Leaders of the Future

It’s a new week here at the college which means classes full of new students for me to help learn and grow. So far, I’ve met a wide range of young pupils all with different goals. The students range from 18 to 30 years old, most of them in the younger range. There are a handful that I’ve bonded with a little more than others. Let me tell you all about them! First up is a young girl named Duong.

Me and Duong kneeling.
Me and Duong kneeling.

She’s in her early twenties and has a contagious smile that never goes away. Definitely one of the most pleasant people I have ever met. During a session where we conversed with students about ourselves in English, Duong came over to my table of students, and happily introduced herself. Her English is great and we were able to understand each other perfectly. She had many questions about my home in the United States and told me all about what she does for a living. She is a waitress at a restaurant called ‘Cuc Gach Quan’. She said that I should come visit her tonight to get a taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine. I did one better. I ended up bringing all of the volunteers with me to sit in her section!

20130701-133308.jpg Fortunately she had a table big enough for all of us and we were able to get her section. None of us really knew what we wanted so she created her own dinner for us which worked out perfectly. Servings of salads, meats, vegetables, fruits, spring rolls, and rice; all crafted with a touch of Vietnamese flare. In Vietnam, waiters and waitresses don’t expect tips or gratuity but when it happens, it’s appreciated. I made sure she was well taken care of.

A little later into the week, Shantai decided she wanted to work with younger kids and she switched to working with disabled children. A new volunteer by the name of Elisa (Berlin, Germany), took her spot. Elisa switched over from orphanage to teaching after hearing me rave about how much I enjoyed my placement. Turns out it was a decision she’s glad she made. During one of her first classes, the teacher let us briefly explain certain lessons to the students. My task was to teach the students how to comfortably pronounce the “th” sound. The “th” isn’t natural for them, as it’s not part of their language. It was a bit of a hurdle but in due time, these guys will sound natural. In this same class, I met three students, who would become buddies of mine. Their names are Bone, Bin, and Macu. These aren’t their real names but rather nicknames given to them by their parents. It’s way easier for me to remember their nicknames, so that’s what I stuck with. Out of the three, Bone speaks the best English and would often translate to Bin and Macu what I would say. This isn’t to say their English is terrible, because it’s not. They just need some polishing. And it’s partly because I speak too fast for them to register what I’m saying. All three of them are studying to become hotel managers for five-star hotels around the world. It turns out that it was Macu’s 19th birthday today and for the occasion he brought a cake, made some food, brought some drinks, all for the entire class! This is how you make friends! For his kind gesture, I invited him, Bone, and Bin out for pizza. My treat!

Me, Bin, Macu, and Bone!

I took them to a Pizza Hut nearby the supermarket. This was a great way for them to hangout with different people from different countries and get a whole new perspective on just about everything. I made sure to speak in simpler, slower English and everything went smoothly. I also learned a bit more about these guys. Bin is 21 and is a family man. He’s also great at table tennis. Macu should be on his way to Hollywood. He can sing, dance, do all sorts of flips and splits, play the piano, and can cook. Super talented kid! Finally, Bone is 21 and has dreams of perfecting his English and also wants to begin learning French. He has an older sister who studies in Texas that speaks English really well, so he always has someone to practice with. Once he reaches his goal of running his own hotel, he wants to stay in Asia, relatively close to Vietnam so he’s close to his family and friends. You can’t argue with that. You also can’t argue with the fact that these guys are extremely modest. I told them to order anything they wanted, along with desert but they were hesitant because they thought it would cost me too much money. I convinced them not to worry and so we ordered up!


We made plans to go to the cinema next week, any movie they wanted. For the remainder of this week I was a little busy. One of the nights, all of us volunteers went to go sing karaoke at the Aapple Karaoke bar about 100 yards away from the college. In case you were wondering, I sang “Billie Jean”. No ones ears exploded, so it must mean I did a decent job.

Shantai, Sophie, Lucy, Lex, and Tom singing.

Afterwards, by the suggestion of Peter, we went to a club called ‘Lush’. It was ladies night which meant girls drink anything they want for absolutely free. This actually worked in the advantage for me, Peter, Shane, and Tom because the girls happily, and constantly got us drinks from the bar. Thanks for looking out ladies! Some other students of mine joined us at the club. It was a bit weird at first but I kept forgetting that these students are in their early twenties and are not kids that I’m teaching this time. Needless to say, we had a great time!


I have a problem here in Vietnam. So the kids in each class like to request me as a friend on Facebook, which I don’t mind at all. The problem is that I can’t remember who exactly the person is that messages me. They all look so different when they’re in casual wear, not in their school uniform. I guess I tell students that we can hang out and then I’ll get a message from them, and I usually can’t remember who they are! I meet so many students everyday it’s a bit hard to get keep in track. I feel like a jerk sometimes but…everybody looks alike! Lucy, along with Lex, Tom, and Sophie have been helping out with disabled children about fifteen minutes away from the college. I don’t know too much about it, but Lex writes a blog on here too which you should read for another look at this whole Vietnam thing. (There’s a link to her blog, Lex on the Loose, on right-hand side of this page). After about a week of teaching and helping these kids, 12 of us decided to take a little vacation to the eastern border of Vietnam to Mui Ne beach!

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