Expats in Laos keep mother tongue alive
With its Vietnamese name, the Hong Bang clubhouse in Savanakhet town attracts many visitors through its sheer size, boasting an assembly area with seating for 400 people and a very spacious garden.
On the walls of the clubhouse hang pictures featuring Vietnamese scenery and displaying the friendship between
It is the home of not only overseas Vietnamese townspeople, but also a rendezvous point for Vietnamese visitors and other overseas Vietnamese living in other parts of
Tran Chi Thuan, head of the association, said overseas Vietnamese had been living in
An overseas Vietnamese sold the land for the clubhouse to the association at a good price. Others contributed money and working days to build the house, which took two years to finish.
Since 1979, Thuan explained, the association has been sending young people to
A number of the first batch of 50 Vietnamese students who returned to
An overseas Vietnamese who graduated from
The association also sends young people to
The association has built the Lac Hong Kindergarten and
Principal of Thong Nhat Primary School Hua Ngoc Hue said a great effort had been made by overseas Vietnamese to build the school. She said it took two years for the association to settle the construction debts. It even sold its office in
The school now has 300 students in 10 classes. The curriculum mostly follows that of the Lao Education and Training Ministry, but Vietnamese language lessons have been increased from eight hours to 18 hours per week.
This enables all overseas Vietnamese children to learn their native language from a young age, both in their families and at the kindergarten and primary school.
Lac Hong Kindergarten was inaugurated last year. The overseas Vietnamese association also had to mobilise people at home to contribute money for its construction, which came to more than US$44,000.
However, the association has not yet been able to erase the debt. "We still owe nearly $8,500 but we are trying to clear it soon," Thuan said with a smile.