High school students raise money for library in Vietnam


Submitted Photo.

Nicole Aikens

If a guest speaker in a high school can keep the audience’s attention, it is a successful speech. Vietnam War veteran John Fisher inspired students to create a new project.

When Fisher, of Soldier’s Heart, came to speak at Roosevelt High School, he gave some students a reason to start a group called Project Vietnam, which focuses on promoting education in the country.

The group started raising money two years ago to build a library at Kim Dong Elementary School in the Phi Ninh district of the Quang Nam province of Vietnam.

The group was connected to the school after one of its advisers, Beth Schluep, went to Vietnam with her husband and Warriors’ Journey Home ministry, which he founded. The ministry provides support groups for war veterans.

“It’s just really interesting to me to have the connection with kids who live across the entirety of the world,” said Maia O’Meara, 17, who is president of Project Vietnam. “We still have a way to communicate with them, to connect with them and to help them.”

O’Meara, who plans to be an international relations major, said she wanted to be president because she knew she would be able to organize the group, and she wanted to be involved in as big of a role as possible because she thought it was a great opportunity.

In order to have the funds to build the library, Project Vietnam has to raise $5,000. Tanya Titus, Project Vietnam adviser and family and consumer sciences teacher, said the group has made close to $3,000 through donations and various forms of fundraising.

Titus said anyone who donates $250 or more will get his or her name on a plaque at the library at the elementary school as well as the library at Roosevelt High School.

“We talked to people from Vietnam and asked, ‘What do you think they need most,’” Titus said. “Our students felt real focused and real dedicated to building a library for these elementary kids.”

Tuesday, Feb. 7, the group will be hosting an event called “A Taste of Culture,” which will have a Vietnamese cuisine tasting and a catered pasta buffet.

At the event, letters from the Vietnamese children will also be on display, as well as photos and artifacts from Vietnam.

“We’re hoping with this dinner—we’re really hoping—that we get really close,” Titus said. “We would like to see this happen this year.”

Tickets for “A Taste of Culture” are available at the activities office at Roosevelt High School, and they are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

The event will be held at the United Church of Christ of Kent.

Contact Nicole Aikens at [email protected].