Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Barbie and the Rockers: The Fan

There's a Language Arts teacher in the middle school whom I adore... Patrice. She is from Nova Scotia, Canada. I love when she ends a sentence and I expect her to pull a Mom from Bobby's World... "Donchya know, Babbo!"

This is Patrice's 2nd year at AIS and she's been so sweet to me. I love hangout time in her room each afternoon... today's hangout time included my showing her pictures from home.

She loved this one of Jenn Meyers and I dressed for 80's day at Camp Stella Maris in 2007...

At first, it reminded her of Jem and the Holograms but then Patrice hit it right on the spot when she said that my hair looks like Diva from Barbie and the Rockers: The Fan...
Hahahaha... perrrrfect.

It felt good to talk about home and look at the pictures that I've brought to Vietnam with me.

The picture of Meyers and I above is actually a part of my scrapbook that I made at the end of 2009 to bring on my trip to Ecuador. I love this book. It is in both English and Spanish and the kids that we worked with in Ecuador LOVED our scrapbooks! It was such a fabulous trip... and this scrapbook shows all different pieces of my life - from growing up in NY and doing gymnastics, to living in Denver and playing kickball - it's all in there with my family and friends.  XOXO

Nothing is Something.

A couple of weeks ago I posted about a student, Phuc, (pronounced more like Foop with just a little bit of a p sound at the end)... and as I checked out a book to him and asked him what he likes to be called... he said, "Nothing"...

So began a back-and-forth conversation that he's "Something" ...not "Nothing"...

He came back to the library to check more books out a day or so later and I said, "Hey Somethin'" - he seemed to like that! We added his nickname to his patron information in the checkout system and I asked if he wanted me to put in "Nothing" or "Something" - he said, "Something" - Yay! I'm glad that he liked the change and did not view it as me making fun of him.

So I've been calling him Something and feel like we've bonded a bit.


Something is in Sarah's ESL / Language Arts class and we've talked about Nothing who is Something...

Yesterday, when Something came to the library with Sarah's class, she updated me... now he wants to be called by his Vietnamese name, Phuc.


Come to find out... Phuc came to AIS this year from a public school... where they do not choose Western names. He did not understand being able to choose a Western nickname... nor did he understand what it meant when he said that he wanted to be called "Nothing". He (we) figured all of this out by having a conversation with the school counselor. (Are you finding this to be a bit hilarious??)

The worst part is that I was naive enough to assume that most children (throughout the country) chose Western nicknames. I'm embarrassed to even admit that! When I learned that most of the students here have Western nicknames that they like to go by... I really didn't give it much thought. My main thing was - Great! That'll make it so much easier for me to learn their names! Sheesh. How naive of me.

So... Phuc came into the library this morning and I just started calling him Phuc.

Here I thought we had bonded! ha. Although... maybe we still have... he's still coming to the library on a daily basis and seems happy to see me (probably views me as the Library Lady with crazy hair... who kept trying to call him by some random 'name').

There's the saying about learning something new everyday... that's tenfold here! I'm learning things about the world... about this culture... about the teachers here from other countries... everywhere... in ways that I never expect or see coming. I love it.  :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Things They Carry

This morning I met with the other AIS librarians - from the elementary and high school - Jaye and Louise. It was nice to meet in a cafe and talk about library things.  :)

A driver from the school took me and to and from the meeting... and look who we ran into on the street! -

We passed many other interesting sights on the street... (and don't be fooled by the clothing... it is HOT and humid here! People cover up so much because they are afraid of the sun and do not want dark skin... but I don't know how they manage to wear so much clothing in this climate)...

Alvin and the Chipmunks scooter!

Another 5er... better than yesterday's.

If only I could get pictures of all of the things they carry on scooters... it's quite impressive, really.

Towards the end of the school day, Sarah and I went across the street to meet with the librarian (Nell) at the Saigon Pearl International School (pre-school through 6th grade). We are going to set up reading buddies between the schools! A class of Sarah's 6th grade ESL students will go over to Nell's school monthly and read with two classes of 3-year olds! I love it.  :)

Then, Sarah and I were really good and went to the gym again. While we were there, it began pouring rain and the wind was something fierce! We got pho for dinner downstairs, thinking that maybe the rain would let up a bit... no such luck. I drove home and was surprised to see how flooded the streets were (I really shouldn't have been surprised I guess...). In some places the roads had water up to where my feet are on my scooter! Motorbikes were stalled out all over... just stopped working and sitting in water about a foot or so deep. Craziness - I'm glad I made it home... I pulled into the basement, looked at Mr. Nhan from under my raincoat's hood and helmet, and said, mua (rain). Then I parked my scooter, stood up, and shook off the water... Mr. Nhan laughed pretty hard.  :P

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Funday.

Woke up early and met Sarah and Patrice (both returning Lang. Arts teachers at the middle school) at the gym. There is a GREAT gym at The Manor - a huge apartment building near the middle school. A lot of the teachers signed up but I'm trying out a 3-day pass since I have a tiny gym right in my building. Even though the gym at The Manor is more expensive that what I was paying in Denver, I think I might go for it. I'm not able to do everything I'd like to do at the one in my place... and I'm finding it hard to be motivated when the gym is right in my place (silly, really!). I've packed gym clothes to bring to school tomorrow and plan to go to the gym right from work - I think I can make that part of my regular schedule... and really like it. This gym also has a great schedule of classes - lots of yoga.  :)

The workout was followed up with lattes and breakfast with Sarah at Javas... I like this cafe.  :)

I spent part of the afternoon out on the balcony with my computer. There was a nice breeze and I'm thinking about submitting a paper to present at a conference this coming March - in Bengaluru, India! I really need to work on the flow and organization of my ideas... and somehow make it something that people will want to come listen to. The topic of the conference - Intercultural Collaboration - is right up my alley and I think it sounds great. I'd really enjoy presenting at conferences and figure I need to start somewhere - so it can't hurt to apply. ...If not presenting, I'd still like to try to attend with my professional development allowance from school. The conference is a Wed. through Fri. so I'd like to stay for the weekend and see some of India... amazing!

...That entire last paragraph sounds unreal, right?! It does to me a bit - it's pretty amazing to think that it could be for real.  :P

Another dream that I've been thinking about more and more lately is to begin writing stories... and having them published. I would love to be an author. I figure this is the place to do it... there's got to be a way to find a publisher and go for it myself. I will just take it all step by step and try to figure it out along the way. I'm excited thinking of all the possibilities - funny, cute children's stories... something about this experience... using my photographs... having some of my students be illustrators... the possibilities are endless! ...Depending on how this Poetry Slam Club turns out, maybe we could even publish their poems! (Ahhh... dreams.)   :)  ...And why can't it come true, right?!

I took a walk around my area tonight... more fun with my camera...
Ha - this guy actually called me over and requested that I take his picture.

Count 'em... five people on one scooter. Awesome, yet not unusual.

This is the bubble gum church on Hai Ba Trung (at least that's what I call it... it's bubble gum pink and looks like it should be on a Candy Land board). Before I was driving my own scooter and I was paying xe om drivers to get home, whenever we passed this church, I knew we were on the right path!

Tan Dinh Market near my place... and across from all of the fabric shops.

This picture is one of my favs.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fun. Fun. Fun. Picture fun.

Yesterday after school I met up with Riki and Saleshni for massages. Thank goodness they turned out to be better than our massages with the 3 blind men! ...Parts of yesterday's massage felt wonderful... but other parts scared me! Massages here are not all about relaxation haha. Towards the end, my lady had me sit cross-legged, with my arms folded behind my head, and then she put one of their legs through my legs in front, curled her arms through mine... and twisted me back so that 1/2 my body went one way, and the other half goes the other way! I yelped! Riki and Saleshni began laughing. I wouldn't let her do it in the other direction to me... maybe I'm a bit lopsided now... but I'm still all in one piece.

From there, I met up with some teachers for dinner at a great restaurant, Au Parc, near the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was delish. By the time we were ready to leave, it was raining - hard. There was some crazy thunder and lightning... we waited a bit... ordered dessert, had more wine... and then just went for it. I gave Sarah the raincoat from the tailor to wear... hilarious...

...And what a wonderful Saturday I've had so far! I met up with Riki and Saleshni at a cute restaurant for breakfast. From there we took a walk and stopped in to see the Notre Dame Cathedral...

Then we walked to a park where we've seen people working out on these "twisty" machines outside along a busy road and we wanted to try it. The park is beautiful... I had fun taking pictures...

All over, there were groups of photographers taking pictures of beautiful, young girls posing and modeling in various parts of the park. It was kind of funny how many photographers were needed for each model...

There is a small "amusement park" in a corner of the park... and Saleshni and I went on a ride (very amusing to the guys working there!)...

We also stopped for drinks at this cute little tea house...

Then we finally found enough energy to go for a workout on the twisty machines! ...haha  :P

Saleshni has told me about this delicious roasted banana dish that is smothered in a tapioca sauce... On our walk back towards the restaurant for my scooter, a cart rode past us with this sweet treat... delicious!

We also went past the Reunification Palace (formerly known as Independence Palace)... it's the first time I've seen this building from the front (funny, since it's in the center of the city and I've been near it a number of times)...

And here are some other fun photos from today:

All of the trees in the park are numbered...

 This little temple was so beautiful.

Tonight I'm meeting up with another librarian! Rachella is from Buffalo, NY and this is her 2nd year in Ho Chi Minh City, teaching as a librarian in an international school. I love that the librarians throughout the city have formed an email group and meet up a few times a year. Rachella got in touch when she heard that I'm from Upstate New York... and then I found out that her brother-in-law and his wife just started with me at AIS as new teachers too! (They are not at the middle school with me but we did have the two weeks of orientation together.) I'm excited to get together with her and make a new friend that is outside of AIS.  :)