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Teach in Vietnam: Cultural Immersion

This month XploreAsia hosted its first ever TESOL course in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  Our participants were able to partake in a fun-filled orientation week with cultural, historic, and tasty(!) excursions followed by an internationally accredited 120 hour in-class TESOL. 

The opportunity to teach in Vietnam is a great experience; Vietnamese people have such a strong friendly spirit, and are excited to better their English. The country itself is such a unique place full of historic sites, distinctive culture, and amazing food.

Lisa Dershowitz gives her insights from our very first cultural orientation week in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) Vietnam.  In a week of incredible experiences, find out what we got up to!

Teaching in Vietnam

Vietnam has so much to enjoy, and it’s not just the food!

War Museum: Here we were able to learn about the Vietnam War from the perspective of the Vietnamese. The museum is a great opportunity for people to visit, and can be quite emotional. As an American, this museum definitely had a huge impact on me. However, even after our long history with Vietnam, I have found the Vietnamese people to be very welcoming to me, even after they learn where I am from. Learning about the history here in Vietnam and seeing it from a different perspective is a very important part of living in Vietnam; by understanding the history we can better understand the people and its culture.

Vietnam War Museum - Tank
Vietnam War Museum - Plane

Night Market Food Tour: Our first teach in Vietnam group went out to learn more about Vietnamese food, and to eat where the locals eat. We all traveled to one of the local markets where we were able to walk around and sample foods like fresh dumplings and dried chicken. The dumplings were quite the hit, and I am pretty sure we bought out the entire market. Afterwards, we all sat down at a few food stands where we could have dinner and fresh smoothies, including an avocado smoothie!  We ended the night sampling some sweet treats that consisted of a variety of sticky rice dishes. This was a great experience as it opened everyone up to new foods that they could eat here in Vietnam.

Night Market: Vietnamese Food

Martial Arts: We all got to test our Kung Fu skills at Nam Huỳnh Đạ, a training gym in Ho Chi Minh City. The head master there was able to give us a background in the art’s history and how it came to be. He was also able to show us around the beautiful temple that the classes are held in. This class encouraged everyone to really push themselves to try a new sport that people have practiced for years in Vietnam. I don’t think myself or anyone else has ever sweated so much.

Teach in Vietnam: Kung Fu

Language classes: Throughout the week we were able to take part in Vietnamese language lessons from our very own program coordinator, Jenny. The language can be a bit difficult as it has many tones. Jenny did a wonderful job at making it fun, interactive, and the language seem easy. Learning the language a little will make immersing yourself in a new culture far easier, while you won’t need much Vietnamese to teach in Vietnam, embracing the other aspects of life here will be made much easier. Even if it is only the very basics!

Teach in Vietnam: Language Lessons

Cooking Class: One of my favorite parts of the orientation week was our market tour and cooking class. We all traveled to a different district and visited one of the local day markets.  There we walked around picking out the freshest ingredients to cook with later in the week. We were able to try different tropical fruits like longans and mangosteens. In addition, we stopped for some delicious Vietnamese coffee and smoothies. After our tour of the market we headed off just outside of the city to Jenny’s grandmother’s house. Here we were able to relax and get a taste for the countryside here in Vietnam. Jenny’s grandmother was so sweet and happy to have us stop by her house. She had one of her sons fetch and cut open fresh coconuts from the large tree at the house. In addition, she insisted cutting up tons of fruit for us, and teaching us how to properly eat everything! Finally, on our way out she wished us all well and good luck in our futures. 

Next, we traveled to Jenny’s parent’s house where several members of her family were awaiting us. From the second we enteredwe were greeted with so many smiles, and the smells of fresh Vietnamese pancakes being cooked in the kitchen. Here, some of the women taught us how to roll fresh spring rolls.  Afterwards, we all took turns making our own scrumptious spring rolls. It was just a wonderful afternoon eating some of the freshest, tastiest Vietnamese food, relaxing, and talking with everyone.

Teach in Vietnam: Cooking Lesson
Teach in Vietnam: Vietnamese Cooking

Cu Chi Tunnels:

One of the last excursions we did during orientation week was visiting the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. Here we were able to explore and learn even more about the Vietnam War. We were able to experience some of the small tunnels that soldiers lived in and fought from. If you wanted you could even walk or basically crawl through the tunnels under ground. Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels was an incredible and eye opening trip for me and the rest of the group about what life was like during the war.

Teach in Vietnam

Friday Night Dinner:

We ended the week with a large group dinner. We all gathered together on the rooftop of a local restaurant and were able to just relax and secure all of the strong friendships that everyone had made during the week. There was so much delicious food for us to try and several local beer options. A local teacher also came and joined us for dinner. It was great for all of us to hear what it is like to teach in Vietnam.

Teach in Vietnam: Group Dinner
Teach in Vietnam: Dinner

Overall, orientation week was packed with so many great activities and excursions. It let everyone get a taste for Vietnam; quite literally with all of the food we tried, and also get more insight on its culture and history. The perfect introduction to the Teach in Vietnam program!

To find out more about XploreAsia’s Teach in Vietnam program, click here

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