Friday, May 22, 2015

An Interesting Learning Center at MVCC

Visiting the MVCC Learning Center helps me figure out an effective model to help students with their studying and encourage them to learn better as well. The Center offers a comfortable place for students of different majors to come and learn from each other. And  tutors are available for them, too!  Some teachers also hold their office hours there, which makes teaching and learning convenient for both teachers and students. I don’t know whether in big universities or colleges in my country have Learning Centers like this, but at the college where I work, the learning center is included in the library, and there are no tutors available there to help students with their study like this. 
I really like the Math space, the separate area for studying Math occupying about half of the area of the Center. I see that the students can get help with their hardest subject by working with tutors and teachers. 

The teachers and tutors focus on helping students to overcome the hardest subject. I think students must appreciate this a lot because they can see the concern from their teachers for them, and that also encourages them to work harder. I could feel the learning atmosphere when I was in there. The students grouped together or were face to face with the tutors to discuss and ask questions on particular subjects. The center also offers  material supporting students’ learning for them to pick up anytime they like. 
Supporting materials for students.

A thank-you note to the Learning Center from a student.
The Center also has social activities, which makes it like a family. For example, they celebrate birthday parties for people in the Center. They wish him or her a happy birthday and have fun with each other. They even have a party with a lot of food and drink at the end of each semester to celebrate their success. Teachers and students come and eat, talk and have fun. When I was at this party last week, I even had a chance to take a photo with a pretty princess there. 
The Learning Center held a party at the end of the Spring semester.

I got to take a photo with a princess at the party!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cold weather, big food, and campus life

Today MVCC is interviewing its seventh Visiting Professor, Ms. Quyen T.T. Luong from Kien Giang Community College in Rach Gia, Kien Giang, Vietnam. This is Part 1 of her blog.
How have you been dealing with the cold weather?
The weather is the biggest challenge to me here. I always wear at least three layers when I go out, with socks, a hat and gloves. I even wore 5 layers, two pairs of socks and prepared two pairs of gloves when I went to the hockey game with the Resident Directors at MVCC. That was because I was informed that it would be very cold in there, and I was afraid that I would be frozen in such cold.  
Ms. Quyen T.T. Luong poses with some new friends, all wearing many layers in the winter.
Yesterday morning I made a big mistake. Before I went out of the dorm, I looked outside through the window and I discovered that it was a very beautiful day. The sun was shining and the students were having fun in very comfortable clothes on the campus, so I decided not to wear my jacket. The result was that on the way to visit the class and going home, I felt that I was going to die in the cold. Even when I was in class, I was so cold that sometimes I could not concentrate on the interesting clip the teacher showed. That is a lesson for me.
Big food is always a big draw.

What do you think of American pizza?
This question makes me think about a sentence in the handbook for visitors to the United States by Yale Richmond I read before I came to the U.S. That is “Big is beautiful” to American people, even the food. I can see that here. Although I was informed things were going to be big, when I was first in an American restaurant, I couldn’t help being surprised at the very big pizza, which I had never seen in Vietnam. The pizza here is so big in comparison with the one in Vietnam, and one slice can make me full. It is also very delicious. One thing I like is that there are many kinds of pizza to choose from, and I can ask the cooks to make my own pizza with the toppings I choose from the list on the menu. We don’t have those in Vietnam.

What do you think of American students? How do they differ from students in Vietnam?
They are very friendly and willing to participate in classroom activities, which makes the classes very lively.
The big difference between the students here and Vietnamese students is that I can’t tell who the students are and who the teachers are at MVCC. One morning, I said “Hi” and had a conversation with a man without knowing that he was a student until he mentioned something related to my presentation in his class last week. Oh, it’s fun and nice to talk to and make friends with people, but I’m afraid that I may have trouble in the future if I don’t know who is who.
With the MVCC mascot, Mo Hawk.

In what ways do American students and/or teachers impress you? (This can be both positively and negatively.)
The students are so active on campus with sports, dancing, and singing. I watch them playing almost every day on the way to my dorm after visiting classes. They not only create joy for themselves but they also bring it to me. I am happy and relaxed when I see them throwing the ball to each other, dancing while listening to music, or practicing moves on skateboards. Some days ago I even saw them have a mini sport competition in the square in front of Payne Hall. I don’t see such activities happening every day on campus in Vietnam, except the times when the teachers organize sports or competitions.
Another difference is that the students can wear hats in the classrooms, and they also don’t need to stand up to say “hello” and “goodbye” to their teachers when they enter and leave the classrooms. That can’t happen in Vietnam.

What do you think about how Americans greet each other? What other parts of American culture have seemed interesting to you? Why were they interesting?
Americans say “Hi” like Vietnamese, but don’t need to bow their heads as Vietnamese people do. Americans also hug each other when they greet each other, which does not happen in Vietnamese culture.
Another thing is that Americans don’t add title to first names but to the last names and they use first names to address older people. In Vietnam, people don’t call others by last name, but by first name, and we add an appropriate title to the first name to talk to an elder. We may not call the older person by their first name but the title is a must. 
One thing in the U.S. I can do is to figure out who are husband and wife when I see them because it seems that husbands and wives tend to kiss each other when they meet. This doesn’t happen in Vietnam. I think it’s great because we can see their happiness. We also feel happy when we see others are happy, and so we try to make our life happy as theirs.