Overall 2012 was a good year for Mark and I.
I began the year working as a senior teacher at Eastern International University, responsible for a team of teachers working with pre-intermediate students. I was enjoying my job, but there were a number of frustrations which had made me decide not to renew my contract when it ended in September. I vowed, instead, to take some time out to do my DELTA (finally!!). In the summer, however, things changed. Our head of department left and I was approached to take over the running of the general English programme with responsibility for five academic levels, over 2000 students and a team of 40 or so teachers. Lots of soul-searching followed, but I was excited by the challenge and felt that there was enough of an opportuniity being offered for me to make a difference, so I accepted!
So, since August, I have been managing the programme. Initially, this involved designing a curriculum and writing syllabi and schemes of work - things which we hadn't had in place during my first year with the institution. There was a lot of work to be done on administrative and procedural issues. I was also very keen to implement a CPD programme in order to recruit and retain high calibre teachers. It was hard work, much of which is ongoing, and I had little time left for other pursuits (hence no blogposts in the latter part of 2012!), but, on the whole, I enjoyed it and continue to do so. We had the first set of student results under the new system just before Christmas and they were better than I could have hoped. I have a great team of teachers around me and, together, I feel that we are making a small difference in this corner of Vietnam!
Despite working hard, we did take time out to travel in 2012, making the most of our location here in south-east Asia.
We began the year in the UK, celebrating with family. Then, at Tet a few weeks later, we travelled around Cambodia for a couple of weeks visiting Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Battambang, and Phnom Pehn. We loved the country and hope to spend more time exploring the northern regions at some point.
We had a couple of long weekends in Mui Ne and regularly spent time in Saigon.
In July, we spent a fortnight in Java and made a road trip all around the island. We marvelled at Borobudur and the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park and enjoyed our time in Yogyakarta and Malang.
Following that, we had three weeks back in the UK, the highlight of which had to be our day at the London 2012 Paralympics!
We ended the year in the north of Vietnam visiting Hanoi, Cat Ba Island and Sapa, all of which I have yet to blog about!
I wrote a blogpost at the beginning of 2012 setting out my (very modest) goals for the year. These were:
- Go swimming at least once a week
- Go walking at least twice a week
- Revive my blog and publish at least one post every week
- Reply to all those Christmas and New Year messages I received
- Start studying for my DELTA
- Take part in some online teacher training sessions
2013 was the first year without my Dad. It wasn't easy. There were moments when I felt the loss of him almost as a physical pain. These times are becoming less frequent as the months pass, but I'm sure I'll always miss his presence in my life, especially when I so desperately want to share something with him! The year ended on a very sad note, too - waking up on Christmas morning to the news that my auntie (my Dad's sister) had died a couple of hours earlier. This was a huge blow - she was my confidante throughout my adult life, the only person, other than Mark, that I could share everything with and the only member of my family who read every blogpost I wrote. She was also the most remarkable woman I have ever known - I will write about her when the emotions are not so raw!
Despite the upsetting start to the year, we have a lot to look forward to in 2013.
We spent the first few days of January exploring Vietnam's capital city. Now, I'm back to work, but not for too long because we have another two-week break for the Tet holiday starting on February 1st! My Mum is coming to stay for a month. It'll be her first overseas trip since my Dad died, so I'm hoping she'll enjoy it. We're going to be spending some time in Hue, Hoi An and the Mekong Delta.
After that, I'll be presenting at an international conference for the first time! It's CamTESOL in Phnom Pehn and I'll be presenting jointly with Lesley Cioccarelli (@cioccas), a fellow teacher who I 'met' through Twitter.
We plan to get a couple of long weekends in to coastal resorts we have yet to visit and, in the summer, we hope to go to Sarawak. Everything being equal, we will finish the year with Christmas in the UK.
On the whole, life is good!!