EXPERIENCE THE SUMMIT WITH OUR STUDENTS
While Vietnam continues to experience rapid socio-economic change, many Vietnamese youths have few resources to help them adapt to and succeed in the new environment. Due to financial barriers, low-income high school students face limited access to higher education. Even when they do manage to attend university, the university setting does not provide them all that they need. University curriculum emphasizes book learning rather than practice through internships, project-based learning and community service. There is little support for youth-designed and youth-led volunteerism. Hence, there are few opportunities for youth, particularly impoverished youth, to develop professional and leadership skills in Vietnam. This explains why as much as 50% of university graduates have to be retrained because their professional skills (such as communications and teamwork) are not up to standards.
As an organization whose mission is to help youths rise out of poverty, we see the lack of soft skills as a crucial problem to solve if we want to help students truly excel in their professional lives and their communities. This led us to partner with the Union of North American Vietnamese Students Associations (uNAVSA) to implement the inaugural Youth Development Program in July, 2009.
Every summer since then, VietHope has hosted about 30 Vietnamese and 1-5 Vietnamese American college students for a 7-day program. The participants receive interactive training in communications, teambuilding and project management, all taught by volunteers from top-notch companies and organizations in Vietnam and the U.S. After structured training, participants embark on one of the hallmarks of the program – the opportunity to plan and lead a 3-day community service project. During the service project, students apply their new skills immediately and draw valuable lessons. Moreover, they almost always emerge with a greater awareness about the world. They bond with each other, form lasting community, and experience how meaningful it is to help others.
MEET YDP SCHOLARS
Scroll through the slideshow below to meet a few of our Summit students. VietHope selects Summit participants from the pool of USP scholarship recipients. Using the USP pipeline is an intentional and deliberate part of our strategy. This enables us to leverage the rigor of USP’s selection process to identify the most promising of these scholars, and then build atop the financial support with intensive leadership development. By layering support in this way, we deliver the right service to the right students at the right time, and compound the impact for the most promising VietHope scholars.
Pre-and-post survey analyses always show that after 7 days of the program, over 90% of the participants experienced a growth in self-confidence when speaking in front of a group, leading a project, and collaborating with people they did not know well. Our Youth Development Program alumni have gone on to create and sustain their own youth-led organizations in Can Tho, and Saigon.
Over the last 8 years of implementing the YDP Summit, we have hosted 240 students.
- In 2016, we hosted 29 Vietnamese students, 20 VietHope volunteers at Can Gio District, Saigon. This is also the first time we expand this program to Hue city with 25 Vietnamese students and 21 volunteers.
- In 2015, we hosted 29 Vietnamese students, 20 VietHope volunteers at Can Gio District, Saigon.
- In 2014, we hosted 30 Vietnamese students, 19 VietHope volunteers at Can Gio District, Saigon.
- In 2013, we hosted 24 Vietnamese students, a 5-year reunion of YDP alumni and VietHope volunteers, organized at Can Gio District, Saigon.
- In 2012, we hosted 22 Vietnamese students, 18 Viethope volunteers, 1 American student, organized at Can Gio District, Saigon.
- In 2011, we hosted 25 Vietnamese students, 15 Viethope volunteers, organized at Can Tho.
- In 2010, we hosted 23 Vietnamese students, 17 Viethope volunteers, organized at Can Gio District, Saigon.
- In 2009, we hosted 27 Vietnamese students, 20 Viethope volunteers, 5 American students, organized at Cu Chi and Hoc Mon Districts, Saigon.