The Perspective of an IASE Vietnam Volunteer

By Hazel Delfina Chang

(Published in the May 2014 issue of Annuntiatus)

My name is Hazel from Hong Kong. This is my first volunteer service project with IASE. The one word that I would use to describe this trip is "Fulfillment". The volunteer service project means “fulfillment” in many different ways.

Fulfillment means being with like-minded people

Our IASE VSP group consisted of Marg Csapo, Mary Gale Budzisz, Iris and myself. Though we come from diverse backgrounds and variation in experience in the area of special education, we all have one thing in common: to give and share what we have with the people of Vietnam so that our exchange would instill new inspiration to the arena of special education in Vietnam. Marg, the founder of IASE, role modeled her love and dedication to the spirit of IASE as I watched her lecture and role-play a teaching strategy. I feel very much fulfilled as I know that I belong to an association that is true to its mission and vision.

Hazel Chang with Vo Thi My Dung

Participants at HCMC University of Education

Fulfillment is sharing our experience with people of same passion

Dean Ha of Ho Chi Minh City University of Education gathered 40 people who are current principals, heads or teachers of special schools or centers of Ho Chi Minh City. My first duty in the project was to share the founding story and curriculum structure of The Rock Foundation I started five years ago for young adults with special needs in Hong Kong. The participants were very attentive. I was much encouraged and affirmed that 'passion crosses cultural boundaries'!!

Associate Professor Nhan with Dr. Drower, President of IASE

Participants at HCMC University engaged in social skills activities

Fulfillment is seeing dedication to work

The case-study session was the highlight of the workshop where we saw the participants put their knowledge and experience into action. 'Words into action' was how they had shown me their level of dedication and commitment to children with special needs.

Fulfillment in listening to and understanding children’s needs

Associate Professor Nhan of Hue College of Medicine and Pharmacy started a special school in the city and several smaller schools in rural areas for ethnic minorities of Hue. I was much amazed by his vision to work with youth with special needs as we listened to and tried to understand the existing medical welfare conditions and their impact on the early intervention. Dr. Nhan gave a passionate plea for help with the multitude of deaf children in his area of Vietnam. He explained that a young technician has been trained to modify old hearing aids. If anyone has old Oticon, Phonak or Siemen hearing aids and is willing to donate them, please contact Dr. Nhan at

Fulfillment is experiencing education in rural areas

It was lunch time at a special school in the rural part of Hue. Students were practicing life skills. The teacher designed a lunch menu for the day, including rice, eggs, and fish. I realized that even with limited resources, when “there is a will, there is a way’!

Fulfillment is commitment over the distance

No distance, no language barrier, and no cultural differences can keep us away from the children with special needs in Vietnam.

We will come back again soon!!