Edit Blog Post
Published: April 12th 2009
The following blog entry is a little old. I have never published it because I considered it an unfinished project. I do so now because I am writing a report to the Director of the National Library of Vietnam, and it explains how some well intentioned people can in their desire to help the people of Vietnam can leave them with something they don't know how to operate.
I have been back to Lang Gung Village three times, once with officials of the National Library and the Provincial Library of Hai Duong Province. It is still struggling from lack of trained people to operate the library, the computer and programs such a library should have.
I have since resigned from the Library Project of Vietnam and joined LEAF-VN, Library Education Assistance Foundation of Vietnam. It is an organization that recognizes the lack of training in Vietnam on how to run libraries. The Director of the National Library in Hanoi Mr. Pham Thi Khang realizes the problem and has been very helpful. So, through Mr. Khang, the National Library Staff, Leaf-VN and other Vietnamese in the Library System of Vietnam, I look forward to progress.
The Library Project of
Presentation of Our Flag
When Americans come to see the library they will fly the United States flag.
Dec. 2nd 2007
This was trip # 23 of the Library Project of Vietnam. It was an International Delegation as we had two from the United Kingdom, Jane Hughes and Jackie Jones join my friends Rt. Tom Seltmann and Rt. Anita Graves. The rest of the delegation was Tom and Dick Espy, Glen Freimuth, Ethel Chiang, LPOVN Board Member Steve House and of course Chuck Theusch our Executive Director and Founder of the Project.
Jane and Jackie heard about the project through Couchsurfer’s. Glen and Ethel through their friend, board member, largest contributor Ross Worley. Both Glen and Ross are retired US Army Special Forces people and Ethel is a medical doctor. Glen also has a PHD in Anthropology. Dick is a partner of Gerry Cullen the other half owner of Videoworks of Kansas City. Tom, Dick’s brother is an entrepreneur from Springfield Mo. This was a great delegation, and I respected all of them for what they do.
Grandma’s Village was the first stop and first dedication of a new library on our tour. For this we were out of bed and checked out of our hotel to be on the bus by
6 AM for the trip to Grandma’s Village. Grandma’s village, Thuy Lam Village, Doan Tung Commune, Thanh Mien District, Hai Duong Province was two hours away and our only entry on the itinerary was 8 AM Catholic Services and “Grandma’s Library Dedication, Mass.
There was no Mass. I got blamed for putting the Mass on the itinerary, although I had no input at all. On a request, we were shown the newly remodeled Church. Then we were escorted to the new Community Building for the dedication ceremonies. The Vietnamese had carefully crafted their part which included speeches and entertainment by local musicians. The musicians were quite good. One was around 80 years old and was especially charming. Our part was not known. We evidently had no input in the program at all. At one point, I was brought up on the stage and given the microphone.
Here is what I said:
“Xin Chào: Các qúy vi d?i biêu. Chúng tôi dã xây dung thu viên ? t?nh H?i Duong dây là bi? tuong cho tinh h?u ngh? gi?a hai nuoc. Tôi danh giá cao tìn huu ngh?.”
Translated it means: “Hello Your Excellency and participants. We build a
library in Hai Duong Province for friendship between two countries. I value your friendship.”
Even though I had no idea what was coming off, I was prepared to say something in Vietnamese that was simple and short, so I could be understood.
Our leader Chuck was not asked to say anything at all. This was a shame as he is a great impromptu speaker.
We were then escorted to the library where we cut the ceremonial ribbon. That was it for the ceremony as even though it was way before lunch time, they said we must be hungry, so we left for lunch. Lunch was good and as always we ended up with a lot of “Môt tram phân tram “which means “down the hatch with one hundred percent of your beer” After several of those 100 events the participants were in several stages of being tipsy, the college students arrived.
These were college students I had met from my Couchsurfing activities who had volunteered to come and help with the dedication ceremony. One, named Loannie had a famous Uncle L? Thíai S?n, who was the Master in Vietnam of bamboo instruments and had invented the
bamboo piano. He is considered a national treasure of Vietnam. She had talked him in to coming and performing for the dedication ceremonies. This was to me the same as if you met Van Cliburn’s niece, and she talked him in to coming to a small village and performing.
The students were invited to eat and were invited by our leader to perform as we would resurrect the dedication ceremonies. I could see what the Uncle was thinking by the look on his face and his niece Loannie was even more disturbed. She came to me and said almost in tears: “How could you do this. This is not a proper venue for my famous Uncle. All these people are drunk.” I begged her forgiveness and said I really had no control over anything. I told her I had been trying for a long time to get an itinerary of events. I said, we came early for a Mass that didn’t exist. I didn’t want the college students who were mostly Buddhist to have to get up early for a Catholic Mass so I had to just guess that the ceremonies would start around noon.
After Loannie’s Uncle
got over his shock, he settled down to try his best to arouse interest in his program. He brought out a small bamboo instrument and played it right there on the sidewalk. He made some beautiful music. Most were appreciative but some people were loud and disruptive.
We adjourned to go back to the library and community center and the Uncle and his prize student, Nguy?n Thành Trung, he set up their instruments. The community to their credit got the word out that the Master of Bamboo Instruments was going to play and a good size crowd showed up. So did some of the participants of the dedication dinner who had too much 100 .
The performance began with some awe-inspiring music from Loannie’s Uncle and the Uncle’s prize student. It was outstanding. It wasn’t quite the venue that Loannie wanted, but it wasn’t bad for a spur of the moment thing. One of the 100 didn’t like the way the Bamboo Piano was facing so he stopped the Master during his playing and moved the piano to his liking and the Master had to start over.
The college students sit up the computer in the library
Chuck Theusch in the doorway
No the Church did not fall down.
while this was all going on. One named Duc, also made a speech on how this computer after he got through would bring all the information technology available at his school Hanoi University to this small village. Loannie also made an inspiring speech. Both have promised me to go back to the village with me and make sure the Library is functioning as intended.
They also made a donation of books.
We left for Hanoi without leaving any instructions or giving any help to this small village on how the library should operate.
Note: On my last visit to Lang Gung Village, I found out that the computer had been removed from the library and placed in the village leaders house. The reason being no one knew how to operate it. Loannie volunteered to gather some Hanoi University students this summer and go to Lang Gung and give computer
lessons for a week.
Tot: 1.291s; Tpl: 0.088s; cc: 12; qc: 31; dbt: 0.0268s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb