November 22, 1999 Geneva, NY – Hobart student Michael Harms of Scotia, New York, has been invited by the Vietnam Friendship Foundation to join its “Education and Children's Project VI,” a two-week research program being held in Saigon, Vietnam, this December. Harms will join a group of educators and child advocates from the United States, Australia, and Japan that will travel to schools, non-government organizations, and government agencies in Saigon and Nha Trang. The Education and Children’s Project VI works with schools, government organizations, hospitals, and orphanages to assess the needs of and offer assistance to Vietnamese children.
In addition, Harms will travel on his own to Hanoi for one week where he will be visiting non-government organization offices to gather information for his research. Here, he aims to assess the needs of Vietnam’s street children and explore ways in which the various governmental and independent agencies can assist them. He will return to the United States in January.
Harms, a senior, is building a double major in sociology, and peer education and human relations, as well as a minor in public service at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He is a member of several on-campus groups, served as the coordinator for the 1999 Orientation Program, works as an academic tutor, and volunteers for many public service projects. His work in Vietnam will be applied to his honors project on child rights and child advocacy, which examines how policy drafted at the United Nations Convention on the rights for the child has been applied cross-culturally.
Much of Harms work is a continuation of work he started while in Vietnam with the Hobart and William Smith term-abroad program during the winter of 1999. During that program, Harms began independent field research on the nearly 60,000 children who call the streets of Vietnam their home. In his project, titled “Vietnamese Street Children: An Assessment and Action Plan,” Harms looked at work currently being done to meet the needs of these children and developed a prototype to better meet their needs.
“When I went to Vietnam and met the children who live in the streets, I knew I wanted to do more. Being asked to join the Vietnam Friendship Foundation is an honor and it is a means for me to assist these children,” Harms said. “I am proud to represent both Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the United States.”
Hobart College for men and William Smith College for women — private, liberal arts institutions with a combined enrollment of 1,800 — are noted for both their ambitious emphasis on international study and their integrated curricular and co-curricular programs in community service. They are among the top 10 colleges in the nation in participation in off-campus programs. Hobart and William Smith are located in Geneva, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.