are here : Chez Pierre >>
Vietnam >> Can
Tho >> 1998-1999
A year full of new developments
of my groups of Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese trainees during an "oral expression"
the summer, the AUF organized four trainings of two weeks for the teachers, animated
by the educational advisers.
So, some 350 teachers had the
occasion to complete their training during an initiation (for the new teachers)
or a methodological and linguistic recycling, at the CREFAP in Ho Chi Minh City
and in Hanoi.
Between the two inservices I animated with
my colleagues, I was able to take one month of holidays in Belgium, where the
weather was charmingly cool and rainy :)))
returned to school after three months of summer holidays (they have no school
leave during the year except a week for the Têt).
They grew up, and
so did the program :
For 1998-1999, there are 600 Bilingual
Classes in Viet Nam + some "intensive French" classes for the 9th graders
who did not pass the middle school exam.
In Can Tho we have
52 bilingual Classes and 2 "intensive French" classes (1448 pupils,
38 teachers); in Vinh Long : 5 Bilingual Classes (119 pupils, 4 teachers).
is only me who did not grow up, and who am still alone: no local homologue was
likes preparing rebus at home
grade, it's new, the pupils begin to learn English and they are delighted : they
become trilingual, and learn with a disconcerting ease. They also discover the
pleasure to annoy their French-speaking teachers in a language they often don't
: snake, eel, etc.
teachers' day : every pupil has to celebrate his teachers, it doesn't much matter
the age of the ones and the others. The teachers are themselves going to celebrate
their former teachers, etc.
It is a very busy day for them, because they
should be at first celebrated in their school(s) then go to celebrate their former
teachers, then be back at home to receive their pupils... If you want to make
a fortune in Vietnam that day, be a florist (I sometimes receive more two hundred,
true and false flowers) !
As for the bilingual classes teachers, they also
invite their favourite educational adviser (I do not boast : I am the only one
At the very last minute...
"Hello? Pierre? We need you. THE
AUF decided to participate in Can Tho's international Fair. It would be necessary
that you rent a double stand, furniture and a cellular phone with modem cable
; that you hire some hostesses and that you take charge of the decoration, bilingual
of course. I send you Alex and Jean-Pierre,who will stay with you two days. Then
you will animate the last four days, all right ?"
But... Er... The Fair begins in three days, you know? "
Bah, you are going to manage, aren't you ? "
this one, we made it like super champions... Of course I called all the teachers
in, paid a visit to the director of the Fair (because of course all the stands
and the furniture were already booked), convinced a cellular phones salesman to
rent me the model which we needed, spent my evenings to prepare the decorations
and signs, which my good friend Tang translated one by one into Vietnamese...
Serge Degallaix, Ambassador of France, was very interested. He notably asked numerous
questions (and took notes) on Can Tho's Bilingual Classes.
Since he stayed
three times longer at our stand than at the others, we considered it as a victory
Our stand (18 m²) was ready one hour before
the opening. With an exploit for the time and the place : the French-speaking
Internet sites (among which this one ;)), displayed on a big screen thanks to
an overhead projector and a laptop in direct connection with the Ho Chi Minh City
server, by cellular phone !
It was the only way : there was no telephone
at the Fair... I had tried to contact the phone company, but they answered that
they could not install a 150 metres cable on a Sunday. Can't blame them !
The Provincial Popular Committee
invited the representatives of all the NGOs working in Can Tho at a meeting with
the authorities (educational, sanitary, economic, agricultural, etc.)
local initiative !
And on this photo, you see only the representatives
of the "health - education" branches, where I was the only representative
for "education"... You can easily spot my dear friend Andrée,
with her orange-coloured polo ;)
French-speaking fest, March 20th, 1999, in Can Tho !
Rather than to repeat the modest celebration
of 1998, we had decided to have a big festival in 1999.
January, the organizing committee (I and 4 teachers, so that the fest would be
their realization and not mine) prepared two activities : a big spectacle combined
with an exhibition of posters on the subject "Holidays in the French-speaking
Have all the classes in the show ? Impossible:
there are 54 of them, if we had given them 5 minutes each the show would have
last 5 or 6 hours ! A preliminary selection indicated the 21 better plays, to
polish up for the big day.
As you can guess on this photo,
the last moments before the opening were intense...
Two hours before : we obtain the missing authorizations (relief
One hour before : at the height of the dry season, it begins to rain
The television crew packs up the mobile studio which they had installed...
minutes before : the rain stopped, we reinstall everything in the yard of the
The hour : our public consists only of some pupils and
a dozen guests !
Fifteen minutes later: there is more than one thousand
persons in front of the scene, let's go for it...
Lights on !
We're on for a three-hours
show (interrupted with breaks, pricegivings...) with songs, playlets, a magician,
And a nice public, sat on small plastic stools in the
yard of a Secondary school, on a Saturday evening...
We did not believe in it. The night before,
we didn't sleep. The same day, we wondered what was going to fall on our heads.
the show, we feared everything... Power outage ? Rain ? Accident ? Ban ? NO.
happy public having left, we realized that we had DONE IT ! YES ! We did not just
"hold on" from 18:00 to 21:00... We enjoyed ourselves, relaxed, sang,
And the jury indicated the best plays,
to the authors of which we handed presents of course.
this for less than 200 dollars...
Yes, we were proud of ourselves !
Here are some more pics of this fest
(click to enlarge) :
the end of 1998, I had the pleasure to announce Bertha's adoption :
100 kg (muscle only)...
this is not Bertha...
A Honda XLR 250 "Degree"
I had had a lot of luck by finding an all-terrain motorcycle (very
rare here), with an engine superior to 175cc (normally forbidden in Vietnam) and
in excellent shape ! At first the owner wanted 3200 dollars for it, I finally
got it for 1500... To bring it from Saigon to Can Tho (200 km) I drove it of course
(great stroll, with a good motorbike !) having luckily found two new tires to
put on. Gag (sic) : for the occasion I had bought some sun cream in a Saigon's
local pharmacy. It was once again only a copy, probably cooking oil, seen the
state of my skin at the arrival... OUCH !
I took it to Hanoi when I moved
there (but in a truck this time - 2000 km !) and resold it there one year later,
sadly, not knowing if I was going to stay in Vietnam, but especially because the
traffic is such in the capital that there is no pleasure to have with a motorbike.
Let's go back to Can Tho...
1998, we had the immense pleasure to enjoy the opening of the "Nam Bo"
restaurant . FINALLY a suitable (and even more !) restaurant with Vietnamese and
The quality was unequalled in Can Tho and the prices quite reasonable.
owners were Anh, French-speaking Vietnamese, who had renewed everything herself
to obtain this superbe place, and her husband Benoît, super-nice Frenchman,
who often came to relax there and to put some atmosphere in after his job.
Benoît and Anh flew away for another country in 2001, but Anh's brother
stayed there ; then in 2002 Benoît and Anh came back :-)
monk in a Mustang convertible in Can Tho ?
No... This virgin
skull belongs to my cousin Frédéric Gieling, 28 years old, Quebecois.
This picture comes from his selection film for "The Journey Destination World",
in which he participated in 1998-1999. He was one of lucky eight candidates who
went around the world, in numerous countries, realizing a short film a week for
Radio-Canada and TV5...
After Japan and Hong-Kong, "Froutch"
had chosen Vietnam and paid me a small visit in my deep South...
"This is really different
!" is the expression we'll remember from his stay in the Mekong Delta...
had not planned to make one of his 17 required movies here, but the charms of
the Delta and the love of my boat pilot for alcohol emptied the camera batteries
of our young reporter, who was then engaged as journalist by Radio-Canada (you
can admire him from time to time on TV5 also).
(Sorry, the pics are
not very good)
I was tired of first house I had rented upon my
arrival, and was looking for another one for six months when I found a hidden
treasure. Hidden because the house in question was very badly fitted out, but
fortunately the owner was open-minded and thought that I had good ideas...
So, we demolished his new bedroom,
his two new bathrooms, the bedroom of his daughter (I spare you the rest...) and
reconstructed almost everything inside : a real kitchen, a real bathoom, a big
living room, an office and two air-conditioned bedrooms... Garden restauration
(we had to evacuate 5 trucks of various "grimes" and then call in 4
trucks of ground), new terrace ; new electric installation with halogen spotlights,
boiler, new stair, paintings (all the house was pale blue with grey chassis),
What a relief when I was finally able to settle down there, after an
epic move on delivery tricycles, in February, 1999 !
How sad, when I learnt
three months later that I was going to move to Hanoi...
What a joy for Benoît
and Anh (read above) who quickly took the house :))) And for my successor, who
took it in his turn after Ben's departure in 2001...
Hanoi in October, 1998, with Marie-Anne, Roxane and Nadine, dear colleagues and
After a few hours on the motorbikes in the campaign, we visited
the Paintbrushes Pagoda, before going to the potters village... A whole program
Page créée le 27 novembre 1998 - Mise à jour le
21 juillet 2002
Pierre Gieling - tous droits réservés