Year of the Rooster

This is what my brain feels like after teaching Kindergarten:

Public art: Hanoi is known for its eclectic, often crackling, displays of electrical wires. Some call them dangerous, I call them art.

And yes, you read that correctly.  I am teaching Kindergarten–although we call it Kindy.  Three classes of it.  When I found out, there was no moment of imagining them as cute, cuddly things.  There was only the, “OhmygodwhatamigoingtodoiwanttocryMOOOMMMMYYYYY!!!!” moment of freak out.  That has passed, however, and I am adopting “Kepp calm and carry on” instead of “Freak out and throw things” as a mantra.  This is Vietnam, after all, and freaking out is not only unnecessary but a good way to lose face.  So, I’m going to pretend they are a flock of roosters.

My mother worked at a horse farm in North Carolina for a while in her early twenties.  One of its inhabitants was a rooster, of whom my mother was not afraid.  (She is known as Supermum).  She went about her work routinely, never bothered my it, for weeks until one morning, the owner of the farm asked her, “Sydney, have you been attacked by the rooster yet?”  That morning, she walked into the barn and there was the rooster, eyeing her up with its beady eyes, sensing that she now knew to fear it.  It attacked.  My mother swung the bridle she was carrying at the rooster, caught it by its neck and catapulted it into a nearby door.  The rooster, dazed, got up and staggered off, croaking rather than clucking, its neck slightly out of whack.

Now, I’m not going to throw my students around but they are taught to respect strict teachers so I may have to cause some tears.  I won’t let on that I fear them or they, like the rooster, will attack, grubby hands and all.  Take this as my manifesta: I am going to become the Kindy-whisperer.  I said a full sentence in Vietnamese today and counted to three without mixing up the numbers.  I am becoming an expert haggler when it comes to hiring a xeom (motorbike taxi) and can even joke with the driver, sans either of us being knowledgable of the other’s language.  I have not fallen off the back of a motorbike.  I can order in restaurants where no one speaks English.  (My ability to pantomime should result in an Oscar).  I didn’t freak out when there was a gecko in my room the other night.  I haven’t even gotten terribly lost.  And I haven’t even been here for a whole week.  What am I worried about?  Teaching Kindergarten should be nothing compared to up and moving to a foreign city with three weeks notice, right?

Well, now that I’ve put it in perspective…

But I may have to utilize the school’s altar, burn incense for luck until I get good at this.


2 thoughts on “Year of the Rooster

  1. Haha, I hope your flock is staying under control! In elementary school my orchestra teacher always called our class “my chickens.” I was sure she was crazy; maybe it comes with the job.

    And stay safe on the xeom… are the drivers pretty reckless? do you wear a helmet? Last semester I did a research paper on motorbike policy in Asia, but I didn’t include VN since it didn’t seem to have much of a policy.

  2. Yeah, I think craziness comes with the job.

    The drivers are not terribly reckless but it depends a lot on the individual. They have helmets but they’re eggshells that have been worn by countless other people. I need my own. I’ll write more about motorbikes soon though. The paper sounds interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised in VN doesn’t have much motorbike policy. You do have to register them if you own them but that’s pretty similar to owning a car. I’ll probably find out more when I start renting one. Have to wait until I get paid on Aug. 8 for that though.

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