Tiếng Việt
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Our learning centers will offer a full range of services. Some are what you might be familiar with libraries offering, and others are being offered because of the unique role our centers will play in the most remote areas of southern Viet Nam.
In the most rural areas of Viet Nam we will be unable to supply access to the internet. But wherever possible we will supply free high-speed access to online information resources and links to the broader community of reference materials within Viet Nam.
English is the new international language of business, and it's the language of technology. The government of Viet Nam is strongly committed to teaching english to its citizens. We will offer self-paced quality ESL training on the computers in our libraries. We will also offer ESL classes with instructors who will come into the libraries to conduct their classes. Where necessary we will employ additional library staff to extend hours to better serve the entire community.
Not all legal forms will be available in electronic form from the government. But wherever possible we will offer forms that can be filled out on the computer and printed out in the library. Our librarians will be able to assist with questions and when specific forms are not available, they will help the patron create a "resume" of all information they may be asked for when they do make the long trip to fill out the papers in person.
Although it is easy to quantify the practical offerings of libraries, it is the additional stimulation they promote through access to great works of literature which can sometimes make the greatest difference in someone's life. Learning about other lives, other countries, other worlds is a freeing experience. Our libraries will offer a full selection of Vietnamese language novels and works of fiction and poetry. We will also have some books in english when we cannot make them available in the native language.
The Vietnamese are a practical people, and especially in the south, they tend to be jack-of-all-trades types. We will supply how-to books on carpentry, construction, tile, metalworking, plumbing, electrical work, and any other books that would offer valuable everyday knowledge.
We will offer Vietnamese language computer books wherever possible, and when a particular, important subject is not available in the native language, we will offer it in English. Books for a wide range of skill levels so that patrons can progress through a range of skill levels. It is our intention to make high-level education available to those willing to be more self-directed.
Since the areas we are building learning centers in are heavily agricultural, one of the best ways to engage the community is to offer agricultural lectures. We will bring in local university or private industry representatives to talk about running a farm business, soil and water conditioning, pest control, etc. At the end of each lecture we will hand out the materials which were covered and encourage industry speakers to bring sample products. People who come for lectures are more likely to use the library later for other things.
We will offer both self-paced software classes on our library computers, and instructor led classes; especially in the most introductory skills, since these tend to be the ones where personal attention is most critical. We will create our own materials for class handouts in Vietnamese to be sure we don't confuse first-time computer users.
Self-paced touch typing classes will be available on our computers so that people can learn proper typing techniques.
The gardens around the centers will be more than decorative. Our intention is to have extensive examples of local plants with complete taxonomical information. Teaching is often best done by helping people look at familiar things in new ways. We will also have plant "treasure hunts" where kids get identification information and need to find the plant it belongs to. The library can offer small "prizes" like school supplies. Since the gardens will need some harvesting to keep them in good shape, one of the librarian's perks will be access to the products that come from the garden.
There will be a strong effort made to integrate art and sculpture in all our centers, both inside and on the grounds. We will try to find teachers for drawing classes for both children and adults, and we will try to have as much Vietnamese artwork as possible.
A coffee cafe will be built into each center and the space leased to a local entrepreneur with a portion of the proceeds reverting to the library to help fund its programs. Viet Nam is a very "relaxation focused" country with people taking frequent, long breaks during the day. Our primary intention is to make certain we draw the community in. If they don't visit, they won't ever use the center's services. If the only reason they come is to buy a coffee, that's fine. Maybe the next time they'll read a free paper, or notice an upcoming lecture. Perhaps when they bring their children, the kids will be able to stay longer because their parent is happy playing mahjong on the porch. There are many ways to seduce someone into a love of books and we're willing to try them all.
Nurses or doctors will be paid to come in and give talks on common health issues like women's health, exercises for back pain, children's health, oral hygiene, or dietary issues. We will aggressively pursue grants in this area to expand our services wherever possible.
Times for young children who are not yet in school to come and hear stories read to them. This is both a wonderful way to get children excited about books, and a chance for mothers to get an hour break.
Grants are available for eye exams and glasses and we will aggressively pursue those sources of money. But whether or not we receive them this is an area in which we want to invest.
Each center will carry a full selection of newspapers and periodicals. These are often a terrific place to start for getting adults interested in reading. Newspapers are generally written at a very low level, but reading them is not seen as demeaning as starting with children's books would be.
It cannot be over emphasized that many children do not live in situations conducive to studying. Our community learning centers will be clean, quiet places that children can feel safe in.

Vietnam Learning Association
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20 Bromfield Rd • Somerville, MA 02144
Tel: 508-579-4036 • email: info@vietnamlibrary.org
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