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VVAW to Sponsor Third Children's Library in Vietnam
By Chuck Theusch
VVAW is continuing its support of the children of Vietnam and the Library of Vietnam Project by sponsoring a third library and learning center at the An Nghia Secondary School, Hoai An District, Binh Dinh, Vietnam.
An Nghia is located in a remote region to the southwest of Bong Son, approximately 50 miles from VVAW's Pho Vinh Library and Hanh Trung Library. As of August 31, 2023, the planning has been approved by the People's Committee, the Hoai An District People's Committee, and the Committee on Culture Information, Tourism and Sport, Binh Dinh Province. There are more, but suffice it to say all approvals are in. This process may sound draconian, but having practiced law in Chicago and dealt with all the bureaucracy regarding land acquisition, zoning variances, and zoning changes, it's similar to building a public building here in the USA.
The site has been selected, and the An Nghia School is there. Still, it requires recertifying the area as free from landmines, unexploded bombs, and Agent Orange hazards. As this would have already been done for the school, it is a simple but continuing necessity for construction in Vietnam where we must show special care for war legacy issues.
The Library Project will be traveling to Vietnam for its Annual Library Tour, including a day for the groundbreaking in November 2023. The plan is to have the dedication for the completed library in May 2024.
VVAW LIBRARY UPDATES: SCHOOL YEAR 2023-24
The library at Pho Vinh is the first library VVAW sponsored.
Mr. Duong, the headmaster at the Pho Vinh School, retired in August 2023. Ms. Suong continues to be steward of the library and a shining light in education at the Pho Vinh School.
As VVAW members may remember, the Library Project's philosophy is to include the growth of other donors and sponsors. These not only include international NGOs but also small successful donors inside Vietnam.
A group of Vietnamese born in Pho Vinh and the immediate environs of Quang Ngai Province has donated five more computers. The gift was inspired thanks to the initial investment by VVAW in building the library and providing its basic outfitting. These students are now the beneficiaries of fellow Vietnamese who, having worked in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, have joined in supporting the VVAW American Project.
The Vietnamese business donations include
1. 5 more computers for the computer lab.
2. Another color photocopier.
3. Portable speaker for addresses and to complement the English Language Program.
4. English language proficiency awards.
5. Book reports contest (yes, just like we had to do way back when!).
6. 3,000 New books.
VVAW can take pride in their investment in Vietnam. This generosity is one of Vietnam's educational infrastructure building blocks. It enhances Vietnamese and American friendship and cooperation.
The Vietnamese leader with whom the Library Project works in Quang Ngai reports the Pho Vinh Library is the finest one in the entire Province—nice to hear.
We recently had a long discussion with Vice-Headmaster Ms. Vo Thi Thanh Suong at the Pho Vinh Library. Their work is awe-inspiring. The VVAW Library has triggered the expansion of Book Days, Library Appreciation, and English Language teaching (pictures on page 8).
A poster in the library translates as "Book Reading and Value of Libraries." This statement is part of the commitment to libraries, their use, English language proficiency, and philanthropy.
Please bear in mind this is a profound cultural shift dating back centuries. There were no libraries for kids, merely reading rooms, considered by the average folks in these remote regions as little more than "Blow horns for the government."
The VVAW Pho Vinh Library is the practical definition of a successful investment in the future of the people and students of Central Vietnam.
The library at Hanh Trung is the second library VVAW sponsored (the Small Dreams library).
Stanton Brunner of San Francisco joined the Library Project's tour in February to Kim Phuc's Library Dedication. In May, he sent us money for the VVAW Hanh Trung Library. We are sending his donation to them on October 1, with the beginning of the new school year.
Here again, the VVAW investment has led to more support. Thanks to Stanton and Le Ly Hayslip, with whom he traveled. Le Ly is remembered for her work with Oliver Stone on the third movie of his Vietnam trilogy (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth). Stone's Heaven & Earth gave Le Ly the money to sponsor the founding of Village of Hope Orphanage in Da Nang, where she is revered, to say the least.
The teachers and administrative staff at Hanh Trung School held their annual organization meeting in the VVAW Library in late August. The idea is to get teachers and students used to coming to the library. After all, they have never, not ever, had a dedicated building for the library mission until the VVAW saw fit to build this beautiful "Small Dream."
The Mission of the Library Project is far more than just a building—it includes building futures, philanthropy among local people, and ongoing relationships between "once enemies, now friends."
The Library Project's mission continues.
Once again, many thanks for VVAW's continued magnificent sponsorships—An Nghia is next.
Chuck Theusch is a Vietnam Veteran of the US Army, 4/3 Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, Vietnam 1969-70. He is the founder/CEO of the Library of Vietnam Project.
Dedication of the Small Dreams Library at Hanh Trung Primary School, May 25, 2023.
Ms. Suong Sounds the commencement of the 2023-24 School Year, VVAW Pho Vinh Library, September 4, 2023.
Instilling the "Value of Libraries" at VVAW Pho Vinh Library School Year Opening Day, September 4, 2023.
Mr. Duong's Retirement at VVAW Pho Vinh Library July 31, 2023.
Fire Safety by Local Security Official, VVAW Pho Vinh Library, September 4, 2023.