Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New adventures

A lot has been happening this week and I've been kept rather busy. I've started observing classes here at KGCC and I must say the differences between students here and students in the United States are rather striking. In addition I've started teaching at one of the local high schools and have interacted rather extensively with those students. When I enter the room (in both the high school and KGCC) students rise and don't sit until I tell them to. In addition, whenever I see students in the hallways they always stop and do a slight bow. While a bit disconcerting at first now I fear I will expect this when I return (I'll try not to get too used to it). They say the more things change the more they stay the same. Students here can be seen laughing and giggling, playing on their cellphones, obsessed with someone's Facebook status and listening to popular music (one of the questions I've been asked is if I know Taylor Swift or Katy Perry). 

People have been friendly and extremely generous the entire time I've been here. Sandy Engel said I would be treated like a rock star and so far that has in fact been the case. I'm watched wherever I go, the braver souls jump at the opportunity to practice their English, the more timid ones stand in the background and try to absorb what I say. Whether in the grocery store, restaurants, or just out in public I draw attention. Not in a negative way mind you but as a sort of curiosity. I smile, wave, and use the Vietnamese I have learned. Children seem to be just as curious as the adults (a supply of Lifesavers candy seems to help) and tend to be braver in speaking--"hello. What's your name? How are you?"-are the things children shout at me wherever I go. 

No matter who, no matter what, no matter where I am greeted with a smile, a wave, or a slight head bow. Everyone, from the Rector to the youngest student seem to be doing their utmost to make me feel at home and to make me feel welcomed. Guess what? It's working. Despite the fact that I understand little (I'm starting to decipher a word here and there) and I feel lost a portion of the time, I feel very comfortable here. Vietnam is a beautiful country and the people are some of the friendliest I have ever met. 

One of the staff members asked me how I feel being in Vietnam for so long, away from my country and family--after thinking about it I told her "it feels right, it feels like I'm supposed to be here". So to those of you who are wondering, I will share the same comment--I'm well. It feels right to be here. 

One of the classes I've taught here

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