This summer CSU faculty member Kristie Yelinek is teaching a composition class at the Forestry University of Vietnam in the city of Xuan Mai. She has been recording her experiences teaching and traveling around Vietnam in a blog, “Teaching and Other Adventures: Vietnam.” The following is an excerpt from her blog about her last day teaching.
After teaching, Kristie will be traveling to Cambodia and Thailand. Make sure to continue following her personal blog to hear about her experiences there!
Yesterday (Friday June 10th) was my last day at VFU. I left a little bit after lunch and had a university car to the hotel in Hanoi (yes, the same one). Because it was my last day, the university had a car take me in rather than me having to take a bus, which was really nice since I had two backpacks with me.
The last day of teaching went well and was about as I expected-mostly exciting (for me) and a little sad. Teaching has been rough, but I have had some great students. Three of them road into Hanoi with me (one of the girls said she thought I might be afraid to go by myself because she would be). It was nice to have company, but then it was nice to get into the hotel room and close the door. And grade. They turned in their last assignment to me in class yesterday so I spent all afternoon and evening and a little bit of this morning grading, but I got everything done so I can simply relax for the next three weeks.
People in Vietnam take gifts seriously and since yesterday was my last day, I got quite a few. As I was getting ready to leave the second class, there was quite a bit of conversation and the class monitor asked me to wait for a minute. Then he told me that they (as a class) wanted to get me a present, but they had just decided what it would be and now they had to figure out where to get it. Then he asked me what my schedule was for the rest of the day. When I said I was leaving shortly after lunch, the discussion got serious. Also, when I told him I wanted to run to the market, he asked if he could take me and maybe do some other business while we were there. I said sure!
It turns out that my present from the class was a beautiful tailor-made traditional Vietnamese dress. When we went to the market, we met up with three of my other students and went to a tailor’s shop where they let me pick out the fabric and had me measured. A remarkable three hours later (about 15 minutes before I had to leave), they (and a few other students) showed up at the guest house with the dress. It’s beautiful and I am truly touched by their gift. I really don’t have the words.
This experiences has been frustrating at times, but also rewarding at times and now that I’m not in the frustration any more, I hope I can focus more on the rewarding aspects of my time teaching. But, now it’s off to Cambodia and Thailand!