Vietnam-UK Friendship Association
Last Saturday, everyone from the English Department plus a bus-full of kids attended a meet-up with the Vietnam-UK Friendship Association at a local university.
We met a 7.30pm near the school bus. Lizzie and I had gone for food before hand and had seen the kids rehearsing as we went past the hall. Some kids were doing a dance which they have done so many times now that it’s almost down to perfection, one girl was talking about her experience at the school and then singing a song with the principle’s son. We waited for a while, for what I don’t know, but it gave the English department a chance to rehearse a song that we were going to sing on Monday (more on that later).
The bus ride over was noisy. They said it was close by (2km) but it took what felt like ages to get there, though in reality it was probably only 10-15 minutes.
When we got there it had already started. It was outdoors, on a stage in a courtyard of the university. From where we came in, it looked like it was all going to be standing, but actually there were a few benches with tables in front of the crowd. We squeezed out way in, and sat down. Then we had to move seats again. We’d have probably got to the right seats straight away if we hadn’t been late.
The first 20 minutes/ half an hour was mind numbingly boring. It was this woman doctor telling us about the countries she had visited that she spoke English in. Half of them weren’t actually English speaking countries, like Finland and China. She showed us pictures of her in different places, one of New York. “Look, you can see the Twin Towers, but they can’t be there anymore” she told us. She also told us something like “They are going to make a new building there” – they already did, I was in NYC in March this year. She wanted people to go up and ask questions. I was sat next to the principle, with some kids next to me, and Lizzie and out new Maths teacher in front. The principle wanted me to go up! I was like “No, but we can get some of the kids to go?” So I told them what to ask and eventually two of them went up. They asked her “If you could visit another English speaking country where would you go and why?” which completely stumped her. She said Oceania, because they have good universities… as if it’s just one country! and “Have you got any advice for us to improve our English?” to which she said that their English was very good (the new maths teacher shouted “Thank-you!!!” to that… he didn’t even know the names of the kids) and that with years of practise it will be even better. Apparently she had only started to learn English when she graduated. I think everyone was glad when she was finally finished.
There was another guy only up for a few minutes straight after her, he was talking about he had only been learning English for a year, though it was really good. He said he didn’t use books and only used the internet because then it’s free. He also said that if you can’t speaking English then you don’t have a place to integrate into the world today. I think that’s pretty out of order myself, but each to their own and all of that.
Finally all of these talking and questions were finished and the better part began.
The girl from grade six spoke to everyone about her experience at our school as a new student this year. The ‘presenter’ of the whole thing then said that our kid was going to sing with her teacher (the principle’s son). The principle’s son isn’t actually a teacher in school and only is only in the country for a few weeks every few months, so that was a bit unfair on the guy who actually teaches her.
The song was really quite good but there was a lot of laa laa laa oooh oooh oooh in it which got a bit boring towards the end. There were some university students singing along though which was quite nice for her.
The kids from school then performed their dance which I have seen so many times now I’m losing count. Anyway, it went down really well. The audience loved it and really responded well.
The end of this event drew out but it stopped before it became really boring. There were lots of other dance groups and singing etc from various English centres, student groups and other schools too I think. Some were boring, some were good.
I think the best part of the evening was having one of my favourite grade ones sitting beside me/ on my knee playing games on my phone. That was better than anything I saw on the stage.
Ring the golden bell
On Sunday morning we met outside on one of the tables in the centre of school. When I say we, I mean the English dept. That’s the usual we that I refer to. We were practising a song for the following day, when the school was holding a game show for the children in the hall. They usually have some kind of scouts or assembly on Monday morning which I have never been to before because it’s not necessary and it’s all in Vietnamese, and it’s not on my timetable either.
The song we were rehearsing was Jason Mraz – I’m yours. It’s quite a nice song actually, and brings back memories of my time living in New Zealand. I didn’t really want to sing it though. Oh yes, not just sing with everyone, but I was given a solo. Why? Everyone here knows that I don’t like singing and that I can’t sing.
That was the morning, and the rest of the day I did next to nothing. I did however sing it over and over again in my room to make sure that it wasn’t glass-cracking awful.
The rules of the game show “Ring the golden bell” are quite simple. You can play with as many kids as you want I suppose, but the more the better. We played with 97 (the number of children in Primary and Secondary, if I understand correctly!) kids, sitting in rows. Each kid pulls a number out of a hat (other containers are available) and sits beside the number they pull. Each number on the floor has a blackboard, piece of chalk and a cloth. There are 30 questions, 15 in each round. Every question is multiple choice, some tricky, some easy. I especially like the What has two hands and no face question. It didn’t get as many kids out as I thought it might. Children are out when they get a question wrong. At the end of the first round, the last student left comes third overall (except there were two, so they used the third person left from the final round).
During the break a game was played on the stage. There was a basket of small plastic balls on the stage. All the primary teachers had to move all the balls from that basket to another basket at the other side of the stage, BUT they couldn’t use their hands. They had to carry the balls between their legs, under their arms, and tucked under their chin. Then the balls were counted out and Lizzie (who was the presenter/ MC person) had paper in her hand with some lucky numbers she said. She asked the principle to choose a lucky number, and the paper said “every student” so all the kids came back in to play. Before the game started again though… it was time for our song. Gulp.
To be honest I don’t remember. I think my body was in such shock or something, but the video is horrific and I am NOT putting it on here. Let’s just say that I sang too fast and the whole thing was completely out of time. Actually, it started fine. It just went wrong about half way through. You’re still not getting to hear it though.
The game continued after that. There were two questions in the second round that were still multiple choice, but a bit more interesting that just the question. Two of the staff from the English department did a roll play , which was about going to the airport and forgetting your passport (actually my worst nightmare) where the children had to answer a question, and the other was a song that they had to name a song. Two kids from grade 4 and 5 sang the song. It was good! They’re both good singers. The girl had sung “The sun’ll come out tomorrow” at the opening ceremony.
So the winners were the winners. They had third as who came third in the second half, etc. They got small gifts which I had wrapped the day before. Then we put on Just Dance videos from youtube and the kids had a boogie before going to lessons.