I was so looking forward to seeing the girls after the TET and winter break. Yen (local volunteer) picked me up and we rode a scooter to the shelter. As we entered the building, I saw two of my girls who were surprised. The teacher said they didn’t expect me to come today, even though I thought Minh arranged everything and gave them heads up for today’s class. The girls hadn’t recharged the batteries for their computers. I said it is Ok, as we are going to plug XOs in and do some other learning.
I asked the girls about their holiday. What did they do? Where did they go? They said they spent all three weeks here in the shelter, only went outside to watch fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
I coudnt’ believe it, I was told that we couldn’t have classes last week as some of the girls went away to the countryside to spend time with their extended families. That is why our lessons were canceled last week.
My next question was if they played with the computers during the three weeks I didn’t see them. It turns out, they didn’t. To say the least, I was disappointed. I was thinking: “Do they even need computers? Do they like them or I do force them to study? They didn’t touch the computers in three weeks because they are not interested? Or something else?…”
I didn’t show my frustration and just joked that the girls were lazy and we have to recall what we learned before the holiday: Turtle activity. I knew that last time they were doing it mechanically without deep understanding of the commands.
I saw that girls were still in the holiday mood and were not ready to study. They were laughing and not able to concentrate. But I wanted to draw their attention and to involve everyone in the activity. I asked them one by one to come to the blackboard and write an algorithm for one letter each. They did A, B, C, V and H. I was again making steps as a turtle and they managed to draw commands just fine. Hanh was the best at math. She immediately calculated degrees for angles in all arcs and turns.
Then I announced that I brought presents from Thailand, and we are going to have a test. Whoever finishes first, gets the biggest prize. Immediately they felt very competitive. They had to write PE for Peace. We timed this activity. Start time was 8:20PM. Truc was the first one to finish, which was not surprising (she is a very good student). Her time was 25 min. Next was Huong. Bi cheated and asked Truc to finish for her, which I laughed about. Hanh and another Huong were the last. Bi was not present.
Other girls came in, everyone wished me Happy New Year. Hanh and another girl gave me little costumed paper figures as presents. Finally there was a moment of giving the awards. Truc got the big purse. Other prizes were smaller purses and key chains with elephant images. Even Yen got a prize. They all looked very happy.