I love to read. Books, stories, newspapers and magazines have introduced me to ideas and things in the world. They have stimulated my curiosity and opened my mind. A love of reading and learning is a big part of who I am today.
Reading "Nuts! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success" gave me *tons* of ideas about how to create an a fun, friendly and energized culture at our company. One is the importance of "giving back" to a company's identity and feeling of teamwork. A great idea! I decided we should create our own charity, and that the objective should be encouraging kids to read. I used to volunteer to read to kids in the Bay Area and it was very rewarding.
Last week four Dream-Makers and I visited Hong Tam school for disadvantaged kids. Hong Tam is privately run and funded. Ms. Trang, the founder, saw that there were kids in the local community who did not attend school for various reasons such as their parents couldn't afford school fees or weren't properly registered to live in Saigon. She keeps the school going in a very modest house at the back of an alley in remote District 8.
Shortly after arrival. On the left are Chi and Hang from VietnamWorks. Chi's team found the school and organized the trip. The kids on the right are students. Hong Tam serves about 25 kids as young as 6 to about 15.
We brought some books and posters showing English and Vietnamese words for the kids. Here, Nga teaches the kids English words for vegetables. She's a naturally gifted teacher -- "What eats a carrot? That's right, a rabbit!!"
Hang teaches English words for parts of the body. I was surprised at how many words the kids knew already. A Spanish guy named Antonio teaches English every Saturday.
Charvey gets into the game reading "Bubu bị đau răng," aka "Bubu has a toothache." It's a cautionary tale of what happens to Bubu the baby bear when he doesn't listen to his mother, eats lots of candy, gets a toothache and has to go to the dentist. Poor Bubu! I read in Vietnamese and asked the kids to read along and help me with my pronunciation. They got a kick outta that. I'd say pretty much all of them read better than I do. I had a great time.
Our objectives are modest. We will visit the school on the last Saturday of each month for about an hour to read to the kids. Each time we'll bring a few reading or coloring books to give them fresh material. The big message I want to send to the kids is that reading is fun. I'll consider it a success if even one kid reads more as a result.