Miracles Of The Heart

Dear TAS teachers and students,

The Heartbeat Vietnam team of VinaCapital Foundation would like to thank you once again for your generous donation. The donation of your fundraising week in November 2017 has helped to change the lives of 8 families.

Following your donation, 8 children in the South and Central of Vietnam have been arranged to have surgery; some have recovered well, some are going to have surgery soon. Their families may have never been able to afford these much-needed heart surgeries that you have provided.

Growing up, these 8 children have faced extreme hardships due to their heart defects. Their health problems have resulted in some not even able to continue going to school because of difficulties in their daily activities. Their health problems have also caused further financial stress to their families’, who are already struggling to afford for daily expenses. You have made a difference in all of their lives. Now, 8 children will be strong enough to go to school, eat dinner with their family, play with their friends and dream of a bright future, just like all children deserve. Now, 8 parents will no longer feel afraid for their child’s health, anxious about the future, or guilty for not being able to afford surgery. You are the one who made all of this possible.

The Heartbeat Vietnam team of the VinaCapital Foundation are very grateful for your kindness and your dedication to save the children with congenital heart defects (CHD). Your trust and the opportunity you gave us are what motivate us even more on this endless journey to help the impoverished children.

With sincere appreciation, The Heartbeat Vietnam team

Stories of 4 children who have surgery in Ho Chi Minh City


  • Birth year: 21 May 2013
  • Province: Binh Thuan
  • Diagnosis: Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Hospital: Tam Duc
  • Estimated surgery cost: 3,996 USD
  • Admission date: 28 March 2018
  • Surgery date: 4 April 2018
  • Discharge date: not yet

An Thy is the youngest of three daughters in this poor family living in Tanh Linh District, one of poorest districts of Binh Thuan province. She is in kindergarten and her two siblings are also in school. An Thy was born with Tetralogy of Fallot which can be treated surgically. She constantly feels sick and tired because of her heart defect and the impact it has on her life is debilitating. Someone was born with this defect may required one or two surgeries depending on the defect’s status and the child’s health situation. An Thy was indicated to have two, one would provided temporary improvement by a shunt and the second surgery would come later when she got ready. In 2015, she was sponsored by Heartbeat Vietnam to have the first shunt operation. After 3 years following up, she now requires a complete repair operation. Her father is a electrical repairer however his income is unreliable. He and his wife run a shop selling electrical equipment and reparing if required in a small place at the local market. They had to get a loan of bank about 4000 USD to invest to this shop in hopes of getting their living life better and get enough money to take care of their children. In fact that they couldn’t open the shop often because of having to take their little daughter to hospital frequently. These things make their life extremely difficult and have no way of meeting the surgery cost.


  • Birth year: 22 December 2002
  • Province: Vinh Long Diagnosis: Tetralogy of Fallot Hospital: Tam Duc
  • Estimated surgery cost: 2,917 USD
  • Admission date: 28 March 2018
  • Surgery date: 5 April 2018
  • Discharge date: not yet

Bao is the first child in his family living in Mekong Delta. When he was 2 months old, he was diagnosed with severe congenital heart defect. It has been long time to live with this serious defect made his heart’s health worsen. He desperately needs an open heart surgery but his family has no hope of meeting the steep costs of the procedure. His father is a worker and his mother stays at home to take care of housework. All the family’s expenses are depending on the father’s meager income. Bao is grade 10 student. Because of serious defects, he is too weak to participate in any kind of activities and cannot concentrate on studying as well. With the help of generous donor, Bao could go through the operation and enjoy his student life with his friend and live a happy life with his family.


  • Birth year: 7 November 2015
  • Province: Lam Dong
  • Diagnosis: Apso type I, II, sent Patent Ductus Arteriosus
  • Hospital: Tam Duc
  • Estimated surgery cost: 7,488 USD
  • Admission date: 6 April 2018
  • Surgery date: not yet
  • Discharge date: not yet

Quyen’s family is a member of Muong ethnic minority living in Lam Dong Province. Quyen has two elder sisters who are attending school. He was born with complex heart defect that affects his entire life. He easily gets tired and has cyanosis symptom. Quyen’s father works as a hired laborer who is willing to take any jobs to earn living and support the whole family. His family is living his aging paternal grandmother who cannot work anymore. Since Quyen was found with heart problems at four months old, his mom has had to quit her job as a hired laborer to take care of him. All burden of financial issues are on his father’s shoulders. No matter how hardworking he is, the income is always low and unstable. According to the cardiologist, Quyen needs to be operated as soon as possible, unless he will die soon. Although his parents love him so much and are aware of his poor health, they cannot figure out the way of affording the cost of the procedure.


  • Birth year: 22 July 2016
  • Province: Lam Dong Diagnosis: Tetralogy of Fallot Hospital: Tam Duc
  • Estimated surgery cost: 2,917 USD
  • Admission date: 4 April 2018
  • Surgery date: not yet
  • Discharge date: not yet

Duy is the youngest child of his parents. When he was 5 months old, he was detected with severe congenital heart defect and had been hospitalized many times for treatment. Both his parents are office workers whose income are only enough to cover their daily needs and their child’s medical treatments. Duy was indicated to have a complete heart surgery which enable him to have a normal life like his sibling. He loves playing around and running as a normal child. His life has been threatening without surgery but his parents don’t have means to afford the surgery cost.

Three TAS Students Selected as the Top 42 Basketball Players in the Southern Region of Vietnam in the Junior NBA

Three of our Grade 8 students excelled in basketball last Saturday, April 13. They competed with 1600 Under 14 year-old students in the Southern Vietnam Region. Our three TAS Students showed their talents and skills in basketball and as a result were chosen for the group of Top 100 Players in Vietnam.

The following day, they were further selected for the Top 42 Players in the Junior NBA. Next June 2018, they will be attending a camp with 84 other U14 Basketball Players from the Middle and Northern Regions of Vietnam for four days. They will have the opportunity to continue competing to reach the Top 16 Basketball Players in Vietnam – Jr. NBA. If they make it, they will win a free trip to China to watch a real NBA Game in person!

Join us to congratulate:

  • Jenny Lieu
  • Khang Nguyen
  • Lan Lam

Please click on the link below to read more about this exciting event:


TAS – Week Without Wall 2018

The American School hosted Week Without Walls from Mar 26th to Mar 30th, 2018 for all Middle and High School students. The purpose of this program is to promote team building, heighten awareness of community and environment and provide students with an array of experiences to help them learn and grow. It also inspired students to give back and make meaningful connections outside of school and provided an opportunity for unique and diverse experiences.

In one week, our students traveled to Thailand, Nepal, Hanoi, Phu Quoc and Singapore to learn and provide community service. Students who stayed in Ho Chi Minh City spent each day participating in a different meaningful activity. Students volunteered at Smile Restaurant (a meal service for low income residents), painted a mural for the new campus, built a new garden for the ECC, visited orphanages, spent time with elderly people and more.

We are extremely proud of TAS students who worked extra hard to help build a house for an impoverished family in Dong Thap. Thanks to Habitat for Humanity Vietnam for making it all possible.

Week Without Walls was a huge success! Thank you to our teachers, support staff and students for all of their hard work this week.

The American School – Service in Action

By Ms. Karen Jacobi – College & Guidance Counselor

Community service is an important aspect of the learning community at The American School of Vietnam. By working together with charities and community organizations, students expand their view of themselves and the world while making a positive impact in the lives of others.

Danny Tran is a 2018 graduate and an outstanding example of selfless giving. Danny took over the responsibilities of leading the campus chapter of Walking Hope this past year. Walking Hope was started in 2012 by Yen Khe Nguyen, a 2017 TAS graduate. The focus of the organization is to give hope to mentally and physically disabled individuals in Ho Chi Minh City, many of whom are confined to beds or wheelchairs.

Student volunteers give up their time on Saturday mornings to visit the Go Vap and Thien Phuoc Orphanages where they bring brighten the lives of children whose contact with the outside world is limited. On a typical Saturday, Danny and other volunteers play with, talk to and feed the children. Danny says that he has come to know and appreciate these children but at first it was a little scary to interact with them because they live under such difficult and different circumstances. Danny has been at this so long that now the biggest obstacle is getting up on a Saturday morning. He says that working with the children makes him appreciate all of the advantages that he has and helps him realize the importance of giving. Danny says of his experience, “In a society, there are many types of people, but at the core we are all the same in our humanity”.

Many of the active members of Walking Hope are also graduating this year. Danny is almost always accompanied on Saturdays by seniors Flora Ha, Nicky Pham, Kelly Kang and Andara Tran. New student leaders who are willing to give up their free time on the weekend will be needed to keep the group going strong on our campus next year.

This August, Danny will be attending Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He chose Baylor in part because of the emphasis that the university places on community service. Danny will be able to continue his service to others in the United States and will represent Vietnam well. Here at TAS, we are all very proud of Danny who will be spreading love and goodwill halfway around the globe.

Spring at TAS: From the University Counselor’s Desk

By Ms. Karen Jacobi – College & Guidance Counselor

Karen Jacobi

Spring is an exciting time for graduating seniors and their parents as they prepare for the future. As the College and University Guidance Counselor at The American School, it is also an exciting time for me because I’ve been along on the journey to help them find the right school. Because this is a process, it is important that students begin the journey in grade 10 or 11. It can feel like a long road, sometimes with detours and an occasional road block. Careful planning is important because these decisions can affect the rest of their lives.

Most TAS students apply to colleges and universities in the US and Canada. A handful of students apply to Australian universities. There are many things to consider and I use a questionnaire to help students determine what is most important. The questions that they rank in order of importance are:

_____ Region (Where in the world do I want to be?) __________________________________

_____ Major (Area of study) ______________________________________________________

_____ Big City – urban

_____ College Town – cozy

_____ Finances and Scholarships

_____ Size (smaller schools give more personal attention; large schools may offer more options)

_____ Diversity (are there many types of students from a range of backgrounds?)

_____ Culture (this relates to issues of religion, politics – liberal or conservative)

_____ Sports ________________________________ Play or just a sports fan?

_____ Live on Campus

An excellent website to help students discover college majors, career options and university programs is https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/ .

Once students have an idea of what and where to study, it’s time to think about the admission requirements. Each school has their own requirements, but testing is usually a part of the application. SAT or ACT exams are designed to measure student skills and readiness for college level work. There are many “test optional” schools that do not require the SAT or ACT; however, merit scholarships are strongly influenced by these test scores. Because of the financial gain associated with these tests, it is a good idea for students to take their first SAT exam in the spring of their junior year. Many students opt to take the exam more than once in order to improve their score and increase scholarship opportunities. As of March 22, 2018, the merit scholarships awarded to the 20 members of the TAS 2018 graduating class is close to 1,000,000. USD.

Students will also need to take an English proficiency exam for admission to overseas universities. The IELTS, TOEFL and Pearson Test of English or PTE are the most widely recognized. Once again, individual schools have their own requirements.

Test scores are an important component in college admissions, but scores are just one piece of the puzzle. Written essays and life experiences give admissions counselors a better idea of who you are and what kind of college student you will be. Get involved in school activities such as sports teams, drama productions, academic and artistic competitions – whatever suits your interests. Look for volunteer opportunities so that you grow through the experience of making a positive difference in the lives of others. It is recommended that students create a resume, or summary, of their academic and volunteer accomplishments from grade 9 – 12. A resume will also help teachers and counselors to write a better letter of recommendation for you. A college essay and recommendation letters are usually part of the application. Tips on writing essays:

· Don’t simply repeat the accomplishments on your resume. Admissions counselors already have that information.

· Carefully read the prompt and answer in your own voice.

· Be specific. Focus on one event, person or activity and explain what it means to you. Take your time, you can learn a lot about yourself in the process.

· Proofread, proofread and proofread again. Ask a teacher or counselor for feedback.

Once students have completed the application process, decided on a college or university and accepted an offer, it is time to begin the visa application process. An acceptance letter from the college or university will be the first step in obtaining a student visa. Next, you will apply online or in person at the consulate, pay the service fee and collect all necessary documents including bank statements and school transcripts. Scheduling an interview is the final step. Interviewers will want to know that you are a serious student, have the necessary English skills to be successful and that, at the end of your visa period, you plan to return to your home country. Consulate representatives want you to study in their country; remember, they are not there to turn you away but to accept you. If you are nervous about the interview process, practice with a teacher, friend or counselor.

Counseling students on each step of the way toward reaching their goals is rewarding and getting to know students and their future ambitions is the most enjoyable part of my job.

Loserville – School Musical

It’s 1971. Michael Dork may be a computer geek but he’s about to invent something that could change the world. He’s also discovered girls: a prospect (almost) as exciting as his love of binary, if only he had the courage to talk to her.

Perhaps things haven’t changed that much after all!

Holly is the girl: she has brains and looks and is determined to be the first woman in space but will she want Michael?

Michael and his sci-fi obsessed, social-misfit friends, Lucas, Francis, and Marvin are all set to change the course of history, fashion and dating – in no particular order, but just as soon as possible, especially the dating bit.

Eddie wants a fast ride to the top and doesn’t care who gets trampled along the way. Leia just wants Eddie. Or Eddie’s babies – well, she thinks she does.

Loserville, the smash-hit, musical from London’s West End, takes geek to a whole new rock-pop level. Nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2013 and many more accolades, Loserville is based on the groundbreaking album, “Welcome to Loserville,” from the band, Son of Dork.

2018 WASC Mid-Cycle Visit

The American School proudly hosted a two-member Visiting Committee appointed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) for a three-day Mid-Cycle site visit from March 11- March 13, 2018. Mr Robert Hulbert, retired high school principal from Woodland, California, and Mr. Gene Cheh, Associate Principal at Hong Kong International School, visited TAS to evaluate school governance, curriculum, teaching and learning, student support services, and overall campus facilities. The team visited each teacher’s classroom and spoke with student and parent representatives in order to gain a full understanding of the academic and co-curricular programs on offer. On the final day of the visit, the WASC-appointed team presented its findings to the entire TAS learning community, highlighting commendations in areas of strength as well as recommendations for future growth. Overall, the site visit was hailed as a success. The WASC Accrediting Commission for Schools will act on the on the report from the Visiting Committee during the annual spring meeting on April 30-May 1, 2018.

TAS is a WASC-Accredited School, pre-kindergarten through grade 12, valid through June 30, 2021.

Tet Fair 2018

The American School (TAS) hosted our annual Tet Fair on Friday, February 2, 2018 from 3:00PM – 7:00PM on the middle high school campus. In a perfect mix of modern traditions, the TAS Tet Fair’s purpose was to celebrate the most important holiday in Vietnam and to maintain its Vietnamese cultural and heritage ties. This fair was opened to all parents, children and community members, and features an exciting schedule of entertainment and activities for children of all ages.

Throughout the fair were activities booths featuring traditional to he (dough figurines), xep la dua (coconut leaf folding), fishing pool, bamboo dancing and a monkey bridge balancing game. There was also statue painting, sand art, clay crafts and calligraphy. The focus of the event was the talent show and a fashion parade by MSHS students. Every guest had a chance to win a lucky yellow apricot blossom as well as other their TAS prizes!

This was a wonderful opportunity for families and children to participate in some of the most authentic Vietnamese cultural events in a safe and fun environment right in District 2!

World Read Aloud Day 2018

We celebrated World Read Aloud Day on Feb.1 with millions of children in over 100 countries.

TAS Reading Buddies from our High School and Middle School visited TAS Early Childhood and Elementary Classrooms.

Mystery Readers surprised students with their favorite read-aloud books.

It was a fun-filled day full sharing fantastic books! #WorldReadAloudDay

Social-Emotional Counseling: A Greater Need within the School

Written by: Ms. Ly Nguyen

K-12 School Counsellor

The American School

“Why counseling?” – An honest question that is raised by the curiosity of many whenever I disclose my professional background. Growing up as a Vietnamese American, the concept of choosing a career path that one is intrigued and passionate about is rather foreign. It’s been engrained in the Vietnamese and other Asian cultures for children to follow their parents’ footsteps or endeavor to become successful by adhering to well-recognized jobs that often relate to the business world or medical field. However, my experience of “success” takes place in the school where I become the emotional support and voice of guidance for students as they make their daily choices or long-term decisions that can influence their future.

Throughout my work experience with counseling students from different ages and cultural backgrounds, I’ve found that most of them have dreams and ambitions at a very young age but as they grow older and enter into middle or high school, their motivation to succeed starts to crumble as they encounter certain obstacles. May it be family expectations, tragic accidents, peer conflicts, or competitive academic standards that often result in high stress levels, students struggle to find a healthy balance between enjoying their classes and dreading school. On top of that, fear of failure or fear of being a disappointment can clog their vision of what a successful future may look like. When confronted with internal and external pressures, many of these students can start retracting from their parents and even their teachers, leaving many caring adults perplexed.

When nothing seems to retain students attention in class (even academic counseling and extra tutoring), social-emotional counseling is needed to help re-engage students in their schooling. Students whose mental, social, and emotional states are suffering will most likely struggle academically because these fundamental areas are interconnected. For example, when students have a physical illness, it is absolutely normal for them to go see a school nurse or take time off from school to recover. It would be unrealistic to expect those students to participate in class as though they are well. The same concept applies to a students’ mental and emotional health. If their personal problems go untreated, the symptoms will become evident in their academic performance. Unfortunately, it is unlikely for some students and parents to voluntarily seek counseling for help due to possible stigmas or misconceptions of what the process involves.

The American Counseling Association defines counseling as “a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”  It is a collaborative and transformative process where the counselors assist their clients make necessary changes in how they think, feel, and make decisions (Austin, 2017). One of the many false beliefs about counseling is that it is needed for “extreme” cases only, when in reality counseling is for anyone with mild to moderate problems. Some of the many life issues that counseling addresses can range from depression, self-esteem, adjustment problems (e.g. adjusting to a new school or college life), anxiety, to anger management, stress management, and relationship conflicts. The ultimate goal of social-emotional counseling is to help students from all ages obtain wholeness in many areas of their life by enhancing their ability to cope in a positive manner.

When students’ emotional needs or stress-inducing situations are being dismissed, manageable issues can escalate to problems out of their control leaving students to have anger outbursts, panic attacks, or potentially suicidal thoughts. It has been reported in an articled called “Students Under Pressure” that students who struggle are more likely to give up or drop out of college. Data showed that 48.6% of students who sought counseling in colleges and universities were mental health-related concerns (Novotney, 2014). This percentage reiterates the high need for non-academic counseling support within an educational environment. But why wait for students to enter into college to receive this valuable service? When social-emotional counseling is embedded in the K-12 education system, students can be better equipped in handling difficulties that may arise any given time and any given situation.

With both academic and social-emotional counseling available at The American School, parents and students can receive an in-depth and more holistic support. The benefit of receiving counseling on school campus is that students personal and urgent needs can be identified immediately. Students’ who feel emotionally, socially, intellectually, and mentally supported will find more motivation to excel academically. In return, parents, teachers, principals, and school counselors can witness the students’ personal growth and their academic endeavors drawing them closer to their future goals.