The Principal speaking.

Yes, people: you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Because it’s SUMMER VACATION!

Well, if you insist, HCMC. If you insist.

This past Wednesday was formally my last day in the Vietnamese public schools for the 2013-2014 school year, and I really couldn’t be happier. Because, seriously, I’ve been at sweat level Cannonball In The Deep End (which is the highest sweat alert level, if you didn’t know) for the past three weeks – I’m soaking wet seemingly all the time.

It’s been a real slog to the finish line, both for teachers and their kids. Everyone knows the end is nigh, and as the humidity goes up and the heat stays the same (HOT), concentration becomes a serious chore.

Singing and dancing. It gets even better.

But now it’s over and my very first contract abroad is completed.

In addition to their awards, they got backpacks.
I was asked to present myself at Phu Lam (my secondary school in District 6) Wednesday to take part in the closing ceremonies. It was a fun, breezy affair. The whole thing was scheduled to last three hours, and started 20 minutes late. I had a seat right in front, at a special table that I shared with my other Compass Representative and the principal and vice-principals. It was awkward at first, as I’d gotten there a full 30 minutes before things finally kicked off.

OF COURSE CHEER SQUAD. OF COURSE.
These guys did a drum thing for the principal’s entrance and exit music, and seemingly sporadically through the ceremony.

Despite the propensity to get long-winded (and keep in mind that, in Vietnam’s single-syllable language, it takes forever to say anything, anyway) and formal at these types of events, it was pretty enjoyable. I took roughly a million pictures with my students, and helped distribute English awards to the top students.

Several of my second grade teachers received awards for being great teachers, or maybe prettiest Ao Dai, who knows?

Awards were given, both to students and teachers, there were several speeches that seemed to drone on forever, the sky was nicely overcast, and there was a rotating fan right behind me, which meant I wasn’t overheating for at least 2 seconds out of every 8. It’s the little victories, these days.

She went full Interpretive Dance. You never go full Interpretive Dance… unless you are 9. 

Adorable little buggers. I hope I got to see all the musical numbers – they were entertaining.

Groups of children from different grades performed songs, played drums, danced sparkly dances, and generally got down in between bouts of awards for teachers/students.

And then there was THIS…? I have no idea what I watched (but now you can watch it, and not know, too!). Needless to say, this pretty much made my whole week.

You can see the temporary(?) classrooms the school constructed a month ago.
SO MANY STUDENTS. This used to be part of a lunchroom.

The school has been going through a pretty big renovation – new classrooms,
new tiles, revamped student spaces… and a massive, massive paint job.
You can see here they didn’t quite finish in time for the ceremony! 

I learned several interesting things about our school. For starters, the kids are just so darn great it’s insane (EXCEPT THAT ONE CLASS, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE). They’re smart and playful and generally great kids. For another thing, there are 2,900 students at my school. WUT? NO. TRUTH (I think, there was a lot of techno synth music going on over the intermittent translation)! That’s almost as much as my hometown when I lived there (about 3,000).

It was like being locked in a KidzBop Nightclub for the first half an hour.

We ended up getting out earlier than I expected, which just meant I could show up at the office earlier, and that was fine with me. I celebrated my last trip to District 6 by treating myself to a sugar cane juice and my favorite chicken sticky rice, which was a little bittersweet. I’m going to have to really search hard to find a xoi ga preparation that I enjoy as much as this one – many just don’t come together the same way!

Man, they’re just SO CUTE.

And now, onwards and upwards to my next adventure!