Thursday, November 20, 2008

"11/20 is Teacher's Day in Vietnam"

All day long I am handed single red roses, bouquets, cards and gifts. Most of the cards educate me on what Teacher's Day is..."11/20 is the day in Vietnam when we say thank you to our teachers. Thank you, Ms. Marjorie, for teaching me so skillfully." A few are more personal...Antonia writes, "Thank you Ms. Marjorie, for teaching me about Egypt. I understand everything you teach me in Ancient History and I really enjoy it." or Wendy..."You are my favorite teacher. I love to read books in your class!"

I get chocolate, a really cool wicker "Vietnamese" bag, a purse, six high quality champagne glasses, a diamond pin and many handmade cards. The kids demonstrate so much joy in giving these gifts. What a great, great day. I almost didn't come because my back was so sore this morning. But how could I miss Teacher Day?

6E is extremely cool - they "get" it - and I have them first thing this morning. I tell them why I am a little stiff and walking funny and they are very concerned. They want to hear all of the details. They tell me that I shouldn't ride the motorbikes anymore. Instead, I should hire a helicopter or a space ship or a hot air balloon or at least take a taxi or walk. They want to know if my driver told the other guy off, and I tell them that I definitely learned some swear words and they say that is appropriate. And, well, can you remember any of the swear words, Ms. Marjorie? Can you say just one of them? They are so much fun. Today they perform their "Afterlife Raps" or "Mummy Wraps" - poems about the steps Egyptians must take to make it to The Land of Two Fields. They are really, really funny. Maybe I will add some of their lyrics to the blog this weekend.

Word travels quickly about my accident. My principal comes up and offers to go to the pharmacy to buy me some codeine, but Alice beats him to it. It's pretty heavy stuff, and I feel like I'm floating all day. Everyone is so kind.

When Nam picks me up, I have Teacher Day loot to take home and he is pretty happy about that. "11/20, Teacher Day!" he says. Then he points to himself and he says something like, "No Motorbike Driver Day. It's not right!"

When I get home, I see that Thuy is hanging out with the seamstresses next door. They wave and invite me in. I take in all of my presents and show them everything, and they ooh and ahhh over it. "11/20 is Teacher Day in Vietnam" they say.

I took this picture on Saturday when I was taking all of the other market pictures. Ms. Hoa is on the right (she is Thuy's best friend) and her assistant, Ms. Tieu, is on the left. Katherine and I "Amazon" them. They are both so tiny.

Today two other women are helping out and so is Ms. Hoa's son. It's so comfortable that I stay for almost an hour. I show them some pictures on my camera- of Dalat and of my students. We laugh a lot...we have many jokes now, like whenever I mention Ms. Hoa to Thuy, I make the "face" she made when they were trying to tell me they were going to buy shrimp. Stuff like that. When I go, Thuy follows me out and tells me, "Everyone here in this market says you are very open and happy and everyone likes you. We really like you Maggie!"

How much love can one person take in in one day? This culture embraces. At moments like these, when I feel so full and happy, I imagine us at war with Vietnamese people. War is so weird.

"Thank you, Thuy," I say. "You are a really good friend."

The best.

After a while Katherine comes home with about four times as much Teacher Day stuff as I have. She teaches PE to all 200 elementary school students, and it seems that every one of them has given her a gift. She left most of them wrapped, so T and I help her open's our own little castle Christmas. I put them in categories for her...soap and candles and perfume on the right, then chocolates, then clothing (including silk material and jeans that say "Miss Sixty" except for on the pockets where they say "Miss Sixy." The copies always seem to misspell something), and she is holding the last category...frozen food. She got sausage links, potato hash browns and cheesecake.

Tomorrow the school is hosting a dinner banquet for us at the Legend Hotel. It's one of the nicest hotels in Saigon. I plan to get home at four and spend three hours at the Bum Bum. Can't wait.


kumma said...

HA! That's what was missing at LHS... I should have given Mr. Smith some sausage links.

SO glad you are being loved over there as you deserve!

Anonymous said...

Wearing jeans that say "Miss sixy/sexy" isn´t that bad, is it?

By the way "teacher day" sounds great! And of course you deserve the gifts you got. All the kids at Skagerak would agree with me for sure! :-)