Vietnam Team Journal

Thursday, November 24, 2011

American Thanksgiving in Vietnam

Following breakfast at the hotel, team NBK,  minus Mary, who had caught a cold,  left for school accompanied by Pam.  The exciting forty-minute taxi ride brought us to the gates of NBK where Joe marched off to face the elementary school denizens and Sim took on the high schoolers.  Pam, meanwhile, conducted a fruitless search for Mr. Quy after which she found an exotic café for our lunch.  The exotic aspect involved the removal of shoes to enter, sitting on the floor and waiting for order-out servings of pho which, we discovered, could not be eaten with chopsticks from ground level.  WE were then permitted to go back outdoors and dine at a sidewalk table.  Our – or at least my – curiosity about pho satisfied and having been granted the afternoon off by NBK. We returned to the hotel.

Joe went to see about Mary, while I, assisted by Pam and a young man employed at the hotel, purchased a new cell phone at a nearby store.  The remainder of the afternoon was spent getting the wifi modem in my room fixed, arranging for laundry service and taking a walk around the lake.  I heard later, make that overheard, that during the day, Ingrid had visited ‘Uncle Ho’s’ mausoleum and home and that Ali went to the ‘Women’s Museum’.  The event of the day was the team’s Thanksgiving Dinner provided by the hotel and served up with great pride and a certain amount of pomp by the chef.  The team members to a person were grateful and appreciative of both the food and consideration that went into providing this recognition of a favorite holiday.   From all reports, everyone enjoyed a good night’s sleep.

- Sam

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday was our first day of class.  Five of us went to FTU and arrived early, before our hosts were available to greet us.  We connected after about 15 minutes and were lead to our assignments.  I was scheduled to have the day off, but wanted to get the lay of the land, so joined Margaret for the first session with about 30 freshmen.  Our teacher indicated the subject was advertising and, after our introductions, we went through an assignment of different advertising methods which was interactive and allowed almost all students to participate.  The teacher was helpful in focusing us and the students and we were able to engage the class for the entire period.  The students were quite attentive. 

We rejoined our  colleagues, Ingrid, Ali & Roger for a nice Vietnamese lunch in the  teacher’s lounge and got tips from Ali & Roger on teaching techniques.  Margaret started the second period with one of those techniques encouraging student questions on our personal photos.  Margaret, Ingrid & I reviewed with the students their short opinion essay assignment, allowing direct feedback to each student.  The exercise revealed smart kids able to express themselves well in written English, with minor grammatical issues.  Their verbal skills were not as strong, but we had a decent conversation on opinion issues which related to their next assignment.  The day was viewed as a successful start by all five of us and we look forward to the next two weeks.  The group convened at 6:15pm feedback session and we went out to dinner after that.

- Bud