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NGO Communications & Fundraising Internship In Vietnam

ABROADER February 16, 2022 12 minute read

Continuing a successful Summer with more than 200 international students, we are happy to share the true story of our remote intern.
Over the past two years, the advent of COVID-19 has made significant changes to many aspects of life worldwide. While the fight against this pandemic has not yet ended, we are learning to adapt to the new normal – a coexisting life with COVID-19. Apart from following good practices suggested by WHO, each nation, Vietnam included, also initiates its own approaches and regulations to mitigate the consequences of disease outbreaks. If you plan for an international education experience in Vietnam next year 2022, your safety abroad is of utmost priority. We, the ABROADER team, had compiled the Vietnam COVID-19 MANUAL to assist you in gathering precise and useful information about COVID-19 in Vietnam. We hope this helps you have a safe and enjoyable journey abroad!

A True Story Told by a Remote Intern

Continuing a successful Summer with more than 200 international students, we are happy to share the true story of our remote intern. We would like to thank ISA – our trusted partner for a wonderful collaboration to ensure our participants an enjoyable and fruitful journey. 

Our alumni stories would be best depicted through their lens. Let’s learn about Stuart’s journey when interning at Bong Sen Center for Community and Development.

About me

My name is Stuart Shreve. I’m currently a student at Florida International University, and I’m set to graduate this coming December. As my graduation is approaching, I knew that I had to take on an internship to supplement all the knowledge I have been receiving in the classroom. Since I’m a travel and tourism major, I didn’t want something that I felt was going to limit my talent and personality like working in a hotel. So that led me to pursue an international opportunity working as a remote intern for an organization that exists overseas. During the recruitment process of this internship, I was introduced to ABROADER, an organization established to help the local community by connecting local youth with international students via our educational programs such as internships, customized faculty-led, semester exchange, and service-learning. During the recruitment process, I had the most amazing experience meeting Julie, program manager at ABROADER, and many other staff members that make me feel like friends and family. 

About my host organization

I interned at Bong Sen, an NGO in the Hau Giang province that is actively empowering women. In the Mekong Delta region, Bong Sen provides women from low-income households with micro-loans and educational development to further empower their voice, confidence, and social standing. Bong Sen’s vision is to ensure that every young girl and woman secures a basic education, has access to economic opportunities and protects their human rights. Bong Sen achieves their mission by helping women in two ways, the Livelihood development program and girls education. We focus our actions particularly on rural areas, where the population is diverse and vulnerable. 

About my responsibilities

My responsibilities with Bong Sen include building a Community-based tourism plan/proposal, facilitating two English classes per week, leading Weekly meetings to update my progress, and promoting Bong Sen, and spreading awareness toward their cause to the international market. 

From the beginning of my journey with Bong Sen, my tasks were laid out to me right at the first meeting. Coming into this internship opportunity, I never would have expected to teach English lessons to these wonderful, strong women. This is just an example of why I chose to partake in something like this, to expect the unexpected. The timelines were carried out on a week-by-week basis, as we held our weekly meetings every Friday. During this time, I would lead the conversation and update my team members as to what I was working on, or creative inspiration when it had struck. There were even times that I decided to take matters into my own hands and take on tasks that Bong Sen did not officially “ask” of me. Things did change for me when I decided to take a more proactive approach with Bong Sen, something they did not ask or require of me. I took initiative when trying to seek funding for Bong Sen, something that became a passion of mine as I became acknowledged as a member of the team, and not just an “intern”.

My time with local buddies 

I think what amazes me most about ABROADER is the ability for them to break down barriers and enable you to see the person behind the culture. From the very first moment my internship started I was paired with local buddies that live in Vietnam, and it has been such a joy to meet with them, to learn from them, and to exchange life lessons and meaningful experiences with them. This is exactly what I had been searching for when I discovered my passion for international relations. ABROADER has helped me understand what life is like in Vietnam, so much so that after I graduate, I fully plan on visiting and meeting some of these new friends in their homes. I have had the privilege of seeing life through their eyes, something many of us should take the opportunity to do. I’ve learned what life is like for a day for a Vietnamese citizen. We have spent countless hours together cooking popular Vietnamese dishes such as spring rolls and coffee, and although my form may not have been perfect, I did manage to impress my local buddies.

My Contributions

During my internship, I enjoyed preparing lessons to teach English to Bong Sen staff.

Pop Quiz given in class on Kahoot platform based on previous English lessons taught by myself.
Conclusion of Weekly English Lesson, where we usually share personal reflections from our lives.

As a member of the team, I made an effort to connect Bong Sen with potential stakeholders and brought the story of Bong Sen beyond the border of Vietnam. 

Bong Sen presented at an arranged meeting with Alpha Delta Kappa, an educational sorority.
Bong Sen’s presentation at Florida International University.

What I am very proud of myself was my Community-based Tourism Proposal shared with the Bong Sen team at the end of the internship. 

GoFundMe campaign

This is the GoFundMe campaign that I was inspired to create because of the passion and inspiration I received by working with the women from Bong Sen. I established a goal of $1,000 because I wanted to aim very high, hoping that I could get the support of friends, family members, and fellow classmates. As of today, the GoFundMe campaign has collected $340 U.S. dollars. This is something I am incredibly proud of because I know that some young girls will benefit from the funds I raised.

GoFundMe Campaign

My Achievements & Lessons

From this Internship, I learned what life is like in the rural communities in Mekong Delta, and Vietnam as a whole. I have gained experience and knowledge about the culture, way of life, and traditions that create this mindset.  I have gained communication and management skills from being trusted with the freedom and responsibility to lead. Working with an all-female staff has been an incredibly selfish experience. I have benefitted from the fact that in our mission to do what we can to empower women to lead their communities, I was actively working for strong, empowered women that could lead me through projects. 

I wish that I could have secured Bong Sen an agreement or partnership for funding because I am very passionate about this cause. 

My Challenges

The challenges I experienced started with my adaptation to the time zone difference. This is something that international interns need to be fully aware of and prepared for. Due to this, I am fully aware that there were miscommunications and late attendance because I was still adjusting to this schedule. I aimed to fix this by setting many alarms and consciously focusing my attention on being on time for any meetings we had. 

I learned that in a role like this, as we progress into our careers and life, we must be in control of our own destiny. We must be purposeful in everything that we do, being on time. Taking accountability is very important and understanding that you will not necessarily complete everything you set out to do. Setting our minds on the right goal is key to achieving greatness in a remote internship environment and working and speaking with your team to collaborate on work. 

Working as an intern in this way, being proactive, and encouraging yourself to be creative is so important. Inspire yourself to speak and share your original ideas. Therefore, the partnership works in harmony as it does.

My Recommendations

Upon Bong Sen’s approval, I would love to continue my work as a volunteer. I would love to make flyers, create social media campaigns, and continue spreading the word in as many ways as possible. 

I would love for Bong Sen staff members and students to continue practicing their English and idioms, using the resources I made available. I would love to help them further their English skills and see how well they can improve them on their own. Let’s empower each other.  

My Reflection

My plan after this experience is to continue to broaden my horizons. Before the internship, I was already motivated to see the world, meet new people, and experience life in other people’s shoes. To me, this is how we all grow and understand each other, to foster true human connection. Using this experience towards my career path, I fully believe that I have received the best work experience I have ever had. I was able to sharpen my technological skills, communication skills, and people management skills when it came to navigating matters between the ABROADER and Bong Sen.

I have learned that I need to listen more actively, as this is a skill that I want to practice every day. Taking an example from Trinh, my supervisor, every time I gave a lesson or spoke in detail about something she would always supply me with a “key takeaway”. This is an invaluable piece of advice I learned from her, that I will personally adapt into my life. 

My appreciation to ABROADER

I feel that ABROADER has helped me actualize all of my passion, motivation, and skills to not only make a difference in my own personal life but in the lives of other people around the world. Taking all of this into consideration just further solidifies the fact that ABROADER is fully invested in the happiness, Wellness, and overall personal success of the individual that is willing to work overseas. I believe that ABROADER enables and allows an intern’s strengths to truly shine, furthermore they encourage the forming of relationships and friendships between many great countries. If you have the passion to make a change as I do, then ABROADER will guide you to the places that may need the most sunlight. Simply put, ABROADER sees the world as it is today, and they enable change in real-time. A quote that I believe perfectly describes ABROADER is “No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now”, as stated by philosopher Alan Watts.

Locals’ Voices

Local host organization

Stuart is seen as a proactive person while working with Bong Sen in the course of 2 months. He has made an immense contribution that he extendly put in his efforts with the following responsibilities which has connected us to other stakeholders in the U.S. Such viable opportunities would lead our name to the potential market. In addition, it was very enjoyable for us to discuss a scheme of community-based tourism with him, join English classes and other daily life topics. More than that, I can’t thank you enough that he would like to remain beyond working with Bong Sen for further significant contributions to empower women and girls in Vietnam.

Huynh Hoang To Trinh, Founder at Bong Sen

Local buddies

Stuart is a delightful person to be around as his enthusiasm and curiosity towards cultural sessions elevates the virtual experience a lot!He likes to share what he knows with us buddies and he’s goofy so there isn’t a time that we don’t laugh when interacting with Stuart!

Kathy, Local buddy

Enjoy is what we describe about what Stuart has done along the cultural session. With curiosity and enthusiasm for learning about our heritage, not only would it make us excited to share more, but also soon he would become a VietNamese culture expert.

Danny, Local buddy

ABROADER’s Program Coordinator 

Stuart has always been passionate about what he is doing at Bong Sen. I admired him for his positive energy and his proactiveness at work. He initiated his own charity campaign to support the local NGO besides his main tasks. Also, he thrived to connect everyone in the group by organizing movie nights or simply sharing his daily life activities. 

Julie Le, Program Manager at ABROADER

Watch A day in the life of a Remote Intern by Stuart Shreve

Click here.

NGO internship in Vietnam 2022

Interning at an NGO enables you to not only contribute to local community development but also obtain vital work skills as well as personal growth. If you are seeking a challenge for the next year 2022, why not give it a try to work and travel at the same time in Vietnam? Find your interest below:

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