Volunteers bring museum closer to the public

Bach Lien

History buffs: The Viet Nam National Museum of History's Volunteers' Club discuss their programme. — VNS Photo

History buffs: The Viet Nam National Museum of History's Volunteers' Club discuss their programme. — VNS Photo

(VNS) Phan Thu Ha has been hard at work all week preparing for the the upcoming scientific conference on Viet Nam’s Buddhism cultural heritage to be held at the Viet Nam National Museum of History tomorrow.

She is deputy head of the Volunteers’ Club for the museum, and the 22-year-old student – in charge of coordinating publicity for the event- will be doubling her efforts to make sure that she fulfils her task.

Over the last month, she has been promoting the event among young people in the capital by publishing information about the conference on Facebook, sending invitations to different schools all over Ha Noi. She has also been shooting the many ancient objects on display at the museum to present them in the form of a short film to the participants at the conference.

“Bringing the image of the museum closer to the young people in Viet Nam is our most important role, ” said Ha, a final-year student of the National Economics University.

Although the club’s activities were only publicised just last week, they have already been carrying out different programmes for about one year. The 75 volunteer members of the club are students of Ha Noi-based universities and high schools and selected after a long interview process that filtered through 300 candidates. They are all connected by their shared passion for the history and culture of the country.

The club is divided into different smaller groups: one is responsible for the communication activities for the museum’s events; an other is in charge of making films, videoclips and taking photos to promote the events; and the other looks for ways to recruit new volunteers.

“We have had to face quite a few challenges in maintaining the club’s activities because several people were not very interested in the history. But we have tried our hardest to find solutions,” confides Ha.

To Ha’s delight, in less than four months, the group has managed to create a fan page for the museum, make four promotional short films, compiled a survey for the opinions of the visitors, and set up marketing strategies for the muesum.

“It’s great. We’ve been able to learn a lot about the history and culture of the country through the objects on display at the museum, and through meetings and exchanges with veteran historians of Viet Nam,” Ha said, bursting with joy at just being a member of the club. “We are also glad that we’ve improved our knowledge of foreign languages through cultural exchange activities with volunteers and foreign visitors coming to the museum.”

The members of the group are also trained with soft skills including presentation, leadership, organisation and working in groups, which Ha believes are vital skills in this modern life.

Le Thi Vu Hau, third-year student of the Foreign Trade University, also expressed delight at being able to increase her history knowledge after joining the club.

“I am particularly more confident in communicating with foreign friends,” she said. “I think the preservation and development of a country’s culture is very important. Viet Nam has its own cultural traits and I want to present this culture to foreign friends. In the future, if I’m ever lucky enough to study abroad, I’ll be eager to present the country’s history to my foreign friends”.

Ha and Hau have also made new good friends through their volunteering activities.

“I am happy to make friends with many nice and talented friends from whom I’ve learnt about precious life experiences,” Ha said, looking to building a network that connects volunteers of the country’s museums which she hopes will be able to attract young people to the museum.

So far in Ha Noi, only the National Museum of History and the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology have set up a volunteer members’ club.

Dr Vu Manh Ha, deputy director of the museum, said the objective of the club was to connect the museum to the public, in particular to young people. To Thi Thuy Lam, deputy head of the communications section of the museum and president of the Volunteers’ club, added that the museum had set up a club for students who love history, which would provide history lessons for students in primary and high schools, in a further bid to bring history closer to the young public.

Viet Nam’s young people have often been reproached for being indifferent to the country’s history. But Ha sees it a different way.

“Museums will surely attract us if interesting activities are held there,” Ha explains.

She mentioned the Japanese doll exhibition held recently at the Women’s Museum which attracted many young people.

Ha and other members of the club hope that local museums will think of making themselves more attractive to the public in general by organising more diverse and interesting events. — VNS

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