What are your thoughts on Vietnam so far?
It’s definitely a fascinating country, but as an Economics and Business teacher it’s a particularly fascinating time to be in the country as it’s developing so rapidly. I was here five years ago travelling and I’ve seen a massive change since then.
Is that what motivated you to come to Vietnam?
I’d always been interested in teaching abroad and I had several opportunities in the Middle East. However, the thing that attracted me to Vietnam was I loved the country when I was here before and it had a way of life that attracted me that meant I could be involved in hopefully learning about the country itself, not just being in a compound with expats.
What do you think are the differences between students in the UK and students in Vietnam?
The most obvious thing for me is the value that students here place on education. For me it’s a real worry in the UK that students don’t value education enough so it can be a very tough place to work. Sometimes students probably work too hard and you feel some stress, but I think it’s a lot easier and more satisfying to work with students who want to learn. I think that’s really important.
Do you think that’s the Asian culture?
It’s difficult to say because I’m learning a lot myself. That’s the great thing with living in a different country; you get to learn things. I’ve worked in Scotland, I’ve worked in London, now I’m working in Asia and learning about Asian culture so it’s difficult to say. It could be the reason but I think there are many factors involved. I’m working with students with backgrounds that are more affluent than students I’ve worked with in the past so maybe there’s that to consider as well but the good thing is I’m learning all the time.
What qualities do you think a good student needs to have?
I think the most important thing is they have to see the value in education. For me that is the most important factor. They have to have an inquisitive mind; they have to ‘Be Ambitious’. You have to look at your work and not do it because Mr Alexander might be disappointed if you don’t, but you do your work because you want to do it, because it will better you. If you can do that and that’s your attitude, you’ll be successful.
Now on to the fun questions…
Are there any TV series that you have been watching recently?
I do love Narcos, I’m on Series 3 of that at the moment. I’m currently watching a series about joining the Special Forces which is quite interesting called Ultimate Hell Week. I like American dramas so things like The Sopranos, The Wire or West Wing because I like the character development. But Narcos is my current favourite.
What other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy travelling and going to see different places. I like going to the gym and keeping fit. I’ve just joined a netball team. I’ve never played netball in my life but I’ve signed up anyway!
So do you have confidence in your height that you can play netball without learning how to play?
I think, to be honest, my height is the only attribute I can bring to netball. That seems to be the only thing I have but it’s good fun, a good way of meeting new people and exercising.
Do you agree with pineapple on pizza?
No! Iceland tried to ban it, have you heard about this? Iceland tried to pass a law trying to ban pineapple on pizza. Pineapple should never be anywhere near pizza! I lived in Florence, Italy for a year and I adore Italian food; pizza, pasta, all the great Italian foods and a Hawaiian pizza is an absolute disgrace!
Jamie and Ji Min, Year 12 students