- Thanks for uplifting our teaching schedules. We are still working out some final details, but two of us started teaching classes this week. I taught two sections of Speaking to Sophomores for 1 hr. 40 min. at a time Monday and Thursday. The time flies by way too fast. Here are some students from one of the classes. There are about 50 students in each classes, so I am a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of learning all of their names. They LOVE to hear me try to pronounce them though :) The girls way outnumber the boys, and the boys mostly sit in the back. Next week I will probably add some Senior Journalism classes which will definitely keep me busy. Please keep asking the Father to give me wisdom as I adjust to this new role of teacher, and ask that He would give me His love for my new students.
- My teammate and roommate Maren turned 23 last weekend! Our team celebrated her birthday by taking her to a sweet little place called "V Cafe" for dinner. They have great Western and Asian options... I had a big burrito of all things! You'll notice the candles on the tables in the photo- every 4 days the electricity goes out from about 4-8 pm. Our school warned us about this... so we wear headlamps around the house and burn candles and use an "electric lantern" which we charge before the electricty goes out (and hopefully we've charged our computers too). We are quite proud that we have made several meals with no electricity- it's definitely an adventure! Ok, back to the birthday extravaganza. So it was pouring rain after we finished dinner, but we decided to brave it. Maren had mentioned wanting to go around the lake in the one of the horse-drawn carriages, so we took her hint and went for a ride. It was one of the funniest things I've done in my life. My only idea of a carriage ride is from the U.S.- a quiet, slow, romantic type of carriage ride. However, we though we were going to flip over and die as our horse took off at a full gallop! All of us were screaming our heads off, getting pelted with rain, and laughing hysterically as we realized our horse-drawn-carriage was passing cars and motos. It was so bizarre, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Happy Birthday Maren!!
- Last week, our team of four hosted an "open house" for 14 girls from the University that our team leader Karen had connected with last year. We wanted to make it a special time for them, so we cleaned our apartment, bought fruit for snacks, prepared games, and bought flowers to give the girls as a little gift. When they arrived, my teammate Maren had the great idea to do name tags to help us remember their names. Since the girls each have their own "group" of friends they hang with, Maren, Karen, and I all played games with a different group of friends. Jenny took another group to her apartment and made her newly invented and amazingly delicious MANGO bread to add to the fruit (which somehow resembles peach cobbler)!! I taught 4 girls how to play UNO, and they absolutely loved the game. It was so interesting to see how their facial expressions and reactions to "Draw 2" and "Skip" were so different from what I am used to... laughs and squeals at unique times. Finally our time had come to an end, and we brought out some bright yellow chrysanthemums to give to each girl. The room got quiet and faces were expressionless as we handed out the flowers. I assumed the girls were sad to go. However, as the last girl was about to step out the door, she approached us and said maybe later she would tell us a secret. We invited her to go ahead and tell us what she wanted to say. She was shaking as she quietly explained, "Teacher, this flower is for when the people die." After our wide eyed open mouth shocked response, we all began to laugh hysterically. The students said over and over, "No problem. You did not know." I think this is one of the most memorable cultural faux pas of my time in Asia so far. Our team still laughs until we hurt on this one.
PS- We are quite proud of our food creations this week- french toast with syrup from the States (hooray- we finally found wheat bread), and... DRUMROLL PLEASE... chips and guacamole- all from scratch! I kept looking for avocados, and finally found something that resembled an avocado, but it was SO massive... I didn't know the word for avocado, but it felt like one- so we asked the lady for three, and she told us that would be 30,000 VND (Vietnam Dong- pronounced "dome"- which is about $2.00). So we pulled out a 20,000 VND bill, and she shrugged 'ok.' So she basically bargained for us before we even tried to pull out another 10,000 VND. What a hoot. This served as a reminder of how we are always charged excessively as foreigners. Anyway, we bought won-ton skins at the market, fried them, and added some salt to make chips. Go figure :) So much for the healthy wheat bread. Oh, and I must mention that we accidentally burned a plastic cooking utensil in the oil when making the chips... so we 'totalled' the utensil, plus made Jenny's entire apartment smell like smoke. Needless to say, it was quite the endeavor, but well worth the yumminess.