Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Last week I interviewed for a teaching job in Ho Chi Minh City through Skype, an internet phone...thing. If you must ask, Ok, yes, the job was posted on Craigslist. Where and how, other than on Craigslist, do people conduct their lives? I don't remember! Anyway, at first they told me I was inter

viewing for a K-5 position. I thought, well, that will be different and I want different. Then I was told they had an opening in high school social studies. I thought, well, OK. Then they found out that English was my "thing." The end of the story: I will be teaching English at the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. That's right...two nights ago, I bought a one-way ticket to Saigon. Pushing the "purchase" button for a one way ticket to Saigon was a little weird.

When I called to tell my parents, my mom responded with the usual. "We never know what you're going to tell us when you call." I responded with, "Just think how I feel." This couldn't be any more last-minute.

Back to the interview...when the principal asked me why I wanted to teach in Vietnam, here's what the thought bubble above my head looked like: I paused. "Well," I said. And I paused again. Finally, I said, "Um, honestly, I want to teach in Vietnam because of the food." He laughed. He said, "I eat pho ga every day!"

Here are a few details: the school has gone from 70 to 700 within one year. Vietnamese parents want their kids to get an English education so that they can go to University in the states...and Vietnam has a red hot economy now, etc. This recruiting company is hiring 30 new teachers for this school year. It's a brand new facility, and they follow the California State standards-based curriculum. Thirty teachers are now in the process of picking up and moving with very little notice; it will not be dull. To use Jaci's comment, "They should have a Real-World camera on all of you!" They are putting us up in a hotel for two weeks, assigning us a Vietnamese "buddy" who will help us find an apartment. The pay is good for Vietnam...I will be making $2600 plus a $300 stipend for housing. They were thorough in their interview process. I don't know what else to say...

Many of you remember my trials teaching in China--no air conditioning, no curriculum among those trials. I said to my mom, "I am going to die in the heat!" She said, "Well, just remember how you endured it in China. Because, you know, you DID endure it." All I remember is that I endured it by promising myself I would never again go to a place that sucked the air out of my lungs. It has been confirmed that the heat in Ho Chi Minh City will suck the air out of my lungs. But then, I know people who FOUGHT in Vietnam, so I can probably walk to school there. My former neighbor, Patti, married to a Vietnam Vet, said, "At least you won't have to drop your pants and check for leeches." I sure hope I won't have to do that.

To summarize and reflect, in 2001, about two weeks after 9-11, I got on a plane to teach in the food pit of the world (with apologies to Cecilie, who is reading this. Norway has wonderful pastries, and she herself is an amazing cook. And it's not that I don't love hot dogs wrapped in bacon and meatcakes and potatoes and waffles). But it's seven years later, and I am getting on a plane to teach in the food mecca of the world. And that makes me pretty happy.
Please help me name my blog for this next chapter~


The Norris Clan said...

Wow... don't even know what to say except you are my hero! Holy Cow, Marjie. What a great adventure! When do you leave? How long will you be gone? I have to think before I can help with a clever name... you are full of surprises. I miss you... :-) Your fan

Brian Bowker said...

I'm so excited for you, Marjie! You always have such amazing adventures!

I know right now it must seem like you've made a crazy decision, and when you get there and hit the heat you'll probably think you should regret it, but we, your fans, will be reaping the benefits of living vicariously through your blog while lounging in the comfort of our air conditioned homes! And aren't we worth it??

Just keep tell yourself that: "I'm doing this for my fan base."

Here's a name suggestion for your blog:
What the Pho?? Eating and Teaching in Vietnam.

AmyT said...

I was going to try and give cute names for your blog ... but all fade in comparison to Brian's suggestion.
Sigh, bested once again,
PS Just posting this will bring all your fans back and we wait, breathlessly, OUR adventure.

Miriam said...

Wow, wow, wow! You are amazing! When are you going to write a book? When are you going to culinary school?
Jo and I are excited for you. Here are some names to consider -
Pho for Me
Tasty times in Ho Chi Minh City

marjie said...

I love the idea of using "pho" in the name. There is a restaurant in Seattle called "What the Pho?" So, Brian my brother, once again you are genius! I found this website dedicated to pho and it had these definitions:

Phở (fuh) n.
Traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup. Enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Phởnatic (fa-nat-ik) n.
One who loves to eat Pho.

PhởFever (fuh-fee-ver) n.
A website devoted to spreading knowledge and appreciation of Pho.

Some of their t-shirts: Pho Sho, Pho Real, Pho Eva, Phoghettaboutit.

I really like "Phonatic." And of course "Phoghettaboutit" recalls my love for eggplant and the Italian chef who introduced the idea of "forgetting about it" to me. How can we put all of these together?

Dennis??? You are up.

Angie said...

You are PHO sure my PHOnatical food loving sister!
I can't wait to hear more about your unPHOgetable adventure. Those Viet Nam kids are so lucky you will be teaching them thier PHOnics!

(PHOgive me, I went a little too PHO)

marjie said...

Angie, you are the pho pun master, pho sho! So go ahead, name my blog!

jp 吉平 said...

Hey, I want to move to Vietnam! Are they hiring Spanish teachers?

marjie said...

JP-Spanish and Mandarin. Come on over. Are you still in China?

Dennis said...

Ok, this is the best I've come up with so far: "Mekong, You Read".

I'll keep trying...

Kumma said...

YAY! The blog is resurrected!

Here's my choice for names:

PHO'n and PHO'nics in Nummy Viet-Nammy

Dennis said...

Still trying...
My Vietnamerica

Cecilie Eftedal said...

What an amazing opportunity! Pølse in lompe and kjøttkaker can NEVER compete with the food in Vietnam! Not to mention the shopping and all the travelling you can do from there - I really envy you! :-)

cecilie eftedal said...

By the way, I was so excited for you that I phoned you right away, completely forgetting it was 2:00 AM in the morning in Seattle! Will try later, though....