Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Many Valuable Experiences

I have been having a great time at MVCC. I have had a lot of valuable experiences visiting classes, attending meetings, traveling, and visiting families. I also had an opportunity to share stories with everyone about Vietnamese culture and to learn more about American culture. 

I visited many classes related to ESL, history and geography, cultural anthropology, American Sign Language, world literature, etc. I learned about teaching methods and classroom behavior. I also had a chance to share a lot of information about Vietnam through my presentations on various topics, such as Vietnamese music, poems, crime, geography, healthcare and human services. I was very happy because everyone seemed to enjoy my presentations about Vietnam, asked many questions about my culture and the Vietnamese people. I was especially happy because they also seemed interested in visiting my homeland, Vietnam.

I also admired the way MVCC welcomed the students to the Spring Open House. As far as I know, Open House is designed to give prospective students the opportunity to know about the many academic opportunities available at MVCC and to provide students with the information they need to begin their path to academic and career success. I believe that this activity is useful for the students because they will learn about MVCC before they decide to study here. When I attended Open House, I had a chance to talk to some people and I found that the faculty and staff are very enthusiastic and devoted to their school. Everyone worked very professionally and actively because each center had an activity to welcome students. Moreover, it was a chance for me to learn how to work in a more scientific and organized way.

MVCC's Spring Open House

A table set up at Spring Open House
A table set up at Spring Open House
In addition to gaining a lot of experiences on many subjects and attending many activities, I also had a chance to enjoy some American food that I had never tried before. This experience will be very helpful for me to teach my students when I go back to Vietnam.

Chicken Futa
Chicken Francaise
American Salad

Entree: Glazed Cornish Game Hen with smashed potatoes, sauteed asparagus and apricot pistachio dressing
Two desserts!

Potluck at CCED

One week everyone at CCED had a potluck for me. I was very happy because everyone was friendly and nice. I love CCED very much! Although I just met them twice, I felt that they were close to me. I don’t know how to express my feelings, but I would like to express my deep gratitude to them all.

That same week, I had a chance to take a trip to New York City. It was a wonderful trip because I saw many beautiful landscapes that I had just seen on TV or on the Internet. I took many photos there and I will share these photos with my students when I go back to Vietnam. I would like to say thank you so much to Dennis Gibbons and Roman Santos. They were excellent tour guides.

Statue of Liberty
Ground Zero

One World Trade Center
Visiting a Christmas Tree Farm

Last Tuesday, I visited a Christmas tree farm. There I saw real Christmas trees; in the past, I had only seen artificial Christmas trees in Vietnam. I had a chance smell and taste a real Christmas tree. It taste likes orange. I will share this valuable experience with my colleagues as well as my students when I go back to Vietnam.

Thus far, I can say that my trip to MVCC has been wonderful because I learned a lot that I will share with everyone when I go back to Vietnam.

Since I will leave here in three weeks, it is too soon to say thank you and goodbye to everyone. However, this is my last blog at MVCC, so I would like to express my deep gratitude to The Board of Trustees, President Randall VanWagoner, and Dr. Sandra Engel who gave me a chance to visit MVCC, and my thanks to MVCC faculty, staff and students who helped me a lot during my visit to MVCC.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A welcoming reception and new experiences for my teaching

Although this is the fourth week I have been at MVCC, I have not felt homesick or lonely. Here I feel very warm in such cold weather, and I am interested because I have learned some new things.

Two weeks ago, I went to Alison Doughtie’s office and I saw that she had a cartoon on her office door. Her students went there and took a photo of this cartoon and then they wrote something related to it. After that, they handed in it to her. Then she read the writing and corrected the mistakes. I like this idea. By doing this, students improve their writing skills and they have a chance to use the target language to express their feelings and ideas. As a result, they felt that learning English was really meaningful to them. Until now, at KGCC, I have not had opportunities to do this with my students. In the future, when I go back to Vietnam, I will use this approach to help my students to improve their writing skills. I think this is a new lesson for my teaching.

Alison's activity for her ESL class.

Last week, MVCC held a reception to welcome me. This was a big present that I received from MVCC. I would like to say “thank you” because MVCC gave me a chance to be here to learn something new, to share, and to make friends with everyone. I felt very happy because everyone gave me a warm reception. Here, I saw some female teachers wearing “Ao dai,” the traditional dress of Vietnam. When I saw them, I felt very happy because I knew they wanted to make me happy. On that day, I regretted that I couldn’t take a photo with all people in the reception; I just took photos with some people. And I didn’t have much time to talk to them because I had to attend the College Senate meeting.

 At the reception

That same week, I also saw the dismantling of a ceremonial sand mandala in the library. This is the first time in my life I have seen anything like that, and I liked it very much. It was wonderful. I will share it with my students and my colleagues when I go back to Vietnam.

Mandala ceremony in the Library.

I also learned about tipping at restaurants during a market tour with some international students. Frankly, in Vietnam, I had never taught my students about tipping when eating in a restaurant in the U.S. because I didn’t know why we should leave a tip. Last week, I went on a market tour with some international students and we ate in a restaurant. In addition to enjoying the new food and meeting new friends, I now understand why we left a tip. When I go back to KGCC, I am confident that I can explain tipping to my students.

Chicken Fata and Hummus & Tabbouleh Restaurant
Four weeks is not long enough, but I learned many things that will be very helpful in my teaching and my life. I was especially happy because I met and made friends with many people. That is a very valuable part of my trip to MVCC.

Monday, April 4, 2016

My Feelings and Impressions: From Vietnam to Syracuse

I had never been out of Vietnam before, and it is a tropical country. Well, I was not used to the cold weather. I wore 2 jackets and 3 socks but I was still cold. During the night, I couldn’t sleep because I was so cold. I walked and walked and walked to keep warm. Although there were some challenges during my journey, I tried to overcome them and I also knew how to deal with my difficulties. Having difficulties, I recognized I grew up and stronger. I think that this is a valuable lesson in my life. When I told my problem to my friend in Vietnam, she told me that she also learned a valuable experience from me. 
There were some impressions when I arrived in Syracuse:
The first impression when I came here is that I saw many trees without leaves. They are different from the trees in Vietnam.  

The trees without leaves

The second impression is that I saw the traffic lights that are also different from the traffic lights in Vietnam.

The traffic lights in Utica
The next impression happened the second day I was here. When I went out, I just wore a jacket, a pair of socks, and no hat, no gloves. I thought I was Ok with my clothes when I went out, but I couldn’t walk because of the cold weather. At that time, I think I would die because I was going to be frozen in such cold weather. I think that it is a valuable lesson to me. I think I can’t forget it in my life and I will share my experience with everyone when I come back to Vietnam. After that, when I went out, I often wore 6 layers, a hat, 3 socks, and gloves. Now I think I have a nickname “Nhe 6 layers.” Ok, everyone can call me by this nickname. Although the weather was cold, I felt warm because everyone was nice to me.
Another impression was that when I visited a Spanish class, I saw that the students didn’t wear uniforms, and they also didn’t greet the teacher when the teacher came into or left the class. They also didn’t take off their hats when they came to the class. Besides that, when they answered the teacher’s questions, they didn’t stand up, but they just sat at the seat and answered the questions. This doesn’t happen in Vietnam.
Spanish class

I will always remember this day because I had a chance to participate in an American’s birthday party. I felt interested and happy and the party was fun. Everyone was very friendly. I liked them a lot. I learned something new when I participated in this party. The first one is that the gifts are opened in front of the givers and everyone in the birthday party had to serve themselves. However, in Vietnam, people will not open gifts in front of the givers. If you do that, you are considered to be rude. In addition, the hosts have to serve the food for the guests. 
American birthday party

Last Sunday I went to Aiko’s house on Easter Sunday with her family. I tried many dishes that I had never tried in Vietnam. I also made friends with her three her daughters. They are so cute, so nice, and easy-going. I thanked her family because everyone made me feel warm and happy. There, I learned how to celebrate an Easter holiday in the USA. Frankly, I have never had a chance to participate in it, so I felt excited and the experience was meaningful.
Thus far, these are my new experiences that will be very useful for me in my teaching culture to my students.


Another thing I saw that Americans always say “thank you.” People say “thank you” to the stranger who holds the door open, to the cashier at the snack bar, or in the supermarket or in the coffee shop. Husband says “thank you” to his wife and his sons or his daughters several times a day for various things: closing the door, asking him if he wants to eat something or do something with them and vice versa. In brief, Americans say “thank you” for everything. In the U.S., people have offered thanks for coming to their homes or parties. In contrast, in Vietnam, people rarely thank their friends or classmates. People have never thanked their parents, their husband or wife for anything. Vietnamese people just say “thank you” to the strangers who help them to do something or sometimes younger people say “thank you” to elder people when they take something from the elder people. I also shared this issue with Alison’s students in her class.