Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
10° 45' N 106° 39' E
Jan 18, 2008 15:39
Distance 0km

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Text written in: English

Quiet Please!!

Yes.. I am a teacher! Only for 2 weeks.. but a teacher none the less!

The first day didn't exactly go according to plan however. I arrived at the Orphanage first thing in the morning to be told my a Miss Binh that I wasn't required anymore! I was totally gobsmacked.. 1. that they were turning down free help 2. that they didn't take into account how far I had (or could have) come 3. didn't bother to tell my organiser. I promptly left having no idea what the hell I was going to do or what I was going to say to my organiser (Tuay) when I saw her that evening. Thankfully I had a girl called Minh with me and we went for coffee and she took me to the shops to get some essentials so that filled up my morning.

That night Tuay came to speak to me and she told me Miss Binh had had trouble from a previous girl called Christine (from Brighton) and didn't want anyone else from Tuay to work at the Orphanage. Once Tuay had explained to Miss Binh that I was nothing like Christine she agreed to let me help out. I was a bit peeved off with the whole situation and thought it was handled really badly but I know it's not the kids fault.. and they're the main reason I am here so I am going in with an open mind tomorrow.

I arrived at the Orphanage and was shown around by Miss Binh. She first of all took me to the large room for babies & children between 2 months and 12 years old. Many of the children here are left outside by families that cannot take care of them. It's heartbreaking. As soon as I stepped into the room and near a childs bed a young boy grabbed my arm.. pulled me towards him and gave me a huge hug. I could feel a lump forming in my throat. He wouldn't let me go and as a result I carried him around for a bit. When I eventually had to put him down, as I was being taken to another building, he wasn't a happy bunny. They seem to crave affection and physical interaction as they spend so much time in cots. Miss Binh took me to a larger hall filled with older children between the ages of 12 and 16. It was feeding time and I wasted no time and fed a small boy called Thaiee (it means kind heart in Vietnamese). His pea (looking) soup didn't look v.tasty but he seemed to love it and wolfed it down with a big grin on his face. My next boy wasn't as easy and took a lot of patience. He was more interested in using my wash cloth as a head wrap than eating his food.. I got through half a bowl and after an hour and a half I gave up. I can see this ain't gonna be easy. After feeding the kids I went upstairs and helped some of them with their maths. Another volunteer, Patrick from Sydney, had an extremely bright kid and was helping him do algabra. I was doing the more basic sums.. fine by me!


My day today was the best so far. I arrived at the orphanage and as usual helped to feed the kids. I seem to be getting the hang of it! In the afternoon I played with them outside for a while. That afternoon I had my English class. I was put in charge of a class of around 30 students aged between 19-23. It was slightly daunting but it turned out to be great. They were so keen to learn about me and where I am from. At first I wasn't sure what to do with them as i'd never taught before, but after an hour or so I seemed to relax into it and it all went (relatively) smoothly! They had their expected laughs, as I'm sure I must seem strange to them. It was so hot in the classroom and they could obviously see me stuggling as one classmate nipped out and came back with an bottle of ice cold water, which they all thought was hilarious. I had another teacher in the class with me to translate some things I couldn't explain to them which was helpful. I learned that they love to sing and one boy imparticular wanted to sing me a song, so he stood up in class and sung to me. It was very sweet and my heart went out to him when other kids in the class were laughing. They then asked me to sing.. like I didn't see that one coming. I opted for Flower of Scotland.. ever so slightly patriotic. They loved it and asked me to teach it to them! Awesome.

..........Update...... I can't believe my time here is nearly over! It's gone so quickly and I feel like i'm just getting settled. This week, I had a few more classes than planned as they mucked up the roster so they asked me to fill in. It was no bother for me as I'm loving it! Although one of the classes I had this week was one i'd rather forget. A few of the guys I was teaching were playing up in class and going out of their way to give me a hard time. I took it for a while and tried to carry on through the lesson in the hope they'd get bored but things got really out of hand. They began to say really obscene things to me (in English!) that you wouldn't even heard uttered in a British classroom, let alone a Vietnamese one. I won't repeat what they said but it was enough to send me over the edge and I told the boys involved to leave. They refused so a teacher had to get involved and I had to leave the class. I came back and they apologised to me, not that it made a lot of difference as they clearly didn't mean it. I felt like it was all a waste of time as they had no desire to learn. I could have spent my time with the kids in the orphanage who needed me more than they did. Anyway.. I have my last class tomorrow.. looking forward to that as I know they're a great bunch of kids.

The orphanage has been great. I've bonded with a few of the kids who i'll be really sad to leave tomorrow, but i'm just glad I had the opportunity to meet them and help as much as I could.

...... Update....... My last class was brilliant! The kids were so enthusiastic and actually really keen to learn which made it all worthwhile. I printed pictures of my family and Scotland to show them in class. They loved them so much they kept them and even asked to me sign them before they left class. They formed a queue at my desk.. I felt like a celebrity! They made me promise to sing Flower of Scotland this week so I printed a copy for each of them so they could sing with me. I went through the song a few times and by the last rendition they were bellowing it out.. it was hilarious! People were peering through the classroom side windows to see what all the fuss was about!!

Photos / videos of "Quiet Please!!":

Nam.. a lovely boy I was looking after Nam Vinh Nam Mai The Orphanage Playround Lunch time A Japanese volunteer helping out with Ngoc One of the nurses playing with Nhe Mai and I again Mai On the round about Mai and I The playground Nam Mai in the ball-pit Mai Mai Lunch-time at the Orphanage Chefs in the kitchen of the Sesame School Me with Ngoc, one of the most fantastic guys - he was a real charmer Time for a trim Chefs at work Lunar New Year celebrations Games The Sesame School One of my small classes Some of 'my pupils' Me with some of my class A Vietnamese pop star they got here to sing Lunar New Year celebrations at the orphanage I love this photo.. all the kids ride around on the front of the motos like this You'll be surprised how much they can fit on! Lunar New Year celebrations The kids singing karaoke Lunar New Year celebrations Lunar New Year celebrations Mai enjoying the celebrations The gardens at the orphanage The kids from my class The kids from my class Kids singing karaoke Me with some of my class on my last day Fashion show Questionable fashion show! Me with some of my class on my last day.. what aboot the shiny face!!!  Hello 35 degrees! My last day Kids having fun at the orphanage HaiHa and Ngoc HaiHa and Ngoc.. after just winning a quiz