This is a picture from Teacher’s Day. The man with us is a security guard here at AGU. He’s always smiling and chuckling and wanting us to go out with him.

It’s easy to forget how fragile our lives are. I get so caught up here with teaching, and now with grading and just those little “things” that fill up the days, that I end up enjoying drives through town. The wind is refreshing and always renews my spirits and gives me a better outlook.

Yesterday I was going for a late afternoon snack with some co-workers. It’s almost like a small meal consisting of noodles and pork leg in broth. However, as we drove past the roundabout in the center of town, there was a large flatbed truck stopped and lots of police around. When we went past we could see a motorbike, the kind that everyone drives in this country, underneath the front wheels of the truck. There was no sign of the driver and/or passenger of the motorbike.

And now, one of two of my subjects are now finished, but there’s still grading to do. If you’ve clicked on the link over on the left-hand side of this page, you’ve seen the IC3 learning platform that I’ve been using to teach listening and speaking this semester. Well, today was the final day for that class. We put in extra time to end a day early. So, from 7 a.m. till 11 a.m. I was in class with my second-year students. We talked about the film Good Night, and Good Luck, which was difficult for them to understand. Then we answered some guiding questions from the book. And that was all I had planned for. This curriculum/learning platform that I’ve been using includes small sections on the Vietnamese language, and for the remainder of our time in class, I had my students get up to the front of the class and, using the same book that we’ve been using all of the semester, teach me Vietnamese. The students seemed to enjoy it, and I had fun, and they taught me short songs in Vietnamese, and I thought it was a great way to end the semester. I told them I’ll try to have a Christmas party with them next month.

Things are still slowing down slightly at this time. I actually had a little time off to escape to the big city for pizza and relaxation and English TV. Sharla and I decided to make a quick trip just for fun, and, like I usually do, I called the hotel in the city. The hotel that I’ve always stayed at since I arrived here is a place called “The Splendor” or in Vietnamese, “Huy Hoang.” When I called them, the phone just kept ringing and ringing. I had heard from Hendrik a few days before that it was closed, but I refused to believe it. Sharla and I had all but decided to find a cheap place in the tourist area, which we both hate, because we really didn’t know anywhere else to stay off the top of our heads. But then we walked over to the Huy Hoang and I talked to one of the middle-aged women that sells coffee outside. She told me that the hotel had been sold. I later found out that it was being remodeled and would open again in about six months, with new ownership. All of this news came as a little of a shock. The staff there were so nice all the time, and I had always stayed there when I went to Ho Chi Minh City. I guess that I should pay more attention to that old saying, that there are only two things that are certain in life: death and taxes.

Let’s see what’s happened since the last posting…

Those ominous clouds that I was talking about, they contained some of the most violent lightning and loud thunder that I’ve ever experienced. This storm knocked out the internet at home, and also the power for some time too. The internet is still down, but most other things are back to normal. This particular storm also killed the power to half of the guesthouse, and this particular half included our water pump, so after about a day, we had no water at home. Like I said before though, things are back to normal now, but it was very different for a day or two

Also between these times was Teacher’s Day. The events for this involved half a week of performances by teachers and students, and cumulated in a ceremony with some other performances on Monday morning. Tyler and I were performing a song with two other Vietnamese teachers (in Vietnamese), but after working hard to memorize the words, the words left my head when I stepped out on stage. But it was fun. I heard huge screams and cheers as we started singing.

Now, things are starting to wind down a bit for the semester I have two more weeks of teaching listening and speaking and American Studies, and then a little more of British Literature. I don’t know what it is about the end of a semester, when things are actually slowing down, that makes things feel more hectic than they actually are.

The clouds outside of the office window are looking very dark and ominous, but despite that, it hasn’t been raining nearly as frequently as it used to. Teacher’s Day is approaching, and that means performances, and that furthermore means that Tyler and I, along with two Vietnamese teachers, will be performing a Vietnamese song on Friday evening. I’m still really nervous about it because I’ve been busy with classes and it’s the whole end of the semester time which adds to stress levels. Oh, and I haven’t memorized the words either, and that’s expected.

Anyway, it’ll at least be interesting, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself now. I think I better pack up and get home before the rain starts.

Late this afternoon, a woman popped into the office with something wrapped in newspaper. One of my colleagues, a woman named Linh, went and picked it up. The package was full of marshmallows!! Dr. Xuan, the president of the university, had just recently returned from America and brought some back. It was weird tasting them. All of my time over here, I’ve craved and am craving many foods, but I have never really thought twice about marshmallows. Tyler happened to be in the office with me, and we looked in a dictionary, and discovered the Vietnamese word is literally “soft candy.” However, I never really have liked “raw” marshmallows, so I didn’t eat very many, and that was more than enough for me.