“I really appreciate you guys more now. This (teaching) is not easy.” Nidhi, Grade 7
A sincere confession of one of Fairview International School’s students after a day spent at Maison Chance home for disabled people. Taking both roles of friends and teachers, these students visited the special home built to help the less fortunate to share their knowledge and experience. The visit was a part of the Grade 7 expedition to Ho Chi Minh with the theme ‘endurance’ fitting for a country that has only achieved independence in 1975 after decades of fighting for freedom.
Ms. Tim was 21 when she founded Maison Chance, leaving behind her life in Switzerland to do her part in building a better future for the less fortunate including orphans, homeless and the disabled that resides in the historic city known for bouncing back from centuries-long war sufferings. The Maison Chance school is where Vietnamese children as young as a 4-year old receive their education. The oldest student in the school was found living on a street all alone before he was invited to stay at Maison.
Quoted as one of the most memorable part of the expedition, Fairview students were genuinely satisfied and grateful for being able to contribute their skills in helping the Vietnamese children. The students split into small groups and went from classes to classes in Maison’s school to teach English, make paper planes, play games, sing and dance. Victoria, the head of the expedition and a Fairview teacher summarized the visit as an opportunity to learn the importance of education regardless of differences. “No matter the age, they are willing to provide you an education.” added Victoria on Maison Chance school.
Compassion and kindness were noticeably seen in these 11 and 12 year old students that tried their best despite initial hesitations to interact with strangers. “They are committed to learn and get an education despite their disabilities” shared Tristan, one of Fairview student.
Almost a semicentennial into the future, the remnants of war are still scattered throughout Vietnam especially the continuous aftermath of Agent Orange that was released during the war leaving generations of its people disabled and unable to live a normal life. The learning journey continued with a short visit to Thien Duyen Shelter, a place constructed for Agent Orange victims, where the students were able to take in the true meaning of compassion, empathy and gratification by connecting with the residents.
A total of 83 students and 9 teachers from various Fairview campuses took part in this expedition. The fruitful expedition also included city tour, exploration of the Cu Chi tunnels and a dive into the local culture at Mekong Delta.
Video by Mira Aziz