Goodbye and thanks Vietnam!
The last two months of my placement became one of the greatest, most wonderful challenges of my life! My partner Laura left for home in May, and from there I was riding solo as I decided to extend my placement.
During this time I became even more involved with the people around me. I also spent time on my own, and through this gained even more of an understanding of myself, my needs and interests, and my friends and family back home. I missed them so much but I never thought once about wanting to actually go home! I knew they would still be there when I got back and most likely not have changed a bit. So I went on embracing my life in Vietnam and living in the “now”.
I continued learning Vovinam Kungfu and became a dedicated student, I fell in love with the art! More-so because during lessons I developed fun relationships with the other students and also with my Kungfu teachers. Afterwards I would often be invited to eat dinner with the guards of the school and the two Kungfu teachers. The best part was, they couldn’t speak English yet somehow I was able to communicate with them and just feel comfortable in their presence while they chatted amongst themselves. They occasionally offered me shots of vodka and pigs blood which they drink to make their “mouse (biceps) stronger”.
I finished teaching at my school on the last day of June and moved to stay at a hotel that was kilometres away, right on the coast of Vung Tau. Moving away from the school was more difficult than I thought it would be, because it had become my home and the staff within the school became my family. The guards, teachers cooks and cleaners made me feel so cared for and a part of their daily life.
However once again I developed a loving relationship with the staff of the hotel I moved into, and they became my second Vietnamese family. The owner of the hotel is my link teacher’s friend, and if it wasn’t for my Vietnamese mum, Diem, I wouldn’t have had such a wonderful stay in my last months in Vung Tau! Diem was my rock! Her daughter was one of my students from outside the school and she lived at the hotel. We became something like sisters there. I would have breakfast, lunch and dinner with the staff and family, and during “down time” I would teach the staff bits of English just for fun.
I was also teaching almost two times a day at Diem’s house. This was one of the best experiences I had teaching, where I had such a variety of classes, ages and abilities that it was always interesting! Through these classes I developed really strong relationships with my students, and I found that I was making a major difference to their self-esteem as well as their knowledge and English skills! It was challenging teaching such a diverse group of children, but I would not have changed a thing!
I have come out of this placement a very strong and independent person. I feel capable of completing anything I put my mind to, and inspired to use my abilities without hesitation or doubt. This has opened my eyes in a big way, and there are no words to describe how I’m feeling back home. Life will never be the same… it will be better than I ever imagined it could be!
Submitted by: Darcy de Hommell