Thursday, May 27, 2010

and I am Mexican

according to some of my ex-coworkers in the US. They even gave me the name Antonio Gonzales.

Here in Vietnam, I've been assigned many different nationalities, the least of which Vietnamese.

This year, I taught this small group of engineering students for 5 whole months, and the whole time they didn't know was actually Vietnamese (by ethnic). And even after they've heard Vietnamese coming from my mouth during our farewell dinner, one of them leaned over and asked me, "How many years have you been learning Vietnamese?" I said, "Since I was born."

When I walk into a local eatery not usually catered to foreigners, waitresses have a panic look on their faces and tell each other, "You go serve him." Then I have to quickly put them at ease by saying something in Vietnamese. And even then, most of the time they still think I am a foreigner who can speak the local language.

I have noticed so far that people tend to trust their eyes more than their ears.

But there have been a few occasions where someone would tell me that he or she knew for sure that I was Vietnamese the first time he or she saw me. In these situations, I'd like tell them, in English, that I am actually Mexican, from Haiphong, living in Dalat, with an American passport, and can speak Vietnamese with a Saigon accent.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I am Chinese!

When I am out with Andy on the streets of Vietnam speaking English, I am often mistaken by locals for a Vietnamese woman married to a foreigner. And when I am now in Hong Kong out with Caleb on the streets speaking English, I am mistaken by locals for a Filipino domestic helper! I have learned to ignore the stares.

By the way, Caleb and I just arrived in Hong Kong. Andy will join us in June for another week before the three of us head back to the States on June 9. Caleb enjoyed his library trip today so very much! And my first reaction upon arrival was: There are so many cars (not motorbikes)!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Foods we miss

Top 10 foods we miss from home in California (not in order):
* Vietnamese food (believe it or not!)
* McDonald's (Caleb's choice obviously since there's none in Vietnam)
* Panera breads, especially bagels!
* Sushi (maybe just for me and Caleb)
* Jamba juice
* Pizza
* Good pearl drinks
* Marie Callender's Pies
* Quesadillas
* Blueberries
I think Californians are spoiled... :)

Plans for next year

Two years in Vietnam have gone by fast! By His grace, we're committing to a third year of service here. We look forward to seeing friends and family again this summer in both HK and the US.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Student's Apartment

We went to visit a student at her apartment. She lives by herself in the small little room with the bed itself occupying almost half of it. Her kitchen is a little corner on the floor to the left of the entrance. She shares two squatty toilets and two shower stalls with 13 other residents in the complex. There's no hot water. The rent is $380k a month (almost $20USD).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Visiting an orphanage

This weekend is a long weekend for Vietnam due to 4/30 being liberation day and 5/1 labor day. Many Vietnamese travel during this time, so Dalat is filled with tourists from Saigon. We chose to stay home. Yesterday, Friday, we had some students over in the morning to help them prepare for their Speaking final exam. Then in the afternoon and evening, we had some students over for dinner. We introduced them to spaghetti and garlic bread.
Today, Caleb and I and one of my students walked 50 minutes to a bus stop to take a one-hour bus trip to a small village outside of Dalat to visit a small orphanage. This was our second visit this year. We spent part of the morning and afternoon there playing with the kids and eating lunch with them. I ordered 13 boxes of "bun thit nuong" here and brought them there for lunch. I played soccer with the older boys while Caleb played with the two girls. My student got along well with the younger kids and they loved her. It rained in the afternoon, and we waited for the rain to stop before we headed back. The long walks to and from the bus stops were hard for Caleb and the bumpy bus ride was hard on my back, but we had some good fun. I thought it was time well spent, and hopefully the kids felt the same. Here are a few pictures.

April update

This has been a short semester for Andy since his Speaking class had only 10 weeks instead of 15. So he's officially done with teaching this semester except for the Engineering students that he's volunteering to teach until the end of May. April 30 was a national holiday for Vietnam and so we had the day off. The Engineering Department delivered a cute little cake for Andy's help. Of course since he doesn't like cakes, Caleb, the students, and I enjoyed it all.

On Easter, Caleb made some colorful Easter (duck) eggs for a few students as well as the children at an orphanage that we visited. I think Andy may post some pictures of one of our visits there later. But here are the colorful eggs that we made together for the first time! We were blessed to see coffee plants at the orphanage. The lady gave us a branch to bring home for study. Caleb and I made a little project out of it. We dried the branch, peeled open the beans, and roasted them in the oven. Too bad we are no coffee drinkers to appreciate the taste. But it was a fun activity.