Thien Phuoc Orphanage

What a face!


We got the chance to visit two country-side orphanages. These are catholic-run care facilities for children with significant special needs.


The nun at our first stop told us that the children that are cared for have families that are very poor and cannot take care of them. The children still have families that care about them, but simply can’t afford their special needs. In the first orphanage, many of the children were bed-bound and with very signficant intellectual disabilites. This care facility is moving the children to a newly built residence owned by the local catholic parish.


What impressed me most was the building the children live in. It was bright, clean and spacious. The children seem to have toys and facilities to play. There are many nuns and community care-givers available. It was a privilege to spend some time with the kids. Many of them loved to take pictures and seem themselves on the screen!



School tours

Our first day and it’s been a whirlwind! We travelled into the countryside around Ho Chi Minh and visited two public schools. The first was for students in grades 1 to 5.


We were able to speak with the school principal and ask questions. The elementary schools serves over 800  children. It’s free until students are 11 years old but students pay for uniforms, textbooks and supplies. Just like kids at home, these kids love recess!

Pokemon seems to be a favourite recess activity.

The classrooms are simple and clean.


We then visited the public middle school 1 km away. The students we met from grade 9 are studying English and I enjoyed speaking with them. 

This school had the first technology I’ve seen in schools here: a computer on the teacher’s desk and a smart board.

   The principal at this school spoke eloquently on what made his school so successful: the dedication and commitment of the teachers and staff.

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts were regarding the amount of time students spent at school. Most children were in-class only half-days, with the rest of their studies assigned as homework. This independent work time takes students four to five hours nightly. In addition, struggling students would remain at school for the full day.

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to visit both these schools. It’s apparent that their success is the result of hard work from both students and teachers.

Reposted from the original on 182 Days of Learning:

You know that feeling the night before a big trip? You’re not sure you’re ready? Are you bringing what you need? Or, have you packed too much?

That’s me.
Right. Now.

I’ve been selected for the CBE Educational Tour to Vietnam. Tomorrow I’m off on an adventure with colleagues and many soon-to-be friends. These are people in my life that push me and challenge me professionally. But, it’s my students that motivate and drive my passion for teaching. They will be with me traveling virtually, watching my blog, instagram and twitter.  I will have the honour in delivering the pictures and letters they wrote to their new Vietnamese school friends.
My students are in grade four at Captain Nichola Goddard. It’s an exciting time for students; they enter middle school and discover important things about themselves, their community and how to connect to the world. They decided they would like to reach out to students on the other side of the globe, and began writing about their lives. For some, this was first time they wrote a letter that truly means something important and real. It’s not instant and may not produce the desired result of a reply, but it’s step towards global citizenship and feeling connected to the world around them. I love seeming my students develop into competent students embedded in the world through their writing and reading; it’s even more incredible that they experience this through my own personal learning journey in the world!

@mrsbanksteacher ( can’t believe her good luck – great kids, amazing staff and incredible opportunities!