By Paula Schlueter Ross
If all goes according to plan, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod will open its third Asian international school — in Hanoi, Vietnam — in fall 2011. The other two schools are in Hong Kong and Shanghai, China.
Concordia International School Hanoi (CISH) received a green light from the Vietnam government last month. But the school’s planners are still negotiating for rental property — ideally, some 27,000 square feet of available office space that could be converted into classrooms. At one potential site, the school would use the first two or three stories of a 12-story building.
The school also is searching for 12 to 15 acres of land in the northwest quadrant of Hanoi on which to build, and may purchase that land as early as next year.
Like its predecessors — Hong Kong International School and Concordia International School Shanghai — CISH will offer a “high-quality American-style education in a caring learning community,” according to Headmaster Steven Winkelman.
The first year it will enroll students up through seventh grade, with additional grades to be added through Grade 12. The new school will likely operate in rented facilities for the first two or three years, while a new school is being built on purchased land.
Winkelman told Reporter he’s “excited” to take part in the development of “another opportunity to strengthen, care for and educate the children entrusted to us.”
The school will admit students with foreign passports — mostly expatriates whose families are based in Hanoi. Vietnamese children who possess multiple passports also may be admitted to CISH, Winkelman added. And, if the country’s government later decides to allow all Vietnamese to attend the international schools, “Concordia will request the opportunity to enroll them,” he said.
“In Hanoi, the expatriate population consists of over 20 different nationalities,” he said, with citizens from the United States, Australia, Canada and Great Britain making up the largest percentage of native English speakers. The largest foreign populations come from Japan and South Korea.
Foreign investments and companies that establish factories and offices in Vietnam contribute to the country’s development, noted Winkelman, and right now “the expatriate populations of Hanoi have very few choices for international education.”
The new school, he said, “will meet the ever-growing demand of expatriate families for high-quality education.”
Dr. David Birner, associate executive director for international mission with LCMS World Mission, said, “In the future, the school will reach more than 850 students and their families with the same solid Lutheran education that has shaped the LCMS for generations.”
Fan into Flame, the campaign to support Ablaze!-related ministries worldwide, already has provided some $443,000 to CISH. Those contributions have been used to pay pre-operating expenses including Winkelman’s salary, the establishment of an office, with staff, in Hanoi, feasibility studies, and fees for consultants, attorneys, accountants and other experts over the past four years.
At least $900,000 in Fan into Flame funds have been earmarked for the school, according to LCMS World Mission.
Posted Sept. 1, 2010