Opening Speech at Matteo Bertero School

Elena Bernini and Van Luong Mura at the opening of the Matteo Bertero English Centre, Kinh Mon Village, Vietnam, December 23, 2017.

Speech Given By Elena Bernini at the opening of Matteo Bertero English Centre, in Kinh Mon, Vietnam, on December 23, 2017.

Thank you everyone for coming here on this very special day. I see students, local authorities and families of Kinh Mon all gathered together. Thank you.

Thank you especially to the Founder and Principal of Kinh Mon School, Van Luong Mura, and our first volunteer, William Coleman. Our volunteer staff at the Matteo Bertero English Centre: Miss Hang, Miss Ngop, Mr. Hong, have breathed life into the school. The students and teachers have themselves helped us, including Miss Hong and Miss Dinh. Also, thank you to the farmers and workers of Kinh Mon Village, who have volunteered their time to plant flowers and trees, remove heavy stones from the garden, and put in new floors and paint the classroom walls. A very big thank you goes to Mr. Nghia for helping every day.

Without the support of each of you, this great endeavor would not have succeeded. The endeavor is about you, and succeeds through your great efforts.

As the first education project of Oxford Omnia, a non-profit organization with the mission to support a community-based approach to advance human dignity, international development, food security, and environmental sustainability, we support the MB English Centre. MB  English Centre was  founded  in honour of Matteo Bertero, a young and brilliant student who died at a very young age in 2014 and who was one of my best friends. We also want to thank Matteo’s parents for their support in naming the school.

Matteo, and all of you, are people who both dare to take risks and do the right thing, and care for the community around you. “Dare and Care” is the motto of the MB English Centre.

Students are encouraged to dare to take risks and make mistakes as an opportunity for learning and growth. Students express critical thinking, ask the tough questions on why this is so, how it can improve, and what is the right thing to do. We encourage strong attention to creativity, which ultimately will stimulate insights and leadership.

Students are educated to care for the local community, but also to see the interconnections of local challenges with global issues, such as climate change, food security, human dignity, and locally-innovated civil society solutions around the world.

Lu Mura and I were born here in Kinh Mon village and were raised in Italy. We came here to give back to our community. We want to thank both our Kinh Mon and Italian families. They have all been so helpful and supportive.

It is incredible what the community has achieved in only three months. Words can’t express how much I am thankful to each of you.

Last, I would like to reiterate our thanks to Lu Mura.  Without his efforts and initial idea, this centre would not be open.  He will be an incredible Director of MB English Centre and will work towards our goal of providing accessible English classes for everyone here in Kinh Mon, regardless of their economic status or position in society.

He is such a modest man that he did not want to give a speech. But can we please give him a big round of applause and ask him to the stage.