Phuong Le [far left] during one of her volunteer trips to Birla Children’s Village in Hanoi when she was a high school student
Twenty-year-old Phuong Le, an upcoming senior at Connecticut College studying human development concentration and child development health, is the only Vietnamese student to get this approval this year.
Le has won US$10,000 for her project titled “Harmonization Summer Camp 2009,” a four-day summer camp for 30 students with intellectual disabilities from Hanoi-based Binh Minh Elementary School who will enjoy free recreational, leisure and sports activities in Kim Boi resort located in the northern province of Hoa Binh.
Binh Minh Elementary School offers both normal and special education classes.
“Students with intellectual disabilities very seldom get the chance to take part in activities with their peers,” said Phuong, who’s back to Vietnam for the summer vacation.
“They often feel that they’re neglected and have trouble in communicating.”
The summer camp will be organized in two sessions, scheduled for the second and fourth week of July. Each intellectually disabled student will be paired with a high school or college student recruited by the program to act as mentor and playmate during the program.
“Joining the camp would help the student volunteers gain a sense of responsibility. In order to work with intellectually disabled students, you have to learn how to be gentle and patient.”
Phuong said she hopes to expand the project to other schools in the future and offer fun activities to a greater number of students with intellectual disabilities. She also plans to set up a website with information translated into Vietnamese about intellectual disabilities and other resources for special education teachers.
The Davis Projects for Peace initiative was renewed for 2009 by American philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis. College students from nearly 100 campuses in the US will collectively receive over $1 million in funding during the summer of 2009 for projects in all regions of the world.