Contrary to my expectations, I’ve come to a realization that working with kids is something I can really like. While I was studying at the university to be a teacher, a part of me dreaded working with young kids in the classroom and hoped to work in high schools with teenagers or even with adults. Moreover, when I was coming to Vietnam, I expected that creating a life here would be easy since I already lived abroad, and that my first teaching job would be a real hard challenge. It turned out to be completely the opposite!
My work at the school was actually the only thing that was really good about living in Thanh Hoa. Apart from dealing with disorganized management typical of any school that I have heard of around here, working as a teacher was a real pleasure. I got used to teaching in no time and quickly found my ways and my style with the students. Since I have a good background in education of teaching English, it was relatively easy for me to form lessons and activities without wasting too much time on planning.
The biggest surprise, as I said, was how much I ended up enjoying teaching young children from 5 to 12 years old and even spending time outside of the classroom with them. The kids here in Vietnam are so good and respectful to their teachers, as well as very smart and eager to learn.
What touched my heart the most is the innocence of these unspoiled, raw spirits – you can see your own reflection in them perfectly! They don’t pretend anything and you can see on their faces every emotion, every thought, and it makes you think about yourself and your own actions. They reminded me of the simplicity of childhood, of that time when we are all the same and when we are all free, regardless of our physical differences, the time before we start growing up and being molded into expectations and various roles of the society.
There have been times when I was very angry and strict with my students – any job brings some bad days. But there were also countless times when I went to class tired, disappointed, or sad, bringing along the bad stuff from my private life, struggling to pretend that I was feeling alright. As I walked into the classroom the kids would run towards me to greet me with huge smiles on their faces, giving me high-five, hugging me, yelling: “Hello teacher Ninja!”, and fighting over whose homework I should check first. In those moments I could feel my heart crack open, which was a rare feeling for me since I arrived here, and I couldn’t feel anything but joy for being surrounded by those little angels.
I feel immensely fulfilled and even proud after speaking to some parents who told me that during my time as a teacher here, their children have progressed with English significantly. Some of the parents spoke to me about their kids on matters unrelated to studying; a few of them told me that their sons or daughters, who were extremely shy before, were motivated to finally relax in social settings and make more friends in school, or participate more in their other classes as well. There can be nothing more rewarding for me than knowing I’ve helped someone step out of their comfort zone and become their better self!
If nothing else, at least I feel like I’ve succeeded with my first teaching job, and I believe I am a good teacher. This experience I will carry with me forever, wherever I go, and it is the main reason I could never regret the time spent in Thanh Hoa.