Though the omicron variant continues cause high case counts across Vietnam, there is a notiecable buzz in the air as schools, businesses, and restaurants have re-opened. The Kidspire teachers are continuing their classes, with some orphanages permitting in-person instruction and others still preferring virtual learning. In balancing all the classes and the hybrid approach to teaching and learning - we realized the need for new staff. The team was stretched too thin and we really needed new staff to help us maintain a high quality of instruction across orphanages. Enter Mai and Hue. These ladies have provided a boost to the entire team and are helping us to be better in every way. They are providing creativity, an outside perspective, and an influx of new ideas and new energy. Welcome to the team!
Though covid continues to threaten extracurricular learning programs in Vietnam, the boost in funding support we received over the past 18+ months to develop our virtual learning capabilities has made a HUGE difference. The photo below provides a great example. While children are isolated inside of orphanages, they are still available to participate in learning opportunities if they have the technology to connect with teachers (and other students) virtually. The 'Cardboard Challenge' is a great example. By connecting these young learners via video call to teachers and other orphanages, they were able to participate in the program, collaborating with teachers and other students while participating in building their cardboard creations. It represented virtual learning come to life.
And we have you to thank. Your contributiosn have allowed Kidspire to continue connecting with our students, despite the real challenges of covid. Thank you!
As we continue our planning for the 2021-2022 school year that will begin in September, we are in the midst of significant covid lockdowns all throughout Vietnam. Our staff is self-quarantined in their homes, children are quarantined in the orphanages, and the typically busy streets are much more quiet as everyone is at home to try and limit coronavirus that is rapidly spreading throughout the local population. We have come to realize that the newest wave of covid in Vietnam will require us to enter the new school year in an entirely virtual environment - relying on the virtual systems we set-up in 2020 when covid first began.
While we had hoped and been anticipating that we were through the worst of covid and would be starting the new school year in the classrooms with our students, the virtual environment will provide us with a continued opportunity to adapt our programming for a virtual environment, while aiming to maintain the quality, engagment, and student-centered approach that is core to the Kidspire program in Vietnam.
Whatever the environment, rest assured that our team remains committed to doing everything we can to support our students and help them to continue in the learning - as they take steps towards their futures beyond the orphanage.
As always, thank YOU for your kindness and generosity in support our team and our students!
April 19 was an exciting day at Kidspire. For 3 months our teachers have been supporting our students to submit their Technovation Global Challenge projects - a project where the students identify a local community need, brainstorm a solution, code an app that contributes towards the solution, and then pitch their idea and app via video. It's an incredible project that provides students with the opportunity to gain so many skills in experiences, including project management, time management, communication, and collaboration, among others.
But how would we provide the students with the mentors they needed to complete the project when orphanages were on lockdown from receiving visitors? Enter our virtual learning environment - something Kidspire has been really been working to improve and expand during the past 15 months where our normal program has been affected by our new covid-19 environment.
I invite you to check out the attached photos. I think they showcase how we used video calls to connect our students with mentors who could coach them through tips and tricks on coding their app, or refining their pitch, or narrowing their solution.
And I want to extend a big thank you to all of you. Your support has made it possible for Kidspire to improve our program in some very specific - and important - ways during this past year. And these improvements have allowed us to continue supporting our students throughout what has been a challenging year. This is something that is really important to us. Thank you!
When covid started to spread into Vietnam in February 2020, it only took a week for the Vietnamese government to shutdown our teacher's access to our orphanage STEM classrooms. Despite being a "tech focused education program", we quickly realized that we will ill-prepared to actually continue our classes via video by utilizing a distance learning concept. We could still connect with our students via video, but that didn't mean that we are actually prepared to deliver our curriculum via video.
With the help our generous donor community on GlobalGiving, as well as support from some of our corporate and foundation partners like HSBC, Pure Storage, UOB, and Team4Tech, we were able to buy the equipment necessary to feature good quality audio/video streams in each of our classrooms, as well as spend the time we needed to re-think our lesson delivery from in-person teacher instruction to remote instruction via video.
We're not yet finished....this is still a process.....but we anticipate that we'll be fully capable of running our program via distance learning by May 2021 across all 8 orphanages from our "teaching studio" in our Ho Chi MInh City headquarters.
For now, we are set-up and running in 2 orphanages, with 2 more scheduled to be complete by the end of February and 4 additional orphanages completed by the end of March.
Thank you to each of you for your generosity in supporting this project. Our students in Vietnam live in fairly isolated settings within the orphanage - so the restrictions of covid-19 left them even more isolated when Kidspire teachers and volunteers were unable to visit the orphanage on a regular basis. Your support helped us to keep connected with our students and ensure that they had the opportunity to continue their learning. Thank you!
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