Earlier this day Thanh, one of the staff members at the Center for Education and Development, asked me to write another blog entry about my thoughts. Thus I sat down and really thought about what I could tell you within this entry.

If someone would have asked me a while ago, maybe I wouldn’t have had too much to say and maybe there also would have been a critical undertone in my words. But from today’s view on things I see it a bit differently.

It took me a while to see how much work the people here are putting into this organization and how great it actually is that I can help them with whatever they need help with.

I did not completely understand the range and influence CED actually has and how grateful those people are who get scholarships or get to work with this organization.

In the beginning the only thing that I saw was, how less I could actually help and how frustrated I got over time. I came here thinking that I would immediately get a bunch of tasks I could finish easily in a short amount of time. I just did not want to see the truth; some tasks were quite hard for me to do, especially because I just graduated from high school and don’t have any knowledge whatsoever about the more advanced tasks here. So, clearly, in the beginning there wasn’t much that I could help with except for some text corrections and basic research.

With time I received more complex tasks that I had to deal with over a longer time period and while reading through a lot of stuff and reading more about projects that CED works on/ with I slowly understood how big CED actually is and how much influence they have in Vietnam.

After hours and hours of doing research on things I have never heard about I started not only gaining knowledge about all those things but also about the organization itself and how my research was actually helpful for them. I understood that it saves so much time for the staff members if I did research and sent them my results instead of them reading through it for hours.

Sure, there are still tasks that I cannot do, but I could always try to work on them and if I fail the staff members would never pressure me but instead they would give these more advanced tasks to older and more experienced volunteers. In the beginning this bothered me a bit because sometimes there was just nothing to do for me- in hindsight it is really nice of them to give me the time I need to cope with tasks like that.

Just to give you an overview about some of my tasks, so that you can understand what I actually do here, I would like to name some of my latest tasks: I recently did a lot of research about the illegal timber business in Vietnam and Cambodia and how the EU now wants to stop this together with Vietnam by designing a contract where only certified timber can be sold to other countries. I did not even know there was actually an illegal timber market and how much it affects the forests in Cambodia, but I found it highly interesting to read about this and to compile information so that CED could use it for a proposal. I also did research about school safety and children’s safety in Vietnam generally. I had to read a lot of bad stuff about how many Vietnamese children still get abused, not only physically but also mentally.

I also read a lot about the Photo voice method, where people get to express a concern they have about something throughout pictures and I worked on a presentation that teachers could use in schools to implement this method in their classrooms. Lastly, I had to do some research about the programs One Drive and SharePoint so that we could have a presentation about it for the CED staff members and, finally, can use it to safe all our files and to share documents online in an easier way than before. Right now we are working on setting these programs up.

I hope you could gain insight in the general tasks that I work on daily.

What I meant to say within this article is, that it sometimes takes time to see the progress that we make and that nothing just happens because we want it to. You have to keep going and give it time. Then, after a while, you will finally see that your work and patience paid off.

For the remaining 4 months that I get to work here I hope that I will be able to handle more complex tasks and to observe the progress that I made and still make in this project.

Sina Gehrke -  A German volunteer


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