Why You Should Consider Volunteering Online With Better Life Vietnam - Sam Dunlop Doyle
There are many reasons why people volunteer: to gain work experience, to give back to the world or simply just to try something new. However COVID 19 has put a spanner in the works to many peoples' plans. Flight restrictions have had devastating effects on NGOs and projects that rely on a steady influx of volunteers and their funds.
If you were hoping to volunteer in-person but are now considering volunteering online, this article hopes to explain why you should consider doing so with Better Life Vietnam, specifically when it comes to teaching English.
We recently had a chat with one of our volunteer teachers, Ashley Kirshenblatt. She told us about herself, why she chose to volunteer with BLV, how her experience has been and advice she has for others considering volunteering online.
Ashley Graduating from the University of Toronto in 2020
Volunteer Experience and Professional Progression.
First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself please Ashley?
'I'm twenty two, from Toronto and I graduated in April 2020 from the University of Toronto with an Honors Bachelor of Science. My goal is to become a lawyer.
I started looking into volunteer positions in my third year at school. I've always had a really great connection with kids and was a facilitator in the first year of the forensics program in the University of Toronto.
When I was younger I had tutors as I struggled a bit with math and science. Having a tutor was very beneficial so I wanted to give back. I went on the UN website and saw that Better Life Vietnam was looking for English teachers to volunteer online. I thought it was a great opportunity to see what's out there and experience something different.'
Do you think volunteering will help you on your career path?
'It can help to have experience dealing with kids, especially when it comes to family law. I'm going to come across a lot of kids in different situations and I believe that having this experience of working with them is very beneficial.'
Online Volunteer Experience
What do you think of volunteering online?
'I love volunteering online: it forces you to find alternate ways to connect with students. For example when it snowed here in Toronto I was able to show them the snow falling outside. If I was in Vietnam I could never have done that.'
|The view from Ashley's classroom|
How is the cultural experience?
'One of the topics that we teach is about the home: describing the different rooms and such. The students would tell me they have two bedrooms and one bathroom in a house of six people. This is very different to my experience as I've always had my own bathroom. I haven’t even had to share a room with a sibling!
Volunteering online has really taught me to appreciate the privileges we often take for granted. Being raised in Canada with parents that are educated means my experiences are very diverse and I’m fortunate that I can move to different places.'
After teaching English to kids there, will you travel to Vietnam?
'Absolutely, I love travelling. The prospect of going there feels a lot more welcoming as I know that I have connections there already, plus Better Life Vietnam provides tours. My students have even shared photos of places that I should visit!'
|Ha Long Bay. |
Advice For Online Volunteers
Did you find it it hard to start teaching online?
'Getting started with Better Life Vietnam was amazing. The coordinator was super welcoming and helpful. She’s very accommodating: if there are any personal issues, there’s always someone there to cover your session or change the class time if needed to.'
What things do you need to start teaching online with Better Life Vietnam?
'Honestly, all you need is a computer, internet, a webcam and headset. Although it helps, they don’t require you to have a teaching certificate. If you choose you can create your own cards or signs to help draw connections between what you’re teaching. Better Life Vietnam provides a curriculum which provides great consistency.'
Why do the kids want to learn?
'I’ve gotten a lot of different answers from them: some of them want to become English teachers, while others have trouble learning English in school so are looking for extra help. Others are just doing it for fun because they want to interact with foreigners. One of them wants to be a flight attendant! It’s great that they have a solid goal as I can see significant improvement in their ability over the weeks.'
Ashley's Final Thoughts
'I’ve been teaching with BLV for a while now and it’s really eye-opening to see the difference between a learner from a small town and one from a city; those in the country have a lot of hurdles in their way. However it’s extremely rewarding to see how much they appreciate my time and how much they want to learn English. You can tell how much it means to them to have someone on the other side of the world taking time out of their day to teach. It’s definitely been an extremely rewarding experience.'
We hope this interview with English teacher Ashley helped give you an insight into what it’s like to volunteer online with Better Life Vietnam, from cultural insights to professional development.
Want to learn more? Get in touch! Better Life Vietnam has many online volunteer opportunities: from content creation (such as what you’re reading right now!) to SEO, social media management and of course English teaching!
Thanks to Ashley Kirshenblatt for her time and keep up the great work!
Interview and article by Sam Dunlop Doyle
Edited by Mykeila Duong