Culture Culture

06/09/2019 - 10:26

"There is no path to happiness, but happiness is the very path"

Professor Ha Vinh Tho, Director of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness (GNH) - a pioneer country in making happiness the ultimate goal of each individual and the whole nation.

Back to Hue this time, Professor had a talk with Thua Thien Hue Newspaper’s correspondent about the story of happiness and the Happy School in Hue. Professor Ha Vinh Tho said,

Professor Ha Vinh Tho trained the teachers in emotional skills in Hue

The Happy School Project in Vietnam is built from UNESCO's Happy School model, the program of Social and Emotional Learning model application. Based on the greatest element of love, we aim to support the development of methods of practicing happiness skills for the education system from preschool level to adulthood.

What made you choose Hue to pilot the Happy School project?

More than 10 years ago, we established Tinh Truc Gia (Peaceful Bamboo Family) shelter (Hue City), which gave vocational training and support to hundreds of disabled people for their social integration. We not only sponsored but also created opportunities for them to develop their abilities and contribute to society.

After a successful implementation at Tinh Truc Gia, in April 2018, the Happy School Project was officially piloted at 6 schools from the primary to secondary education level in Hue.

Could you please tell me the project scale?

This is the second year we continue to sponsor the Happy School in Hue with nearly VND 5 billion in 3 years (2019 - 2021). 120 teachers at 9 schools will study the programs of this project.

In the long term, the project will not only be restricted to the city but also spread throughout the province. From the initial experience, the project will be continuously adjusted in the next 3 years so that subsequently, the Happy School program will be brought to completion. Currently, this program is officially approved by the Ministry of Education and Training and will become a nationally implemented program.

He joined in activities with the disabled children at Tinh Truc Gia (Peaceful Bamboo Family)

From Switzerland, back to Hue for direct training, could you assess the change in the learning environment at the schools in the project?

We have seen a dramatic change in the community. Teachers, schools and their families have changed a lot. We participated in quite a few activities at schools; each school has its own activities such as happy school club, building a happy path... By the feedback from the parents, their children have undergone positive changes after joining in the program at school.

I am very happy to see the first positive signals from the project. Science has proven that the presence of emotional education in schools increases academic achievement by 10-12%. That is the wonder that happiness and sharing can bring.

What is the operating mechanism of the happy school?

We begin training teachers to experience what will apply to students. They learn to meditate, learn to share and even to listen.

To have happiness, we need skills. Connect with yourself to understand yourself, connect with others to understand others and connect with Mother Nature to treasure and preserve the environment. These are the three keys to happiness.

As you mentioned, happiness is a skill, so can we learn how to live happily?

All right, everyone can be trained to be happy. Both archeology and modern science are similar in one point: to have happiness, people have to master their body and mind. Therefore, people have to master the external influences.

There are social and emotional skills that greatly affect happiness, and these skills can be fully trained, for example the skills of coping with emotions, of creating positive relations with people around. Altruistic empathy that connects people is also proven to be very important to have happiness.

In your opinion, to have happiness, which skills are important?

I think people have to revert to themselves, look inside themselves, and take time to listen to themselves. If you do not listen to yourself, no one in the world will agree to listen to you.

And if we can't connect with ourselves, we can't connect with people around. Connect with ourselves so that we can connect with others. Don’t sorrow. Likewise, empathy will make no sense if not given to others.

What is the determinant of the success of this project, sir?

In the face of the mounting school violence, building a happy school is sorely needed. However, to create an environment where students always feel like a family rests on the teacher’s positive attitude.

Nurturing positive emotions and handling children's strong emotions are the first skills to educate them. In order to spread those positive emotions, teachers must first always have positive emotions. In other words, he must be a happy teacher. The important thing is that the teacher dares to accept to change himself.

Thank you for this conversation

Story and photos: Hue Thu