In general, Asian countries have a much greater appreciation for educators than in America. The past four years I spent working at a school in California, Teacher Appreciation Day came and went without any recognition from the students. Here in Vietnam though that don’t play around. Teacher Appreciation Day is a serious national holiday. The students create elaborate flower decorations, beautiful hand made cards, and shower their teachers with gifts. Elementary kids notoriously give the best gifts (expensive lotions, coffee, ties, shoes, porcelain mugs) while high school students give cards and flowers. One of the 2nd graders, Laura, gave me skin whitening face cream, a very thoughtful gift if I wanted to be any paler than I already am but it’s the thought that counts.
The gift giving at school was only just the beginning though. That Saturday Dr. Lee, the owner of my school, held an event for the employees of all of his schools in Ho Chi Minh City (he has over 40 throughout Vietnam) that included staff recognition and of course multiple performances from the staff choir conducted by the doctor himself. The program was a little on the long side, but for the most part I enjoyed myself.
*Mr. Ben after receiving his award
*All that excitement made him tired though
The most exciting part of the program had to be the skits performed by the various campuses. I of course was drafted to be in the SNA skit, as if I had a choice. This is a big deal because the winning skit receives an impressive amount of prize money. While my role was small and seemingly insignificant, I like to think I contributed at least slightly to our school winning first place. Since the script is obviously in Vietnamese let me give you a brief synopsis. The main character, Daniel, is a new student at SNA. He first meets the students and staff at summer camp, this is the scene you will want to look for my awesome dance moves, before starting the school year. At SNA he excels in all of his classes and ends up graduating the head of his class. Look for me in the opening scene, I have on a green dress with a pink shawl wrapped around my waist. I will be easy to see since there are only 2 of us Americans amongst the Vietnamese. One thing I found particularly entertaining was that the Vietnamese Academic Counselors (co-teachers) dressed up as the students and to be completely honest they very easily could have passed for some of the kids.