Twenty students from many Malaysian universities are taking part in an annual summer volunteer program meant to teach English to children in a rural area of Ho Chi Minh City and help local residents plant trees and build roads.
The students are enjoying the “Mua He Xanh” (Green Summer) campaign in outlying Nha Be District, which will last until August 10.
In order to join the campaign, the Malaysian students had to go through four rounds of selection and interviews.
Together with 10 students from Ho Chi Minh City Foreign Trade University, the twenty Malaysian youths were divided into two teams which are staying in the district’s Long Thoi and Hiep Phuoc Communes to teach English to local children and help construct concrete roads and plant trees.
Syafi’ie Syukri, a four-year medical student, said he applied for the volunteer campaign right after he heard of it.
“I previously thought it would be hard to get along well here but I was wrong. Vietnamese students are approachable and the residents here are also friendly. We often tickle each other,” he said.
During “Mua He Xanh,” the student painstakingly cut grass to make room for a new concrete road in Hiep Phuoc Commune.
Muhamad Zulfiqar, another Malaysian student who studies at a military school, said his first impression of Vietnam was culture, delicious cuisine, and the friendliness of local people.
During break time, the Malaysian students, along with their Vietnamese friends, excitedly come to the kitchen to prepare their meals and avoid using pork since most of the Malaysians are Muslims.
Huu Hanh, a student from Ho Chi Minh City Foreign Trade University, said that the foreign friends often push for progress in building a bridge in Long Thoi as the campaign will end soon.
The Malaysian students are very dynamic and sociable, Que An, another Vietnamese volunteer, remarked.
“Mua He Xanh” is among the five main campaigns jointly organized by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the Vietnamese Student Association.
The annual program began in 1993 as an anti-illiteracy campaign, “Chien Dich Anh Sang Van Hoa He” (Summer Anti-Illiteracy Campaign), and it was renamed “Mua He Xanh” in 1997.