Guide to Volunteer and Intern in Vietnam: Teach English, Medical Care, Childcare

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Embarking on a volunteer or internship journey to Vietnam offers an array of enriching experiences. With diverse opportunities spanning English teaching, conservation efforts, and healthcare provision in less developed areas, every aspiring volunteer can find their niche. If you’re planning to make a difference in Asia, understanding what Vietnam has to offer is essential to prepare for this life-changing endeavor.

Vietnam, the world’s 14th most populous country, is a tapestry of cultural and economic vibrancy. Sharing borders with China, Laos, and Cambodia, it has transformed from a war-torn history into a flourishing tourism and economic hub. Recognized for its verdant rice paddies and the bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam is a study in contrasts where historic charm meets modernity. Yet, amidst this progress, social and economic gaps persist, particularly affecting ethnic minorities and rural dwellers. Volunteers have the chance to help bridge these gaps by aiding in projects designed to uplift impoverished communities and promote equal access to essential services.

It’s easy to get started on a volunteering adventure with International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), known for its affordable, sustainable global programs and Carbon Neutral status. Explore programs by Involvement Volunteers International (IVI), an Australian non-profit praised for its ethical and sustainable community programs, including disaster management. Or, explore programs by Volunteering Solutions (VolSol), recognized for its contribution to voluntourism and professional growth by various publications. Another unique way to experience Vietnam is through teaching, International TEFL Academy offers TEFL certifications in Asia to get you started on your teaching career in Asia!

A volunteer experience in Vietnam promises a balanced mix of work, learning, and adventure. Join in unfolding the wonders of volunteering in Vietnam and be part of a movement that goes beyond tourism to touch lives and create lasting legacies.

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Short- and long-term opportunities for volunteering in Vietnam range in duration and style. Most programs are able to accommodate solo travelers, including women, who want an organized and meaningful experience that works for a person traveling alone. Here are some of the most popular options for volunteering in Vietnam.

International Volunteer Headquarter

Childcare in Vietnam

Founded in 2007, International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is a prominent force in volunteer travel, with over 132 thousand volunteers placed in more than 330 projects across 42 countries, including Vietnam. Recognized for stringent social and environmental performance with a B Corporation Certification, IVHQ has been named the Top Volunteer Abroad Provider by Go Overseas for five consecutive years. As part of the UN Volunteer Groups Alliance and with certified carbon-neutral operations since April 2019, all IVHQ projects align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

IVHQ’s volunteer programs in Vietnam, specifically their presence in Ho Chi Minh City, aim to alleviate poverty and improve access to essential services for these populations. 

Upon arrival at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport, volunteers are picked up and taken to their accommodations, which are managed by the program fee that also includes meals and support services. Accommodations at a local tourism college are communal, with basic amenities, and Wi-Fi, though volunteers may need a local SIM card due to the potential slow internet connection. Meals are provided to volunteers, which reflect local Vietnamese cuisine, with adjustments made for volunteers with special dietary needs if notified in advance. 

The volunteer experience begins with an orientation available in one-day or one-week formats. The one-day orientation is comprehensive, covering practical information about the program, cultural education, and local tours. The Introduction Week is an extended option offering a deeper cultural immersion, including landmark visits, market trips, and a cooking class, for an additional cost.

During the Vietnamese New Year (TET) break, volunteers will aid children with cancer by preparing and serving food and engaging in educational activities. This period also allows for cultural immersion through participation in local celebrations. 

The program fees are structured to be more economical with longer stays, covering accommodation, meals, orientation, airport pick-up, and ongoing support. There’s an initial registration fee and a banking fee for transactions. Volunteers need to account for additional expenses like visas, flights, insurance, and vaccinations. Furthermore, IVHQ guides volunteers on financial planning, with a suggested weekly budget of $50 for personal expenditures. Those seeking academic credit can also earn it through their volunteer efforts.

Teach English Volunteer Program in Vietnam

Participate in this valuable opportunity to aid in the language development of older students at a local college. Fluent English speakers will be instrumental in helping students enhance their language abilities, which is essential for accessing higher education and employment opportunities. 

Volunteers will have the chance to experience professional and personal growth while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal #4 for quality education. The program is fully hosted with durations ranging from one to 24 weeks. Volunteers may work up to six hours a day, teaching or improving students’ vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and comprehension.

The program encourages personal and professional growth, requiring no previous teaching experience, although taking a TEFL course is encouraged. Volunteers under 18 need parental consent, and all participants must provide a criminal background check or character references if under legal age. Volunteers are expected to have volunteer travel insurance and speak fluent English.

Medical Volunteer Program in Vietnam

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) offers a Medical Volunteer Program in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, designed for medical and nursing students as well as qualified professionals interested in gaining insight into the Vietnamese healthcare system. The program, starting every Monday, offers an affordable and comprehensive package from $510 for two weeks, with participants contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being. 

The program aims to improve access to quality healthcare by providing volunteers with the chance to observe and assist in a range of medical departments and treatments within a local hospital setting. Volunteers can expect to engage in tasks like basic triage, wound care, rehabilitation, and more while being supported by English-speaking staff. Although direct patient care is limited due to government regulations, the position is beneficial for observing diverse clinical practices and understanding a different medical system. 

 Medical specialties include various fields, from anaesthesiology to surgery, providing a breadth of learning opportunities. It’s an ideal setting for personal and professional development, offering exposure to healthcare in a developing country and the rewarding experience of serving a community in need.

This program spans from two to 24 weeks and includes an optional Introduction Week orientation, allowing volunteers to acclimate to the local culture and healthcare environment. Volunteers are expected to be fluent in English, hold appropriate insurance, and provide a criminal background check.

Childcare Volunteer Program in Vietnam

The Childcare Volunteer Program in Vietnam is designed for volunteers passionate about early childhood education to engage in a meaningful exchange of culture and care. Volunteers assist in kindergartens throughout Ho Chi Minh City, participating in educational activities, playing games, and teaching English while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal #4 for quality education.

Volunteers work in sessions split by the children’s naptime, supporting local teachers and contributing to a better start in life for the kids. This not only aids in language development but also supports quality education, aligning with global developmental goals.

Requirements for volunteers include fluency in English, a background check, and appropriate travel insurance. Although not mandatory, a TEFL certification is recommended to maximize the teaching and learning experience.

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI)

Participants can help and learn while being guided by local professionals in medical care

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI), with over three decades of experience, extends an invitation to those with a nurturing spirit to partake in its initiatives in Vietnam. Their well-rounded volunteer packages in Ho Chi Minh City and Phan Thiet offer hostel-style accommodations, local Vietnamese meals, airport transfers, and considerable in-country support.

Volunteers are immersed in a setting where they can directly contribute to the welfare of Vietnam’s underprivileged areas. A modest application fee opens doors to various placements, allowing for a positive impact against the backdrop of Vietnam’s stunning landscapes and rich cultural mosaic.

IVI encourages volunteers to be part of projects that span medical assistance, childcare, English teaching, and more, aiding those affected by poverty and health issues, such as children impacted by Agent Orange and mental health conditions. Volunteers help fulfill the need for educational and infrastructure development, nutrition support, and environmental conservation, playing a crucial role in these community-focused efforts.

For a full cultural immersion, IVI suggests participating in the orientation week in Ho Chi Minh City, which prepares volunteers for their projects by familiarizing them with the local environment and customs. Transport arrangements are provided, ensuring a smooth transition into volunteer work, which typically runs from Monday to Friday, leaving weekends free for exploration and relaxation.

IVI’s dedication to enriching lives extends to its volunteers, offering them a chance to witness Vietnam’s rapid development and enduring heritage firsthand while making a lasting difference in the lives they touch.

Kindergarten Teaching Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

The Kindergarten Teaching program in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, offers volunteers the opportunity to contribute to the growth and education of children aged 3-6. Immersion in the vibrant Vietnamese culture is a highlight, along with teaching basic English, assisting with meals, and creating a tidy environment for learning. Creativity and enthusiasm become instrumental in facilitating play-based learning activities, which include teaching simple English phrases, arts and crafts, and engaging in physical games.

Participants in the program will enhance their teaching skills, working independently or in collaboration with others, and play a significant role in boosting the confidence and creativity of the students. The partnership with local kindergarten staff includes supervising and engaging with children in a variety of activities throughout the day. The experience is designed to integrate educational practices with cultural exchange, providing a comprehensive approach to volunteer teaching abroad.

The program is structured to offer practical support to local teachers and caregivers in kindergartens, providing a safe and nurturing space for the children to learn and grow. With accommodation provided in a volunteer center on a college campus, participants will stay in shared dormitory rooms, allowing for cultural exchange and community building with local students and international volunteers alike.

The fees for the program include all living essentials and range from $465 for one week to $2690 for three months, allowing for short-term contributions or more extended stays. This volunteering opportunity is an excellent fit for individuals looking to contribute to early childhood development in a meaningful, impactful way while also experiencing the unique culture and community of Vietnam.

Medical Volunteering Vietnam

The Medical Volunteering program in Vietnam is an enriching opportunity for medical students and professionals to gain firsthand experience in an international healthcare setting. By volunteering at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh, participants can observe and learn from local medical practitioners, engage in meaningful cultural exchanges, and deepen their understanding of global health practices.

Volunteers primarily shadow medical staff, observing various departments such as physiotherapy and pediatrics, and learning through interaction rather than direct medical intervention, due to regulatory constraints. This hands-off approach allows volunteers to focus on learning about the local healthcare system, patient care techniques, and medical procedures unique to Vietnam.

The program is a fit for those studying or practicing medicine, with the minimum age requirement being 18. While volunteering, participants can expect to prepare medications, observe patient care, assist in basic triage, and learn about traditional medical practices like acupuncture.

Volunteers stay in a volunteer center located on a college campus, fostering an environment of community and cultural exchange. The dormitory-style accommodation houses 6-8 volunteers per room, with air conditioning, single-gender bathrooms, and internet access, providing a comfortable living space.

English Teaching Phan Thiet, Vietnam

The English Teaching program in Phan Thiet, Vietnam, is structured to facilitate a peer-to-peer learning environment, connecting university students aged 18-24 with volunteers of a similar age group. This age proximity is beneficial as it fosters a relatable and engaging atmosphere where students may feel more at ease and open to learning. Volunteers, akin in age to the students, often find it easier to build rapport, break down formal barriers, and create a dynamic learning environment that is both educational and culturally enriching.

In the program, volunteers assist in enhancing the conversational English skills of these young adults, contributing to the student’s confidence and linguistic capabilities, which are vital for further education and career opportunities. The volunteers’ role includes designing and conducting interactive activities that facilitate language learning in a fun and supportive setting, such as through drawing, crafting, and playing educational games.

The shared experiences and similarities in age allow volunteers to naturally incorporate contemporary topics and mutual interests into the lessons, making the learning process more relatable and impactful. This peer-to-peer approach not only aids in the student’s language acquisition but also encourages a two-way cultural exchange, enriching the experience for both the volunteers and the students.

The program’s accommodation for participants ensures a comfortable stay, with facilities that cater to the needs of young, international volunteers, providing a space for cultural exchange and bonding beyond the classroom. The fee structure is inclusive of these accommodations and varies based on the duration of stay, allowing volunteers to choose a term that best fits their commitment levels and goals.

This educational initiative capitalizes on the energy, creativity, and enthusiasm that are characteristic of young adults, harnessing these attributes to enhance the educational outcomes of Vietnamese university students and create a fulfilling volunteer experience.

Volunteering Solutions

Volunteers in Vietnam have the chance to revel in the rich tapestry of Vietnamese Culture

Volunteering Solutions offers enriching volunteer opportunities in Vietnam, with projects in Hanoi accommodating individuals aged 18 and above for 2 to twelve-week spans. Available programs include Teaching English, Medical internships, Child Care, and Special Needs Care, allowing volunteers to contribute meaningfully while gaining hands-on experience. Participants are housed in a volunteer dormitory alongside peers, with provisions for communal meals, orientation, and airport transfers included in program fees.

The experience is designed for cultural immersion, providing volunteers with the chance to learn and share in a supportive community setting. VolSol facilitates weekend excursions to various locations around Vietnam, such as the Cu Chi Tunnel Experience and the Hanoi Cultural Tour, for volunteers to discover Vietnam’s historical and natural wonders. Applicants are encouraged to apply early, ensuring their placement and allowing ample time for preparation and travel arrangements. With a focus on ethical and responsible volunteering, VolSol’s programs in Vietnam promise personal growth, professional experience, and an in-depth understanding of the local culture.

English Teaching Volunteering Program in Hanoi

The English Teaching Volunteering Program by Volunteering Solutions in Hanoi, Vietnam, is designed for volunteers to teach English to children in underserved communities, enhancing their prospects in a tourism-dependent economy. Volunteers, placed in schools with limited resources, work alongside local teachers, focusing on improving students’ English through interactive activities and providing guidance to local educators. The program includes weekday teaching, with weekends free for exploring Hanoi’s cultural sights, and accommodation is in a volunteer house offering meals and necessary amenities. With program fees starting from $530 for two weeks, volunteers are supported by in-country staff, provided with an orientation, and have the option of joining educational tours to enrich their experience.

Child Care Volunteering Program in Hanoi

The Child Care Volunteering Program in Hanoi by Volunteering Solutions, offers a compassionate initiative for volunteers to support the development and care of children in various local childcare centers. The program targets the aid of kids who are living with the long-term effects of ‘Agent Orange,’ with many of the young beneficiaries suffering from conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, and other physical and mental challenges. Volunteers not only offer educational support but also personal attention and care, which is invaluable in these children’s lives.

Volunteers are integral in assisting local staff with daily care activities, which include meal preparation, education, and general upkeep of the facilities. The work extends to teaching basic English and engaging the children in creative activities like drawing, painting, and crafts, contributing significantly to the children’s cognitive and social development.

Volunteers’ roles go beyond childcare, extending to educational assistance, helping with administrative tasks, networking, and even fundraising if possible. With a teaching schedule of approximately 20 hours per week, there is ample time for volunteers to become intimately involved in the children’s lives and witness their progress firsthand.

The program is designed for individuals who are willing to take up the challenge of working in new and different environments, bringing energy and enthusiasm to make a lasting difference. The volunteering experience is open to gap year travelers, college and high school students, and families looking for a safe and life-changing project.

The requirements for joining include being 18 years or older, in good health, and with no criminal record. A background check report is necessary for those volunteering with childcare and teaching projects.

International TEFL Academy

Enrolling in a course in Vietnam with the International TEFL Academy (ITA) paves the way for a fulfilling volunteer teaching experience in the heart of Southeast Asia. By choosing to study in the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh City, participants are not only preparing for a career in teaching English but also positioning themselves to make meaningful volunteer contributions to local communities. The intensive four-week, full-time TEFL courses are more than just education; they are a bridge to engaging with Vietnamese culture and society through language.

ITA’s internationally accredited TEFL certification is not just a credential; it’s a toolkit for those who wish to give back through volunteer teaching. By covering essential teaching skills, classroom management, and effective lesson planning, ITA prepares volunteers to make a significant impact in their chosen communities. Volunteers can apply their newly acquired teaching skills in various volunteer settings, from schools to community centers, helping to improve local English language skills and opening doors to global communication.

ITA also offers guaranteed job placement programs in Asia (including Vietnam) if you wish to continue your adventures in Vietnam and experience working abroad! By investing in a TEFL course with ITA, volunteers are investing in the future of Vietnamese learners and the global community alike.

TEFL/TESOL Certification Course In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City provides an intensive educational experience for those looking to teach English as a Foreign Language. Spanning 150 hours over four weeks, the course is structured with a heavy emphasis on practical teaching and coursework. Students should expect a full-time commitment from Monday to Friday, with additional commitments during evenings and weekends for class observation and teaching practice, especially in the first three weeks.

Homework is substantial, requiring 1-2 hours nightly. Due to this rigorous schedule, prospective students are advised to schedule any sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam before or after the course completion.

All course materials are provided via an online portal, with students gaining access two weeks before the course start date, and a comprehensive manual provided on the first day.

During the practicum, students will teach local Vietnamese learners for a total of 14 hours, gaining practical experience in a real classroom setting. Technology-wise, students are required to have a laptop with Microsoft Office Suite proficiency from the first day, although rentals are available if necessary.

Accommodation, included in the TEFL package, is conveniently located within walking distance of the school. Start and finish times for the course may vary, with students advised on specifics accordingly. 

The Ho Chi Minh City TEFL course is recognized for its high standards, meeting and exceeding industry accreditation standards, and is accredited by the Australian Government. Class sizes are capped at 24 students to maintain an optimal learning environment, ensuring individual attention and support.

Ready to Travel?

Volunteering in Vietnam transcends a mere visit; it’s an enduring commitment to global kinship and sustainable development. Through teaching, healthcare, or childcare, volunteers leave an impactful legacy on local communities while gaining invaluable life lessons. The experience, facilitated by organizations such as IVHQ, IVI,  VolSol, and International TEFL Academy, becomes a transformative journey, echoing long after the return flight, shaping both personal growth and collective futures.

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