A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE TET WITH THE PEOPLE IN THE TOWN THAT IS NOW MY HOME FOR THE NEXT 10 MONTHS
TET, or the Chinese New Year’s is a big deal. I had the opportunity to experience Tet in the community that I now live in For me this a once in a lifetime opportunity. Tet is the time when people get together with family and friends and there is lots of activity going on as the people prepare for Tet. The local supermarket called Co op Market was a zoo. I had taken some pictures of the hustle and bustle inside Co opmart but unfortunately I deleted those pictures in error. I haven’t taken any pictures there since it has not been as busy. I did however, get a few strange looks as I was taking the pictures. However, I also do stand out in a crowd, blond hair which is short, white and freckles.
A week or two before Tet the community is abuzz with activity. All the sidewalks are filled with flowers which people purchase to decorate their homes for Tet or they give them as gifts. There are so many flowers that there is hardly anywhere to walk on the streets. I had taken pictures of this but once again, they were deleted in error.
The café we go to was having a community dinner a few days before Tet and we were invited to attend the meal which was delicious. We were unable to stay for the entire time as we had some classes we needed to get to. However, the music was so loud that there was no way we could teach the students and I ended up playing games with the younger children and my adult class became a free talking class at a nearby café.
When preparing for Tet people buy gifts for each other which is usually food, wine etc. The rationale behind this is that when you have your guests coming to visit you, you have food to offer them. Iris and I were trying to figure out if it would be appropriate to do this for Mrs. Thao. I asked one of my students about this and she told me that if we were going to buy something flowers or food would be appropriate. Iris and I decided that we wanted to arrange our own Tet package for Mrs. Thao and off to the Co op Mart we went and we had lots of fun picking out our Tet gift for Mrs. Thao. Mrs. Thao had hoped to see us early during the Tet holiday but she ended up being so busy with friends and relatives visiting her and her family that we only saw her a couple of times, but she was quite surprised to see the gift we had prepared for her. The students in a couple of my classes took me out for coffee to celebrate Tet and I was invited to go to some of the students homes during Tet, but I told the students that I was not sure if I would be able to visit them as I may be going to Hue, the old capital of Vietnam for a week or so during Tet.
Iris and I stocked up on food because many of the stores would be closed for a few days and some of them for a couple of weeks. Mrs. Thao also made sure that we had some traditional Tet food to experience which she had made herself and brought over for Iris and myself. The other teacher, Siena had left to visit her family in the Phillipines and was also going to be travelling around Asia with her boyfriend. When she returned to Quang Ngai, her boyfriend also arrived and stayed for a couple of weeks.
A day after the school closed Mrs. Thao and the staff at the centre prepared an amazing meal for us at the Centre. Mrs. Thao had a monk do the blessings and he also visited the school and the new site that Mrs. Thao has selected for the new school. However, the monk, felt that the timing was not right to expand the school. This was determined by the age factor of Mrs. Thao and her husband. I take it that the Monk is also a fortune teller.
Early on in the Tet holiday I am still undecided if I should go away for a few days. At times I feel that even though the school is closed there is still much to do on my part. Since Kristina is gone I will be taking over most of her classes and all of those classes are new to me. But then again, I will not have the opportunity to do this again and for me, Tet will be the longest period of time that I will have off for vacation……… I have included some pictures of the feast Mrs. Thao prepared for us at the beginning of the Tet holiday.