Viet Nam News
HCM CITY – In the heart of buzzing HCM City is a small group of young people teaching English to hearing-impaired students. They are part of the Hear.Us.Now (HUN) community project that offers education access to English language, computer science and life skills training.
Led by Lê Đình Hiếu, the nonprofit HUN project proves that the impossible can be possible as long as group members deliver their best effort. The members of HUN are currently offering English lessons at Anh Minh Special School in the city’s Bình Thạnh District.
Lê Đình Hiếu, who founded the project, has been recognised by Forbes as one of the country’s outstanding young faces.
He graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and worked for a world-class financial group before giving it all up and returning home to launch HUN.
Hiếu said his mother inspired him to pursue HUN. When he was in the ninth grade, Hiếu’s mother lost her hearing after years of being partially deaf.
His mother, who taught him to play piano, always told her children to be optimistic and encouraged them to see difficulties not as obstacles but as motivation to do better.
“I want to bring educational equality and spread the message of love to encourage the hearing-impaired to have trust and faith in life.” Hiếu said.
“Việt Nam has more than 3 million deaf or mute people, but I can only support 300 free courses. I hope everyone can join to bring a better world to the deaf,” he added.
In addition to HUN, Hiếu has also established the G.A.P Institute where mind and life skill lessons are offered.
In addition, he is part of the Job Application Skills (JAS) community project in which he tours at many universities, gets to know their needs, and inspires them to become global citizens.
It costs nothing but a used book to attend Hiếu’s tours, who later donates the books to local libraries or giveaway projects for children and teenagers in need.
Hear.Us.Now (HUN) is a special community project in which founder Lê Đình Hiếu and his team offer English lessons to hearing-impaired children. Photo courtesy of HUN
When HUN was first set up, it started with a pilot programme for seven hearing-impaired children at the Centre for Research and Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CED).
Dương Phương Hạnh, director of CED, said that hearing-impaired people in Việt Nam encounter many challenges.
“Most of them do not go beyond fifth grade and they lack social confidence,” she said, adding that the limited number of special schools in HCM City had made it difficult for them to pursue high school and English in particular.
Seeing the potential and students’ excitement about learning a new language, Hiếu decided to collaborate with Anh Minh Special School to further develop the HUN project.
The curriculum design follows the standards of the Ministry of Education and Training, he said.
Phạm Hữu Thịnh, a HUN member and former student at HCM City University of Technology, said his team had worked every day to learn sign language and teaching methods to provide students with the most effective lectures.
“Teaching Vietnamese is already hard. Teaching English requires arduous effort, especially when it comes to the tenses and irregular verbs,” Thịnh said. “At times, I have felt helpless. But I appreciate students’ efforts to attend the classes, so I keep going.”
“Everything got better as I became used to the task. I’ve been with my students for four years now,” he said.
HUN members are now providing lessons for seven classes at the middle school level.
Hiếu said it was rewarding that Anh Minh Special School, for the first time, had students take the secondary school graduation exams with students from other schools in the 2016-2017 school year.
Their score results were high, with most of them getting 9 and 9.5 points in English.
Such results have motivated the group to keep going, Hiếu said.
HUN has also developed an online English learning platform for sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
Hearing-impaired students can learn English and sign language for free anytime and anywhere, Hiếu said, adding that HUN’s vocational guidance programmes have brought positive results.
In addition to English, HUN has taught computer skills that meet A level standards.
Hiếu said that as a Vietnamese he would love to contribute his small part to the country’s growth.
“Money comes and goes, but what we leave to society will stand the test of time. It is a solid foundation for a better society,” he said. – VNS