hot for teacher

I started teaching English at “ACL” or “Australian Centre for Language” last week.  I have a level 3 class for 6 hours a week.  It pays $11 an hour.  Not a bad gig over all, the students are motsly all girls between the ages of 13 and 20.  If I were a 40 year old man I would be in heaven.

They’re all pretty cute and sweet, even though some of them don’t put very much effort into class.  I’m not a very god disciplinarian, so hopefully they will learn something even if I can’t force them to work hard.

All of the students have nick names that are generally easier to pronounce than their Lao names.  They all laugh at me when I say their names wrong.  AT first I thought maybe I was saying some kind of dirty word, but they told me it wasn’t a bad word, they just think I’m funny.  This is probably a lie, I am probably saying “dog testicles” or something.  The Lao sometimes have a cruel and vulgar sense of humor.

Anyway, it’s ok for me, one of my students’ nicknames is “Titty”.

I haven’t yet had the heart to tell her that it’s not a very polite word in English.  I also have a hard time not laughing everytime I call on her.

My students have a hard time remembering to pronounce the ends of words, so Miss Nicole usually ends up “Miss Nico”.  I don’t mind his at all, and in fact kind of like it.  I wonder if I can get them to start calling me “Miss Nico Sauve”, “Miss Peurto Nico”, or even “Miss Lil’ Nast”

I also have this on-going joke with my students about how I am the most beautiful teacher in Laos.  First they asked me what my Lao nickname was and I said “Nyam Lae” (very beautiful).  Then, when I was teaching them articles and how you must use the definite article (the) with a superlative, ie: the most beautiful teacher, because there can only be one (me), we use “the”.  They think it’s funny and I also enjoy this little inside joke we have.

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i get a job; i quit a job.

I got a job teaching English, and then quit the job the next day.

My neighbor’s friend owns an English school, and he called me on Monday morning and asked me if I wanted to teach a class Monday Wednesday and Friday evenings from 5-6:30 pm, starting that evening. I thought it would be a good idea to try it, so I said yes, before consulting with the library director. When, later that day, I mentioned it to the director, he told me not to do it. He said I should at least wait until my visa had been arranged, which will probably take another 2 weeks. But, I had already promised the guy I would come, so I went to the school about an hour before the class began, expecting to find a lesson plan and get some training and orientation. Instead, I sat and waited for about 45 minutes while everyone ran around hectically, waiting for some one who would show me what I should do. Eventually some one gave me some books, took me to a classroom, and said “Alright, here you go”. Then I was faced with about 6 Lao teenagers expecting me to teach them English. No one had even told me if it would be kids or adults, if there were tests, if there should be homework, how much I would get paid, or what to teach them. After struggling through regular and irregular verbs for an hour and a half I let the kids go, with the intention of finding out how much I was getting paid and then drinking a few BeerLaos. It was extremely frustrating, and after waiting another ½ hour after class to talk to somebody, when I found out I would get paid $9 an hour, minus tax, I basically decided that it was not worth it to continue. Mostly I was concerned that it would distract me from my main purpose here – my project at the Central Library, and also that I wouldn’t have time to prepare good lessons or be a good teacher. And it was too stressful anyway. So I went back the next day and told them I couldn’t do it. I felt kind of like and asshole, but I’m sure I will have other opportunities later to teach English if I really want to.

This is probably a least the 3rd or 4th time I have accepted a position, and then after starting, or sometimes even before starting, have decided I had over-extended myself and could not actually take the job. Hopefully I will learn not to do this anymore sometime soon.


I have been hanging out the past two days with an american I met last weekend at the 4th of July BBQ. She left today to go to Luang Prabang, so I already lost my only friend, but we did get to do some touristy things, including taking pictures of wats.

in Vientiane

We also walked around and tried to sample some interesting Lao cuisine. By far the best and most interesting was something called a “Loti”. It’s basically somewhat like a crepe, except rather than pouring the batter onto the hot surface, they flip a little piece of dough around and beat it flat with their hands, until it’s paper thin. Then, they fry it with butter and put some banana inside, and then fold it up into a square, cover it with sugar and sweetened condensed milk, and then cut it into little bite sized pieces. Holy shit is it delicious.

making lotis
making lotis

I bought some Lao silk recently on one of my journeys into Talat Sao, or “The Morning Market”.

It is so beautiful and relatively inexpensive compared with silk you would buy in the North America. My next mission is to find a second hand sewing machine.

In response to some queries regarding sticky rice:It is a different kind of rice, and you cook it differently from regular rice. Firstly, you must wash it two or three times. Then, it must be soaked at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight, in water. Then you cook it for 20 minutes on a stove, high heat, though the Lao tell me it doesn’t taste as good if it’s cooked on a stove, to cook it over a fire. If you don’t have anywhere you can build a fire, the stove works fine, but you do need this special apparatus to cook it in (and try to have a small kitten available to watch the pot):

Kitty & Sticky

So the water in the bottom part of the pot boils, and steams the rice.  You cook it this way for 20 minutes, and then you put it  smaller wicker basket to serve.  And you HAVE to eat it with your hands.