The District 5170 Rotary Club has been doing amazing things through its Rotary Vietnam Project.
“This is about youth coming together and interacting with the youth in Vietnam, and teaching English,” said Hon Lien, one of the program advisors.
Other advisors include Sue McKinney, Avis La Grone, Nick Leon, Marianne Ezel, and Jamie Hekkelman.
“Our mission is to educate the youth in Vietnam or any third world country to make sure that young girls and young boys stay in school,” said Lien, who is also President of Milpitas Unified School District’s Board of Education.
Made up of high school students, the club has two representatives from Milpitas High School, along with other students from surrounding areas.
The program is built around the values of leadership, and is a way to help shape youth into being leaders in their lives, now and into the future.
Every year in July, advisors accompany students to Vietnam. The group brings indestructible soccer balls along to pass out at schools and community centers. They play soccer with youth, and also teach them English. Vietnamese students also get the opportunity to teach Vietnamese to the American students. And after the trip, they continue their friendships by phone, FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Meet.
These trips to Vietnam began back in 2016. However, due to COVID, this year’s trip was cancelled.
So for now, students in the club are sticking to using Google Meet or Zoom to teach English to students in Vietnam.
“This is the first year the trip didn’t happen. It was disappointing,” said Lien. “The trip is really a life experience; and they really get to see how lucky they are that they’re in America. And they’re making such a difference in the lives of Vietnamese students.”