Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children

by Rock-Paper-Scissors Children's Fund
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Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Art Mentorship for Poor Vietnamese Children
Phuong
Phuong

Dear Friend of Rock-Paper-Scissors Children's Fund,

My name is Phuong. I’m 37 years old. I learned about Rock-Paper-Scissors in 2014 through a friend named Lan, who is also a mutual friend of me and Ms. Sara.

In 2012, I made one of the biggest decisions in my professional life, i.e. to retreat from corporate life in a hope of doing something that helped me make more direct and obvious contributions to society. I started to apply for some NGOs but they turned my application down, reasoning that my corporate mindset was a stranger to a NGO realm. Nevertheless, these rejections didn’t make me change my mind about staying away from the business world. Actually, I declined several appealing management job offers because I couldn’t imagine myself going back to those less interesting days in the office.

At the same time, I had this long lasting inner urge of appreciating music and art, as well as understanding more about the music scene and art scene in the city that I live, Hue, Vietnam. Soon after quitting my job I spent several month floating around, reconnecting and hanging out with my art friends, and they lead me into the local art community.

Thanks to them I was introduced to many other interesting and influential artists in Hue, among them were the Le Brothers. These twins had already been well-known at the time. They had started out selling lacquer paintings then made a shift to video art in 2008 and have been touring the world exhibiting their work ever since. Most interesting for me, however, is that the brothers own an art foundation, which they call New Space Arts Foundation (NSAF). NSAF has been hosting numerous domestic and international artists on a regular basis. By volunteering for NSAF, I have been exposed to different personalities and art styles. I found out it would be fantastic if I could be part of an organization that could promote art and music to the community.

Such a lengthy lead-in means nothing else but to say that what a perfect timing it was to learn about Rock-Paper-Scissors in 2014 and how important this organization has become to my life. Spending time with the kids in the art class in Hue is one of my biggest sources of happiness in my contemporary life. We hold two art sessions every Sunday. The morning session runs from 8:00am to 11:00am, while the afternoon one is from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. To give illustrations, I believe even if you are from a Western cultural background you will probably find having to show up in class at 8:00am on a nice Sunday morning, when no one can resist an indulging sleep-in, nearly impossible. However, if you were me you would expect the kids to come fooling around in front of your house as early as 6:30am. Also, you would expect them to chase each other or bike around singing, yelling out your name: “Teacher Phuong. Get up. Open the door!”. That is how I am woken up almost every Sunday. Not many people like their sleep-ins being stolen that way but I quite enjoy that. Sometimes, I wake up early but just want to stay in bed waiting for those voices from the kids to open the gate.

After over a year of the art class, we have several dropouts. The kids left the program due to several different reasons. For example, their workload at school was too heavy. Also, some parents thought learning art did little to improve their financial situation in the future. In addition, some kids simply lost their interest in the class. However, there are a lot of them who have hardly been absent from class. These kids come to us not only for some fun time with other kids but also for serious art class. They have made significant progress in their art. The first year, they were taught how to do crayon and water color. We keep record of the works they do in class, so at the end of the year, I was so delighted to see how much progress they made. The first exhibition in June this year provides sufficient visual evidence to our achievement. There were 42 selected pieces, including individual works and group works. This made me so proud of the kids. After the exhibition we began to teach them how to do more DIY things such as coin bags, mid-autumn lanterns, and encourage their creativity in making artwork like such as combining different materials.

One more thing which is very worth mentioning is that, at the art class in Hue, we do not just teach our kids about art, but we also teach them how to behave with others, and how to respect class rules. At times, we teach them some English vocabulary and encourage them to speak English with foreign visitors, who are my friends. Tram, the art teacher, has done a brilliant job as a teacher and a life coach. If you come to our class you will expect the kids to take off and arrange their shoes neatly before entering the classroom. Also unlike some earlier days, they have got to be aware of putting rubbish in trash bins, having said that, we don’t want our kids to be just obedient. We encourage them to talk about their interests and create art of their own styles.

As I mentioned earlier, the rock-paper-scissor’s art class is one of my biggest sources of joy in my life. I am satisfied because the class has left very positive impacts on the children. I also believe the children involved in the program have had a lot of good time with us. Thus, my dream is to expand the class so that more kids will get access to art, which I believe will change their attitude towards the world and transcend their life. I wish more and more children in Vietnam will be brought up with art as a part of their life.

Thank you for giving to our art program and believing, like me, that all kids need art in their lives.

Phuong

RPS Kid's Artwork
RPS Kid's Artwork
RPS Student Art
RPS Student Art
RPS Kid's Artwork
RPS Kid's Artwork
RPS Kid's Artwork
RPS Kid's Artwork
RPS Art Show
RPS Art Show

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During the summer of 2017 I volunteered in Vietnam for Rock-Paper-Scissors teaching art, these are some of my thoughts about the program that I had written up while I was there.

I found out about this program through my school and from knowing Sara, Sophie, and Phoebe since I was very young. They are a truly compassionate and inspiring family, who has created this beautiful community for the kids of Cam Duc, Vietnam. I am an art teacher with this program, although every volunteer contributes to everything we do here, including bike givings and bike repair, art and music and yoga lessons and camps, and glasses givings to older women and men.

This program provides children with hope towards a positive future that they may not have previously imagined and with the means to express and manifest these aspirations through the arts. Teaching visual arts and violin and cello, we help children to see the many ways to think and express themselves, and of the importance of these intertwined skills. The value of where art can take one’s mind in the moment through raw expression and emotion, and where it can bring people to future success is infinite. In the practice of making art (through sound or sight), skills and intelligences are built which may be applied to every way of life. Art can express the endless bends in life, with abstract excitement balanced with control and purposefulness. This gives children confidence, found joy, and a skillset which may help them move on to another level of education, or simply to be successful in their everyday lives. 

By being in Vietnam and volunteering here, the program has brought me a deeper understanding of myself, of happiness, and of communication with those from another culture. It has specifically brought me awareness of a place so far away from my regular life, teaching me of the lives of struggling children and families, who are still able to laugh and smile and feel joy with us and one another. The students here are so open, and excited to learn no matter how difficult their lives are. I am so happy to have met and learned from so many people here and to be able to share my experiences with such a wonderful community.

Violet

Violet painting with students
Violet painting with students
Art Camp
Art Camp

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Tham
Tham

“Art expresses the endless bends and possibilities in life, with abstract excitement balancing with an ability of control and mindful purposefulness.” (RPS Volunteer Artist 2017)

His paint brush flows thoughtfully as he sweeps it across the top of the paper to spread color into the landscape.  He is a young art student of ours named Tham, a quiet and thoughtful young boy. Tham comes down from his house up on the hill to our art class on Sundays in the small village school of Son Tan. This village is home to 148 families of the ethnic group called Raglai.

It’s hot and the kids are happy to see our teachers and get into the classroom. While the other boys in the class hang out and laugh and be silly together, Tham sits at the table on the other side of the room quietly waiting to start the project for the day. Once the paper and materials are placed in front of him, he listens to the directions, tips his head down towards the table, and hardly looks up.  He clearly loves art.

Like many of the small, ethnic minority villages in Vietnam, this village does not have a school that provides many grades. In this village, the fifth grade is the highest students can go and in order to continue their education, they must live at a boarding school for ethnic minority kids that is over an hour’s drive away from the village. There is still much segregation being practiced in Vietnam. Families like Tham’s and our other students are separated from the main stream population. In our little art class in Son Tan, this is the first year that we’ve had students reach the 5th grade, in fact four of our students graduated this summer, and the dilemma of how we can further support them became an issue for us for the first time. We hadn’t raised money for school fees and supplies to carry them through the next seven years…

As our love for these children has grown over the last three years we could not think about them dropping out of school. Our art classes are about providing the tools and space for our students to express themselves and of course time to be loved, mentored and guided by our wonderful teachers. Although the kids come to take part in art class, it has so much more meaning for them and their education. We just could not ignore the problem of our kids not being able to continue school with any kind of moral conscience. So we decided to talk to their parents and the stories were all the same, that they were unable to let their children move away because they need the income that the kids can make working on the weekends and after school and the girls are needed to take care of their younger siblings. So this fall we decided see how it would work for the four families if we provided them support to buy food and supplies so that they would permit our four students to go away to school. Everyone agreed and so far the kids like school and the parents are happy!

This summer we were very lucky to have a wonderful volunteer who met Tham and offered to sponsor his education. She funded new clothing, shoes, a backpack and school supplies for him, and will be providing the family with supplies for the year. Tham started at the boarding school in September and although he has been quite homesick, he is very happy to be in school. Our teachers are visiting our four students every few weeks to make sure they are doing OK.

We have three more students and their families besides Tham who we are hoping to find sponsors for, so please let us know if you are interested, they are the three 12 year old girls in the photos. Please consider making a recurring monthly donation to help us be assured that we can continue to help these wonderful kids.

Thank you again for your support!

Sara and family

Young artist
Young artist
New clothes and school supplies
New clothes and school supplies
Away at school
Away at school
Dorm room-8 girls
Dorm room-8 girls
Loves to paint
Loves to paint

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RPS Camp 2017
RPS Camp 2017

Dear Friends of Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund,

Over the last four weeks a group of 14 volunteers including myself and my two daughters, have been here in Vietnam helping us to run our art, music, bikes for girls and summer camp program which takes place in a small, ethnic minority village called Son Tan, in the province of Khanh Hoa. This year one of our returning volunteers (this is his third year) created a great little video of one of our camp days in the village of Son Tan. Watch it here:

Rock-Paper-Scissor's Summer Camp 2017 

There are 150 families living in this village, all very, very poor. The school in the village ends at 5th grade, and the children have little opportunity to continue school.We provide year round support and mentoring through our art program in the village for 30 children.

In addition to our year-round program, each summer we love to bring our volunteers to this village and provide some fun for the children. We play music, and do art projects, yoga, puppets and games. At the end of each camp we provide the children with a full, nutritious meal along with bread and fruit.

If you would like to help us fund our camps, please consider making a donation to this project (our art program) and we will buy art supplies and meals for the kids. Each summer camp cost approximately $2,500 USD for 120 kids.

Thanks so much and we hope that you enjoy Wesley’s video!

Sara Nerone

Son Tan Camp 2017
Son Tan Camp 2017
Painting
Painting
Making paper hats
Making paper hats

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Son Tan Class-Mosaics
Son Tan Class-Mosaics

Dear Friends of Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund,

My daughter Cindy, and I have been hearing about Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund since it originated, because the founder, Sara, and my daughter are close friends. We have talked about visiting Vietnam and the programs here for the past few years and decided to take the trip this year. Although we are here for only a short 10 days, what we have found is all and more than Sara had described to us these past few years.

This week we took part in one of Rock-Paper-Scissor’s bike givings for girls and a day of bicycle repair at one of the local elementary schools, but we have also been teaching some of the art classes in the art program. There are two art programs, run in different villages, one in Cam Duc and one in a small, ethnic minority village about 45 minutes away called Son Tan.  

We had come to Vietnam with a couple of project ideas, involving making mosaic-type pieces of artwork by having the children tear up small pieces of pages from old publications - magazines or whatever, then gluing them on to paper pieces, 8" x 11", that when completed we put together making a large mural.   All of the children worked differently, some resorting to minute detail, while others quickly filling their paper with larger scraps.  At the end, all of the kids connected as a team as they put their individual artwork together into a larger piece - showing such pride in what they had created.  

The students in both schools, although very enthusiastic and excited followed our directions carefully, in spite of our language barrier and differences in ages.  Almost all of the children do like to practice their English, and with the help of the program’s staff to translate, it was very easy to speak with them all.  Their eagerness to please and have fun was a joy to witness and be a part of. One thing that was very noticeable to us in all of the classes is how the older children here are always quick to share and help with the younger kids and those falling behind, something obviously they do in their everyday lives.

I see the pride that the children here take in their work, and the acknowledgement that we have come to share their time with them has been a joy for us.  Many of these children fall through the cracks of poor families who do not have the education or time for this type of parenting or teaching.  With the support of the Rock-Paper-Scissor Children’s Fund programs and wonderful teachers, I believe the children will gain confidence in what they are capable of doing, the attention given to them absorbed, and hopefully will believe they are not limited by their surroundings.

Gail

Written by U.S. Volunteer in Cam Duc, Vietnam March 2017

Gail and students
Gail and students
Son Tan Village
Son Tan Village
The classroom
The classroom
Fun
Fun
The artwork
The artwork

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Rock-Paper-Scissors Children's Fund

Location: Wakefield, RI - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @RPSChildrenFund
Project Leader:
Sara Nerone
Wakefield, RI United States
$43,879 raised of $50,000 goal
 
371 donations
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