Legos as Building Blocks
by Carissa Nguyen
The majority of today was spent painting the outer walls of the elementary school we are building in the Lam Dong province. I have ruined yet another T-shirt, but we are now many walls closer to completing our goal! Getting closer to finishing painting also means that we were ready to start setting up the school’s library, and with it, a Lego display.
As Legos are a fundamental part of Sunflower Mission’s robotics workshop, we thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase what the kids could do with just a little ingenuity and a whole lot of Legos. The box was huge, and filled to the brim with assorted pieces and, oddly enough, also normal sized tools… Me, being of the Lego challenged variety, let the kids take control right away (and they had absolutely no problem immediately asserting their authority).
The kids attacked the box with gusto, and I sat back and watched them arrange these random, colorful blocks into some pretty impressive structures. By the end of the day, we had a small, two-bedroom home, complete with television, double doors, and a family of three; we had a large red and black alligator with teeth and a fully operating mouth; there was a lifelike shark and a modern, spaceship contraption, and what looked like a giant evil robot, complete with an arm that shot small plastic arrows. It didn’t matter that there was no blueprint or set plan; the kids created something from nothing using these little plastic blocks.
As the day came to a close, and as I helped the kids proudly line up their creations on the backroom table, I thought about the first time I visited Vietnam in 2015, on a trip with Sunflower Mission. Looking back now, I can confidently attribute this experience to my path towards studying SE Asia, my desire to pursue a career in international relations, and my choice to move to Vietnam. Sunflower Mission was a fundamental building block for me.
In the same way, I am sure that Sunflower Mission hopes to provide building blocks for students in Vietnam, blocks that build up and encourage students who might not have the financial resources to pursue their educational goals: a Legos robotics workshop could spark a new career interest in a child, a donation could allow a student to buy a school uniform, a scholarship enables a student to go to university. We don’t necessarily know exactly what it will look like (be it a shark or a spaceship) but these blocks are building something good!
Grateful and aware today, to be back with Sunflower Mission, and blessed to have been given this building block. I can’t wait to see all the kids for the completion ceremony next week and celebrate yet another school built!