01/03/2018 09:24 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

American veteran helps heal war wounds

Paul George Harding from the US came back to Vietnam to heal his own wounds from the war.
Giving free English classes

After retiring in 2014, Paul decided to return to Vietnam to fulfill his wish of doing something good for the people here.
After living in Hanoi for some time, Paul discovered that the demand for studying English here is high but courses at English training centres with native teachers are relatively expensive.
 
Paul’s English classes are open on weekends.
 
Paul is friendly toward his little students.
 
Paul’s English lessons cover many topics but Vietnamese history is a focus.

At breaks, children can colour animals and objects prepared by Paul.
 
His free classes attract a lot of students.
 
Paul spends time learning the history of Vietnam.

Paul decided to open free English classes which soon attracted a good number of people, including many children and young people. The classes also lured many volunteer students who help Paul organize various classes relevant to the age and level of English proficiency of students.

Paul pays great attention to teaching his students how to pronounce correctly and communicate confidently in English. In classes for little kids, Paul always creates an atmosphere of fun and friendliness for the children to easily get involved and remember their lessons.

His English lessons cover different topics but Vietnamese history is a focus. The 70-year-old American veteran regularly visits libraries and secondhand bookshops to collect books on history and the great people of Vietnam.

Bringing back the beauty of Hanoi streets

Apart from English classes, Paul spends his free time repainting the walls printed with ugly advertisements on Lane 1, Nguyen Thi Dinh street in Cau Giay district.

His job is warmly accepted by residents here who join him in the cleaning.  Many even buy tools and drinks for Paul’s group, whose work has turned the small quiet lane into a busy and cheerful workplace.

Paul said the idea of doing this job came accidentally when he learned from the media that the city was trying to remove unlawful advertisements. Paul shared this idea with his Vietnamese students who strongly supported him.

Just for a short period of time, small ads, including advertised telephone numbers for concrete cutting on walls in the neighbourhood of Trung Hoa ward, including Hoang Ngan, Tran Duy Hung and Nguyen Ngoc Vu streets, have been removed, erased and repainted nicely. Old and broken walls have also been newly repainted.

 
Patiently erasing printed advertisements.
 
After removing all dirty traces and ad leaflets, Paul and other local volunteers paint the walls.
 
Paul teaches his little students how to paint the walls.
 
A little volunteer joins Paul in cleaning the street.
 
The old street is beautifully repainted.
 
Paul wants to do something useful for the community in Hanoi.

This useful work helps bring back the beauty of Hanoi streets where I am living and working, Paul said. He has been obsessed by memories of the war in Vietnam for his whole life, destroying any peace in his heart.  “I always feel guilty for what I did in Vietnam and want to do something for Vietnamese young people so they can develop their careers. I also wish to do something useful for the community here,” Paul said.
 
Story: Ngan Ha – Photos: Cong Dat