We passed our one year on-the-road mark in November. A lot has happened while teaching in Hanoi, and we are plugging along, meeting our goals, and generally enjoying life. School is a stressful atmosphere. Some days we love teaching. Some days we do not. It's a roller-coaster career with ups and downs just like any job I suppose. Here it's slightly different because the school we work for is a private school in Vietnam. The same rules in other countries don't apply or are easily bent with a greasy little bribe in a back pocket. School here is a business. Priorities over Practicality. The priorities are to turn a profit. The school we work for is no exception. The owner is Korean, and the students at the School are mostly Korean and embassy children. The owner runs this place like a business. The principal thinks he is in the US still and expects things to be like he wants them in the US. This makes teaching in Hanoi, particularly challenging.
Hoan Kiem Lake
The Changing City
Hanoi is a city changing. The old ways are getting phased out and the newer western influenced attitude is taking hold. In some ways its sad to see the culture leave at such a rapid pace. We have seen changes in the city since being here last year. More cars on the road contesting life. Fast food giants moving in at an alarming rate. The city infrastructure growing rapidly. I think the level of surprise by seeing someone like myself walking down the street , has diminished. I used to get mauled by guys trying to squeeze my arms or touch my tattoos in pure curiosity as to what planet I came from. Not as much anymore. In fact I see a lot of Vietnamese men running around with full-sleeves.
The Growing City Hanoi
What The Expats Think
I think the frequency of seeing ex-pats (people living abroad for an extended period of time)has increased. I don't consider myself an expat, although I think the expat community has grown significantly this year. I understand from some of the expats living here 6 years or more that the city has grown immensely. Places where I ride my motorbike through a river of motorbikes going down a virtual gorge of buildings,was a field 4 years ago. It's amazing to me.
West Lake - Tay Ho
Our Winter Break From Teaching In Hanoi
Today begins our winter break from school. We go back on the 7th of January to finish up the term. Shelly leaves on Tuesday, to head back to Ohio for Christmas. I will be staying in Hanoi. This decision was made because of Buddha and the difficulties of traveling with him from Asia to the US. It's a long time and never easy for a dog. We are also saving money as much as we can.
This opportunity teaching in Hanoi, is presenting itself as one of our best money-making opportunities we've had while traveling. We need to maximize our money making abilities for the times when the money isn't steadily flowing in. Plane tickets were around 14-1600 dollars round trip and shelling out 3000 dollars to go home for Christmas, could break the bank. I will miss her when she's gone. This will have been the most time apart from each other for the last year or more. I am not sure what I am going do here in Hanoi by myself. I might take a little trip somewhere in Vietnam or maybe Thailand. I wouldn't mind having the time to do more writing in my journal and the blog.
Getting Fatter And Working Out
Shelly and I are starting to workout again. We have packed on the pounds here as teachers. We are sometimes so exhausted by the day that sitting on the couch watching TV or messing around on our computers is more appealing than actually doing anything else. Delivery is big here in Hanoi. Grocery stores, dog supply stores, mini-marts, and every restaurant you could want all deliver free of charge and we usually tip about 2-3 dollars to the driver. Tipping in Hanoi isn't compulsory, and at times they won't take it. But the drivers appreciate it when they are tipped. So the eating what we want with a stagnant lifestyle, needs to change. Therefore whatever I do this break, I will be active doing it. (at least that's the plan) We are also cutting out junk food and trying to workout. I would like to do it daily and it would take a real lifestyle change and mindset change to do that. Baby steps I guess.
The Talent Show
The Talent Show At School
To be absolutely honest, a lot of little things have happened, but not a lot worth writing about in the past 3 months. We have done some fun things with our class while teaching in Hanoi, and have really enjoyed the teaching aspect of being here. VAIS (Vietnam American International School) where we work, had a talent show before break. My class of 4th graders said they didn't have any talents and couldn't figure out what to do. I suggested we do a music video. Gangnam Style was a popular song with them and being Korean they were really proud of the song and loved the singer PSY. I suggested we do 4th Grade Style, a parody of the Gangnam song. I wrote some lyrics and pitched it to the class.
Shelly's Class Practicing The Planet Song
4th Grade Style And The Planet Song
They loved the idea. We spent about a week or two working on filming the video, dubbing the voices to the music, mixing the songs and I edited it. The talent show was a huge success. Myself and the 4th graders all came into the room where the talent show was, and Gangnam Style danced our way to the stage, where we stood while the video was played. It was a huge success! The kids were so proud of what they had accomplished. I am too. Shelly did a planet song where her 2nd graders each had a planet that they represented. They then spoke individually about the planet and sang a song. It was a big hit and so cute!
We have been working hard with these kids and in our parent teacher conferences, the parent's loved us. Not bad for two people who have no teaching experience, taking on such a huge responsibility of teaching children from another country English. Our kids are some of the best English speakers in school from kindergarten to 12th grade. We are proud of them.
4th Grade Style
The Planet Song
Change In Perspective
Not the most exciting 3 months teaching in Hanoi, but exciting enough for us and we learn a little more about ourselves every day we are here. We are challenged every single day with the lesson plans and homework we have to grade when we get home, to making a homework packet for our children to work on during their Christmas break. We are learning more about ourselves and what we can accomplish. Not only are we teaching our children, but they are teaching us. They have taught us so much about patience and that we can accomplish anything we work hard for. We are glad for this break and will definitely take advantage of this vacation from teaching in Hanoi.