The Cast Of Characters

Sorry that I have been a bad blogger. I have all the usual excuses: work is busy, I am lazy, and I don’t have much that is interesting to say. Life is going well, and I feel more settled and confident this quarter. Maybe there is hope that teaching gets better when you are not new to it after all. My recommendation to not be a first year teacher still stands, but I highly recommend being a teacher, so you have to figure out how to make that happen. In fact, I really recommend being a teacher right now because I have another vacation looming in the near future! Time off is the best part!

However, before I tell you all the details of the wonderful adventure Christyn and I will embark on in 3 weeks, I am going to steal one of the blog ideas that Rachel sent me in an email. I really do aim to please, so if you are dissatisfied with the rate and content of my postings, I am open to suggestions. Rachel asked who my friends are. This is a question probably born from a desire to understand stories that I will inevitably tell this summer when we are reunited. I have been told that I tell stories and just drop in names as if they are supposed to mean something to people, even though there is no chance they have met. Oops. Sorry. That sounds like an annoying habit, but probably not likely to change. So, here is a cast of characters that you might hear stories about when I regale you with information that you already read on the blog. Who is excited to see me now that I pointed out two of my conversational downfalls?

These friends are in no particular order of importance, and there are many more people with whom I am friendly and could probably be added to the list, but today will be a brief lesson in some leading roles.

The Newbies

Arriving this summer with somewhere around 20 other new teachers was delightful because it was like freshman year of college all over again. We all had housing within a few floors of each other for the two weeks that we lived in a hotel, and we were all desperate to make friends. Of course, we were also all struggling with missing home and adjusting to a new set of rules and freedoms and experiences – sound like college to anyone else? So, in ways that I haven’t made friends since 2001, I bonded with these lovelies, and I continue to be thankful for the joy they bring to my life.



c alison

Name: Alison     Position: High School PE teacher     Country of Origin: Canada               Identifying Characteristics: red hair, super tall, loves to dance, coaches basketball Reasons I adore her: pretty much everything she says and does, her sense of adventure and openness, being the glue that holds the newbie family together, lunchtime chats, afternoon/evening workouts, excellent listening skills, etc.



c ricki

Name: Ricki Position: 1st Grade Teacher Country of Origin: USA (Wisconsin) Identifying Characteristics: the laugh, perfect hair, short, adorable dresses Reasons I adore her: honesty, humor, dinner parties, cafe dates, loyalty, listens to all my rants and stories with patience and solutions

c rebecca

Name: Rebecca Position: Middle School Art Country of Origin: Australia Identifying Characteristics: her smile and giggle, bold skirts, kindness Reasons I adore her: genuine warmth and love for everyone, loves researching things to do, invites us into her beautiful home among all her lovely artwork, sees the world optimistically, is always ready to try anything, married to Greg

c clare

Name: Clare Position: HS Geography Country of Origin: England Identifying Characteristics: thick accent, springy step, engaging smile Reasons I adore her: better at life than any other 25 year old I have ever met, super competitive, loves adventure, teaches me all types of British lingo, never gets upset, is a terrible wheelbarrow race partner who refuses to let the dream of winning die, hilarious, seriously hilarious, has an awesome partner, Alex, who also works with us and is hilarious

c shelley

Name: Shelley Position: HS Biology Country of Origin: USA (Texas) Identifying Characteristics: the highest heels in the room, great wardrobe, presence Reasons I adore her: self-assured, independent, goal-oriented, smart, driven, can drive a motorbike anywhere in this city, tough, analytical, a next door neighbor always willing to cab-share and join in on outings

c greg

Name: Greg Position: MS Writing Country of Origin: Canada Identifying Characteristics: bald, big laugh, loves to read Reasons I adore him: humor, he and Rebecca are a great pair, says the most random things, kind, loves to eat and drink beer, easy to travel with

c gregor

Name: Gregor Position: MS PE teacher Country of Origin: Austria Identifying Characteristics: odd noises and accents, giggle, being good at all the sports Reasons I adore him: a real original, cracks us up, loves to look at maps, always knows where to go, brings homemade schnapps back from Austria every time he goes home (which weirdly happens a lot) and is always eager to share it

c amy

Name: Amy Position: MS Learning Support Country of Origin: USA (all of the states, but most recently DC where we met before I moved here) Identifying Characteristics: poise and sophistication, sweetness, tall and blonde (that stands out in these parts) Reasons I adore her: graceful and gracious, kind, discerning, married a guy this summer that she has known since grade school, compassion, inclusiveness

These are not even all the newbies that I love, but I am sure to have some stories that feature them and their hilarious antics. Pretty much, I haven’t stopped laughing since I arrived. Except all the times that I cry, which I require this crowd to counsel me through. Moving abroad might be a roller coaster ride, but it is better because of them.

c crab

Eating crab at a place Pam and Dzim love to take us

c dance

dancing this past weekend to celebrate surviving the start of a new year

c dinner cruise

on a dinner cruise when Steph was visiting

c elevator

We love elevator selfies

c phu

On my first vacation to Phu Quoc

The Welcoming Crew

c rita

Name: Rita Position: HS EAL support Country of Origin: USA (Maryland) Identifying Characteristics: always dancing, always laughing, adorable Reasons I adore her: was assigned to be my professional buddy and has knocked the assignment out of the park, dedicated to our students and helping staff support their language needs, intelligent, loves to read, hilarious, tells a million stories, has fun ideas, great cafe dates, encourages me all the time, praises me, includes as many people as possible in all events, never sits still, has managed to make friends outside the school, teaches Zumba, speaks Spanish, loves life, used her 30th birthday as an opportunity to raise enough money to send 60 girls to school, inspiring

c pam

Name: Pam Position: MS Social Studies Country of Origin: Canada Identifying Characteristics: beauty, wit, and the ability to understand and speak Vietnamese and to smile enough to not need language when it fails her Reasons I adore her: she organized our orientation and has adopted us young single folk as her own, has an adorable baby, really loves living here, open heart, kindness and generosity

c melissa

Name: Melissa Position: 1st grade Country of Origin: USA (Maryland) Identifying Characteristics: gentleness and a great wardrobe Reasons I adore her: helpful, generous, genuinely sweet, emotional, vulnerable, can laugh at herself, amazing hostess, keeps me motivated to work out, taught me how to plant shop, loaned me her bike until I bought one, answers all my questions

c rena

Name: Rena Position: Kindergarten Country of Origin: USA (Washington) Identifying Characteristics: loud laughter, fun skirts, workout leader Reasons I adore her: she taught me to ride a bike and was my sidekick until I got comfortable enough to do it alone, organizes almost daily workouts for the staff and keeps me motivated to attend, is friends with everyone, loves to dance, lives in my building and hangs out with me at the pool, generous, kind, loves to read and share her books

Those Willing to Expand Their Circles

c jason

Name: Jason Position: Elementary EAL Country of Origin: USA (NY) Characteristics: loud, hilarious, loves to sing and discuss celebrity gossip Reasons I adore him: a great sense of humor and perfect delivery of all speech, fun, adventurous, observant, positive attitude about work and all of life, perpetually happy

c lisa

Name: Lisa Position: MS PE Country of Origin: Canada Characteristics: athletic, kind, always smiling Reasons I adore her: so welcoming and accommodating, knows all the cool spots to take us, can drive a motorbike like it is nobody’s business, inclusive, smart, interesting, loyal, adventurous

c marcia

Name: Marcia Position: HS Math Country of Origin: USA (MD!) Characteristics: intensity, perfectionism, fitness, kindness Reasons I adore her: great motivator and workout partner, doesn’t yell even if you spill red wine on her white sofa, loves plants, is totally herself, type A personality, works hard, is open and warm

c mark c

Name: Mark Position: MS Math Country of Origin: USA (the Midwest) Characteristics: loves math jokes, sarcastic, funny Reasons I adore him: rocks the math themed wife beaters I made him for Christmas, makes us laugh, I never know when he is serious/joking, a good cook, generous, married to Stacy

c stacy

Name: Stacy Position: MS EAL Country of Origin: USA (Midwest) Characteristics: well-dressed, polished, quiet Reasons I adore her: kindness, makes her professional development presentations engaging and useful, crafty – like she made butterfly wings that glowed in the dark for a race we ran, organized the Whole Life Challenge for the school, practical

I feel lucky that my life is full of good people and fun. I hope you enjoy the photos I stole from the school website and the yearbook style captions. Please send your next requests for blog posts soon, and get pumped to re-hear stories about these friends this summer.


Halloween with Rita, Ricki, Alison, and Shelley


Halloween dance party


elevator selfie with a mirrored twist


run for fun!


That time a group of friends invited me to DaLat with them!


Christmas sweaters in DaLat!


Secret Santa gift exchange dance party


I take the best group selfies!










  1. How about when you tell stories about a character in a book you are reading! Not sure if that still happens or not, but used to make for lots of confusion. Till you would remember that they were a fictional character!!! But doesn’t matter we love all the stories.


  2. I’m sorry Jodi, but I don’t have any suggestions for your blog. I enjoy everything you write, especially learning about the country and culture which you, hopefully temporarily, call home. We were minus 3 degrees yesterday morning so please have sympathy on us. It’s cold, about a foot of snow out there, and we’re hoping for even a glimpse of Spring. It’s also tax time on the farm and I’m doing my best at putting it off, but I know I won’t be able to do that much longer. Thank you for sharing your new friends with us.


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