I’ve been hearing about Vietnam Teachers’ Day ever since I arrived here, so I knew it was a big deal. In fact, it was the only national holiday between Independence Day (Sept. 2) and Tet, the lunar new year celebration in January. As my colleagues at home enjoyed three-day weekends for Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, and soon Thanksgiving, I have been toiling away in Vietnam without the usual cycle of holidays. (Except for my brief trip to Malaysia, of course!)
In fact, I was told that I had better return from Malaysia in time for the Teacher’s Day celebration at Nguyễn Tất Thành School. It was that important. Teacher’s Day fell on a Sunday this year (so there wasn’t even a day off from school), but the celebration was held on a Saturday night. After experiencing Halloween at NTT, I knew it would not be a small celebration.
The evening began with student performances. The students prepared the entertainment for the evening in honor of their teachers. I was so impressed with the quality of each show. There was dance, guitar, traditional music and singing.
There were also speeches honoring teachers from the school, past and present, and recognizing the visiting teachers. Tonight I was welcomed along with a head of a school in Singapore and a teacher from The Philippines. A representative from the parent group also spoke. There was a very moving speech given by one of the students. Each person spoke from the heart and expressed their sincere gratitude for the school’s teachers.
The same courtyard that is used for assemblies and P.E. classes had been transformed into a banquet hall for the evening. There were at least four long tables filled with many of Vietnam’s delicacies for us to enjoy. Waiters came around to each table and filled our wine glasses, and many toasts were made. A video made by students played in the background as everyone enjoyed dinner.
After dinner, there was a sort of talent show. It was amazing to see teachers of chemistry, math, English, P.E. and other subjects get up on stage and sing karaoke. Their voices were incredible! The students in attendance cheered for their teachers as the performances continued.
In Vietnam, students will often visit their teachers’ homes with gifts on this special holiday. They will even visit the homes of teachers from previous years. Teachers’ Day really is a big deal here, but after spending the evening at NTT, I realized it is not about the celebration, the flowers and the gifts. It is about students’ real love and appreciation for their teachers. It is a reflection of how highly regarded teachers are in this society.
As I walked home through the market that evening with yet another bouquet of flowers, I received the usual smiles from strangers. From some, however, I heard the word “giáo viên,” teacher. They knew I must be a teacher if I had flowers on this special day. Teachers are respected and honored throughout the country. It was a refreshing and uplifting experience to celebrate Teachers’ Day in Vietnam.
A media company (NGỌC TRÍ MEDIA) was hired to film the evening. Here’s their video and some of my photos.