August 30, 2009

Vietnam: Doctors Masks and Communal Cups

Three weeks ago the summer English class at American International School ended and by the following week I applied and was hired at a private high school teaching drama, vocabulary, reading, speaking and literature. My hours have dropped from 70 a week to a more  manageable 45 a week, which is keeping me slightly more sane as I finish out my last few weeks in Vietnam.

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To sum up my Asian High School job, I was hired to teach drama without being asked if I knew anything about drama. The reputation that AHS has is that the students can pay for their grades. Fabulous. At this point it has been a mixture of them not caring and me trying to show them I still care. A few of my classes are outstanding with fun and energetic students. Then there are the other classes. Each class is thirty minutes long with no passing period. The teachers change classrooms instead of the students. There are also no resources for teachers besides the class book, which is a real step down from American International School where I had a computer in my classroom and staff waiting on my hand and foot. For the students who attend AHS it seems to be more a status symbol than an education. Granted most students do graduate speaking fluent English. 

Everyday when I walk into AHS I have my temperature checked and I am told to put on a doctors mask so I don't get Swine Flue. I am constantly scolded for taking off my face mask (the principle will tap on my classroom door and point to me and then my mask) but teaching English is very hard when no one can see my mouth move. The best part of it all is that at the water coolers there are two communal cups for the students to drink out of. A student pulls down their face mask and grabs the used silver cup and fills it up with water, drinks it and puts it back for another student to do the same thing. But don't forget to put on your doctors mask after rehydrating you wouldn't want to get the Swine Flu!