In the beginning, there was love.

We started class by reviewing yesterday's writing assignment about "the secret to happiness." None of
the students were volunteering to read aloud, so I did "eenie meenie mynie moe" and they were fascinated by the "song" so I taught it to them (interesting spelling!). Some the students read aloud; their secrets to happiness included "remembering happy memories and forgetting sad ones," "being selfless," "studying hard to earn a scholarship" and "forgiveness." I loved hearing their thoughts, I thought they were beautiful! After that we started learning about money. We began with vocabulary accompanied by a lot of demonstrations with my wallet - I showed them coins, dollars, receipts, cards and demonstrated paying, charging, withdrawing etc. Some of my students are getting a little rowdy (two of the priests from the church are among the worst offenders!) so I have been bumping up my sass level to get them to simmer down. Today the two priests were sitting next to each other acting like little boys poking each other and joking and I said "how old are you! 10? Separation!" and drew a line in chalk on the desk in between them. Everyone laughed. During one of our breaks an old lady wandered in and started smiling at me and speaking to me in Vietnamese. Le came to translate - she was saying "Beautiful! Beautiful!" while holding my hand smiling at me. I said "cam on!" ("Thank you," one of three Vietnameae phrases I can say in addition to "skinny" and "let's eat!"). She asked about my religion and I just showed her my rosary bracelet - instant love! She was probably either coming from or going to mass at the church.

We had a love vs. money debate - which is more important, love or money? I was bummed when more than half of the class chose the money team! They had nice ideas like "In the beginning, God made love," "love can change everything," "money helps you relax outside, but LOVE makes you relax INSIDE," and "with money you can buy everything, go travelling, give to charity." I loved that my money advocates wanted to give to the poor, the old, and orphans - I asked them "isn't that love? When you give your money to help another person, are you loving them?" One of my love advocates said "love can make people better. You wil be happier and you won't be afraid of someone robbing you of your money!" There was a lot of laughter and spirited discussion. I asked questions like "if you have NO love, only money, you are all alone and nobody loves you and you don't love anyone - are you happy?" That stumped a lot of them. Then I asked the love people "ok, so a child needs its mother's love to survive" (that was one of their arguments) "but what about food? If you have NO money and can't get any food, then what?" We came to the conclusion that we are all very lucky to have both love and money. First comes love, then comes money, and both of them are helpful in leading a happy life. So, both sides won! Although I do think love is the most important thing ;)

After our debate we spent some time learning "You Raise Me Up" - the song the students want to sing and dance to for the talent show on Friday. There is a great intrumental break where I was demonstrating some silly ballet moves, pointing to the boys and saying "you're all going to do this!!" In the afternoon we reviewed "You Raise Me Up" lyrics, pronunciation and meaning. I got them to stand up and sing without me - one of the priests was really into it and the kids were giggling at him, I was saying "yeah! Superstar!" My plan was to focus on learning our talent show routine but there was a storm and a lot less students showed up (a solid 12 or so still came - dedication!). So, yet again I had to go with the flow and improvise with help from Le. We worked on a reading then some students went to the pool for swimming lessons - there are two Australians in town teaching kids and adults of the community how to swim. A lot of people in Vietnam don't know how to swim, so drowning is a big problem here. At home, I think we take for granted that most of us had the good fortune of learning how to swim at a young age - several of the volunteers here never learned. Another thing to be grateful for! It was a quiet afternoon with the rain, I walked around a bit and some little girls came to hang out with Le and I in our classroom and we listened to "Part of Your World." Le and I sat in some pews outside the church with a few little girls (Chi!) and a little boy Bao (his photo is above). Le explained to me a little bit about the Vietnamese language (there are a lot of markings that look strange to us - they indicate how to inflect your voice when saying a word). One of the girls asked how to spell my name and wrote it on her hand. They asked me some questions like "what do you like?" and we practiced speaking English.

These little gals were walking by my class while we were on a break. Their caretaker pushed them over towards the camera and after I took some photos I showed them the pictures of themselves. The kids love that!

Silly girls in the rain
 Practicing the alphabet in an empty classroom
 Window in my classroom
There church has a water filtration system. People from the community come by to refill their water jugs - they tie them on the back of their bike or motorbike and ride home to their family with drinkable water.

 The entrance to the pool - all the flip flops float in a water basin

Some of the little girls drawing in my classroom this afternoon



  1. That must have been an interesting discussion on love and money! The 2 little girls are absolutely adorable Laura. Great photos per usual...xo