Abby, a teacher with “Teachers for Vietnam,” talks about her interactions with students.
After working for several years as the office manager for an equine clinic in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, Abby Mensing felt the pull of faraway places – countries more remote and exotic than Canada and the ones in Europe where she had taught English not long after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Lawrence University in 2002. Vietnam appealed to her particularly because of its ties with France: she had earned a master’s in French and was eager to discover how this colonial legacy affected present-day Vietnamese. Her posting to Can Tho University has had a profound impact on her own sense of self and made her realize how teaching can connect people of vastly different backgrounds and outlooks. Abby hopes to return to Can Tho for a second year to build on what she has accomplished so far.
Elena and Sarah Emily talk about their teaching and anti-trafficking volunteer work in Long Xuyen, Vietnam
A seasoned world traveler by the time she graduated from Occidental College in 2013, Elena Robertson had set her sights on teaching English abroad. She envisioned a career in overseas education or service in some capacity. Elena found the perfect outlet for her energies and ambitions in Long Xuyen. In addition to teaching oral communication skills at An Giang University, she became involved as a volunteer with Pacific Links – an organization dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking in Vietnam. She is also planning to remain in Long Xuyen after she finishes her classes, to help young women who have found a haven at Pacific Links restart their lives.
In the early 1960s Dick Barth came to Vietnam with the U.S. Army, serving as a helicopter pilot. During his term of duty he saw a great deal of destruction and chaos, but had little chance to get to know the Vietnamese people or make a positive contribution to their lives. A long-deferred desire to return and do so led him to seek out a teaching post, ultimately finding one in the northern coastal city of Dong Hoi. He was the first foreigner at the university there in two years and initially faced major challenges in setting up his classes and figuring out how things worked. Now he and his wife Jessie are happily forging links between Quang Binh and Geneseo College, in their home state of New York, and hope to recruit more teachers for the coming years.