Joe, Sherrill, Buoi, Sarah and Julie are all very happy to report back about our terrific trip to Vietnam to visit our sister school Doan Thi Diem. Primary School.
One of the highlights of our ten day trip was seeing many of the students and staff who visited Preston North East Primary School in May at a dinner hosted by Mrs Hien, the school founder and principal. The students (all wearing their red PNE polo shorts) came with their parents to the dinner. They all spoke about what a wonderful time they had while they were in Melbourne. Parents were very grateful for the care that the PNE community took when hosting their children. They were also very impressed with how much English their kids are now speaking!
The food that night at Mrs Hien’s was magnificent. Much of it was cooked by the school staff and showcased some of the regional dishes of Vietnam. But this was only the first of many delicious and generous meals we shared with our hosts. The most memorable meal, I think, was the lunch we ate at school. Students were on Summer holiday but staff were at school attending workshops and preparing for the coming school year. The school canteen served us a typical school lunch: green vegetables, some wok fried meat, rice and a soup. It was delicious and healthy! On a normal school day 3,000 students eat lunch at the canteen so the size of the pots, dishwashers and stacks of stainless steel serving trays was impressive, to say the least.
While we were at Doan Thi Diem Primary School Sarah and Sherrill delivered a two-day workshop to the art teachers there. It was a terrific and lively exchange of ideas. Julie also delivered a two-day workshop to the English language teaching staff. This was based around language learning through picture storybooks – something we do well at Preston North East. Both of these workshops were very well received and it was a terrific opportunity for us all to get to know the staff in Hanoi better and to discuss and compare our teaching practices.
Joe and Buoi spent their days visiting other schools in Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Sapa when we travelled to those cities. They met with various principals and saw a variety of learning settings. While the students at Doan Thi Diem Primary School enjoy excellent facilities this is unfortunately not the case for all schools in Vietnam.
But it wasn’t all work. We really enjoyed being out-and-about in Hanoi. It’s a busy, noisy and exciting city. We were always very grateful that we weren’t driving as the road rules differ radically from ours in Melbourne. Mrs Hien organised a trip for us to visit the World Heritage area of Ha Long Bay where we enjoyed a beautiful boat ride on a very scenic bay. We also visited the pictureseque mountain town Sapa where we did some hiking, visited some traditional villages and enjoyed the cooler mountain air.
Our trip to Vietnam was very enjoyable and successful: the links with our sister school were strengthened considerable. We gained great insights into the Vietnamese education system and gratefully experienced the warmth and generosity of Vietnamese culture. We look forward to receiving future visits from staff and students from Doan Thi Diem Primary School and to sending some Preston North East students to visit Hanoi next year. It will be a fantastic experience for those students selected!