It goes without saying that reading is a fundamental part of life, both at school and beyond. We live in a world overflowing with information and reading is the main way that we access it. Reading literacy is a core focus in schools and provides critical tools for formal learning. A person who can read, can educate themselves about any aspect of life that they are interested in throughout their lives. Reading allows us to discover new things, develop our minds, be more imaginative, creative and empathetic, and provides an endless source of entertainment and enjoyment. And although in the 21st century more and more of our reading is done on the Internet in digital form, books are still fundamentally important whether you are reading for study, work or pleasure. As Charles W. Elio put it ‘Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.’ As members of a relatively affluent section of society it is easy to assume that books are everywhere; in homes, schools, and libraries. However, this is not the case in rural, agricultural, low socio-economic communities in Vietnam.
This is why Loreto Vietnam has made building and stocking libraries in primary schools in rural districts of the Mekong a major focus of their charitable work. In 2017-2018, AIS committed to raising 120 million VND to assist with just such a library development project in Duyen Hai district. Led by the SRC, the AIS student body outdid themselves and raised over 160 million VND. By December 2018 the new library was ready. After overnighting in Duyen Hai, Dr Crouch, Mr Vella, Seung Yoon Jung & Ramya Balbon ( 2017 -2018 SRC President and Vice-President ), and Trinh Minh Khoi & Mai Viet Khanh ( this year’s SRC President and Vice-President ) attended the official opening ceremony at Don Chau B School in Tra Vinh Province.
Over 90% of the students at Don Chau B are of Khmer origin and the community is one of the most economically disadvantaged in Vietnam. By providing a fully stocked library facility, the AIS community has massively increased the access that the students of Don Chau B commune have to books which will foster both their skills and love of reading. The smiles on the faces of the children as they enthusiastically browsed the new shelves and read with their friends were heart- warming and gratifying. Such is the obvious value of library developments like the one at Don Chau B, that AIS has committed to another library project with Loreto in An Giang Province in 2018 – 2019, and the school’s Librarian, Mr The Mai, has generously offered to work with Loreto to help develop the professional capacities of primary school librarians in An Giang. Term 3 will be the focus of concentrated fund-raising efforts with the goal of exceeding the 160 million VND raised last year. I would encourage all members of the AIS community to support these efforts, and what is a most worthy cause, throughout the remainder of the semester.
Mark Vella – Deputy Executive and Secondary Principal