Imitation, Context, Patterns & Routines ( Kind of like Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!)

I’ve been aware this past week of the parallels between my own challenges, ones that accompany choosing to be in a completely different country, and the challenges children I have worked with over the years experience with learning language and making meaning. My ability to hear and imitate sounds, tones, or words is significantly challenged, let alone attach any meaning to any words I hear or see. It’s an incredibly humbling and unsettling experience, and I feel both an increased appreciation and a deeper sense of empathy for young children & immigrants struggling to learn some or all aspects of language and social engagement.

I’m also acutely aware, partly by how tired I am at the end of the day, of how hard my brain seems to be working to find patterns, look for, or create anchors to attach meaning, wanting to establish routines when almost everything coming at me via my senses is “strange”, different and unfamiliar.

In spite of or even because of some of the above challenges, it’s been an incredible week.  My greatest delight has been spending time with the students.  I was worried the weekend might be a little too quiet since most of the students either commute daily or go home for the weekend.  I’m looking forward to another evening of Friday volleyball with faculty and students.  I really liked playing with a bigger and much softer ball and being engaged in something that wasn’t language dependent.  I just need to learn how to say “Mine” or I’ve got it!

I woke up last Saturday morning determined to get off campus and explore a bit further. I knew there was a coffee shop in a small hotel close to the outside Market by the river, because I had been there for a breakfast meeting.  I thought this would be a good destination, 4.5 km. on flat ground, no problem, forgetting to take the humidity and 90 degree temperature into account! I stopped to buy water and a hat, arriving at the hotel coffee shop totally drenched and overheated, only to find my translator there having just finished breakfast with her parents. She was incredulous that I had walked the entire distance and explained to me that people didn’t really walk that far. (Easy for her to say, she has a motorbike!).   I’m not sure I’ll attempt that long of walk again, and with her help, I did take a taxi home!

Sunday brought student visitors, motor scooter adventures, shopping in a “westernized” grocery store, street food and coffee drinks. I was fascinated by all of the electrical wires!  Totally mind boggling!



Monday  was my first day of teaching English Language classes – what a treat!  Lots of photos attached.


Wednesday brought a wonderful surprise – 3 students picked me up and we took a taxi down to the open market to purchase shrimp, some kind of meat, rice, lots of greens and spices and returned back to the “Guest House” and cooked lunch with very few cooking utensils.  Everyone has 1.5 hours for lunch every day!  Later in the day my mosquito net was hung, so now I’m really safe!  A few more photos.  I love reading your comments ,so please feel free to post or send me emails.



9 thoughts on “Imitation, Context, Patterns & Routines ( Kind of like Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!)

  1. Wow, the market time looks super cool – and daunting. It looks like some really nice people coming to your kitchen to cook. There is something about having folks over that warms a kitchen and the food you made looks fabulous! Your story about the walk is sobering and has me remembering Indonesian heat and trying to figure out how to function in that warmth. More on email!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No more long walks, especially after 8:00 am. The market is very cool in terms of the sheer volume and variety of fish, meat, rice, spices, fruits, etc. It is also intense with narrow isles, and motor scooters driving inside every which way. Don’t think I could navigate trying to purchase anything without someone with me. The students are delightful! Saw your very early morning photos – Have a great time in the Whites.


  3. Good morning my friend,
    I sure do miss you. I often forget you are in Vietnam until I am picking up the phone to give you a call.

    Sounds like it is quite a roller coaster ride of a time over there. The food looks wonderful.

    Everyone in the the pics looks young, are you the “strange” momma?

    I love that, “you not old, you just strange”.

    Rob mention email, are you able to do email?

    Love you, thinking of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful, Friend, to hear of your adventures (all the fascinating, eye and mind opening, and exhausting parts!)… I take you with me in heart-mind wherever I go.
    Take care. Rest when you can. No ice!
    Love, B

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, Jan! This is such an amazing experience for you! I love that you’re adventuring and in Vietnam and teaching!! Thank you fir sharing with us!
    Wishing you a most wonderful time,


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