Miss our earlier post on the Golden Key AXON 2012 project? Click here for Part 1.
Guest Blog from Thuy Anh, Ngo: Personal Reflection
Planning of Golden Key AXON 2012 started in mid 2011. Our team started by researching how public high schools and universities in the United States implemented service learning in their classroom. We read books that distinguished service learning from community service and volunteering, introduced key components of problem-based service learning, and discussed the benefits of service learning to students, to the schools, and to the community. We also talked to professors and teachers who had experiences with service learning and fortunately, we were kindly supported by Ms. Lisa Jasinski, professor in the Education Department at Trinity University, who organized a mock brainstorming session that was previously used in one of her service learning initiative to help students identify social problems to tackle. Most interestingly, we had debates among ourselves to really grasp the essence of service learning and to set one another on the same page before we proceeded to actually plan the event.
As soon as we had carefully drafted our project proposal, we reached out to community members as well as off- and on-campus organizations to seek support for the project and to gather their opinions on ways to most effectively achieve our objectives. Getting Golden Key’s financial support was one of our most notable outreaching successes. The other was when we were able to establish partnership with the Center for Educational Excellence at the University of Natural Science, Ho Chi Minh City. Both these successes greatly strengthened our faith in the initiative.
I returned to Vietnam at the beginning of June and planned to launch the project at the beginning of July. At that time, however, some team members from the States were no longer able to pursue this initiative due to their personal commitments. I was faced with the first challenge: how to gather a team in Vietnam within the one-month time constraint to prepare for the launching. I should have felt defeated at that time but my faith in this initiative was able to pull me through. I reconnected with my Vietnamese friends and some of them were interested in pursuing this project. They even introduced me to some great fellows who later became very dedicated members of the team. Through other connections, I was able to reach out to university professors and social workers, who eventually participated as guest speakers in the conference. My first “wow” upon experiencing the power of personal connection and networking!
My second “wow” occurred when I attempted to get the group organized into one united and structured team. Our work moved slowly at first because we all attended to the same tasks at once. Many technical tasks started coming up, such as recruitment of high school students and college students as mentors, media and public relations, invitations of guest speakers, community outreaching, etc. To effectively manage all of these tasks, my team organized ourselves into different subgroups, each assuming a primary responsibility, with one primary contact per group. All of my teammates became much more committed and the work was done much faster when everyone knew their responsibilities. Even though we had to put the event off by 2 weeks, in the end we finally pulled it through to launch the conference in the middle of July.
Through this experience, I have learned to stay calm, focused, and optimistic in times of stressful incidents (e.g., some teammates having to drop out, refusal of some guest speakers, etc.) and challenges (e.g., meeting deadlines, meeting the targets, etc.). I also experienced the power of optimism and how always believing that we could do it, actually led us to successfully accomplish our goals.
Check back here next week for the final part in our series about Golden Key AXON 2012.
About the Author: Thuy Anh, Ngo double majored in psychology and math at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. While in school, she was very active as the Treasurer of the Golden Key chapter and the President of the International Club for two subsequent years. She loves working with other people as a team to bring forward events and activities that can meet particular needs of the communities, including both the Trinity and the San Antonio communities. After graduation, she wanted to continue serving her communities in Vietnam and AXON was born out of such aspiration. She enjoys traveling and is currently pursuing a career in teaching.