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President’s letter Quarter 3 – 2015

Dear VietHope’s friends

I am greatly excited to share with you in this VietHope President’s letter Q3 2015 a full report of our two training programs, SUMMIT and GRACE, that have taken place over the summer in Vietnam. I am extremely proud of what we have done with these two programs: instilling in our students the confidence and skills necessary to cope with real-life challenges and inspiring them to become active and engaged community members and leaders.

The GRACE Program

Started in 2010, the GRACE program, consisting of scholarships and value enrichment lessons, aims to help students to apply the 5 values of Gratitude, Respect, Accountability, Courage, Engagement to their daily lives. In 2014-2015, VietHope has provided scholarships for 100 students, 74 of whom were retained from previous year’s program – a huge improvement in the retention rate. This is also the year where we started studying survey data from the previous session to guide next year programming.

Previous GRACE sessions featured speakers who were our senior volunteers/professionals/previous university scholarship recipients and games/role plays for GRACE students to practice the 5 values. This year, our GRACE workshop for the first time included a Skype session between VietHope leaders in the U.S., the GRACE Education Leader – Thuy Fujimoto, and 86 of GRACE-Merit scholars and 40 of University scholars. This additional session helped to enhance the Engagement value which students often feel least familiar with, and moreover inspired them to be more active in exploring the increasingly connected world that they had limited access to due to their lack of technology means.

The Youth Development Program Summit

For the 2014-2015 year, VietHope received 264 scholarship applications and selected 80 students to receive our University scholarships. Out of that group, VietHope has selected 29 high-achieving students from 4 major universities in the south to participate in the Youth Development Summit (YDP).

YDP, already in its 7th year with the mission of providing college students interactive training in communications, teambuilding and project management, has created a close-knit community in which students feel safe and supportive to pursue their next endeavours. The Summit was organized by our volunteer network of former YDP students and facilitators in charge of teaching the core soft skills necessary for success: Communication, Teamwork, Community Project Management. The participants themselves organized a successful two-day event in Can Gio where Merit scholarship recipients participated in activities applying the GRACE values of Gratitude, Respect, Accountability, Courage and Empathy. For more details about YDP, please read more at http://viethope.org/projects/youth-development-program.

I would like to share with you the story of Cao Đan Phượng, a freshman of Can Tho University, about her experience with YDP. Her father left them 18 years ago. Her mom, now 66, cannot work because of chronic arthritis and spondylolysis. Her two older brothers work far away from home without stable incomes to rely on. The family only has a small piece of farmland that can only be used to make about 20 USD/month. Despite the hardship, she remained an excellent student throughout her 3 years of high school, and received a prize from her province’s excellent student selection contest in Geography. She was accepted to Can Tho University majoring in Aquatic Animal Pathobiology. Phuong shared with us “I wanted to learn, experience and practice the lessons taught in the program (how to work as a team, how to communicate with the community, etc.). As a result, I felt more grown up, and those skills will help me to become successful in the future!“

I hope you are as excited as I am about our accomplishments in providing education opportunities to underprivileged students in Vietnam. I also hope that you will continue your generous support to build a stronger Viethope so we can serve many more deserving students in Vietnam. Online donations for students in the GRACE and Youth Development Summit programs, as well as our two scholarship programs, Merit and University, can be made at http://viethope.org/home. If you prefer airmail, you can mail your checks to:
340 S Lemon Ave #9666
Walnut, CA 91789, USA.

Sincerely yours,

Quang Duong
VietHope President

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