Willem: My shoes are made for walking

Willem These shoes project

Early 2015 in Hanoi, Vietnam I gave shoemaking classes, for almost three months, for the project ‘These shoes are made for walking”. Most of the time I gave practical lessons to the second group of students (cohort 2). They had just started for a few months with the training process and I was very surprised at what they had already learned in a short time.

I immediately noticed that I was dealing with an enthusiastic and inquisitive group of students. In the beginning we needed some time to adjust all of our different English dialects with each other, but that happened very quickly. The different cultures and climate made the classes also different from what I was used to. The use of different (work) materials also took me some time to get used to; not all materials that are available in the Netherlands are available here. All these differences however I did not see as something negative, but as a challenge.

In the three months that I worked for the project, we organized a week of classes on the fitting of inlays. We posted on Facebook to attract customers, so that the students could really practice with making orthotics for people with foot complaints. It had been a successful and instructive week.

Willem demonstrating shoemaking

Besides teaching, I also contributed to the development of the clinic. Now a year later I am back at the school where students are trained to become an orthopedic shoemaker. At first glance nothing has changed much, however that could not have been less true. The first cohort students are no longer students, but professionals in their own country or now they even teach at this school. Cohort 2 is not a beginner’s classes anymore, but they receive customers and make shoes like they have been doing this for years. There already has started a whole new group, from which we hopefully can expect a very bright future in the shoemaking.

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