4HWW Readers' School in Vietnam Opens its Doors — Time for a Trip?

97 Comments

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Napping after lunch at the new Vang Lam preschool in Vietnam. So cute a lumberjack would cry.

Remember LitLiberation, the social media educational experiment I ran with bloggers not long ago?

With zero financing or hard costs, this new model ended up raising more than $250,000 in less than a month, more than Stephen Colbert, TechCrunch, and Engadget combined during that same period.

Hundreds and thousands of you participated and spread the word, helping thousands of children in fundamental life-altering ways.

Here is one fun new example: our first school in Vietnam has been completed and is now full of pre-schoolers!

Funding was raised on this pledge page, and top donors are featured on a plaque at the main entrance to the school, with a few names going on a second school that is under construction as we speak.

For an incredible look at detailed maps, feedback from teachers, “challenge grant” specifics and more, I strongly recommend you take a look at the 4-page completion report. It’s a great example of how accountable giving should work.

It will amaze you how much $2-5 USD matters to people in a rural village. The real-world feedback highlights the enormous impact this school and its sister school — created by you all — will have on 500+ students this year and next.

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How would you like to add the final $170 for a school in Nepal? Here is your chance. [Postscript: Though it's not displaying properly, this school is now 100% funded! Thank you!]

If you want to build your own school — trust me, it can be done — then click on “I want a page like this” or check out the how-to on this page.

I’ll be planning trips to both Vietnam and Nepal to visit these and other schools. Bigger and bolder plans to come in the next six months or so.

You guys rock. Here’s visible proof.

Long live karmic capitalism.

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97 comments on “4HWW Readers' School in Vietnam Opens its Doors — Time for a Trip?

  1. I watch your interview last week on TVO’s The Agenda. You have hit the colonial nail on the head. I am 36 yrs old – worked full-time since age of 18 and delivered 4 wonderful (most days) children before age of 30. I have always maintained my profession with 6 month interludes to spend full-time with my kids. People consistently tell me that they do not know how I do it. This always amazes me as I rarely feel overwhelmed. I pick what I do and who I do it with awareness.

    However my past workplaces have frustrated me with the proverbial best practices. These corporate rules of thumb disregard the nitty-gritty that is required to generate productivity. I recently made a career move (same profession but with a tech sector twist). I am hopeful my new workplace is open to listen to an approach like yours. Thanks for giving back.

  2. Hi All!

    Here is an email from Room to Read that answers the question many have been asking:

    How do I volunteer in Vietnam or elsewhere?

    Here is their answer via email to one reader named Brad:

    Hello Brad,

    Thanks so much for your enthusiasm for our work and your participation in Tim Ferriss’ fantastic LitLiberation campaign! As I’m sure you can see, Tim’s initiative has given Room to Read a number of new, wonderful supporters not unlike yourself. It’s been great working with him and these individuals as they raise funds towards schools and other projects.

    In regards to volunteering overseas through Room to Read, I am afraid our options are quite limited. Rather than using volunteers in Cambodia or the other countries in which we work to help construct our projects, we encourage the local villages to get involved and co-own the projects. We have found this model to promote longer term sustainability of these projects. Our country programs are all initiated and managed by locals. Part of Room to Read’s philosophy is to require the communities we work with to participate in what we call a “Challenge Grant.” Essentially what this means is that the local communities must also contribute towards the project. Most often they do this by donating the land, labor, and even smaller amounts of capital toward the project. You can read more about our Challenge Grant and the importance of it by visiting our website at http://www.roomtoread.org.

    However, we do offer quarterly site visits in the capital city of each of the countries where Room to Read operates. They are designed for independent travelers – whether they are volunteers, existing donors, or other interested parties – and are hosted by our local staff. Site visits are generally a half-day in length and offer our guests an overview of the variety of programs we are implementing in these regions. Site visits may include a visit to a school, a library, a computer lab, or a short visit with some of our girls’ scholars. To learn more about this, and to see if our Site Visit will coincide with the timing for you potential trip, please check out our website at (http://www.roomtoread.org/involvement/visits.html).

    If you would like to be updated on our work and hear stories about the progress we are making, please sign up for our quarterly email newsletter at: http://www.roomtoread.org/involvement/updates.html

    If you are interested in participating in volunteer fundraising opportunities in the US, I encourage you to fill out our volunteer application online at http://www.roomtoread.org/involvement/volunteer.html.

    Please feel free to call or email with any questions you might have. Thanks again, Brad, for the wonderful support!

    Warmly,

    Emily

  3. Hello Everyone!

    The readers who are interested in helping to complete funding for a school in Vietnam can join our facebook group (Facebook for Education in Developing Nations) which has over 1,700 members and has raised over $6,350! They can also visit our donation page directly at http://www.firstgiving.com/danelow.

    For Tim: What do you think is the best method (assuming you do not have a popular blog:P) to get people involved online?

    Also, I will be on exchange overseas with school in the fall of 2009. Let me know if you have plans to visit the schools then!

    Cheers,

    Dane

  4. Tim,

    I appreciate that you are using your blog audience and influence for social good. I am sure it is tempting to just sit back and collect money and say, “Wow, look at all this fame. Now where is my martini?” The world needs more influencers like yourself. I wish you all the success in the world.

    ###

    Dean, thank you so much for your kind comment. This means a lot :)

    All the best,

    Tim

  5. Hi Everyone,

    Big congrats to all who supported Room to Read. I have been a supporter of this organization for the past year and just feel that they are doing an incredible job giving the gift of education. While reading through the blogs I noticed that there is an overwhelming number of you who still want to support Room to Read. That is awesome! As Dane mentioned above, you can support R2R through his webpage or feel free to donate through my webpage at http://www.firstgiving.com/shannacovey or directly to R2R at http://www.roomtoread.org. Anwywhere, will work so long as we can get the funds to R2R so that they can continue to do what they do best!

    Best to all of you!
    Shanna

  6. Hi Everyone,

    Big congrats to all who supported Room to Read. I have been a supporter of this organization for the past year and just feel that they are doing an incredible job giving the gift of education. While reading through the blogs I noticed that there is an overwhelming number of you who still want to support Room to Read. That is awesome! As Dane mentioned above, you can support R2R through his webpage or feel free to donate through my webpage at http://www.firstgiving.com/shannacovey or directly to R2R at http://www.roomtoread.org. Anwywhere will work so long as we can get the funds to R2R so that they can continue to do what they do best!

    Best to all of you!
    Shanna

  7. Hi Tim! I think Carolyn points out a flaw in the “school mentality” of most folks in our Western society. The fact that we think it’s necessary to rely on “experts” to teach preschool-aged children in age-segregated classrooms away from the warmth and security of the family unit is a mystery to me. As you know, I’m a nontraditional homeschool mom, and freedom to learn in an open, stress-free environment is the key to nurturing a love for learning. Almost all kids get excited be a new adventure (although I spent the first month of school in tears crying for my mother,) but what happens when burnout sets in after starting them off at such a young age? We see this every day in the troubled school systems here in the US.

    My dream is to see widespread support for the expansion of libraries — both here and abroad — into community learning centers for people of all ages to come together in a cooperative effort. That way, service personnel and special needs families alike could tap into a worldwide network of like-minded folks and, in turn, make work/school a mobile option for everyone!

    Just my two cents and a plate o’ pasta ;-) Posting from my iPod (who needs a laptop when you have two thumbs?!) so I hope my formatting stays true! Off to add something to the Hands On thread about family volunteering. Hopefully, we can find an opportunity in BsAs in time for tango season ~ Hasta luego, Amigo!

  8. Tim,

    I saw this picture a few weeks ago, but assumed that you had already been to Vietnam.

    I have been living here 11 years. I am based in Hanoi, but know much of the country.

    I have read your book through 3 time.

    Meeting you is one of my planned dos on my dreamscape list.

    When you come to Vietnam, would really like to meet with you. My mobile is +84-913236321.

    Please call or email if I can be of any help in planning for your trip. Not sure what your interest is, but I think I can be helpful in most areas.

    Cheers,
    Colin

  9. I’m glad to see that you’re participating in some nonprofit fundraising and I was intrigued by the new model you used to raise funds for your LitLiberation experiment last year. I’m currently starting up my own nonprofit, Local Problems Global Solutions and would like to ask you and the readers of this blog, for creative ideas to raise my initial seed money. The basic premise is that I think large aid organizations suffer from white man’s burden and often solve problems that may not be the most pressing one. In other words, here’s your field of corn…oh we really needed a school. ASK the locals what the problem is…I’d like to create a nonprofit with a website to connect people in poor countries with the best solutions from all over the world. I have a solution to the obvious question: internet access in the third world. Also, I have a solution for a community base of global problem solvers. Additionally, I’ll probably use virtual assistants and a virtual office, to reduce operating costs. Especially because at least initially, I would be the one in the field collecting the data (problem set). If you or anyone reading this blog is interested in this idea for a nonprofit, please let me know.

  10. I appreciate that you are using your blog audience and influence for social good. I am sure it is tempting to just sit back and collect money and say, “Wow, look at all this fame. Now where is my martini?” The world needs more influencers like yourself. I wish you all the success in the world…..

  11. Way to go, you’re awesome. This is very inspiring. I can’t wait to be able to bankroll more projects like this. I think this type of philanthropy is the way of our future. Individual microfinancing.

  12. Same idea as Colin Pine. I’m currently in Vietnam and it should be great if you do have some time for a coffee.
    Emailed you at amy at fourhourworkweek dot com but I’m not so sure if you have time to check it out or not.
    Best,

  13. Hi Tim,

    Congratulation! You did great job for our children. By chance, via Matt blog, i roll into your site and project. This inspired me to much. As soon as i come back to Vietnam this summer, i will start a project like you did.

    Thank you very much, Tim

    minhhanh

  14. I am visiting Vietnam, leaving Sat 3rd, how can I help whilst I am there, I am a teacher, leaving for 12 days only. Please advise.

    • Hi Nat,

      Thanks so much for the comment. It’s hard to get involved with R2R on the ground in Vietnam without first going through the local government. I’ll let you know when I have a new project going up…

      Have a blast!

      Tim

  15. Great work you are doing. God bless you.

    Back in 1968 a small group (60 engineer soldiers) built some 18 schools for rural Vietnamese villages in the Mekong Delta. We assume that our schools still endure, and have educated hundreds of thousands of wonderful children by now. Please check out our website.

    I will discuss with the boys (we are old men now, actually) how we can help your projects.

    Regards
    Michael Miller

  16. Donating to these projects is fantastic. Donating to schools in Afghanistan or Pakistan or any other Muslim area is a waste of money and time. Might as well donate directly to the Taliban or any of over 1000 other terrorist jihadi groups. Donate money to schools in Vietnam or any other Christian based country and you will be doing the world a lot of good.

  17. Cute for sure . the program may need some oversight that includes quality of care such as being rated using the The Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale created by Thelma Harms, Richard Clifford and Debbie Cryer.
    I am an assessor and noticed that the children are lying too close to each other ( 3 feet apart is the standard) per health related issues, spread of infection etc.There are many criteria which make for a strong program and effect quality . I commend this effort and am confident the program staff will appreciate learning how to offer quality care. Namaste

  18. I’m a Vietnamese. I’ve been your fan for a year. On behalf of all Vietnamese kids and their parents in the 4hww readers’ preschool, thank you and all the benevolent donors. Your action inspire us, the youth, to devote more to our country’s future

  19. Hi,
    I loved this picture of the kids napping.
    I would like to use it for the article I am writing on “How to find the right kindergarten abroad” which will be featured in “Overseas Education” a magazine published in Japan.
    If there is any problem, please contact me.
    Nora