Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Little Charity in Vietnam

I was waiting to cross the street at the junction of Pham Ngu Lao and Do Quang Dau in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday when I saw a young lady on a motorcycle bent down to   her right to put something down behind a bush.  At the same time, a young mother on another motorcycle to her left passed something to the young lady.  

I was quite intrigued and stayed at the corner to try to find out what was going on.  Moments later, a handicapped man emerged from behind the bush.  Apparently, the young mother passed some money to the young lady, who gave the money to the handicapped man. 

I saw similar scenes repeated at other street corners. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Making Pineapple Bun (菠蘿包) in Vietnam

A group of students from HKPolyU is teaching students in a hospitality school in  Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, how to make “pineapple bun” (菠蘿包).  The HK students are taking a service-learning subject offered by PolyU’s famed School of Hotel and Tourism Management.  

The Vietnamese school was set up less than a year ago by a Vietnamese director who escaped from Vietnam in 1975, spent 35 years in Germany and then returned 5 years ago.   

The school is actually set up in the bishop’s house. It targets young people from the countryside and the streets, who obviously cannot pay the fees.   They studied and live in the dormitory at the school.  The school is funded by donations from Vietnam and Germany.

While I was having tea with the director, a young woman came in and gave a small donation to the director, for the special need of one of the students.  

It is hard not to be touched by the story.  You want to celebrate the human spirit.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Stop Motion Animation in the Making

Here is one of the stories created by the local students.  It probably does not need explanations or dialogue.

We teach digital story telling for two reasons.  Firstly, story telling is a key element of learning.  A person makes sense of the world by integrating observations and experiences into stories.  We feel we understand something when they form sensible stories.  We also remember stories much better than facts and data.  We communicate better when the story we tell is compelling.  

Secondly, in the digital age information technology can enhance our story telling with photographs, videos, music, sound effects, and more.  

And above all, it is a lot of fun.  

Our students started by teaching the Dagon University students how to do it.  

And then they team up to teach the high school students.  

Today the high school students present their final product.  It has been quite an enjoyable week.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A sweet moment

Between two dogs in the wet market near Dagon university, Yangon, Myanmar. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Digital Story Telling Dagon

We have two sub-projects in Myanmar this year.  One team of 10 PolyU students conduct a workshop on writing mobile phone apps using AppInventor for Dagon University students.  Another team of 10 PolyU students team up with 10 Dagon U students to conduct a workshop on Digital Story Telling for students at local government Number 2 High School.  Actually the 20 students divide into 2 sub-teams to run two classes in parallel.  

The students write a story, sketch the frames to make a story board, take still photos of individual frames, and link the still frames to make a movie.  

At Number 2 School, we offer a workshop to 20 x 2 = 40 students in the morning, and another 40 in the afternoon. So all together 80 high school students are attending our workshops.  

Whenever there is a break, the other students would crowd our windows and doorways to catch a glimpse of what is going on.  It does cause interruptions to our classes.  So their teachers would chase them away.  But they would soon come back.  

Since we are here on a goodwill mission, everything is done in a good-natured way and we do not take it too seriously.  Occasionally we tolerate our students taking selfies with the students crowding the windows, as long as it is controlled and limited.  

The background of these workshops is that Dagon is starting a credit-bearing academic service-learning program of its own this year, and we are offering our help.  I offered a workshop for Dagon staff last year.  We invited some of their staff to attend our International Conference on Service-Learning last year, and we invited their staff to attend Barbara Jacoby’s workshops in early June.  

Our partnership is progressing well. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Aung San Suu Kyi - in person

Our work in Cambodia this year is done.  Today I flew from Phnom Penh to Yangon to join another team of staff and students who came down from Hong Kong 2 days ago.

As soon as I came through immigration and then customs, I found a huge crowd, the thickest that I have ever seen in this airport.  Many of the people were carrying photos of Aung San Suu Kyi.  

As soon as the Lady descended from the arrival level to the ground level, the crowd behind the glass wall raised a cheer.  Cameras went up and lights started flashing.  People rushed along the glass wall to follow her.  I hurried to get out of the way. 

When she came out of the customs area, the crowd went wild. 

It is obvious she is a hero.  A person with such tremendous moral capital can bring about great changes.  No wonder the government is so scared of her.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Solar Power Charging Station Construction

We installed a solar electrical power systems for each of 45 household in Rwanda.  Each system consists of two 20-watt solar panels, for a total power of 40 watts. In less than half a day, it can fully charge a half-drained roughly 30 AmpH battery.  In Cambodia, the  objective are similar, to bring electrical power to a similar number of households. However, because the houses are more concentrated, we decided to build 6 charging stations.  At each charging stations, we install 5 solar panel systems, with 2 panel each, for a total of 10 panels.  Since there are 5 systems, 5 batteries can be charged simultaneously at each station.  With 6 stations, a total of 30 batteries can be charged at the same time.  We will also wire up 45 households, with a battery and several LED lights in each house.  Since the batteries do not need to be charged every day, we figure that the 6 charging stations should be sufficient. 

We purchased the solar panels in Hong Kong, where the students partially assembled the solar panels.  Once we arrived at Cambodia, we purchased plastic pipes to construct the frames to hold the solar panels together, and the students assembled the systems into the middle of the night.  

We also purchased the timber for constructing the charing stations.  At the village, the students started banging the nails to construct parts of the frames.  Then they banged the nails to put the different parts together. 

Then they moved the frame into place, dug 4 holes to bury the 4 posts partially, to strengthen the structure. 

Finally, the solar panels are installed on top of the frame, and the electrical connections completed.  The charging stations are now complete, ready for the batteries. 

Thursday, June 04, 2015

June 4 Candle Light Vigil

It has been 26 years.  

Yet we have not forgotten the massacre at Tiananmen Square on June 4 in 1989.  

And we shall never forget.  

We shall pray that it does not happen again.