CED field trip series: A trip to Fine Arts Museum (66 Nguyễn Thái Học, Điện Biên, Ba Đình, Hà Nội) written by Soyeon Kim.

CED aims to develop and provide exciting field trips for local schools. We fervently believe that an efficient way of learning cannot be achieved without interactive, motivational and enjoyable activities that derives self-engagement and inspiration.

On November 25th 2016, I visited the Hanoi Fine Arts Museum with some of the CED staffs and 8th grader students from Trường THCSTHPT Thực Nghiệm school. Our trip was organised as a taster to make improvements in the other trips and events which will be held in advance. I attended both the morning (8A class) and the afternoon (8B class) programme - each classes divided into two groups to cut down the number of students.

At half past eight in the morning, all the staffs and the students gathered in the school, then headed to the museum by bus. It was not easy to get closer to the students as they seem to be too shy and nervous to talk to me. However thanks to the class tutor (she was an English teacher), who kindly introduced me to the class as a Korean volunteer, the students opened themselves up with a barrage of questions. Later, I noticed that the behavior of the students and the atmosphere of the class very much depend on the instructor/teacher.

The museum has two exhibition platforms that are linked together, three floors on each building. Our tour was done starting from the first floor (the Ancient Art) to the second (Modern artwork collections). Though I had a problem understanding the meanings and the backgrounds of the displayed works due to the lacking English translations, the students were given full, informative commentaries of the works via instructor.

In the Ancient artworks section, we have seen simplistic cave pictorials that convey totemism, then moved on to the Buddhist Art- which the religion itself is a widespread philosophy that runs through the heart of the country.

← A student is carefully examining the displayed relics in the ‘Ancient art’ section.












A bronze sculpture of Buddha- interestingly, it has multiple pairs of arms with different postures. →



















↓ Students amused by the breath-taking fondness of the sculpture


In Modern Fine Arts section, there were vast variety of collections on display with decent quality - landscapes, watercolor paintings, printings, oil paintings, stencils and so on. The works were mainly related to the ‘Vietnam war’ , and this existed as a fundamental theme of the paintings and sculptures. The artists had their own way of expressing the war - some painted their piece in the most gruesome and grotesque way, the others were somewhat in a bright atmosphere, showing optimism. Of course, every single artworks were exquisitely elaborated. Although I had a limited understanding of Vietnamese war, the artworks brought affinity by sharing Vietnam’s a traumatic reminiscence and agony from the war.

Among them, my favorite was <Em Thuy > by Trang Van Can.With every touch of its brushmarks full of elegance, I would call it one of the best masterpieces I had seen from my past visits to art exhibitions regardless that of the East and the West.
<Em Thuy (Little Thuy),1943>
Em Thuy is a holistic portrait of an eight year old girl sitting on a chair, hands folded in her lap, dressed in a simple white clothing. She has short hair and an innocent face, with eyes widened under the light. As the title indicates, the name of the girl in the painting is Thuy, a neice of painter Tran Van Can. The work is praised for its aesthetic delicacy, and even designated as a national treasure that of Vietnam.


↑ Having a short break on a bench


↑ The instructor is giving an explanation of the antique pattern on a circular object.The pupils seemed to be more engaged when they hear a behind story (either historical or personal) of an artwork, than simply describing what is seen.

↕Students imitating the statue; it is their way of drawing enthusiasm from the museum tour in an interactive way.

The tour took about an hour and a half, and as time passed, the students did not seem to be fully engaged to the tour. Some students have shown very unsettling behavior, and that is, not showing enough concentration to the instructor and very few of them were on facebook or played games with their mobile devices.

In my point of view, the main reason might have been that it’s more of a one-way learning, so when organizing the future project, an addition of thought-provoking and interactive elements could prevent students from losing attention. A good example of this is a mission-run trip, (completing a mission and winning a prize in the end). Moreover, I think it is crucial to relate the trip with their current syllabus to offer a comprehensive learning- from reading textbooks to understanding thoroughly with senses. Then, to wrap up their memories, they could possibly come up with beautiful presentations to share their experiences and thoughts.

After the tour, we gave out survey sheets for feedbacks which will be very useful when planning our next trip.

I think the best part of CED’s trip was an active communication between the students and international/local volunteers, providing an opportunity to use English and exchange viewpoints toward the exhibition. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did and hopefully there will be changes in terms of the contents and management.

It was one of the most valuable moments I had in Vietnam, although the trip only went on for a couple of hours. I really enjoyed not only meeting new people - both students and the staffs, but also visiting the most stunning art museum in Vietnam. Thank you for offering me to join such an amazing trip CED!


Written, photographed and edited by - Soyeon Kim (international volunteer)

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