Adam Madacsi a new volunteer of CED (Hungary)
On the 16th and 17th of April, I travelled to Melinh Station for Biodiversity together with secondary school students between the age of 10 and 12. On the one hand, the 2-days long trip was very exciting for me, because this was the first time during my stay in Vietnam to go out from Hanoi and see the countryside of this beautiful country. We went there by bus, so I was able to observe how people live in the uptown area and outside the capital. I saw people and houses in villages, many canals and dams and of course the endless fields of beautiful green rice paddies, which is still one of the most important revenue source for many Vietnamese people.

At the biodiversity station, we organised a short game for children firstly in order to shake them up a bit and create a fun but caring atmosphere. We thought them sentences in Hungarian, Korean and French. After this game, the children were separated into two groups and the discovery has started!

I joined to the group, which visited the rare animals first kept at the building of the station and near to it in cages. To be honest, I do not like very much putting animals into cages, because I feel their place is rather in the nature. However, it was amazing to see rare reptiles, frogs,snakes, geckos and many kinds of turtles. During this program we also saw many huge and beautiful butterflies, which you can never find in Europe. The children also had the possibility to touch frogs to observe them closely, however I felt a bit pity for that poor animals; they should be scared as hell. After observing the reptiles, we also checked monkeyish mammals, and to my surprise, we also saw gibbons. They were amazingly nice and funny, they enjoyed the audience very much and it felt like they made performances for us; they flew from tree to tree making incredible breakneck attractions.
It was amazing to see rare reptiles, frogs,snakes, geckos and many kinds of turtles

As a next program element, we visited the orchid’s farm, in which the employees of the biodiversity station plant many kinds of beautiful and good-smelling orchids. It was also amazing, while I have never seen orchids back home in their own environment – just in flower shops and hypermarkets. In my point of view, this educational tour was very useful for the children, because they had the chance to see, observe and touch animals and plants in their own environment while the facilitators of the biodiversity station gave them information regarding the nature they saw and educate them about it. I believe this kind of interactive and observation-based education method is way more effective compare to traditional classroom-based techniques and it is also inevitable in order to pass on the appropriate and necessary knowledge to students.
We visited the orchid’s farm

I have never seen orchids back home in their own environment – just in flower shops and hypermarkets
Many kinds of beautiful and good-smelling orchids

Further, we had a great lunch together with the students, teachers, employees of the station and other volunteers. That was a great experience for me, mainly, because the food was amazing! Beforehand, the other volunteers and I helped to cook the food, which was a great fun!
The food was amazing!

The other volunteers and I helped to cook the food, which was a great fun

During the afternoon, we completed a long hike in the jungle. To be honest, I was not prepared appropriately for that. I was told beforehand that we are going to walk in a pine forest. However, it was not a pine forest, but a serious jungle, with plants higher than me everywhere, hot, humid and a huge amount of mosquitos. Apart from these negativities, it was very beautiful and a great experience! Later, I was very grateful that I could hike in the jungle over runnels, between beautiful plants, which I have never seen before. I also saw wild green tea plants, which was a fantastic experience for me. I have never seen green tea before, just in the form of a tea filter. We also had the chance to get to know a plant called Shy-flower, which is able to move and close its leaves if somebody touches it. That is amazing, I was shocked to see moving plants! Some of the children also felt in the small runnels and they got totally wet – they were very active and playful!

I was very grateful that I could hike in the jungle over runnels, between beautiful plants, which I have never seen before

I spoke a lot with the children during the bus trip and the morning programs. They were brilliant; very smart, creative and cheerful. They thought me for some magic tricks and told me their stories about their life, their hobbies, favourite movies, series and books. By the way, they spoke English on an unbelievably good level, it was very nice and comforting, that the future generation of Vietnam are so prepared at such a young age. They are the next generation, who can bring hope and prosperity to this country, and I think they perform well!
I spoke a lot with the children during the bus trip and the morning programs. They were brilliant; very smart, creative and cheerful
I was also so surprised, because they seemed so globalised. They knew a lot about other countries, the word, and they were familiar with all the new movies, celebrities, songs and technical innovations and so on. It was very interesting to experience by myself the extent of how globalised the so called Z-generation is, completely regardless whether they live in Europe, the USA or Vietnam.
It was very interesting to experience by myself the extent of how globalised the so called Z-generation is, completely regardless whether they live in Europe, the USA or Vietnam
After the 2.5 hours hike in the jungle, we arrived back to the station of biodiversity and we travelled back to the city. I felt like I was never as tired as that day because working with children requires a lot of energy and also the jungle environment and the weather were very exhausting for me, but I was glad that I cloud participate and got these experience, I will never forget it.
After the 2.5 hours hike in the jungle, we arrived back to the station of biodiversity
At last but not least, a very interesting implication which I would like to emphasize is the behaviour or discipline of the children here in Vietnam. Ever since this trip, I have been thinking about it and I cannot really decide, which the better way to educate and bring discipline to children is. In Europe almost all of the schools follow the so called “Prussian method”, which states that children have to be disciplined from an early age to teach them how to behave appropriately. In Vietnam, the case is very different. I spoke with the teacher about it, and she stated that children cannot be disciplined. It seems like that is the basic idea of the education here, however, it is not really true. Children can be disciplined, it is just quite hard to do so and requires many patient and structured thinking to provide consequence conditions. I tried to explain this to the teacher, but it seemed like she insists on the idea that children cannot be disciplined.
In Europe almost all of the schools follow the so called “Prussian method”, in Vietnam, the case is very different
However, these children were very cheerful, full with energy, enormously creative and passionate for discovery, which characteristics results from the fact that they basically can do whatever they want without punishment and consequences. My personal conclusion is that the Vietnamese discipline method is not sustainable, children have to be regulated. However, the European way is also faulty, because it repress creativity, freedom and cheerfulness of the small students which can cause many psychological barrier during later in the adulthood.


Therefore, my implication is that the education system should be reformed in both regions, we have to find the “golden mean” to discipline children but to give them enough freedom and possibility to unfold, practice creativity and be passionate for discovery.

Adam Madacsi

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