21 April 2012

Ladies & Gentlemen,


Xin Chao! A warm welcome to the closing ceremony of the Singapore International Foundation’s Social Work Project. It is indeed a happy occasion to celebrate the achievements and friendships that have been forged as a result of our partnership on this project.

The Singapore International Foundation, or the S-I-F, is a non-profit organisation that was founded in 1991. Our work is about building friendships between Singapore and the rest of the world, because we believe that friendships make this world a better place. And how do we make friends? – we do so by sharing ideas, skills and experiences.

An excellent example of this is the SIF Social Work Project where we brought Singaporeans and Vietnamese together on a learning journey that aims to help uplift the quality of social work education at Vietnam’s University of Labour and Social Affairs, or U-L-S-A.

Over the last two years, a team of seven social work professionals from Singapore have conducted six training workshops in Hanoi and one training attachment in Singapore for 40 social work lecturers from ULSA and other universities around the country, as well as social work practitioners. The project focused on training the Vietnamese project participants on theoretical social work knowledge and also how to apply it under different social contexts and with different client groups.

And we are greatly encouraged by the outcomes of this project. Because of their improved understanding of social work concepts and practice, the Vietnamese participants have showed good skill and eager attitude in applying their learning to different areas of their work. For instance, one Vietnamese lecturer showed how she adapted a case scenario presented during the project to the Vietnamese context and used it to test her students. In addition, methods taught by the Singapore volunteers have been added on to current teaching curriculums to enhance its quality. Last but not least, the training has also benefited the Vietnamese participants beyond their classroom teaching. For example, one lecturer used her newly gained knowledge to improve her research proposal writing. Because of all these examples and more, we are confident that the social work teaching and practice standard in Vietnam has achieved a new level of excellence. Ultimately, this means that the psychosocial needs of distressed Vietnamese families and individuals will now be more adequately met.

And because this is a two-way learning journey, these project successes could not have been possible if not for the openness of our Vietnamese friends in sharing about the Vietnamese culture, behaviours and way of life. Our Singapore volunteers needed to understand these insights in order to teach the application of social work concepts and practice to the Vietnamese context. As such, this project has also been a form of cultural education for our Singapore volunteers. Because they now have the experience of working with the Vietnamese people and within the Vietnamese culture, their professional skills and knowledge have also been sharpened.

As an organisation which values partnerships, the SIF believes that we can achieve more together than on our own. Thus, on behalf of the foundation, I want to acknowledge our project partner, the University of Labour and Social Affairs in Hanoi. Thank you for sharing in our goal to shape and improve the landscape of social work practice in Vietnam, and for working hard with the SIF to achieve the project objectives.

At this point in time, I also want to commend the dedication and effort of our Singapore volunteers and Vietnamese participants. Indeed, you are the heartbeat of this project. Without all the time, energy and expertise you have shared of yourselves, today’s happy occasion could not have been possible. I hope that this experience has been an enriching one for all of you and I wish you all the best in your professional developments.

Because of the SIF’s belief in making friends for a better world, we count the bonds of friendship which have been forged between the people of Vietnam and Singapore as an important outcome of this project. The kind hospitality that the university and Vietnamese participants have extended to our volunteers and SIF staff has greatly warmed our hearts and make us look forward to coming back again every time we leave. I know that one of the Singapore volunteers, Mr Kumar, has visited Hanoi several times for holiday on his own and sometimes with his family. Whenever he is in town, he meets up with some of the Vietnamese participants who will graciously play host and show him around the beautiful country. I hope that such wonderful ties will continue to grow and flourish, long after today.

In closing, thank you, everyone, for journeying with the SIF throughout these past two years. I hope it has been as wonderful for you as it has been for us. With everyone’s contribution, we have joined hands to build a better world, one that gives us all a more hopeful and brighter future.

Please enjoy the day of festivities ahead and once again, congratulations! Kam En!