D-oh! We had it backwards……

I had written (yet another) post on being stressed about things, but I trashed it because I thought, “Who am I to be feeling down?  I’m traveling!  I’m in Vietnam for crying out loud – how cool is that?” At the same time….I’m human and I still have my down days.  I wrote about growing pains….and that I still have a lot of growing up to do.

I also wrote about physical growing pains.  When I was a young teen, I went through a rapid growth spurt and had actual growing pains in my legs.  They would become very achy and my mom would rub them for me.  She would massage each leg starting about mid-thigh and work her way down and, upon reaching my feet, “pull the pain out” through my toes.  I don’t know whether or not it was psychological, but it worked.  Thanks, mom.  I was wishing for that same treatment for my head………….

What I’ve been stressing about is finding work.  It’s been harder than I’d expected.  I had this idiotic idea that because I’m a “Native English Speaker” (which is what every website about teaching over here advertises for), I would be swooped up off the airport tarmac upon arrival and offered countless jobs.  Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little – but I really did think it would be much easier to get a job than it has been.  What I’ve found is that most places require one to have a Bachelor’s Degree, which I do not.  But I’m now also finding that even though they advertise for that, some will make exceptions.  So far I have one 3 hour job on Saturdays.  That’s wonderful, but it’s hardly enough to support myself.  Then recently I got a job for an hour every morning, Monday through Friday.  5 more hours – great, but boy oh boy, am I ever not cut out for this job.  This job entails teaching cute, adorable, smiling, happy-faced little 2 to 4 year olds………Okay, Janice, what the hell is wrong with you?!!  (I actually heard you say that!).

Some people have a knack for teaching (or babysitting or entertaining or whatever….) toddlers….I am not one of those people.  One on one with a toddler or baby, I’m great!  I love them, they’re adorable.  I have three children and four grandchildren and I’ve loved every one of them every step of the way.  But twenty to thirty of them????  All at ONCE??!!!   I want to run, screaming from the room!!  I’m afraid I just don’t have the patience or the……..knack.  I have great admiration and respect for kindergarten teachers – I know I could never do it.  And I think, especially in a job like this where the children don’t understand the language you’re speaking, you have to have a bit of the entertainer in you……and I don’t have that, either.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve taken the job and I go to work every day and do the best I can – I need a job – and those kids are flippin’ adorable!!

So, I was talking (read ‘whining’) to Mike about the difficulties I’m having in the class: the rooms are huge, with high-ceilings and tiled floors so they’re like echo chambers.  Add to that 30 hyper kids all yelling at the same time, the ‘helpers’ in the class room ‘quieting’ the kids down and honestly, making more noise than the kids themselves half the time and then there’s me with a voice that just does not project, try as I might.  I feel like I’m yelling through the entire class period and the staff tells me after class, “You’ve got to talk louder!”  I can’t!  That’s the extent of my vocal volume – I don’t go up to eleven!

Now, Mike, on the other hand, is a natural teacher.  And I’m not even referring to the fact that he’s got a teaching degree.  I mean he’s a natural.  He’s amazing at teaching someone something – anything – and making that person feel as if they knew the subject all along – he was only there to help them realize it.  So, when I told him that mostly what I do is play sing along songs, jump and dance with the kids (while counting to ten and such) and show flash cards (the classes are only a half hour each), he said, “That’s it?!!”  He’d actually been offered the job first but passed it on to me because he knew I needed the work, I actually am good with children (in smaller doses) and he didn’t think he was cut out for teaching little kids, either.  But when he heard what I do (which is basically what’s expected in these classes) he realized he’d be…well, …a natural.  He plays guitar (they love a guitar player over here!), he sings beautifully, he can make up a song on the spot and he can make goofy faces! …..in effect – be an entertainer and a teacher!  And he has a much more commanding presence than I do so he can be heard over the din.

Mike had been applying for (and getting) the jobs you’d expect for someone with a degree, but those classes don’t allow for his more natural style.  The ‘administration’ (for lack of a better word) want structure and formality.  Mike is great at working with a more free-flowing style and I’m better at working with some structure.  Soooo (hey, I’m finally getting to the point!), we are swapping some classes.  He’ll take the little kid classes (while keeping some of his other classes….oh, and he’s already taught one of the kid classes and had a blast…..I knew he would!…..it’s a personality thing, you know?!) and I’ll take the older kids and an adult class or two.  Halleluah!  Employment!  And since I started writing this post I’ve got another private lesson (with 5 kids around 10 years old) coming up.  Yay!  Word of mouth, networking (Mike’s great at that) and communication…..seem to be what gets you jobs here.  I still need to pick up a few more hours, but at least I feel I can breathe a little easier now.  Stress relieved…

Now here are a few pictures, because every post needs a few pictures whether or not they relate to the text!





I love the juxtaposition of old and new.





Some rare blue sky over Hanoi.  We’d just had a couple of very rainy days which cleared things up nicely…..and turned some of the streets into lakes….just like it does in Chico!






I love these little….I’ll call them…..mototrucks.  They’re everywhere and I just think they’re cool looking.  A lot of people hang hammocks in the back and you’ll see them taking a midday nap while rocking themselves with one foot!




I caught up with him a minute after I took the previous shot and asked if I could take his picture….he seemed fine with that!


These are here and there.  I love them.  Just classic poster art.  This one says, “Bring flowers home to your family – it’s good for everybody.”  No, I have no idea what it says, I just think it’s cool.

2 thoughts on “D-oh! We had it backwards……

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