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Challenging Taboos: Year 12 visit Mai Tam House of Hope

Year 12 IB Language and Literature students visited Mai Tam House of Hope in Thu Duc district, a home which supports adults and children living with HIV.

The purpose of the trip was to enable our students to engage and empathise with the experiences of those living with HIV. Having studied how taboos are reinforced and challenged in non-fiction and media texts, the students were keen to explore the effects of the stigma of the condition.

Father John, the founder and director of the house, initially spoke to the students about the stigma of HIV in Vietnam and answered their questions. Then they decorated Moon Festival lanterns with children. Nesta Lanyon Jones English Teacher and Community Service Co-Ordinator commented 'The trip was a great opportunity for students to engage in service learning which is directly linked to the curriculum - it’s a practical example of taking learning beyond the classroom.'

Following the trip students will produce a written piece of coursework which will count towards their final IB grade. One student reflected, ‘when we started learning about the taboo of HIV in class, I found the ideas quite abstract and it was difficult to understand what facing the stigma would be like. When we visited Mai Tam Father John told us stories about how the stigma had caused mothers to abandon their children - it was so moving - I felt so inspired by the work done in order to overcome the stigma. I now have a much clearer idea of the issue’.

Taking ideas discussed in class into the real world helps to give students a sense of purpose about their learning, and it also develops understanding and awareness of important issues within the local community. The trip to Mai Tam is a perfect example of this. Gavin Donnelly, Head of English

Engaging service learning, which is linked directly to the curriculum, is becoming an ever-increasing part of our community provision at BIS HCMC.

CS AP2

Secondary Campus Community Service

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