This chapter is made of
several sub-chapters :
In October, 1997 I was hired by the APEFE
and the AUPELF-UREF as educational
adviser for the Vietnamese teachers in the "Bilingual Classes" project
(505 classes in 97-98).
Vietnam, one of the first members
of the French-speaking world, indeed wants to strengthen its programs of foreign
language teaching. So in 1994 the Ministry of Education officialized the bilingual
classes, small experimental program launched in 1992 in Ho Chi Minh City by Hervé
Fayet, nationalizing it with the help of the AUPELF-UREF (which later became the
This new departure is an important step for me, because
it gives me the occasion to share with the other teachers the experience I acquired
as a schoolteacher and as professor of FFL / FSL (French as a Foreign Language
/ Second Language).
I was at first in charge of Can Tho's
region (South of Ho Chi Minh City) with periodic missions to Vinh Long. Two years
later, I moved in Hanoi, then from 2000 till 2002 I lived and worked in Ha Long
Let's begin with the story of my arrival in
Vietnam, a little bit epic (déjà vu ?) :
October 14, 1997...
should be getting accustomed to these crazy departures...
A few days before this October 14, after
having waited three months, the APEFE suggested me, in the name of the AUPELF
UREF, to be leaving on this October 14 or... One week later, but that would be
OK, I understood the message... Last preparations
in a panic, hasty good-byes and I jump into the plane to Hanoi. Jean-Pierre Outers,
spokesman for the APEFE, waits for me with a rental car (what a luxury !)
First contact with the traffic in Viet Nam : WOW !
At the hotel, small meeting
and I'm given a big file - already ! - Jean-Pierre orders a car for me at... 4:00 am,
to go catch the plane for Huê where I am impatiently waited for ! So I quickly
go to bed, get up at 3:00 am, and arrive in Huê around 8:00.
16 : Huê
Nobody for me at the airport, but I have the address
of the hotel and jump into a minibus. It eventually left me at 8:30 in a small
hotel, where Serge Cao, responsible for the Bilingual Classes in Viet Nam, welcomes
me and... tells me that the meeting of the Educational advisers begins at once
! I take my suitcase up to my room, and go to the meeting...
Very good reception
of the Educational advisers' team (a good dozen Belgians and 4 Quebeckers) and
of the responsibles, they all seem very nice. I'll congratulate myself 1000x for
having precipitated my departure to be here now, not only because I shall be able
to get acquainted of all the advisers but because these days will supply me with
thousands of information indispensable to my future job in Can Tho. Of course,
yes, it was exhausting...
But at the moment, we are also in charge of Huê's
"World congress of the Education of and in French" which begins tomorrow
and for which we're asked to help for the organization. After all, there are 280
guests from the 49 countries of the French-speaking world arriving, among whom
around thirty Ministers... We did celebrate my birthday anyway, on Sunday the
19th at 11:00 pm in the hotel lobby : simple, but good !
22 : Saigon
No time to rest, as soon as the Congress closed
I was back on the plane, for Saigon this time. Vietnam piece by piece... Hervé
Fayet (responsible for the Bilingual Classes in the South, super-nice and effective)
welcomes me at the airport, from where we go directly to his office for... A meeting
of course. In the evening, finally, a nice small hotel, a shower ! During the
5 following days, we worked a little more calmly, and I began to assume my jet
lag, bit by bit. Some shopping and some evenings out, a rather good moment as
a matter of fact, even if was getting tired of living in my suitcases.
28 : Can Tho
Departure towards Can Tho at 7:00 am with Hervé,
Nadine (educational adviser whom I am going to replace and who is going back to
get her stuff) and my suitcases and trunks. Six hours driving for 168 km, not
really a track, but a very frequented road (motorcycles...), very dangerous, and
cut by two ferries to wait for...a long time. Meeting at the Service of Education
to present me, then visits to the seven schools for which I am responsible in
Can Tho. Later, I'll visit both schools for which I am responsible in Vinh Long,
the nearby province. I am already surprised, during these first visits, seeing
the capacities of the pupils to understand and to express themselves in French...
It's only the beginning.
Dive in the bath !
The next day, while
Hervé leaves for Saigon and while Nadine prepares her luggage, I lead my
first educational meetings (weeklies).
From 7:00 am till
11:00, the 15 secondary teachers.
From 2:00 pm till 4:30,
the 15 primary teachers.
From 5:30 pm till 7:30, the 6 Science
I had prepared these meetings the same morning,
on the corner of a hotel table while having breakfast...
educational meeting, here animated at the secondary level by Mariane Capouet,
my colleague of Dalat who came visiting ; with the presence of Michel Le
Gall, Cultural attaché of the Embassy of France.
In short, I told them about my way of working and we established
my visits schedule for the next weeks : first week, all the primary classes (22)
and the next week all the secondary classes and the science teachers (18+6=24).
? Another round of the same... Score of the first month : 97 visits and individual
The next day, on Friday, I moved my stuff
at Nadine's and met the owner. The house was not really convenient for me yet
: no panes in windows, no air-conditioner of course, no warm water, "Turkish"
toilet, and walls (painted in blue) very dirty and damaged (not mentionning the
front door, an old acrid iron curtain). Well, with age (hem!) one wants his little
comfort ! The owner agreed to improve all this for an increase of the rent.
15 : "Home" !
During the works (10 days) I was
able to "camp" in the neighbouring house, which also belonged to him
and had been freed the day before my arrival. What a pleasure, on Saturday, November
15, to finally enter "my home", after so much time spent in the temporary
! Of course it's sad I had to make the move at the end of an evening...
I spare you the story of my baptism (the cyclone Lynda passed
by during my first WE in Can Tho) and other events like this.
discover much more in the next pages... :)
page : my job