Hi everyone! Time for an update. As most of you know, one of the main reasons I have undertaken this adventure is that I wanted to try my hand at teaching overseas. I am in Nha Trang through an organization called “Travel-to-Teach”. I paid for the organization to place me in a volunteer situation in Vietnam and they organized my stay here in Nha Trang. My accommodation is provided as are 2 half hour Vietnamese lessons per week.
The bar from the outside
The bar includes a restaurant, dance floor, pool table room, bar – of course, and two classrooms
Kim, the owner of Crazy Kim’s, is our host and she takes care of providing whatever we need in terms of living in the house or supplies for the classrooms. We 5 volunteers share a house about a 5 minute walk from the bar and classrooms.My experience with the “kids” has been wonderful so far. There have; however, only been a few young children attending the morning sessions. For the most part, the students are between 17 – 26 years old. Many of them attend local colleges, training schools or universities and want more exposure to English. The morning classes tend to be more local people – restaurant employees, one fellow from the local grocery store, high school students who attendschool only in the afternoon and others. There is one woman who is in her late 60s who owns a hotel in the area.
Generous and funny Kim took all the volunteers to her friend’s bar on the beach and we enjoyed an afternoon of lounging by the pool.
The group I work with in the mornings are beginners and just starting to feel comfortable speaking in English. They seem to be able to read some English, but getting them to talk is a good challenge. I’m spending a lot of planning time finding games or activities which encourage them to talk. For my one and a half hour lesson, I usually spend about 1 -2 hours preparing. We do not have a photocopier, so I run down to the photocopy shop at the end of the block to buy photocopies. We do have a printer on our computer, but it only prints one pg. at a time. We have 7 computers in the main floor classroom and just desks and a chalkboard upstairs in “my room”. In the evening, more advanced students come, so planning is much easier. They love to talk about controversial topics. What I would like to write about today is the generosity and joy our students bring with them. This week, one of the volunteers whose name is Mark, celebrated his birthday. The evening class planned the whole evening. They brought cake, presents, candles, balloons and games. Mark was welcomed into the classroom by a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” in English, followed by an equally rousing rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”!
A student made a lovely speech about Mark and then one other student sang a song for him – “I’m everything I am because you love me”. I was going to add a video clip of the student singing, but just downloading pictures takes about 10 minutes per picture, so you’ll have to see the video another time.
After cake, we all began playing games – not board or card games, just party games. Sort of like musical chairs, but loads of laughs. One game was a relay race. We had to hold a balloon between our knees, hop to one end of the classroom then sit on the balloon until it burst, before our team mate could begin hopping across the room with her/his balloon. Another involved holding a notebook between our knees and fanning out a lit candle using only our hip/knee action and the notebook. Great workout for my knee!
After about an hour of games, cake and singing we all headed down to the beach for more games in the sand. Tag, tug of war and many other games that involved no equipment – just lots of laughs and fun for all. There was not a hint of alcohol or any other supplement for the merriment and we finally packed it in and went for supper around 9:00 pm. Truly a memorable birthday celebration for Mark and all of us volunteers!The students are truly wonderful to work with. They arrive early so that they have a little extra one – one time with any of us who show up early for class. They are very appreciative and come day after day despite being in school or at work for much of the rest of their time. They are polite, kind and very appreciative of the extra help they are getting from the volunteers.
Fanning the candle using a notebook, your fanny, hips and knees!
In addition to the 5 regular volunteers I work with, we also have drop in volunteers who have learned about the bar through the Lonely Planet books or just word of mouth. Some stay just for one session and some come back for a few days at
a time. It is wonderful to be able to meet people from all over the world who are willing to share some of their vacation time as volunteers.
As you can tell, I am loving the teaching aspect of this adventure … what haven’t I loved? Just wish I could pack Larry, the kids and the rest of my family and friends in a little suitcase and have you all here too. “What a wonderful world it would be!”
The “party planner” and birthday cake provided by the students
Courtyard outside classroom
Signing Mark’s t-shirt in the courtyard which is at the back of the bar in front of the main floor classroom.