a few words, write them down and pronounce them a few times first before asking them to do the same. We would sit in a small circle so that it was easy to hear everyone when they individually spoke each word. We also did this same lesson structure for two more days, using the sounds J, Ch, and Th.  

The fourth lesson plan we have is a little bit different. Instead of beginning with letter sounds, we were given a various selection of words to help the children pronounce. These words included can, can't, she'll, we'll, he'll, they'll, we're, man, men, and words that begin with the letter D. We plan to structure this lesson similarly to the previous three, writing down words and asking them to pronounce them, and having the children each write down their own D words.   

The fifth lesson is up to us and our group, so we are planning to teach the children some classic English songs, such as head shoulders knees and toes.    We were not prepared very well for the first day of teaching, as there was a big learning curve involved with having to communicate to a large group of children who speak a different language. However, this learning curve was quickly overcome by the students' excitement, as well as ours, and we were able to find ways in which all of us enjoyed to learn. We also found that the students have much more fun with hands on games that involve movement and laughter. We taught them classic "camp" games, putting a twist of the lesson on them. We would play duck, duck, goose, but with S, S, Sh so that the students could practice their pronunciations.   

Working with these students has been an extremely fun and playful learning experience for everyone involved, and I hope that everyone gets the opportunity to experience something like this. At the end of the day, a language barrier is not a barrier at all when mixed with hundreds of smiles and positive attitudes.         

Lian Painchaud  

So far, we have visited many different cultural sites here in Da Nang. In the past week we have gone to 5 cultural sites including the Cham Museum, the Da Nang Museum of Fine Arts, the Dragon Bridge, Lady Buddha, and the Ancient Imperial city of Hue. Each one has been different from the other yet are still connected to the history of Vietnam in their own respects.   dragon bridge at night

Going to the Cham Museum was one of the first cultural excursions that we did upon arrival. It was very interesting to see so many artifacts from so long ago and from a society that was completely destroyed. The Cham people still exist today but are part of an extremely small minority group in Vietnam. I found it fascinating to look at the various sculptures that had been recovered to get a glimpse into the life they led so long ago.  

A group of us students walked along the Dragon Bridge shortly after going to the Cham Museum. We had seen it from the sidewalk overlooking the river and were intrigued to see what the other side of Da Nang looked like.  We walked along it on our way to the local beach and I thought it was awesome to see the bridge up close. Later on in the week, we went to see the dragon head spit fire and light up. I found it to be very unique and showcased Vietnam's respect for dragons.  

Lian & childDuring our visit to the Imperial city of Hue, the ancient capital of Vietnam, we had the opportunity to tour the Forbidden City. I have been to the Forbidden City in Beijing before so during the tour of Hue's Forbidden City I saw similarities between the two. For example, both cities had a separate entrance and path that only the emperor could use. Looking at a model of the Forbidden City, it appeared to be smaller than what I remember the Chinese Forbidden City to be. The throne room was also slightly different from the throne room of the Chinese emperor. There was also more available rooms and areas of Hue's Forbidden City for visitors to see than in Beijing, which I thought was special so we could have more insight to the royal family's lives.  

On the day we visited the Lady Buddha, it was picture-perfect. There were hardly any clouds in the sky and it was a comfortable temperature. We got to walk around the site ourselves and explore on our own. The Lady Buddha was bigger in person than I originally thought and had a small altar for worship at the entrance. There was a bigger temple available for more visitors to use freely behind her. There were also monkeys around the area and it was cool to see them live side-by-side with the Lady Buddha. So far, I have enjoyed the various cultural sites we have seen and am looking forward to our upcoming visit to Hoi An.