Personal Update: 4th Year in Vietnam


Wow! Hard to believe it’s been three full years already, and at the same, I feel like I’ve been in Saigon even longer than that as I’ve gone through so many changes, both professionally and personally, since we moved here in August 2012.

I’m now printing the fifth iteration of my business card, this time as Deputy Head of School. This is the first year I’m on a full-time administrative contract instead of a teaching contract. Doing that Principal licensure program during my maternity leave with Arianne definitely paid off!

A Deputy Head plays a role similar to an Assistant Principal in US schools. I focus mainly on school logistics, data management, and teaching & learning. Some of my favorite things to work on are planning teacher professional development, organizing our whole-school field trip program, and coordinating the dual enrollment program for university credit with Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA).

In the school library

We are the first and only school in Vietnam to offer SUPA, and last year we were the first school in Vietnam to trek with students to Hang En Cave, the third largest cave in the world. Some initiatives for this year included bringing in Dr. Janell Catlin from Teachers College at Columbia University to work with our Science Department and hosting John Miller from Agile Classrooms to lead a workshop focused on using Agile for 21st Century Learning.

I love that my job here has allowed me to be creative and innovative, and that I’ve been involved in so many “firsts.” At the same time, I’ve served as a Syracuse University adjunct instructor for the introductory Academic Writing and Creative Nonfiction Writing courses. This has allowed me to continue spending time in the classroom, engaging in meaningful conversation with exceptionally bright and motivated Vietnamese students.

Me & the kiddos, August 2015

I moved to Vietnam in 2012 as part of a teaching couple with one child, then 18 months old. I’ve since had my second child here in Vietnam, and more than a year ago, separated from their father and started the divorce process. Since then, I’ve been living alone as a single mom with two young children. Their dad is still in Saigon and still involved in their lives, but both kids live with me full time. Thankfully, I have two trustworthy nannies so I’m able to keep up with my career and continue to travel for work and sometimes for fun.

Being single in Saigon is not something I had ever planned on. After being with my ex-husband for eight and a half years, I was totally out of the loop with the current dating scene. Big thanks to Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance for filling me in! It’s been interesting and amusing to say the least. I still need someone to explain to me the significance of weird cat photos in online dating profiles. If you are in the know, email me. Seriously.


Now that my kids are a bit older, I’m trying to spend more time getting back into old hobbies like playing bass, horseback riding, hiking/trekking, and Latin dancing. I feel like I never have enough time, hence why I haven’t been posting much on this site. I’ve been focusing more on photography than writing, but then never taking time to post. I’ll try to get better with that this year. No promises though. Best way to follow me nowadays is on Facebook. If you add me and we’ve never met in person, just send me a quick message that you found me via the blog. I get a lot of questionable friend requests. Sometimes with cat photos.

So here’s to creativity, freedom, and balance for my fourth year in Saigon!

7 Comments on “Personal Update: 4th Year in Vietnam

  1. I didn’t know about so much of that, your career, life changes! I am so happy for you for the positive changes, and as for the hard ones, well, I’m glad for you that you are finding your way. I’ve heard reviews and interviews about that book, and it sounds hilarious. Maybe I’ll have to look it up! A friend told me women often appear kissing dolphins in his app of choice. I had no idea! Best to you, Heather!

    • Thanks Eileen! You should definitely read it. I think you’ll enjoy Ansari’s “world tour” of different dating cultures.

      My friends and I have a photostream of hilarious and/or stereotypical Tinder/OKC pics. Dolphin kissing is not a thing here. Tiger petting is though.

      • I don’t participate in Tinder, but he’s seeing women kissing dolphins, so I’m not sure I’d see them, anyway. He says he immediately swipes whichever way means “no.” Thanks for the book tip. I have heard some audio by Ansari, and it’s pretty hilarious.

  2. I’m sorry to hear about your divorce. I really can’t imagine the pain of such a loss. I’m not sure if you remember me, but we went to UMass together. I follow your traveling adventures from time to time, and I really admire what you are doing. Keep up the awesome work!

    • Thanks Monica! Yes, I’ve been following your FB posts and beautiful curly hair. : )

  3. I like the part where you obtained a Principal licence while on maternity leave best. You are really a master of time management. I envy your efficiency.

    • Thanks Scott! It was a bit crazy…I had to Skype in to some classes while rocking a newborn. I did most of my studying in the middle of the night!

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