Opportunities for voluntary work are quite limited in Vietnam as there are so many professional development staff based here.
For information, chase up the full list of nongovernment organisations (NGOs) at the NGO Resource Centre, which keeps a database of all of the NGOs assisting Vietnam. Service Civil International (www.sciint.org) has links to options in Vietnam, including the Friendship Village (www.vietnamfriendship.org), established by veterans from both sides to help victims of Agent Orange. The Center for Sustainable Development Studies (http://csds.vn) addresses development issues through international exchange and non-formal education.
Or try contacting the following organisations if you want to help in some way.
KOTO (www.koto.com.au) helps give street children career opportunities in its restaurants in Hanoi or HCMC; a three-month minimum commitment is required.
International organisations offering placements in Vietnam include Voluntary Service Overseas (www.vsointernational.org) in the UK, Australian Volunteers International (www.australianvolunteers.com), Volunteer Service Abroad (www.vsa.org.nz) in New Zealand and US-based International Volunteer HQ (www.volunteerhq.org), which has a wide range of volunteer projects in Hanoi. The UN's volunteer program details are available at www.unv.org.
There’s some casual work available in Western-owned bars and restaurants throughout the country. This is of the cash-in-hand variety, that is, working without paperwork. Dive schools and adventure sports specialists will always need instructors, but for most travellers the main work opportunities are teaching a foreign language.
Looking for employment is a matter of asking around – jobs are rarely advertised.
English is by far the most popular foreign language with Vietnamese students. There's some demand for Mandarin and French too.
Private language centres (US$10 to US$18 per hour) and home tutoring (US$15 to US$25 per hour) are your best bet for teaching work. You'll get paid more in HCMC or Hanoi than in the provinces.
Government-run universities in Vietnam also hire some foreign teachers.
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