Saturday, December 12, 2009

Teachers For Vietnam

The organization I work for is Teachers for Vietnam.  Our mission statement is "Teachers for Vietnam is dedicated to building bridges between the peoples of Vietnam and the United States through higher education."  This organization has paid for all my travel expenses and made my arrangements here in Vietnam.  They have been able to set me up with a terrific post in Da Lat.  Yet I'm still a little surprised they sent me here.  I have been working on building bridges by showing my students Hollywood movies, teaching them to trash talk in sports, and playing American football with them.  Still Da Lat University, the school I work for, seems to be pleased with my performance.  

My average day here in Vietnam usually starts off with some early morning teaching, class starts here at seven.  I then grab some lunch, usually a barbeque pork sandwich (banh mi thit nuong in Vietnamese).  I might then watch some cable television or hang out and drink coffee with the other teachers.  Maybe I'll then hang out downtown at the market, and eat again.  At night I usually either watch a movie, go to a bar, or just watch some soccer.  Most of my day involves eating and enjoying the perfect weather here in Da Lat.  I live in constant Spring time.  The relaxed life here is quite the contradiction from New York.

This street is the backpacker section of Da Lat, and this is about as busy as it ever gets.  Recently the head of the board of directors for Teachers for Vietnam, John Dippel, came to visit me and meet with the university.  I had the task of showing him around Da Lat.  Within the city itself I have to admit there isn't as much to do as advertised.  Most people spend their days relaxing and drinking coffee.  The real action occurs outside of the city, since it's surrounded by many waterfalls, mountains, bike trails, lakes, and valleys.  I've known John Dippel for quite a few years now and we spent most of our time walking around the city, enjoying the weather, and talking about the economic/political future of Vietnam.  Vietnam is rapidly changing and growing in its infrastructure.  Vietnam was one of the few economies that showed growth in the last year.  They are steadily modernizing and becoming an economic power in Southeast Asia, all the while reestablishing its cultural identity beyond the Vietnam War. It puts your work in a different perspective when you realize you are contributing to the economic and cultural revival of a nation.   I might be overstating my importance.

1 comment:

  1. I am seriously considering this for next year man. Can we get some hiking in when we visit?