I was so excited! I have worked before in schools in Malaysia and Thailand but to be asked to travel to Vietnam to work with four schools felt extra special. If I am really honest, it seemed extra attractive, exotic and mysterious because I was a 60s child brought up on the usual clutch of Vietnam movies – The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Good Morning Vietnam, and the like, so my imagination was still stuck in the brutal beating up of a country ravaged by war. In my mind, wilfully or just lazily, time stood still and I had failed to enquire further, but suddenly I was poised on a Vietnam adventure.
“People matter most. If that is so, then how is this reflected in the way we value and give time to nurture dreams, share problems and celebrate successes? As a Headteacher of three very different schools in my career so far, I have found that ‘Quality Circle Time’ as an approach, builds within a learning community an effective framework for the development of these essential social and emotional skills. ‘Golden Time’ for me fosters a unique and tailored reward system that identifies good learner behaviours and celebrates the individual success of all achievers, whilst quietly challenging those who are yet to catch on. As a Headteacher I have found these systems to be of fundamental value in developing the staff and children in my care. If people really do matter, then curriculum time spent effectively in this way, reaps rewards above and beyond the classroom itself and long into the future.”
Mr. Richard Vaughan, Headteacher, British International School, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Wow, it is the most wonderfully beautiful country. It has ravishing coastlines, emerald green mountains, lush paddy fields, tropical jungles, dynamic cities, and probably about the most tasty, fresh, fragrant cuisine I have ever tasted!
I would love to wax lyrical forever but, as usual, I have got my own cold slippery paper mountains to climb in the office and no magic wand to give me more time which I would so love. Lets just say I fell in love with the country and its gentle, unpushy people. I am also totally captivated by Vietnam’s unique water puppetry. For nearly a thousand years traditional water puppetry has been performed in rural villages in the Red River Delta. I saw it on a specially designed stage full of water so it looks like a pond. Traditionally, puppeteers are farmers hidden from the audience behind bamboo screens. The extraordinarily beautiful and are highly coloured puppets are on bamboo sticks which pop up onto the top of the water to the accompaniment of an exciting village orchestra. It was enchanting, thrilling, and inspiring.
I also took an overnight boat trip on an old pleasure steamer through Halong Bay with its spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. If ever you want to get a feel for how things used to be it is worth watching the film “Indochine” with Catherine Deneuve – it is a haunting, atmospheric, strange film that seems to capture the times in a very evocative way.
And what about the schools you ask. I was knocked out by the positivity and enthusiasm of all the British
and Vietnamese teachers and teaching assistants that I met. They were state of the art schools with huge parental support and a massive respect for education in the growing middle classes. I took a demonstration circle time with young children and puppets – we had invited parents – and over a 150 mums and dads turned up – on a Monday morning. In one school I worked with play leaders and will have this enduring memory of year 6 boys kneeling on the floor clapping with three year olds from the nursery. In another school I ran a huge circle time for staff, we had over 50 in a circle for the whole afternoon and we went through all the Five Steps for ourselves as adults. We played games, talked seriously, engaged with mindfulness techniques and by the end there was a much stronger sense of team spirit.
So, lovely readers, I hope you all have a large or small adventure ahead of you at some stage. I am full of energy now – as sometimes you need other people’s energy, enthusiasm and creativity to renew you. The country itself, with all its scents, tastes, colours, textures, and sights, lifted me in a way that only travel can. Today, as I write this, the sun is pouring into my untidy, dusty office and it reminds me of where I have just been and where I would much rather be right now.
Just to seal the experience in a very positive way, I have just received the testimonial (above quote) from the headteacher who originally invited me. Apparently he met me 18 years ago on a Saturday morning workshop for NASEN, when he had been feeling besieged with difficulties with his class and school – and the workshop I was giving was just right for him at the time. I meet so many teachers who never know how they have helped or influenced someone – so it was a real gift for me to find out that my work had helped someone when they most needed it at the beginning of their career. These sorts of encounters, the secondary child who comes back to the primary school, or the child you bump into who tells you how much they loved something you did with them and you don’t even remember – these are rare and incredibly special gifts too.
Website Manager’s Notes
1. Jenny Mosley works both nationally and internationally and she takes her educational model to many different countries through conferencing and schools training. The whole school model for positive behaviour for learning, happier lunchtimes and improved self-esteem works on the principals of promoting moral values and respect and as such, crosses cultures and continents with ease.
2. Jenny is available for international training projects and conferences. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements and how we can help. For all enquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01225 767157.
3. As an example of an international training trip, do read Jenny’s Brazilian blogs from a different international training trip – they are very colourful and insightful! Click the links below for the five blog segments: