Family and friends,
Greetings everybody. It is still February, so my newsletter is just in time. I hope and pray all is well with you. This past month gave me the chance to travel, take some vacation, get sick, recover, and start a new semester of teaching. It was quite eventful, but I would like to focus this newsletter on my journey to Vietnam.
Last month I had the chance to travel to Vietnam for a service trip. I went with a team of six other teachers from Taiwan. We coordinated our efforts with James Rush, who is a volunteer teacher in Vietnam and my former roommate here in Taiwan. James works at a university in Phu Toa, Vietnam.
In total, the trip was planned to be five days, but I did stay a few extra days to hang out with James. We arrived in Hanoi on a Sunday, and Monday we traveled 3 and half hours to Phu Tao. On Tuesday the conference started bright and early at 7:30 am.
The conference was a one-day event designed to provide prospective English teachers with ideas and strategies for the classroom. All of the participants were Vietnamese, and most attended the college that James teaches at. Some of the attendees were already teachers in local schools. In total there were over 100 people who participated.
The conference focused on three sessions: ESL (English as a Second Language) activities, English writing, and teacher observations. We divided the people into 3 groups, and they rotated amongst the 3 sessions. I was in charge of helping with the teacher observation session. I worked with Heidi Greimann (from Taiwan) and Viet Hang (local professor at the university) to lead the teacher observations session.
For the session Heidi and I modeled a teacher observation. I taught a mini lesson to the class and then she observed and made notes about my teaching. After the lesson we had a conversation about what she observed. We did this to model how a teacher can observe others and to emphasize that observation should not be intimidating. We hammered home the point that these observations can help both the person being observed and the one who is doing the observing. Next Viet Hang provided some good information about how to conduct teacher observations. Finally, we then gave the students their own mini-lessons to teach, and they had time to practice by giving each other feedback. I really enjoyed it, and I think the students learned from the session.
The entire day went really well. The Vietnamese at the college were most hospitable, and the participants seemed eager to learn. On Wednesday, we spent the morning helping in English classrooms. In my class, I spent my time in a small group of about 12 students. They practiced basic conversation with me, and asked me to share about myself and America. This was one highlight of my time in Vietnam, because I got to have some good personal conversations with the local people. It also gave me a chance to share about customs and holidays. This led into me sharing about Christmas being Jesus’ birthday and Thanksgiving being a time to be thankful for the many good things that God has given us. Vietnam is a little strict on evangelizing, so I was only aloud to share my beliefs if asked. Praise God that He provided an opportunity.
After helping in English classes, we returned to Hanoi. The next day we had a day of traveling and sight seeing in which we had the chance to see the beautiful Ha Long Bay, and a Vietnamese water puppet show. On Friday, some of the teachers returned to Taiwan, but I stayed with others for a couple more days. We had the chance to spend some more time with James and just hang out.
All in all it was a wonderful trip. I thank God for the chance to serve the people in Vietnam and work with all of the volunteers currently serving in Vietnam. If you are interested in reading more about my travels and reflections from Vietnam, please check out my blog:
1. For strength this semester. I have my teaching and Bible Studies, but I also have started taking an Internet course to work for my ESL teaching endorsement.
2. For God to continually bless my relationships with my friends and family back home and those here in Taiwan. That He would continue to strengthen and uplift all of them.
3. Praise God that I will return for a fourth year of service here at CMS. Pray that God would be with those on the team who are still making decisions about the future. May He guide them.
Thank you all for everything, especially your prayers. May the love of Christ fill you with peace, hope, and joy. May you live in victory as He ever guides you.