Asia · Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City part 2

So I’m half way through my second week of teaching and it’s so good. Monday morning I had my regular class at the boys orphanage. I planned the lesson completely by myself and I think it went well. We learnt about colours and clothes through writing down vocab, drawing, colouring and playing games. I was quite nervous before the lesson but the boys stayed focused for the whole hour and a half so I was happy. Then after lunch and a rest I had an afternoon class with the local volunteers where we talked about interviews through flashcards, definitions, group work and discussions.

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After that a few of us went to the local park where the boys chucked the rugby ball to each other while me and Sarah joined the locals on their circuits round the park (all walking, very few joggers because it’s too hot). The parks are generally really busy early in the morning and early evening when it’s coolest and people walk around, play badminton, go on the exercise machines and play another game where you kick a heavier version of a shuttlecock to each other (looks impossible!). There’s a really good culture around fitness, health and exercise here. In the evening me and some of the girls went to karaoke because it’s SO big here, there are karaoke places everywhere (apparently the ones with a big ‘O’ are brothels…). It wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be a big room with people singing but you get your own room and just sing to each other. I did a tribute to Whitney and sang ‘How Will I Know’ really really really badly. It was quite fun but I think I need a few drinks next time and better song selection!

Tuesday morning was my class at the local school where we learnt about hobbies. Once again I planned the whole lesson and it seemed to go well. I like the school because the students are so willing to learn and participate in the lessons. I had a free afternoon so after grabbing some lunch me, Sarah and Lynne (who arrived on Monday) went downtown and went to the Diamond Plaza, which I thought from my guide book was a shopping mall. However, it actually appears to be a department store with offices attached. There was a Tous Les Jours in the food court though so I was more than happy after my extremely yummy cinnamon doughnut! We then wondered round that area of the city and saw the Notre Dame cathedral (13% of people in Vietnam are Christian) and the very grand colonial building that houses the post office. The post office building has remained unchanged since the 1880s and is extremely grand with two large maps on the wall as well as a huge portrait of Uncle Ho in the centre.

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In the evening VPV (Volunteers for Peace Vietnam – the charity we are working for) organised a Valentines Day scavenger hunt around the city, which was challenging but SO much fun! We got to try all sorts of new foods and drinks, got 7 of us on a motorbike and a cyclo, held hands with an 80 year old man, hugged a security officer, proposed to each other and much more. All in all there were 40 tasks and our group managed to do 38 of them but unfortunately we were a little late back so were capped and ended up coming 3rd… Still a good effort though. We then went for some drinks (35p bottles of Saigon beer, yes please) and were having a really good night until one of the girls got up to leave and was standing next to the road talking to someone when her bag was snatched from her (it was an over the body bag). Thankfully it was just her phone that she’s got insurance for and a little bit of money but she was more annoyed that she had her holiday photos on her phone (lucky she didn’t have her passport because she was leaving today). It’s all made us much more weary and conscious of our belongings.

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This morning we went to the boys orphanage again and just did a recap of Monday’s lesson and then took them to the park with a football, frisbee, skipping rope, cards and a catch game. Getting there was a bit stressful but they really enjoyed it when we were there so it was a good morning. This afternoon I have a class with the local volunteers and then I think tonight will be a quiet one for me because I didn’t get much sleep last night!

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The end of my second week was especially busy. Thursday I had my class at the local school where we did a game to recap what we had done on Thursday and then did some sentence work. When I got back to the house I was asked if I would mind teaching at the Vietnamese Aviation Academy (VAA) in the afternoon, which of course I accepted. We had heard some not so good things from a couple of the others who had taught there a couple of days before and found it really difficult because the kids wouldn’t participate but I wanted to go and see the class and assess for myself.

After some lunch me and three of the girls went downtown to District 1 to pick up some bits and then me and Sarah rushed back for VAA. We both really loved the class! We played some games for the first hour and then had a talk about English. The students are 18-20 and are all studying aviation business and administration and have good English. They were happy to participate in the games and when we said they could leave early they wouldn’t because they wanted to keep talking in English! All in all was a really busy but good day. After ‘school'(!) a couple of us went to watch the boys play football and then me and Lydia went and got pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) for dinner. We then went back to the house and played UNO and chatted.

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Friday morning was the boys orphanage, teaching all by myself. A bit daunting but the boys were on their best behaviour this week and really paid attention so I was happy.

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