This morning I finally had my camera out of my bag for the ride to work! First, let me introduce Mr Cuong, my faithful xe-om driver.
and his big bike...
He speaks very little English, and doesn't understand me when I try to speak Vietnamese, but we get by. He picks me up every day and takes me to school. On the weekends we go back and forth... pick up at 7.10 am, bring home at 11.45am, then back again in the afternoon, depending on which classes I have...
Anyway, here we are at the front of the school - even though the name's changed officially, nothing's changed, so I'll keep referring to it as VATC...
And here's the reception area
and on the left is the students' computer room where they can do online work (although they usually look like they're playing games...)
And in the staff room...
this is my work station
and this is Ann at her desk
This is Gene, our new 'part-time' teacher, who is working full time hours on top of her regular job as a primary school teacher at the local International School. She's American and lives in Hai Phong with her daughter, Becki, who is also a teacher. With her is a new trainee Teacher's Aide, Harvey.
I worked for 26 days straight because since the three young Aussies did a runner, we've been critically understaffed. But today I have a day off!... A day to relax and catch up on my correspondence and my blog! I expect to keep on working very long hours till we get 3 more teachers... I hear there's one coming in June... I have at least 32 teaching hours a week, so add preparation time and I'm chalking up at least 50 hour weeks. Saturday is the killer... my last class on Friday night finishes at 9:30pm, then the first class on Saturday starts at 7.30am! I have 4 x 2hour classes - 2 with little children, 1 with teenagers and 1 adults... then I have to back up with 3 children's classes on Sunday, also beginning at 7:30am. I have no voice left by Sunday night.
My weekday routine is to wake up at about 8am, have breakfast and chat on Skype, check emails, and do whatever housework, shopping, washing etc needs to be done. I prepare the 2 lessons for that evening, and at least one for the weekend, then Mr Coung comes and takes me to school at about 3ish, where I print off lesson plans, do photocopying etc etc. I usually have some dinner at the school canteen. This is Bich, our canteen lady... The canteen is tucked in under the stair well, but there are extra tables and chairs outside in the playing area which I forgot to photograph... will do so eventually. This is her Kitchen. She keeps everything spotless:
She does a roaring trade serving snacks and dinner to the evening students who usually come straight from school or work.
bánh đa cua from the canteen
Now for my students. What can I say? They are simply delightful. The adults in particular have a wonderful sense of humour and are a pleasure to teach. The kids are like kids everywhere... some are angels, some are very naughty, but we have a lot of fun and many are learning quickly. Let me introduce you to a few:
L to R here's Flower, Apolo, Tom, Livi (in the red shirt), Antony, me, Sea, John and Dote.... from class 2E2oB
These are some of the kids from S1A2a - front row: Tom, Kevin, Jenny and Lisa; back row: Batman, Kaka, Tiger (being silly) and Lily... gorgeous kids.
And these are some of the babies... on their second morning.
John, Tim, Penny, Tommy and Benny
Liitle Mary (one of the teary ones), Tom, Sam and Tony (who has an incredibly musical ear... he sang all the songs perfectly as soon as he heard them, and parrots back everything I say with no trace of an accent! Now say, good morning Tony... very good boy!
This was my first tiny tots class of brand new kids... only 3-4 years old and pretty teary at the start, wanting their parents... but I had already prayed that God's peace and love would shine through me, and He came through so beautifully. By the end of the class Mary, one of the littlest, who had been crying at the start called me Grandma in Vietnamese :) There were none of the dramas and hysterics I had been warned about. The littlest boy (who looks like he might be only 2), was desperately clinging to his Mum and the start he was terrified of me, the big foreigner. But with God's grace, he settled right down and joined in and as he walked out the door, he said in a confident, loud voice Hello, I'm Superman! ... that's his English nickname... and that was the goal of this class - for them all to be able to introduce themselves with their new name ( which they were given the morning before.....) huge effort! They joined in the singing, and the games, and laughed when I was silly, and coloured in beautifully... just a model class! And in the staff room they said wasn't I lucky to get such a class.... lucky? no way... God was there with me... as he is in every class. No wonder I'm enjoying the teaching so much.
These are some of the bold little boys who cheekily invade the staffroom on Saturday morning
And these two beautiful girls are in one of my classes
Rachel and Tia
So there you are. That is where I teach...