Thursday was just a beautiful day all around.
It was Teacher’s Day here in Vietnam.
I experienced something of the same name while teaching in Thailand. It was an interesting kind of a day. There was an assembly, and a select number of students from each class got to go onto the stage and shuffle along the stage on their knees, bow to the director of the school (as if he were a God of some sort), present him with their crazy flower arrangement, and then that was it. Next class, next kids, next crazy flowers. It was fun, but nothing particularly special. All the teachers were given jasmine flowers bracelets. I can’t remember who gave me mine now, but it smelt gorgeous.
This time round it was completely different.
There had been a teaching competition the previous week. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. As we have established, I’m not the best teacher, and as time goes on I am more and more certain that (as much as I enjoy it) it’s not the career for me. I didn’t want the prize money, and there isn’t much point competing when you aren’t in with a chance of winning. We had to pick a class from a hat (cup, actually) that we would teach for the competition and of course I picked the class with the worst reputation that people don’t really like to teach. Two ticks for reasons I wasn’t going to win. I spent hours the day before hand researching the material I was going to be teaching since I didn’t understand it, I really didn’t want to look clueless. My class didn’t go BADLY I thought, though probably not great as I ran out of time for the content I was teaching. I would like feedback though, to see where I can improve.
On the Tuesday (before Teacher’s Day) I arrived in my evening class to find a huge bouquet of flowers. I could have cried! They were absolutely stunning. One kid (Tom) said “From me, Teacher”. I asked why, which he thought was hilarious, and he reminded me that it was Teacher’s Day on the Thursday, so there weren’t any evening classes (which, I knew, I had just briefly forgotten in the face of beautiful flowers!).
On Wednesday we had an English dept. meeting where it was announced that Lizzie had won the teaching competition. Well done Lizzie. I wasn’t expecting to hear my name, so I wasn’t at all disappointed, which, I suppose is a slight positive. Lizzie is very confident in her teaching abilities, quite rightly seeing as she won the prize!!
And then it was Thursday.
We had the day off. All lessons cancelled! A lie in at last!
Things started kicking off at 2pm, when there was a football match between the boys in the school (see what I did there?!) All the students gathered around the sides of the artificial grass pitch to cheer on the two teams. I ended up sitting with the grade ones, which is always lovely to begin with, as they are just the cutest little monkeys. However, if you happen to move away after sitting with the for a while they follow you like little lambs.
Luckily, we (the English dept) were having a last minute rehearsal to sing our song, again, so I managed to escape them after half an hour. I backed out of the duet and decided to just go with the solo… funny I know! It’s all because the duet had backing vocals singing different words, and I kept going too fast and messing up the timing, finishing my bit, before they did theirs. So now, I was only responsible for wrecking one bit of the song instead of two.
I wanted to do my hair nice, some down, some up. Unfortunately, that morning, I had run out of hot water while I still had conditioner in my hair, so it was horrible and greasy looking. We had time to get changed (I figured out something with my yucky hair) and get some photos together as an English department before heading down to the hall for the Teacher’s Day ceremony.
The first part wasn’t particularly gripping. The year six girl who has spoken at the UK-Vietnam Friendship thing read pretty much the same speech, with all the mistakes that myself and another teacher had tried to change. She then sang the same song with the principle’s son, with all the same ‘oooh oooh ohhhs’ and ‘laaa laaa laaas’ as last time.
There were then the presentations of the awards, to kids ranging from my two year olds to year six (age 11/12) which was nice. I don’t know what the awards were for as the whole thing was spoken in Vietnamese. Even though they call themselves an international and bilingual school, nobody except the people in the English dept. speak English, which makes it a bit difficult on occasions like these. Lizzie was awarded her award along with the teachers being awarded with the best in kindergarten and primary.
Following this were some performances from kids from throughout the school, not just the older kids, which was nice. There was a dance to a One Direction song from a group of year fives, one of my five year olds and a kindergarten teacher danced to a song which was sung by another kindergarten teacher. It was really sweet. A song was sung by a group of grade 2-4s which was good. There was also a song sung by some of the primary teachers which was… um… interesting. I guess one good thing about me having to sing here is the fact I am not the only tone deaf one!!
Luckily, the end came and we hadn’t sung!! How lucky! Thank goodness! Oh, what’s that? We have to do it at the hotel later? Happy feelings gone.
All the kids were clearly having the best time ever at the ceremony as when they said that that was the end, all the kids cheered and packed up all the chairs super quick! We rushed off to change out of our Ao Dais and to put something smart on for the evening. I chose a dress I had made last year in Hoi An. Once we were ready we headed downstairs and were given money for Teacher’s Day by the head of the English dept. A million VND from the Parents committee and another million from the school itself. Really nice… that’s about £60/$90USD. It’s still a funny feeling someone giving you a million. When you check your bank account after payday and it says something like 16million? Crazy!!
We all took the school bus to a local 4 star hotel, which apparently has better management than the 5 star hotel which is only one block further. Loads of kids were there, and their parents. The lobby was buzzing as everyone went crazy with their selfies and group photos.
We were guided up to the events room upstairs by staff at the hotel who were dressed like toy soldiers and air hostesses (I don’t know if that’s their actual uniform or if they were in fancy dress… either is pretty weird). Entering the event room was like walking into some kind of a fairytale or something. I’ve not been to many big functions, so maybe they all look like that. I don’t know, but I was surprised at how good it was.
All (well, the majority) of the kids and their parents were there, and all of the teachers. There was a really special atmosphere. It was really lovely to see the kids being kids and not sitting behind desks constantly being told to be quiet. They were running round everywhere, playing on the stage, hiding under tables, pestering their teachers, sneaking food and generally having a ball.
Some of the performances from the afternoon ceremony were repeated, and more awards were given to the same people who were awarded earlier. The only difference was that in the afternoon the gifts were from school and in the evening event they were from the parents committee.
And then… finally, at the end of them all, guess who did their song? If you guessed me, then well done. We (the English dept.) sang our little song once again. Thought we’d got out of that one didn’t I? I had asked one of the parents sitting close by to video it with my camera, but because we sat on the edge of the stage, all of the kindergarten kids crowded around us so there was no way to see us. She gave me the camera back mid-performance. I don’t think it went half as badly as last time, can’t really tell since we haven’t got a recording of it though.
People had started going up for food while we were singing. So by the time we finished and went up things were in low supply. We still managed to get enough (and a bit more). I tried some eel. Interesting! There were some nice salads too which was good since I crave that sort of thing out here. They were covered in mayonnaise but still refreshing and a nice change from rice, rice, rice and rice.
Some of the younger kids were running around handing out red roses which smelt absolutely divine. I was lucky enough to get three. I now have them in a glass in my room looking beautiful.
The event didn’t last that long really. I would’ve loved to spent all evening chatting to the teachers who I only ever have time to say ‘hello’ to as we pass in the hall, but that wasn’t really the case. I had some pics with a few teachers and a quick chat and it seemed to be the end. Some of the older primary kids had been sneaking red wine during the evening, and one of the grade fives claimed that everything ‘looked funny’. (There were a few off school the next morning!)
We (the English dept.) headed, after even more photos, to a coffee shops across the main road, beside the cinema. We had a good giggle sitting there in the coffee garden. We took a taxi back to school, feeling that it was definitely time for bed. When we got in and checked out watches it was only 9.30pm!!
Luckily the next day was Friday, though none of us could understand why we were so tired. I realised halfway through the day that it was because we all had that Monday feeling. Saturdays are days off for the English dept. though!!
Thursday has really left me with a special feeling for the school, which, after almost four months, is something that has been a long time coming. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few months bring me here.