At the end of June, I had the privilege of traveling to Vietnam (with several colleagues from UOW) to attend the 2nd Mekong TESOL Conference. Prior to the conference, we were able to spend two days in Ho Chi Minh City, which is, without a doubt, one of the most vibrant and chaotic places I have ever been to. The traffic is relentless and the place never sleeps; yet, exploring the city was fun, and we made sure to include plenty of stops at local coffee shops (love the weasel coffee!). The conference committee then organized a coach for us to travel down to Can Tho where the conference was held. The 4-hour drive through the countryside was stunning, and spending three days in Can Tho was exciting. I can’t remember the last time I ate that much food, including Pho at the floating market and several enormous lunches and dinners to which we were invited.
The conference, with its theme Think Globally, Act Locally, generated stimulating and interesting discussions. It was an ideal venue for local English teachers to explore a wide variety of relevant language teaching and research issues. The ~350 attendees provided some great networking opportunities, too. Unfortunately, the day after the conference I felt pretty crook. The timing was definitely not ideal, as I was scheduled to deliver an all-day workshop at Gaviet Language Center for Vietnamese English teachers on how to teach pronunciation to young learners. In spite of feeling a bit off, the workshop went well, and the participants seemed to enjoy the opportunity to learn about pronunciation instruction. The next day, five of us flew to Phu Quoc Island where we spent four relaxing days. We snorkeled, fished, and explored the island by car (we had a driver). The beaches, the night market, and the seafood were incredible, but the rapid resort development, the simple lifestyle in some of the local villages, and the ever-present garbage lying around were a bit of an eye-opening experience. It made my sore stomach and emerging toothache feel almost irrelevant.
Overall, the 11 days in Vietnam were an incredibly enriching experience. I learned a lot about this fascinating country and its friendly people. I’ll be back, for sure!
I am a Senior Lecturer in TESOL at the University of Wollongong in Australia. This blog is a reflection of my journey as a researcher, L2 teacher educator, and language teacher.