Some of you who read this know about the Vietnamese language and the relatively complex system of addressing people. I tend to be younger than other teachers and staff at the university, so I always call myself “em,” which can be translated as “younger brother/sister.” This is the same situation when I go out to buy things at shops or in the market. The people working there tend to be older than me, so I always refer to them as “older brother/sister,” or “uncle/aunt.” However, sometimes at shops near the university, and occasionally elsewhere, these older people refer to me as “teacher.” It’s usually a surprise to me, but even if I’m having a bad day, or I’m tired from teaching, it always makes me feel better. Every day all the foreigners here have “Hello!” screamed at them by children and it really gets old quickly; sometimes we feel like we’re strange animals in a zoo. But then there are the times when I’m called “teacher” by people that are far older than me and I really feel like everyone here respects me and what I do.


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