First day of school!

Today was my first day of school since 2010! So far I have about 15 kids in my class - 3 boys and the
rest girls. They are all 14-17 years old.I may be getting some additional kids in class over the next few weeks as this is examination time for Vietnamese high schoolers. The kids speak very little English. They had trouble understanding everything I said (even my introduction), and I had trouble understanding their English - but it will be ok. The point of this journey is not so much to create amazing English speakers, but to expose them to the language and cultivate connection - we can do that!

To start, each student came to the front and introduced themselves (this took a lot of work and some bribery!). They asked me to sing songs for them ("As Long As You Love Me"), we played some games inside and outside, I taught them some ballet positions, and then we spent an hour learning "American Life" vocabulary. I wrote a word like "teenager" on the board, sounded it out, they repeated me several times, and I explained to them what the word means (then my TA translated into Vietnamese). When we got to "pledge of allegiance" and "national anthem" I asked them about the Vietnamese national anthem, and they all sang it for me. Then they said "ok, now you!" so I sang the Star Spangled Banner with some muttering in there - at first I was like "crap, I don't know all the words! And what about those high notes!?" and then I remembered they wouldn't know the difference - and they didn't! My voice cracked and I made words up (I DEFINITELY would not have gotten a callback) but the kids applauded me enthusiastically. A developing theme of this trip is to just go for it - it doesn't matter how "well" I dance, sing, teach, etc - being there is enough. I am already good enough, and to some of these kids, I am even better than that. 

Class was much smaller in the afternoon. The kids come when they can, so each class is kind of a "go with the flow" situation (another great developing theme/lesson of this trip - I know some of you are giggling at that, as you know "going with the flow" is not exactly my favorite thing to do). We spent some time writing and played hangman, then it was time to go outside and play - since my students are older most of them left. We played for hours with all the little kids - all sorts of games they like to play in Vietnam, like "Ninja" (see pics below!). I had a lot of little girls staring at me, following me around, touching my clothes, analyzing my fingers, holding my hand, trying to touch the top of my head (they can't!) and pointing at me from afar giggling. It was very adorable. One of the other volunteers later told me that some of the students said I am "as beautiful as a doll" and that my eyes are SO big!  It's sweet that they think I'm so special - those comments definitely made me giggle. One of the little girls is very adamant about me dancing for them. This morning after our first class there was an impromptu performance and I told her (via my trusty translator Trang) that when we have a talent show I will perform a dance for them. The little girl said (in Vietnamese) that it has to be a whole song, and she will bring me flowers. UGH! Can you handle that!?!? Someone put this kid behind a casting table in NYC, I'll be on Broadway in no time!!!

We are all EXHAUSTED. Resting now, then dinner time, then we may have a class with some adults tonight. Today was interesting and challenging, but I think if I go a day at a time, one miscommunication at a time, I'll be able to give these kids a little something. They are already giving me joy, love, and laughter - and some pretty awesome photos.

 This is my fat baby friend! He lives where we sleep, and he likes to come bang on my door and follow me around…and stuff his face with cookies!

 The sign outside our "hotel"

 It's Huy, the mosquito killer! He's shooting hoops!

 This cutie was following me around holding my hand, I have a new bestie!


Quynh, one of the teachers, running around with the kids! We are all exhausted! As my SASSY (that's our new favorite English word among the volunteers) fellow teacher Van said at the end of the afternoon "I am dying on the inside and the outside."



  1. Pictures are awesome honey! Baba

  2. Pictures are awesome! Baba

  3. Love this Laura! It sounds like a wonderful experience so far. xoxoxo Love the photos too!

  4. I love this Laura! Beautiful photos too...xoxo