It is Friday evening at My Khe beach. The flotilla of shrimp boats with their bright lights form a brilliant streak across the eastern horizon. I am sitting at the computer at Reception for our hotel. We have had trouble with the wifi connection here and so Margaret has yet to be able to connect her computer to the internet.
We were delighted at our first meeting with Mr Trung, the principal at Tinh Khe Primary School to learn that the Education Dept. and the Dept. of Foreign Affairs had approved our program and we could start immediately. So we set about consulting with Mrs. Luu, the English teacher at Primary School. Pat Dewees and I worked with her two years ago. Last year she was on maternity leave and no English was taught there. Now we are working with her every afternoon to meet with her 4th and 5th grade classes: a total of 10 classes with 20-30 children in each class.
After our meeting with Mr. Trung and Mrs. Luu, we walked over to the Middle School and met briefly with Mr. Thanh, the principal there. He greeted us warmly and informed us that they were in the midst of a two day visit from the Education Dept. - an every-four-year comprehensive review: teaching, finances, and physical plant. So everyone was busy and a bit tense. However, we then met with some of the English teachers and received our tentative schedule of teaching with them. Further good news was that we have been approved for work there through March 21! All persons there seemed really happy to see us again and much more relaxed about our program. For example, the administration had temporarily rearranged schedules so that we could have extended classes with 7th graders: a time for questions and answers with the students.
Our first such session with Mrs. Lieu's class was fascinating. Questions ranged from: "How many children do you have?" through "What is your favorite color?" to "Do you like the My Lai Memorial Site?" That last question brought a lump to my throat. I said, "It would not be correct to say I like it. I honor it. It reminds of a great tragedy for the people of Tinh Khe. I am grateful to have the opportunity to attend the Memorial Service in March while I am here in Tinh Khe and so happy to have the chance to know and work with teachers and students here. I worked in Quang Ngai 40 years ago helping those wounded by war. The people of Quang Ngai have a very special place in my heart."
At primary school we have been helping children by teaching songs that relate to material in their lessons. For example, the 4th graders this week are learning about pet animals so we taught them "Old MacDonald had a farm" using "cat" and "dog" which were two of their new words. They get such a kick out of singing it along with us. In 5th grade the topic this week is "Our Classroom". We played "Simon says": "Simon says, show me your notebook" and all are supposed to hold up their notebook. Leave out "Simon says" and any student who holds up the requested item has to stand up to the glee of the rest of the class. At the end of the game, all the students standing have to hop around the room back to their seats.
Coming and going to school we encounter students who wave and say hello. We also meet other people who remember us from prior years. Sometimes it takes us quite a while to get 'Home'.
We have been invited to two celebrations this week: one with staff of hotel and the corporation currently building the new resort complex around us and the other a 'death anniversary celebration' at home of Mr. Trung. It was wonderful to meet with his family, neighbors, and many teachers from both schools. Mr. Khuong, the retired former principal of Primary School, was there. He is now chairman of a local committee looking after the needs of elderly people in the community. It was good to talk with him and hear of his current activities in retirement.
Now I've occupied quite enough time on this computer so it is time to sign off for now. Hope to post more soon.