Vietnamese students always have the utmost respect for their teachers. This perhaps is why I may never be able to teach in America. The students of Vietnam have spoiled me. They stand when you enter or exit the classroom, and usually give a big nod/bow and smile if they me outside of the classroom. And of course in the classroom, there are never any pranks played on the teacher.

However, in the past two days, things have been slightly different for me. Yesterday, before a long break, I put my folder of books and lecture notes in the classroom and then stepped out for a coffee. I came back after the 10 minute break, and my folder was gone! I’d never experienced this before.

“Where’s my stuff?” I asked them

“What stuff?” they responded.

“My stuff. The books and notes.”

“We don’t know. You should be more careful.”

This went on for a minute or two, with the whole class of 30 students keeping the secret until someone pointed to my folder hidden in an unused desk. That was a shocker. Then, this morning, I again stepped out for a quick coffee. On my way back to the room, I heard someone yelling, “Teacher’s coming!” in Vietnamese. At this point I could see into the class through the windows, and there was a crowd of about 10 students and one of them was holding my cell phone (I usually leave it on the table and keep time with it). They screamed when they saw me and ran away from the phone.

“What were you doing with my phone?” I asked them.

“They wanted me to do it,” said one student.

“Why?” I said.

“We were looking for your girlfriend’s number phone.”

“You mean phone number,” I corrected.

They laughed and we continued class. The only explanation for this recent mischievous behavior of my students that I can think of is that they have now reached a point with me where they are extremely comfortable with me as a person, and know that I am very laid back. It’s strange for Vietnamese students, but in a way I kinda like it.


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