My country does not have a Teacher’s Day as far as I know. I was very surprised to see how big of an event Teachers’ Day is here. It’s amazing!
That’s how Tony Byleveld- an English teacher from South Africa – feels about the Teachers’ Day celebration in Vietnam. Most of foreign teachers teaching English in Vietnam are surprised by how schools honor their teachers and are unaware of what was happening throughout the day. But those who have been here for a long time say that they “don’t really feel it. It is just a normal day.” They do not think the day is for them.
Some share that nothing happened on their last Teachers’ Day, because they were still teaching online due to Covid-19. However, they were not invited to the celebration in the previous years because they did not belong to public schools. They are from English centers where the event held in classes.
“As a foreign teacher I don’t really feel I get seen as a teacher, to be brutally honest. This is more in honor of the Vietnamese teachers. I totally appreciate that though, as schools change foreign teachers so often, I don’t expect a big present or anything for me really.”, Tony said. He was invited to the event last year but he was in another commitment. Though he thinks that students are happy to celebrate their teachers’ day because they enjoy having to prepare dances and shows for the big event. “If anything it beats having to sit through a boring literature lesson.”, Tony smiles happily. He said he was struck by the respect the students and parents have for teachers “This is not the same back home in my view. So I think it is wonderful.” This year, students drew him wishing cards and had selfie time with him.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese teachers have to work harder in November because of activities to celebrate them. Teachers must prepare flowers and gifts, sound and light, to welcome superiors and prepare sample lessons, competitions for good teachers to celebrate the day for them, teachers shared with VietnamNet. Their wishes on the day are that their income gets improved and the public schools hire more teachers to ease their workload. They also need to be protected from pressure such as parents assaulting teachers in schools.
An expat in Vietnam believes that society can do something to honor foreign teachers who come to Vietnam to teach English, and he did. James Joseph Kendall, founder of Keep Hanoi Clean and the Green Gem Shop showed his appreciation by arranging an event to offer all teachers, including foreigners in Hanoi a free flower pot or vase with any purchase at the Green Gem Shop in 2020. He said “We all are grateful for all of the teachers’ hard work, to educate everyone! Educators are the builders of our world and we value your work. Thank you for planting seeds of hope for our future! Happy Teacher’s Day!”
Some foreign teachers once said that they had no idea it was Teacher’s Day in Vietnam until students showed up and handed them flowers. It is a touching experience and they appreciate all the students’ effort. They hope that the idea of an individual who drives the development and dissemination of knowledge continues to be celebrated.