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.