It dawned on me that I spent too much energy running daily operations of the project and completely forgot the politics. I also needed a precise translator and more time to spend with the teachers at Ba Chieu. So I brought a team with me: Zerlene who is a system engineer and Lan, financial specialist, who speaks good Vietnamese, both from CA. Four of us (including brand new local volunteer Yen ) went to the shelter. I told the Teachers Yen and Thanh that the girls came with me to help set up secured wi-fi connection, so that no one can steal it from them!
While Zerlene was working on it, I inquired about the cost of the Internet. Last time they said it was too expensive to use wi-fi, how come? I thought it was free. They informed me that they pay per minute of use, which was surprising. But the teacher Yen explained that they decided to allow the children to use the Internet twice a week, probably on Friday and Saturday. They will unplug the router the rest of the time.
I understand that it is their shelter and they set the rules, not me. Volunteers like me come and go, but the teachers are here to stay and keep the discipline and help the girls with their lives long-term… So I just say that it would be great as the girls need to practice, otherwise they will forget how to use computers. It is very important in life to know computers, because with such skill it is easier to find a good job.
Thanh comes with another reason… “But we don’t know what they do online… We don’t know what kind of assignments they receive and send”. That was the moment when I gave them the power. I said that I’ll send them copies of my emails to the girls, so that the teachers know what the girls do. They were surprised that I’ll keep teaching the girls even after I leave and asked “for how long?” I proposed 2-3 months. The teachers were glad and told me to send the assignments to the girls before Friday so that the girls can do their homework during “home computer” class during the weekend. I said it sounds great.
Then I showed to them Clytie’s email in Vietnamese, and suggested they write to her in case there are any problems with computers, they can write to her in Vietnamese, even though she lives in Australia, she will answer. I gave them my email address and said that I would write to them and the children both in English and Vietnamese (using Google translate).