A Week Of Firsts – Officially Teaching And Rainy Season!

It’s finally happened! I taught my very first class. The students didn’t seem to get worse at English, so I’ll chalk it up as a success.

With a contract signed and a working schedule, I’m doing what I came here to do – educate. My class schedule is slow right now – I’m only teaching for about 2 hours a day, 3 days a week– but things will pick up soon as more classes start.
The students with whom I’m currently working are all employees of my hotel. I’m teaching them mostly industry terms and phrases, like “Would you like to check in?” and “Thank you for choosing our hotel!”. They range in age from early 20s to late 40s/early 50s and range in English skill from somewhat conversational to only being able to say hello. I like working with adults because I don’t have to babysit them. I assume their parents are forcing them to be there. The range of English ability provides a fun challenge and opportunity to flex my teaching skills and grow as an educator in every class.

All of the students are really friendly! This comes as no surprise, as nearly everyone I’ve met in Vietnam is friendly. They invite me to play badminton (there’s a pretty funny video of me playing on Facebook if anyone’s interested), for coffee, and for meals. Despite a language barrier, they’re a fun bunch to spend time with.

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Went out for banh loc with some students. Kind of like the Vietnamese version of a pizza roll, so I obviously loved it. The sauce is a red chili sauce.

My expat network has expanded as well. I met James, the recent Stanford grad and Fulbright fellow teaching at the gifted school. I met Phil, a Brit who owns a pizza shop. I also met Daniel, a teacher from the Netherlands who visited Dong Hoi three and a half years ago and never really left. He now has a wife, a kid, and a proficient knowledge of the Dong Hoi social scene.

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My school gave me a rain slicker!

This week also marked the start of the rainy season. Typhoon Vamco ripped through Da Nang on Sunday, the day after I came back to Dong Hoi. The tropical storm affected Dong Hoi as well, flooding the streets and confining me to my hotel room.

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Dong Hoi is on the coast roughly halfway  between the K in Risk and the big red arrow.

Like Ohio weather, the rain came and went throughout the three or so days the typhoon made landfall. It would drizzle for an hour, then clear up and be sunny, then downpour torrentially, then be sunny again. I tried timing my walks to avoid getting soaked. I failed.

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Waiting out a particularly heavy swath of rain in Tree Hugger

A cool side story though: I was fording through the ankle deep water in the streets early in the week wearing my trusty flip flops. I got them at an Old Navy in Toledo probably three years ago for $2, so their condition was on the rough side. Just before getting to the market, the left sandal fell victim to the forces of physics at the suction from the water ripped the strap from the sole. I walked halfway barefoot to the shoe store by the market to see if I could buy an emergency pair to get me the short distance home. I gazed forlornly at the different options the owner pointed to, but I had to mime to him that I didn’t have enough money with me for any of them. Instead, he pulled out a needle and some thick thread, took my broken flop from me, sewed the whole thing back together, and sent me on my way. Nice people.

The nice thing about rainy season is it means a drop in temperature is coming. The rough thing about rainy season is it pushes all of the contaminants from rural Vietnam into the ocean, so the water no good for swimming. Thankfully though the sand is still nice, so I can hang out at the beach.

I also finally have a mailing address, thanks to the kindness of a local restaurant owner named Doc. Let me know if you want it!

Besides the rain and small amount of teaching, the week was pretty laid back. Lots of walking around Dong Hoi, reading, watching movies and TV (I started Breaking Bad), spending time with new friends, and chatting with friends back home (let me know if you want to Skype!). I’m excited to get started on full time teaching!

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