18 November 2005

Teacher's Day

Sunday, 20 November, is Teacher’s day in Vietnam. And today, Friday, teachers all over the country, including me, had flowers and presents bestowed upon them.

The teacher’s room at work looked and smelled like a florist’s, each desk piled with bouquets of lilies and roses and orchids. Many of us also received gifts. I got the most beautiful necklace and earrings. I think the last time I taught at a public school in the US, there was something called “Teacher Appreciation Day”, and the principle left a basket of apples for us in the staff room. I kind of like this Day better.

Today was also the initiation of Friday Afternoon Softball, where I teach. For some reason, softball equipment is in short supply in HCMC, so I was surprised to see a few students at lunch swinging a bat, trying to hit a pitched tennis ball.

The batter’s hands were half-way up the bat, as he flailed around trying to hit the ball. I couldn’t stand it so walked over to give batting instructions. As I reached for the bat to demonstrate, another teacher called out, “Don’t complain about the weight.” I understood why he had said that as soon as I grabbed a hold of the bat and nearly dropped it.

It really was a gorgeous thing; dark wood polished to a mirror shine. But it weighed a ton. Why did you get such heavy bats? I asked. Turns out our resident English teacher/Sports Director had had them made the day before after an unsuccessful search for softball equipment. He’d given the specks to a furniture maker, who’d then churned out two bats.

Feeling the grip of wood in my hands, even though it weighed too much, brought back memories of all those years I had longed to play Little League, back in the days when girls were not allowed to do so. I remember trying everything I could to get on a team, but it was useless. When I finally got to an age where there were women’s city leagues, I was so out of practice, I didn’t even try. But it is still my favorite sport, and I just had to try a swing.

I took my stance, the ball was thrown, and I cracked it on the first pitch! It was the most amazing feeling. Like the old you-never-forget-how-to-ride-a-bike. I guess you never forget how to swing a bat and connect with a ball. I couldn’t participate in the game today, but just might do so next week.

What a great Friday! Flowers, jewelry, and baseball!
Batter up.