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Saturday, August 21, 2010

First full week

Missy has been doing most of the blogging, but I thought I should sit down and add my perspective today.

Well, it was our first full week of school, and it was full of fun and adventure. I have some pretty challenging names of students to learn. My favorite name to say is Ji Wook pronounced "Gee Wook". He is an interesting kid and likes to tug on my arm to get my attention while saying, "Mr. L, Mr. L." I am co-teaching an English and Math class, along with quite a few periods of Learning Support.

I pulled a student into my room that was having some issues with behavior and is on my caseload. I wanted to talk to him about teacher concerns and to offer him extra help in the classroom. I didn't want to start off by scolding him for behavior. I just wanted to start getting to know him before I imposed any consequences. As I pulled him in he kept saying, "Am I in trouble?" I asked if he had a guilty conscience, but he answered no. I told him not to worry about it if he didn't do anything. I then proceeded to talk about who I was and how I could help him out in the classroom. He immediately started saying, "Oh, are you going to torture me?" I asked, "Why would I torture you?" He then said, "I need to be tortured." I replied, "Why do you want to be tortured?" And he said, "Because I need help in Maths." It was then I figured out that he was trying to say TUTOR. I could hardly keep a straight face. I just told him that I would be able to help tutor him and tried to correct him by saying that torture and tutor have very different meanings.

I also bought a used Suzuki Epicuro 150cc Scooter. It is OK for the price I paid ($500USD). I probably over paid a bit, but the seller drove it out to my area. We live outside the city a bit and driving on the highway was something I wanted to avoid. And honestly I just really wanted a scooter to drive around An Phu (the name of our area in Ho Chi Minh). I took it to the grocery store today and bought a few things. It was nice to just jump on the bike and be at the store in five minutes. My next challenge is going to be finding a bike shop that will fix flats and change the oil. Here are a few pictures (the bike on the end):

The bike is fast for a scooter. It gets past 35mph no problem. I haven't pushed it any further, but look forward to taking it to the country side soon (as soon as I figure out how to get out of the city!) Well, that is it for now.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Getting into the swing of things!

Hello friends and family!

This week we started working with our students. They are great! Very respectful and excited to be at school. Bill and I have so much to learn about the International school systems and how they run the special education program. It's SO different than what we're used to. But, we're excited to start teaching the students.

We've had a great weekend. Friday night we ate at a Vietnamese restaurant and then spent some time with coworkers at another restaurant. Our coworkers so far are great! They are a lot of fun and there are some really interesting people to get to know. We work with mostly British, Australian and Canadian teachers. There are some Americans, but we are not the majority! We really are the rookie International teachers. Some teachers have literally been around the world! Saturday I had a spa day with one of my coworkers, Shannon. Shannon is from Australia and has a great sense of humor! We had a great time and all I will elaborate on the experience is, it was an experience unlike anything I've ever had! It was a lot of fun.

Bill and I then went into District 1 (downtown) for lunch. We got caught in a HUGE storm!! SO much rain, thunder and lightening. The streets of downtown were flooded from all of the rain. Bill and I were safe inside eating our yummy tapas. :) After lunch, we decided to go into District 7 for a movie. We pull up to the cinema and it was actually a HUGE shopping center called, LotteMart. It was 4 stories. It was a grocery and department store, but also sold appliances and electronics. On the top floor there was a cinema, bowling alley, arcade (think Lost in Translation), and TONS of places to eat. We saw Despicable Me in 3D. We were worried at first that the movie would be in Vietnamese because all of the advertisements were. We were excited to find out that the movie was in English with Vietnamese subtitles. WOO HOO! We'll be able to go to the theater. The best part of the movie??? FOUNTAIN PEPSI! It's the first place I've seen that sells it!

Today we took a boat back downtown to have lunch with Naill and Victoria (Scottish and British) at a restaurant called Jaspas. They cater to the Australian and British crowd. We got lost...and it was a bad day to get lost. It was SO hot and humid. We showed up at the restaurant soaked from sweat...gross! We cooled off with fresh fruit juice (Bill- watermelon and pineapple Missy-watermelon and strawberry). :) It was a lovely time! They are both so much fun and so funny. They are really experienced travelers so it's fun to get advice and hear their stories about where they've been. They have a beautiful daughter, Charlotte. We have a great time with them!

In three weeks, Bill and I (along with coworkers) will be taking a two day biking trip through the Mekong Delta. It's supposed to be beautiful! We can't wait to get out of the city for a couple of days and see the country side.

Well, it's time to get ready for the work week ahead. We miss everybody immensely! We hope you are all doing well! Please keep in touch!

Enjoy the photos below!

Missy and Bill

Rural land while on our boat trip.

A statue at a park downtown

Another view

A street vendor carrying various fruits and objects to sell

Charlotte and Naill

This is how the wires look all over the place! Kind of scary!

A random shot of people hanging out on the street. I took this in the taxi, so it's not very good!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pho and Furniture

Good evening (or morning)!

Like I said in our last blog, work is keeping us very busy. We went in for a few hours today, but after that we did some shopping in the An Phu neighborhood. It was really hot and humid, but that's because it was very rainy today. We've really lucked out because we've had some amazing weather. We heard it was around 100 degrees in St.Louis. Yikes!

Anyway, we're working hard but in a few weeks we've decided we're going to take a weekend holiday to one of the beach resorts. We're thinking Hoi An. There are beautiful beaches there plus their historic district does not allow cars so it's nice and peaceful! I may have something tailor made when we go! We're going to drive there to see the countryside. I can't wait to see what the rest of the country looks like.

We also changed our plans for the October holiday. We were originally going to go to New Zealand. One of the Kiwi's that we work with told us that there are no direct flights out of Saigon and that it would take us 10 hours to get there. Plus, he told us, we don't want to rush New Zealand. So, we have narrowed down our choices to Australia and Bali, Indonesia. I think we're leaning towards Bali. SO exciting!

We got our new couch today! It's so nice having a comfortable couch to relax on. I've attached photos below. I've also included photos of our first authentic Vietnamese meal made by Hiep, our friendly Vietnamese cook. Bill has chicken pho (those are mushrooms on top). And I have vegetarian pho. She makes us two meals to accommodate our preferences! Love it!

We're now on the hunt for some art to fill our blank, white walls. We're going into District 1 tomorrow (weather permitting) to look around for some. I actually feel brave enough to take pictures of the city. I am starting to learn how the motorbikes work! Anyway, keep an eye out for those photos.

We miss everyone immensely. I heard Creedance Clearwater Revival on the radio at a restaurant yesterday and got misty-eyed. We're doing well though, so don't worry about us. Take care of each other.

I leave you with some pretty flowers we saw on our walk through An Phu today. Vietnam really is a beautiful place. I can't wait to see more of it!

Love you all,
Missy and Bill

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sorry for the lack of updates!

Hey everyone! No pics or videos today. We've started work (no students yet) and are REALLY busy! By the end of the day, we're so exhausted!!! Anyway, things are going well. Just busy with school. We've hired a cook who is Vietnamese and makes YUMMY dishes! She actually worked for a soldier during the conflict over here!!! She's really sweet! Anyway, she's already made us Pho and last night for dinner we had Vietnamese spring rolls. SO good.

We get our new couch on Saturday. I'll post pics then. I'll also post pics of some of the food Hiep has made us.

Once we get into the swing of school, I'll hopefully be able to update the blog on a more regular basis.

We miss you all so much and love you tons!
Missy and Bill