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Meet the Teacher: Ms Archer

07 December 2017

For this week's 'Meet the Teacher' our Year 12 students, Jamie and Ji Min speak to Head of Geography, Ms Archer.

Ms Archer joined BIS HCMC in August 2017 from Dulwich College Shanghai where she held the post of Head of Geography.  Prior to this she taught Geography and Humanities in Munich, Budapest and the UK.  As the Approaches to Teaching and Learning Coordinator at Munich International School in Germany, Gemma was also involved in developing and embedding learning skills across the curriculum. As she approaches the end of her first term at BIS HCMC, let’s find out how she’s settling in...

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Where were you teaching before coming to BIS HCMC?

Before I started at BIS, I was working in Shanghai. Prior to that, I was working in Munich and then before that I was in Budapest. So I’ve been an international school teacher for 10 years now.

What do you think are the major differences between students at those countries compared to students in Vietnam?

Coming straight over from Shanghai to Ho Chi Minh City there wasn't too much of a shock in terms of difference between the students. However, when I moved from Munich to Shanghai there was a completely different culture in terms of attitudes towards education. From Shanghai to Ho Chi Minh City the attitudes are very similar, students are very determined to do well. As a teacher, this is always a pleasure as you get to have in depth discussions about your subject as well as other current world events. You can have interesting debates and look at different opinions from different people from different places around the world.

What have you found interesting here in Vietnam?

Other than both being communist countries, the one thing that I keep commenting on is that there is actually a lot of similarity in the approaches to things between China and Vietnam. However, there are also certain differences. For example, despite the fact that I was learning Mandarin for three years in Shanghai and then I started to learn Vietnamese here, I find that people are a lot more tolerant of my rubbish Vietnamese than my rubbish Mandarin. So in general I have found that the Vietnamese are a lot more open to people trying to be part of their culture and learn about their history than the Chinese were.

Do you have an educational philosophy for students to become successful?

As an educator, I think that my main aim is provide you with skills that are going to take you forward into the future. As a Geographer, I want to instill in you a critical eye so that you can actually look at the world around you and understand some of the aspects of how your individual decisions can really have an impact on a local and to some extent a global scale and then looking at an alternative of that, of how you as an individual can make small changes that can have a positive impact on the world.

What was the last TV show that you have watched?

I’ve just binge watched Mindhunter, which is about setting up a behavior profile in the US. And one aspect of my degree was Criminology, so it is quite interesting to see how perceptions of the FBI changed and how they brought in psychology to approach police work.

Is it the pineapple on pizza question next? 


I’m not offended by it, but I would always choose barbeque chicken over hawaiian! 

Jamie and Ji Min, Year 12 students