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Vietnam :

School year 2001-2002

Back for another ride in Ha Long...

Which means "with all the benefits of the previous one(s) "... And these are not minimal, the concertation work, the management support, the teaching and linguistic help having all produced (big) fruits.

The actual classrooms building of the Tran Hung Dao school, Ha Long.

Our primary bilingual classes moved

in the nice and new Tran Hung Dao school. Not without difficulties because, if the decision was longed for, the execution was so quick that our classes temporarily had to settle in the administrative building !

So our little ones are a little packed for the moment (30 students and their teacher in 18 m² ex-offices...), but that shouldn't last long...

Because on this picture, right of the main building, you can perceive part of the worksite : Ha long authorities care so much about the bilingual classes that they're building brand new classes just for them !

Do you know many local partners who open their wallet (75 000 € !) like this to participate in a (joined, but anyway) project ? I don't.

It should be ready for inauguration by the end of this schoolyear so we can keep climbing the quality ladder up.

In the meantime, we don't stay inactive of course and we manage the situation in the temporary classrooms ;)

The administrative building where our classes are for the moment, and the worksite on the right.

Click to zoom in...

Our middle-school classes moved also !

Difficulties having been observed at Kim Dong Middle School, the authorities didn't hesitate to move them to...the Hon Gai High School !

At this ocasion, this one received a nice bilingual sign at the entrance, and there also our classes manage the temporary situation in the existing classrooms, awaiting the construction of a new building (another 75 000 €) ! Plans are finished, we are just waiting for a few more authorizations...

Sounds like a dream, huh ? Actually that's only part of our joint efforts... And in all, we now have 21 classes in Ha Long alone !

Ah, they are proud now, our Middle-school students...
They are the only ones admitted in this reputed High school
and they ostensibly bear its badge !

That's not quite all...

We canceled the biology lessons in French, which were not giving good results here, but we added English lessons (3 per week) starting in 6th grade. Our students will be trilingual !

The APEFE (my Belgian employer) also contributes to the material improvements : recently we gave the shool and the high school hundreds of books (books and complete comics collections), video tapes, software, etc. which we ordered in January 2001.

Delivery of the APEFE materials to the High school

Merci ! Merci !
Delivery of the APEFE materials to the school

The primary school even got a color printer with a stock of ink cartridges to help the teachers make teaching materials.

And this was just a beginning, since such dotations are possible every year. As for me, at last here's a use for my taxes I don't mind : you should have seen the kids, it was Christmas in their eyes ! And, just between you and me : in the teachers' eyes too ;)

Their job now will be to organize the library system so that Tintin, Spirou, Dilbert and the others do not stay locked up in display cases, like we see too often. A new book is beautiful. But it's even better when it's useful.

End of September : regional meeting

The "BC" teams of Cambodia, Laos, Vanuatu and Vietnam got together in Hanoi, with our colleagues from the Universities as well as the Program's Directors : heavy but interesting schedule, and we appreciated some breaks like here at the Café des Arts...

November 20th : Teacher's day

Another good tradition we lack in Europe.

Of course, I doubt the European school authorities would like to see the seniors present Uncle Ho's patriotic songs, but I can assure you that here everybody adored and admired their performance. Especially girls their age ;)

"And you ?" will you ask me ; "Did you applaud this song against occidental colonialists ?"


Do I have to justify ? That song did not aim at me, nor at you. Wouldn't you applaud your students for a good interpretation of the Brabançonne or the Marseillaise ?

Our 12th grade "soldiers"

As for the girls, they only turned their back on their idols to catch me and take pictures (each one then in groups), so there I am, in good company again :)

My only problem with this annual celebration is the lack of a car. Because each time I have to find a way to bring back home, on my motorbike, the tons of flowers I receive. More than 200 this year ! Fortunately I have a good stock of all kinds of pots (jam, preserves... even mineral water bottles and one or two beer cans were used)

After the morning ceremonies the visits begin : the students go to their teachers houses, then the teachers go see their former teachers, etc.

This year was a change for me as a supervisor in Vietnam : for the first time, the students "dared" to disturb Mr Pierre that day ;) In all I had more than 180 people home. Really nice !

Noël 2001 (Christmas)

New activity for the bilingual classes : animation of the little Christmas reception at the Ha Long French-speaking Club !

This club, which is being restructured by a few dynamic French speakers of the Along Bay area, welcomed and applauded a good hundred of our primary students who came to divert them.

As for each of these occasions, we could clearly see here the general situation of the French language in Vietnam : "Jeunes Pousses" (our students) et "Voix mûres" (50 years-old and more) make the main group.

Vive le vent ("Jingle bells")...

In between ? Besides our teachers, who learned French in University, few active French speakers are there to deny the "generation gap" theory (see my article "Jeunes Pousses et Voix Mûres" - in French)

It will be up to our students to keep on the way of the opening to the world and its languages. Since they are full of rythm, it should "swing" !

For the great pleasure, also, of tourists' group who had the chance of coming at the right time, for an activity that is not mentionned in any travel guide...

It's rocking !

Hard to refrain from dancing... Some will not resist. Nice picture of dynamic French speakers in Vietnam, which needs it.

OK, but besides the fun...?

I keep working of course ;)

We had some difficulties at the beginning of the schoolyear concerning the management of the bilingual classes. My supervisor's position, in that field, is not always easy to assume while caring for all the ideas and parameters. It often resemble to a diplomat's job, and I certainly am not the most gifted in Vietnamese diplomacy. Not the worst either, I want to believe ;)

Team work on the French speaking countries
(in Hai Phong)

I take it as a proof that we moved on to retrieve our full collaboration with one goal : the students !

So I keep pursuing, in agreement with the local authorities, the same objectives :

1. Support to the program management with the authorities

2. Support for the teachers (methods and language)

3. Training of a Vietnamese supervisor

4. Training of the teachers to the new technologies

5. Help to the authorities for the management installation (who's who,...)

Activities linked to objectives 1 and 2 work well and results are already superior to the initial perspectives. Objective 5 is quite new, it's too soon to evaluate it.

The problem is with objectives 3 and 4, since we need material conditions (computers...) and structures (authorizations...) difficult to obtain (not depending to the local authorities) or to install, despite all efforts from the different partners since the beginning of the mission (my arrival in Ha Long).

It's both our big frustration and our motivation to go on... It's not simple, but if it was, would it be as interesting ? So the secret must be perseverance...

Serious, the Hai Phong 5th graders ?
Not quite ;)

Perseverance, which students give us a good example of ! They are on the front line and can only count on us and on themselves on the difficult path of the bilingual classes.

The road is long and tiring, many wonder if they did well by taking it...

Many also improve their motivation by themselves ; so I was intrigued by this motto posted by the 10th graders in their Hai Phong's classroom : "Avec le français vous allez jusqu'au bout de la Francophonie". It would approximately translate in "With French, you go all the way to the end of the French-speaking world"

Doesn't that deserve some consideration ?

With a few aspirines...

Mission... Possible !?

I believe in it. I want to believe in it. I have the chance to be on the field, in the country, I see the activities, the efforts to reach the goals, the results, and I have the chance to participate in these. In Ha Long permanently, and in Hai Phong on periodical missions.

Have you ever heard a 9 years-old Vietnamese, in Vietnam, explain that "maybe the Egyptian pyramids have been built by the Indians, because they're like tipis" ?

I did :)))

And I could make a page on this website with citations of that kind. Hey, that's an idea !

Page créée le 28 décembre 2001 -  Mise à jour le 23 février 2002

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