A school well done
  • | | May 14, 2010 10:31 AM

VVAF (Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation), Boeing, and the local community in Hai Hau, Nam Dinh Province, teamed together to erect a brand new 10 classroom building at Hai Hung Primary School.

Children celebrating the opening of their new classrooms

The beautiful facility was officially opened on May 14.

Hanging together on the same stage were the U.S. and Vietnam's flags. Children cheering and waving balloons greeted guests while smiling teachers and community members joyfully clapped as the ceremony unveiling the new building began.

It was a festive celebration attended by the nearly 800 students of the school, U.S. Ambassador Michael W. Michalak, Boeing's Kevin Heise, VVAF's Thao Griffiths, communitly leaders, teachers, staff and media.

The project cost USD 233,000 to complete and was an amazing show of the community getting involved, as they were responsible for raising 70 percent of the funds.

Kevin Heise of Boeing was asked why his company had decided to build schools in Vietnam and why with the VVAF. He revealed, "The first time we sold a plane in Vietnam, we made a promise to Former Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, that we would use proceeds from what we sold to do community projects. We tried several different things that (for various reasons) didn't work, and then we realized that building schools for a community with no other resources or funding to do it themselves, has a huge impact. It lasts a long time and it becomes more than just a school, it becomes a part of the community. We believe in education, Boeing is a very high-tech company, and we believe that partnering with NGO's (non-governmental organizations) is the best way to do that."

VVAF has been working with the community since its first trip to Vietnam in 1981. They have worked closely with Boeing in the past, and this is yet another successful partnership between the two. As pointed out by Ambassador Michalak, "This is a prime example of how the private sector can work with the government and make good things happen."

The celebration included performances by teachers and staff, speeches, a ribbon-cutting, and a tour of the building.

Mr. Michalak gave a passionate speech, stepping away from the podium, speaking in both Vietnamese and English, and at one point throwing his speech aside, reading from the new building, "Today we are proud of our school, tomorrow our school will be proud of us."

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam. For more information about the VVAF and their many projects, including Rehabilitation, Self Help, Landmine Removal, Mental Health Programs and more, visit their website at:

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