Hannah’s story – Teaching in Vietnam

It didn’t take long to dawn on me. As I lay on the beach with the sand adjusting itself neatly underneath me; the grains of sand falling and finding their place like inside an hourglass.

I gazed upwards to reveal the jewels of the universe dancing overhead in the deep night sky. Shooting stars raced each other across the horizon, one after the other, near misses interacting with the Earth’s atmosphere and dispersing out to the other side of the solar system.

Filled with an immense sense of calm and wonder, it was then that I knew, at the end of my first-week teaching, I’d made the right decision to teach abroad.

It hadn’t been an easy decision for me. I’d been teaching at a school in the Midlands for 7 years. I was progressing, it was familiar, secure and I knew my role in the school. You could say, I was comfortable.

But with a lingering sense of adventure and approaching mid-thirties, I knew I wasn’t done yet. I had more discoveries to make, more experiences to create.

Sitting on that beach, looking up at the stars, I felt goosebumps crawl across my forearms. I was here, I’d done it and it was the right decision. My memories were being created and the canvas above me would be etched into my mind, forever.

My old school

I thought back to my school in England, the pupils I’d taught. Had I abandoned them? How had they reacted to the new teacher? Are they progressing without me? Had Terrence finally submitted a piece of homework without the cuffuffle of searching through his bag before plucking another excuse out of it?

‘Yes, they’ll be fine’ I soothed in my head. ‘You haven’t abandoned them’. I thought back to my colleagues, heading into the Autumn term, digging out the raincoat from the back of the cupboard, the sensible shoes and tights readied for the cold mornings. ‘You made the right decision’.

Landing in Vietnam

Vietnam. It was never on the bucket list but when presented with the opportunity from the International Teaching Partnership, it all fell into place.

“You’ll be working at an international school teaching the International Baccalaureate curriculum,” said Kris, my consultant. “But don’t worry, you don’t need to have experience of it. UK teachers are in high demand abroad and schools in the region are adept at helping new teachers settle in,” he continued.

After a long conversation(s) with Kris, emails back and forth and two Skype interviews, I was heading to Manchester International Airport before I knew it.

Armed with my passport, working Visa, 2 large suitcases and of course, an academic diary I was aboard a connecting flight to Dubai and wheels were up. It wasn’t just the movement of the plane that was giving me butterflies. It was my overwhelming excitement.

Landing in Vietnam I was hit by a nervous sense of fear. ‘What am I doing here!?’ But with a deep breath, I found my arranged transport and was couriered off to my hotel. The plan? Rest here for two days, go to the school for induction and meet the headteacher.

As I entered the school on the first day of term, the familiarities of school-life were interlaced with the unfamiliar sights and sounds. Working in Birmingham I saw a multitude of cultures and religions, but nothing quite like in this school. Languages from around the world flooded my ears as pupils from international families conversed and joked about their summer holidays; reconnecting with friends.

Introducing myself to the class in English, the pupils were attentive, respectful and engaged. ‘I think I’m going to like it here’ I thought. And I was right.

I’m heading into my second year in Vietnam and I often think back to the night on the beach, where it seemed everything had come together. Life had allowed me to make memories, to take chances and to enjoy different experiences. Could this be you?

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Teaching in Vietnam