Teacher’s Day!!!

Was there ever a holiday so fantastic?! Vietnam holds an annual national holiday recognizing the hard work of (and low pay of most) teachers every year, and this year it landed on Wednesday, November 20th. Both of my schools cancelled classes and I got my office hours moved to Friday – the better to go to Monkey Island with!

On this day, kids sing songs, dance dances, and shower teachers with all sorts of presents, cards, and cash. Parents and administrators alike seemed to take this ‘gift’ thing to heart, as you’ll see below. I got an absolutely unnecessary amount of gifts – honestly I just love interacting with my kids. That’s usually reward enough… but this did not hurt one tiny bit!

Here’s one of my photo album posts – just to explain how big a deal this is, here’s a set of some of the craziest parts of this fun day (and indeed, whole week). If you’re thinking of teaching in Vietnam, I guess I’d say this was an endorsement!

I got a whole mess of handmade cards.
I can only assume that I’m the one in the traditional teacher dress here.
A very kind outpouring of appreciation!

The things I got from students for Teacher’s Day 2013: A needlepoint picture in a frame, a new 2014 calendar, beauty products clearly meant for a woman, cologne probably meant for a man, three nice pens, a silica gel pack, a silk tie and matching cufflinks and pocket square, and pokemon cards. Not pictured: the equivalent of 60 dollars and several fistfuls of chalk.

Oh wait – here’s the chalk. 

Oy, the chalk. I got almost constant tiny statements of “Teacher, here!” all day – kids were determined to show me they care by giving me pieces of chalk all week. This is just from 35 minutes of class. I had so much chalk by the end of every class it was silly! Weeks later, I’m still getting little pieces of chalk almost every day.

Erin got TWO enormous bottles of goat’s milk lotion!

This is apparently a thing. Lotion with WHITENING action – which means it most likely has bleach in it. A lighter skin tone is desirable here, for both aesthetic and social standing reasons. I think she gave them to her maid. Smart move, Erin!

I also made these cards.

I wanted to show my Teaching Assistants and company Advisors how much I appreciated them helping me in the classroom and getting settled into this new, challenging job in a crazy new country – I couldn’t do the job I do without a lot of Vietnamese support. I taped a golden US dollar coin in every card. Cute design, right?! I was proud! Also, no bank would change these totally real dollars into dong. So frustrating! Had to get rid of them somehow, I guess! A little bit more of America is now floating around Saigon.
Overall, a totally fun and different week. Just like those kids who have a sudden change in their schedule, this shook it up enough to reinvigorate the whole week.

Long live Teacher’s Day!