The Social Policy Ecology Research Institute (SPERI) is a Vietnamese organisation set up in partnership with PRI Australia, working towards a society where ethnic minority and indigenous people of the Mekong region have equal access to social justice, gender equality, natural resources, and fair social economic systems.
SPERI has a number of Farmer Field Schools (FFS) in operation around the Mekong Region, with more on the way. Their mission is to promote a sustainable and harmonious relationship between people and natural ecosystems through the facilitation of permaculture principles, and the empowerment of traditional beliefs, knowledge and environmental management techniques. SPERI is currently in search of two English as a second language (ESL) teachers with a background in Permaculture to work at Human Ecology Practice Area (HEPA), and FFS Simacai.
Traditional accommodation at HEPA
Simacai school buildings
HEPA’s 420 hectares are located in the beautiful hinterland rainforest and river systems of Huong Son district, North Central Vietnam. It functions as the FFS Regional Centre where ethnic minority and indigenous young people from various parts of the Mekong (presently Vietnam and Laos) come to live, share and apply their traditional beliefs, knowledge and techniques within a permaculture framework. Staff and students work together and practice sustainable community based living in a student-centred, democratic environment.
Founded in 2005, FFS Simacai occupies 9 hectares in the mountainous district of Simacai, Lao Cai province, North West Vietnam, bordering with China. This area is occupied predominantly by Hmong ethnic people and is rich in traditional culture and history. SPERI has recognised the need to find sustainable solutions to the overuse of natural resources in Simacai. This overuse has lead to serious soil erosion and water shortages that not only impacts the district, but also other lowland areas of the region. Ethnic minority students and staff come from different areas of Lao Cai to learn, share and teach traditional knowledge and techniques of sustainable resource management and permaculture. They have begun the reversal process of the damaged environment, with results already beginning to show.
Simacai terrace garden
In addition to studying and practicing permaculture, an important part of the FFS curriculum at HEPA and Simacai, is learning English, for a number of reasons:
- It is a common, cross-cultural language to communicate within the regional farmers network
- It allows for networking, communication and sharing with the global community, bringing awareness and support to the cause of their people
- It opens possibilities for foreign permaculture visitors and volunteers to exchange with students and communities at the village level
- It broadens the students access to information and allows for research and sharing of innovative ecological solutions
- It builds the respect of students on returning to the village and respect for their practice.
SPERI is looking for an experienced Permaculture ESL teacher for both the HEPA and Simacai projects. They will work with students and staff, building their ability to communicate in English, and providing them with a foundation for further self-study. The two successful applicants will also network together, developing an innovative English curriculum that reflects the activities and beliefs of the students and FFS network. In addition, they will also have the opportunity to run workshops, and conduct permaculture research projects. Topics of particular interest are soil building, animal raising, natural resource management, integrated design and mixed gardens, to name but a few.
SPERI offers the successful applicants a local wage with all onsite accommodation, meals, and work related expenses provided. A minimum of six months is required.
This really is the opportunity of a lifetime to live, share and learn from some of the traditional cultures of the Mekong Region. If you are interested in joining the HEPA and FFS Simacai communities, please contact us on volunteer (at) speri.org
Applicants should attach their resume with introductory cover letter.
River that runs along HEPA property – great swimming!