Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saigon South International School

After a wonderful week in north Vietnam, I relocated to south Vietnam for a wonderful half-week. Just as United Nations International School of Hanoi had warmly welcomed me, so did Saigon South International School.

Making this an especially special school visit was the fact that I was invited by Mandy Friedman and Lara Keller, both of whom had hosted me at previous international school visits (in the United Arab Emirates). Now I've managed to not get my photo taken with either of them in TWO countries.

As with the streets of Vietnam, the parking lot of the school is dominated by bikes, not cars:

Fire drill:

One student asked me a question that I don't believe I've gotten before: was Bob Kane sad when Bill Finger died? I don't know the answer but my guess is...a little.

Speaking of Bob, given that this visit was less than a week after the U.S. presidential election, I suddenly saw Bob's gravestone in a new light—and spontaneously told the middle and high school groups to whom I spoke that "even Donald Trump's grave would be more understated than this."

Both groups applauded wildly.

I liked this sign in the cafeteria but felt the word choice was iffy in a country notorious for a long, brutal war:

Perhaps the most bizarre moment of my time in HCM was a phone call.

One of my four nights there, I committed a cultural crime: I ate at a Domino's Pizza. (It, too, was just so conveniently located.) They include a free beverage of your choice with every pizza, but they were out of water, which was the only drink I wanted. A manager felt so badly about it that she apologized multiple times (in excellent English), then walked out with me to continue to apologize on the sidewalk in front. I assured her it truly was okay, but it took some work.

The next day, when I passed through the school library just prior to leaving, the library assistant (the same who prepared directions for me the day before) told me I'd gotten a call there—from Domino's.

The caller had said I'd left something at the restaurant—but I knew I hadn't. (I wasn't carrying anything when I went there.) Literally as the assistant was giving me this message, the phone rang—it was Domino's again. The caller asked to speak with me. When I came on, I could tell it was the same manager who apologized about the water. She said I didn't really forget anything but she wanted a plausible reason to tell the person who answered the phone.

I was trying to remember if I had told her I was working at the school; if not, she must have assumed than any American in that neighborhood would be. But that would not explain how she would know to ask for the library to reach me.

I was not clear why the manager had gone through the trouble to call me at the school. She apologized yet again and wished me a safe trip home, but it seemed like there was more to it than that—and if so, I still haven't figured it out. While I was listening blank-faced, my hosts stood to the side quietly laughing in disbelief.

No comments: