I arrived in Vietnam on the 2nd of July and stayed in Haiphong for two months. My expectations included to see how the Vietnamese people live and see different sites in Vietnam. Further, I was looking forward to being a teacher and experience the challenges you face as a teacher. And last but not least I wanted to try different Vietnamese foods.
Being a teacher was definitely a challenge and is hard work. You need to prepare lessons and think about different ways, to reach the kids. You can’t always use the same games or songs, otherwise it will get boring for the kids. That means you need to come up with new stuff. The most interesting experience when it comes to teaching was, for me, to create the lessons for the STEM boot camp. It wasn’t as easy, as I thought in the beginning. The first challenge was to come up with a big topic, come up with different activities within this topic and connect them somehow together. The next challenge was then to create a lesson plan for the activities and to test them out on our own. I had to build a bridge. That sounds easy at first, but then you have to decide, which materials the kids should use, you have to try them out, you need to research different principles of bridges and decide which of those you want to teach the kids in the limited time that you have. It was release, when the test run came and it worked more or less as expected. It took them a bit longer than planned, but the lesson as a whole worked well and they definitely had fun. Challenges like this were really interesting for me, because I have a completely different background and it was a great experience to have to change the mindset a bit and to face other tasks than usual.
Another difficulty as a teacher was the language barrier. If I wanted to explain something and they didn’t know the words, I first had to teach them the words somehow. So that was a lot of pointing at items and then saying the English name. It was always nice when the kids then remembered the word and at the end of the lesson still knew it.
When it comes to visiting different sites, I can definitely say, that that expectation was fulfilled. I visited Hanoi, I saw Thai Nguyen, was in Bac ninh, went to Cat Ba Island and Ha long bay. It was interesting to see how the cities differed, even though they aren’t that far from each other. And I was definitely overwhelmed by the beauty of the nature in Ha long bay and Cat Ba. The landscape there was just amazing. Also spending a night on a boat was something special and I can definitely recommend it.
I tried different Vietnamese foods. I ate seafood and fish, I had duck in different forms, I tried insects and snails and had lots of different dishes like Pho, Fried Noodles, Banh mi, Bun Ca and others. I also ate a lot of fresh fruits which tasted delicious. But most importantly, I did learn how to eat with chopsticks, which was a real struggle in the beginning.
It was a pleasure to spend time here at the school. Everyone was very friendly and tried to help if I needed something. Dialogues with the teachers were always interesting, because so I got some insight in how they live and how they spend some of their free time. And they were also very interested in my life in Switzerland and what I’m usually up to. It was very nice to speak about things like this.
All in all, I can say, that my time here really was a really interesting experience and that my expectations were fulfilled and in some aspects even exceeded. I enjoyed it very much.