Law and Business

ACU Business students volunteer at Salesian English Camp in Vietnam

In Da Lat, a beautiful highland city of Vietnam, a group of 10 ACU students and one ACU staff member volunteered at a Salesian English Camp.

This project has been for many years in the heart of Dr. Thuy-Linh Nguyen, who is in charge of the core curriculum unit “Community Engagement” at the School of Business Melbourne. A Salesian Sister, she is connected with the Salesians of Don Bosco in Vietnam, and understands their need to train the Brothers in English so they can better help others. Enthusiastic about volunteering, she is also very keen to help her students have meaningful and enriching volunteer experiences, particularly in third world countries.

Her wish was granted when she won the Asia Bound Grant for 10 students last year through ACU International. After much careful organisation and excitement, and with the approval of the School, the group of 10 students led by Dr. Nguyen finally left for Vietnam on 29 June to help in the Salesian English Speaking Camp, the first-of-a-kind volunteer trip in the School. The trip also included an optional 4 day cultural immersion tour in Cambodia.

In the camp, each volunteer was assigned to a group of Brothers. Their task was to help them learn English by the so-called “immersion” approach. In fact this immersion approach works in both ways. While the Brothers were “immersed” in English, ACU students were also “immersed” in the Vietnamese culture, as well as the reality of a country much poorer than Australia. Besides classroom teaching, the camp was made alive by many outings and fun-filled activities such as games, music, dancing and sports. The camp was also uniquely and deeply spiritual with daily prayers, mass and benediction.

The students loved the experience so much, many shared with Dr. Nguyen that they “dreaded” saying goodbye as their time to return home drew nearer. One even decided to cancel her Cambodian tour and bought another air ticket in order to stay longer. Everyone expressed how amazing the trip was, and greatly appreciated the Brothers and Fathers, who had a great sense of humour, were extremely hospitable, and genuinely bonded with the students, looking after them very well.

Coming back home, ACU students shared in their reports: how they were greatly enriched by the experience; more aware of individual responsibility for the common good; the importance of not-for-profit organisations; more grateful of what they have and can enjoy at home; and how much they learnt during the trip.