Teach your children what you believe in / Make a world that we can live in

It was a weekend of learning curves and very little sleep. Great combination! But I survived my first classes as an ESL teacher and I don’t think the students are any more damaged because of it.

I woke up on Saturday morning at 5:30 with nerves. I felt like such a poser! Who trusted me with these kids? Am I really prepared enough to do this? My first class started at 7:40 so Bagheera and I were out the door by 6:50. I taught a class of Everybody Up 3s who ranged in age from about eight- to ten-years-old. It was a class of twelve students. The great thing about the school is they give each teacher a Vietnamese teaching assistant to help with classroom management and anything else we need. I met my TA Amy that morning and she is the best TA I could have asked for to help with my very first class. She already had them in a seating arrangement and was very effective in keeping them quiet while I set up. I thanked her (and my guardian angels) for making my first class run so smoothly.

Bagheera and I both only taught one class on Saturday morning and then we ventured to a bank to take out the rest of our rent money and on to breakfast off Phạm Ngũ Lão Street in the backpacker district. As we were leaving the restaurant, we had our second coincidental run-in with Rhino since moving out of his place. We were convinced he’d been creeping us on Google Latitude but it just so happens that the backpacker district is small enough that it’s hard to hide from white folks.

After chatting with Rhino for a while and telling him how much we missed him, we grabbed a taxi to head back out to Bình Thạnh. We were in desperate need of food to stock our fridge and cupboards at our flat so we strapped on our shoes with a general sense of direction in mind, set out in search of groceries. A fully-stocked grocery store is harder to come by here than an outdoor market or fruit stand. On our trek, we stopped in at a specialty beauty store with the largest nail polish collection I’ve ever seen at insanely cheap prices. We’re all paying far too much in North America for a bottle of nail polish.

There were bottles of nail polish lining both sides of this aisle. I thought of only one person: my cousin, Fav. To steal Fav's word when she saw this, It was polishgasm-inducing.

There were bottles of nail polish lining both sides of this aisle. I thought of only one person: my cousin, Fav. To steal Fav’s word when she saw this, it was polishgasmic.

We stumbled out of the beauty store stunned by all the girly stuff and made our way along Xô Viết Nghệ Tĩnh. To our own surprise and utter shock, we managed to find our way to the market we were at when Dan the Man took us to buy sheets, toiletries, and cleaning products on our first day in the new flat.

Back entrance to Bình Thạnh market.

Back entrance to Bình Thạnh market.

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Fresh veggies!

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Housing next to and part of the market.

The market lines the Saigon River which looks remarkably clean in this expertly-taken photo but is really a cess pool for disease.

The market lines the Saigon River which looks remarkably clean in this expertly-taken photo but is really a cess pool of grime and garbage.

We wandered around there for a few hours and picked up some kitchen supplies, veggies, fruits, and a couple of one-dollar bouquets of beautiful flowers.

This adorable and very curious monk saw me with my SLR camera and wanted his photo taken. I happily obliged and then showed him his picture on the display screen. He was overjoyed and gestured that he’d like me to bring a copy back to him in three days. I’ll have to find a print shop here in order to do that.

This adorable and very curious monk saw me with my SLR camera and wanted his photo taken. I happily obliged and then showed him his picture on the display screen. He was overjoyed and gestured that he’d like me to bring a copy back to him in three days. I’ll have to find a print shop here in order to do that.

We lugged our bags home and immediately got down to lesson planning for Sunday morning. I planned one whole lesson then made dinner: stir fry with tofu, okra, mushrooms, green beans, carrots and lots of garlic served over rice. All the ingredients came fresh from the market that afternoon. Nothing compares to the feeling of buying locally-grown food and cooking it fresh for dinner. It just makes me feel like I’m doing right by my body.

On Saturday night I turned in for less than five hours of sleep before getting up for my second day of work. Two back-to-back two-hour kids’ classes!

Sunday morning was rough. I was so exhausted and managed to rally but got a really big, really tough class at 7:40 that morning. I fixed my mistakes from last class though. Seating arrangements are KEY! Between my two classes, I got asked to take another two-hour class that afternoon at 14:45. The only good thing about this proposition was obviously the extra two hours of pay but also that it gave me two-and-a-half hours to prep and unwind a bit. So I stuck around the school and planned until my last class of the day at 14:45. I found out this week that I was lucky because at some point I might have to teach four classes on Saturdays! This week we also got called in to teach three-hour adult classes from 18:30-21:30 on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. I’ve got these classes again this upcoming week and I have a feeling they’ll be calling to get us to work more evenings next week though.

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