This is the story of how I ended up volunteering at an English school in Vietnam, with Spanish as my first language.
As I’ve told you before, I have been using the Couchsurfing page for several years. I always consult it when planning a trip to get information from locals.
This is how before traveling to Vietnam for the first time, I wrote a couple of questions in Forums with the intention of contacting locals and ask what is the best thing to do in Vietnam and to give me some travel ideas.
A few days later I started receiving invitations to volunteer at different English schools across the country. My first reaction was: what? my suspicious thought: what kind of scam is this?
I started by clarifying that my mother tongue was Spanish, that my English wasgood, yet not perfect. To which they answered, that it did not matter, the idea was that the students were in contact with a foreigner and that they could speak English with people from all corners of the world.
Why I accepted the offer
After several days and many question back and forth. I was talking to an English teacher who seemed serious and reliable. She is my age (33) and owns a small English school on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh, my first destination in Vietnam.
She would give me a private room with air conditioning and food, in exchange for 3 hours of English classes per day with her students, children from 4 to 16 years old.
My first reaction was: why would I want to lock myself up with children in a room when I could be at ease discovering the city on my own. At that time I had a job that I did from my computer and Asia is very cheap, so money was not a problem.
As the date of my trip approached, I changed my mind. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a safe place to go and a local to ask questions as I acclimatized to the new continent I was about to know.
So I accepted her offer and spent my first 5 days in Asia, basically playing English games with the little ones and talking to the older ones. They were all very sweet kids, who wanted to learn English to study and work in countries like Canada or England, others wanted to become tourism entrepreneurs in Vietnam.
Sometimes it was very nervous because I didn’t understand anything, it was also my first time figuring out Asian accent. Besides, the older ones were sometimes very shy, they spoke very queitly, I could not hear to them, but with good disposition we ended up understanding each other.
In the end, I had a great time, although the yelling of the younger ones was very tiring, the conversations with the older ones gave me a feeling of hope and I felt like I was helping them in some way to achieve their dreams.