November 20 of each year marks the celebration of Teachers’ Day in Vietnam. And it’s kind of a big deal. Check out what we got up to during the bash that Vee You Ess put on for its hundreds of teachers this year!
One thing Vee You Ess is really good at doing is putting on big celebrations and Teachers’ Day is definitely the pinnacle of those celebrations. All teachers, foreign and Vietnamese, from all of Vee You Ess’ campuses in Hồ Chí Minh City get together at a new venue each year for a formal dinner, awards and dance performances. This year, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers hosted us on November 17 for a beautiful night of good food, Australian wine, great company and even more entertainment.
Amidst the speeches, we managed to take some photos of us all looking quite – erm – refined…
This night was truly a full-circle moment for me. I arrived in Vietnam in November 2012 and started working at Vee You Ess a week later. After a whopping two days of work, Bagheera and I were cordially invited to the annual Teachers’ Day celebration. I borrowed a dress from Bagheera and wore whatever shoes I could pull out of my still-unpacked suitcase. I’d not planned for a formal event in any way so yet again, thank goodness for my roomie’s wardrobe!
This year, we planned ahead and got beautiful dresses made by a wonderful Vietnamese tailor so that we didn’t have to worry about finding Vietnamese-sized dresses to fit our Canadian-sized curves. After a few fittings, adjustments and embellishments, I paid my 600,000 VND ($30) for a beautiful gold-and-navy ball gown.
So back to the story of my first Teachers’ Day in 2012… We watched the proceedings in complete awe and as some of our new co-workers were called up on stage to receive awards, I found myself setting goals for my upcoming year. I wanted to be the best teacher I could be and I wanted to be recognised for my hard work and passion in the way that these amazing teachers had been.
Now, let’s flash forward to November 2013. I felt so blessed to be sitting at a table full of people I loved and if that wasn’t good enough, I was also honoured with a Teacher of the Year Award and Best Dressed Teacher Award.
As part of this special evening, each campus gathers a few of their teachers to m̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶f̶o̶o̶l̶s̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶m̶s̶e̶l̶v̶e̶s̶ prepare a dance. Bagheera and I were voluntold to take part in this along with six of our colleagues. We spent several Saturday lunch breaks and many nights after work into the wee hours of the morning creating the masterpiece that was our performance.
Yet again, this felt like such a perfect culmination to my time in Vietnam. I hadn’t danced since my days at Renée’s Dance Connection when I was fifteen and it was so freeing to be a dancer again. And the choreographer couldn’t have picked a more apt song for my past year – Stronger by Kelly Clarkson – which not only has lyrics that spoke to my experience but the music video also features a clip of dancers in downtown Saigon.
The finished product was better than anything we could have predicted. To say we were proud of ourselves would be an understatement.
Between all the costume changes, I had yet another full-circle moment when Bagheera and I accosted, half-naked, a poor girl who didn’t even see it coming. I had seen her the year before at Teachers’ Day but was n̶o̶t̶ ̶l̶i̶q̶u̶o̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶u̶p̶ ̶e̶n̶o̶u̶g̶h̶too shy to introduce myself. I recognised her from her pictures online. When we first started researching teaching in Vietnam, I found a Canadian girl’s blog online who was writing (just as I have this past year) about her experience as an English teacher at Vee You Ess.
Sofi Mofi was an inspiration and to be able to tell her how inspired we were by her writings was something I’d dreamed about doing. She was so embarrassed and flattered. She said none of her friends in Saigon knew she was writing a blog so we tried to keep our excited voices down in the bathroom we’d practically barricaded to get to this girl. Follow Sofi’s adventure here.
Seventy-five speeches, three awards, one dance and many outfit changes later we were finally seated for good and reaping the rewards of our year of hard work. Một trăm! 100%! AKA Chug your glass!