After the first week of camp I can honestly say I have never been this invested in a group of children. A teaching career has always been in the back of my mind, but I never thought I would really pursue it; now it’s looking like a real possibility.
The kids give me every reason to love coming to camp every day, and it’s so hard not to smile at them even when they know they’ve misbehaved. But one of the best parts of this program is the unique opportunity to work alongside the Vietnamese coaches. They bridge a huge communication gap between the American coaches and the kids, but are even more helpful in planning lessons with us and problem-solving together.
“One of the best parts of this program is the unique opportunity to work alongside the Vietnamese coaches. They bridge a huge communication gap between the American coaches and the kids, but are even more helpful in planning lessons with us and problem-solving together.”
When we first arrived at our guest house, I did not see any of my relationships with the kids forming, at least not very strongly. My first encounter with most of them was a 10-minute failed back-and-forth attempt at pronouncing their names. I thought I was repeating back to them exactly what they were saying to me but that definitely wasn’t the case. One of the coaches made it easier on us by allowing us to call her “Tea”. After the first day or two here it was easy to call them my friends.
Each day they teach me a few more words in Vietnamese, and I’ll try to use those new words with the kids and either get blank stares or an outcry or laughter at something I just butchered. They introduced me to all the different foods, informed me of their very different table manners and etiquette, and taught me how to hand-wash my sweat-drenched clothes effectively, and I told them about what it means for something to be “lit” and taught them how to play “odds.” I felt an especially strong bond with one of them when I pulled Exploding Kittens out of my backpack and she said she brought the expansion pack with her.
I particularly admire one of the coaches who is in my soccer-coaching team. She had never before touched a soccer ball but quickly learned from the Americans in a matter of minutes, and was incredibly helpful with relaying our messages to the kids. She’s a blast to work with and is dedicated to learning more from us.
By having an opportunity to work with the Vietnamese coaches, I have learned so much about their culture and language. They boost my confidence in the classroom and on the soccer field, and they have helped me form strong bonds with the children.
I cannot thank them enough for all they have taught me so far, and I can’t wait to learn even more in the next two weeks.