Last 10 days in Hoi An...

Hi all

So for those who have been following, this is my last 10 days in Hoi An.  It is always sad when I come to the  end of my time here.  I have had so much fun here this year and have cemented lifelong friendships, my home away from home will never be too far away from my thoughts.

Now whats been happening?  One of the highlights was going to Tam Ky to watch some of our kids compete in the provincial swimming championships.  It was amazing to see the kids race and the enthusiasm of the sport teachers.  Of course the Hoi An kids did very well followed closely by Duy Xuchen (one of the other areas we teach at).  Have a look on Swim Vietnam's and Water Skills for Life  Facebook for photos of the day. And for those who are thinking it must have been a professional event like in Australia, well no!  You have kids competing against each other who are of different ages ie One of our Swim Vietnam teachers kids who swims amazing breaststroke is 8yrs old and was up against 12yr boys!!  Anyway it was a vast improvement from last year Jo told me as everyone finished their races.  Last year only 1/2 managed to finish so this is a vast improvement.  Just goes to show how far swimming has come in one year.

So I have not been in the pool teaching until last Saturday and helped Jo with the expat kids.  The money she raises from renting the pool and doing these lessons helps support the swim program.  I have had a great time showing Jo how I teach these little kids back in Australia and I have even done a few baby classes!! Back to singing all those wonderful songs (wheels on the bus, zoom zoom zoom were going to the moon, ring a ring a rosy just to name a few).  On Friday Jo Trung and Vinh came to my homestay so they could do the Assessors course online for their Austswim.  They needed this to be able to sign new teachers off once they have completed the course and training hours.  It was an interesting morning as Jo and I had to explain some of the questions in simple terms and thanks to google translate as well, the two of them are now assessors as well as presenters of Austswim Teacher of swimming and Water Safety.  So proud of these guys they have worked hard and have done really well.

Apart from this I have been saying my good byes to friends here and have had many coffee's and dinner invitations. I was fortunate enough to be invited to Chien's grandparents house to enjoy dinner with them and all the family.  What made it really special was that when Chien come to pick me up, and his son was with him, and as we were leaving the heavens opened up... OMG! you should have seen the down pour but this doesn't stop things here so donned a poncho and with motorbike helmet on, the three of us were riding through the rain and the enormous puddles on the back of the motorbike to our destination.  Its all about the experience isn't it??   I was told later that this is what it is pretty much like in the rainy season (we are at the beginning of it now).

That brings us to Saturday night.  We had a small farewell for two of the volunteers Marita and Lloyd who have been here with me for the past 6 weeks at a local restaurtant just across from my homestay. We had a nice night with plenty of beer drinking and mawt hai ba's going on. It was also a goodbye for me (and see you next year Tanya) from the teachers but rest assured there will be plenty of opportunities to say farewell to them all over the last few days here in Hoi An.

Well what an adventure this year.  So all of you who might like to come next year I am sure you would have a blast.  There are plenty of other things you can do to help Swim Vietnam other than teaching in the pool so let me know, it would be an experience let me tell you.

See you all too soon


PS I forgot to mention, Chien and Trung will be arriving in Australia Mid February and spending time in Melbourne with Paul Sadler Swimland and coming to Sydney to stay with me for a few days.  Very exciting indeed!!

Tanya Carmont
President, Water Skills for Life Inc.
Ph: +61 (0)438 828 725

The last two weeks….

It has been really humid and hot here except for today, overcast rain and high 20's and this is forecast for the whole week.

So I am coming to the end of this years journey and I have really enjoyed it.  So many adventures and fun times.  So just a couple of highlights, teaching in the pool has been really so much fun.  The kids just get it and they learn so quickly.  Jo has been in with me to see how I teach the expat kids so I was able to show her and give her some tips.  Yes its is different to teaching the Vietnamese kids, expat kids are just like the kids at home always want to either be under the water or playing and not paying attention.  Its all about keeping control of the class ha ha!

Some of the kids from our swim program are this week swimming at the championships in Tam Ky which is really exciting for Swim Vietnam and of course their families. The kids don't swim in age groups but on times which is interesting as you end up with all ages in a race.  If they make it to the national championships then it is age groups. Wishing them all the best and I hope to see them in action.

Michele from Dingo Deli and one of my friends here in Hoi An took me on a "get Lost in Hoi An" tour on the back of her motorbike.  It was soooo much fun.  Bush bashing through the rice paddies and ending up who knows where.  Even she got lost a few times!  As soon as you go even 1km form the centre you are in farmland and then you can turn a corner and bang another lot of houses going up.  There is so much building going on even from last year.  Our end stop was GTV Sports bar run by Micheles husband Gordon had a well earned beer and G & T we had been out bashing for 5 hours!! Nice day and much needed break.

At the moment the weather is pretty unpredictable and take each day as it comes.  I have been unwell this week with a sinus infection but all good you can buy medication over the counter here no need for the doctor!  Feeling much better today.  My Homestay family are very kind people and when they know I was unwell have been feeding me lemon drinks and rice soup which has been helping me feel a little better.  Even this morning as I had not got out of bed Nga came and checked on me and said that I must each rice soup for breakfast and yes it has made me feel a lot better together with the medication so should be back in the pool at the end of the week. Rest rest and more rest is what was needed.

Well it is certainly going to be sad to leave in a weeks time but in a few weeks my friend Van from Green Bamboo cooking school will visit us in Oz for a few days and in February Trung and Chien two of Swim Vietnams teachers will be visiting as well, so will look forward to showing them the northern beaches (these two hate to have a beer or two!!).  I am looking forward to as many of you to meet the guys they are too much fun and are very dedicated to Swim Vietnam and what they stand for.

See you soon...

Water Skills for Life

Swim Vietnam - An amazing two weeks...

So now a very hot steamy day here and the adventure continues!

Well life is never still here in Hoi An.  The past 10 days have flown by and I have only two more weeks to go which is very sad indeed.  

So where do I begin?  After the successful training session for the team at Tien Phuoc, Jo asked if I could attend a meeting with the education dept and the head of the peoples committee the red cross and the primary school heads.  I must say I feel very important here and a great privilage to be involved with this part of the Swim Vietnam's operation and the plans for the future.  It is really an experience to do meeting here they do love to talk and discuss and are very eager to have as many meetings as possible in a short period of time!  It is all too funny let me say.  

So after the important first meeting it was then onto the primary school to discuss the location of the new pool.  Within 5 mins of arriving at the school all the teachers we had at training just appeared from nowhere so lots of shaking hands and they were very pleased to see us ( i am now going to have to really work on learning Vietnamese now!!  Not easy let me tell you!).  So the area was decided upon and then was the meeting to discuss the timeline for the preparation of the area to put the pool.  The pools hold 66,000 litres of water so they are extremely heavy and the ground needs reinforcing. Amazingly though it will only take them 10 days to do the preparation, put up a fence and roof  over the pool(construction gets done really fast here) 

After this meeting we had our last meeting of the day which was just to go over what we had already discussed then onto lunch. Amazing food as always.  Then the new teachers wanted to meet with us before we left oh and guess what,  they were drinking beer!!  Its is very funny they love to talk and celebrate everything.  By the way Tien Phouc is 100km form Hoi An and takes 2 hours to get there oy joy oy!!!

The next big meeting I had to attend was with the Foreign Affairs and other ngo's and Peoples committees of Quang Nam Province. Very important meeting as the Government are now supporting Swim Vietnam and providing money for the program.  They intend to work with Swim Vietnam to provide every primary school with swim lessons.  This is a massive step forward.  The meeting itself was interesting due to the fact it was all in Vietnamese so I had Trung translating for me.  I was there as a representative for Jo as she was in Singapore on business.

So this brings me to last Sunday.  The monster swim for the vunerable children of Hoi An. (yes i was also teaching and assisting and the pools as well!!) The teachers did us proud 8 of them supported Rudy the organiser who set out to swim 10.2km.  One of our teachers Liem did the whole distance just amazing, three teachers Chien, Vu and Long made it to Palm Gardens about 4km and the rest only to Golden Sands which is under 1km.  Swim Vietnam have received a cheque for 20 million VD ($1,000 USD)  which is great with more to come.

This brings me back to this week.  Have been in the pool helping out and also meeting with Jo and the pool supervisors and implementing procedures for the pool and programs.  I am going to have a few days off not doing anything and just resting which will be great.

Just loving being here in Hoi An with all my Viet friends and being part of something worthwhile.

Bye for now....

Water Skills for Life

Swim Vietnam - a busy 2 Weeks

Its been a very busy time here in Hoi An so much is going on that I have not had too much free time.  I know that sounds funny but it really is.

I have had many invites to have dinner, coffee and yes the occasional drink or five!!  So Jo has returned from the UK and all the volunteers are in fine form working with the teachers and having a grand old time.  They are a really nice group of youngsters in fact 3 of them leave today to continue their travels and that leaves me and two other volunteers. 

So what have i been up to well I have been working with the trainee teachers getting them up to speed with their swimming skills and then budding them up with our teachers here in Hoi An to assist and see how we teach the children here.  These new teachers come from and area called Thien Phouc which I have been told is about 100km from Hoi An.It really shows that the water safety message is getting out there and these guys are very very keen to start the swim program in their location.  We are installing the next pool there so so they are very excited. Most of the guys are around 40 to 50 years old and to see there dedication was amazing.  Each time I instructed them in a skill it was fantastic to see them trying so hard and each day improving.  I am very confident that they will make great teachers.  the next step for them is to attend the next Austswim course here in Hoi An which will probably be at the end of the teaching season here (September).

Two representatives from Paul Sadler Swimland have just been here to inspect the pool and how things are going. Both reps Mark and Marcus were very impressed with the way the teachers are teaching so what we have implemented is definitely working here.

A couple of highlights these past two weeks were spending time with Chein and his family.  Chien is one of our best teachers and is the pool manager at Nguyen Du pool.  Great family they live out in the rural part of Hoi An in Cam Thanh.  I have been invited several time to have dinner with them and there extended family and as most are learning English they get plenty of practice when I am present.  Chien's son An is a beautiful 8yr old boy who has taken a shine to me.  I minded him the other night while Chien and his wife Trang went to english lessons.  So I had An, Sophia (my homestay family's daughter) and Lucky (Sophias cousin) all sitting on my bed watching tv and playing games!!  I seem to be the pied piper at the moment!

Another highlight was the trainee teachers completion of their weeks introduction training for Swim Vietnam.  We presented them with certificates of participation and we had a celebratory dinner (in other words lets drink beer!!) The teachers love a party and to socialise it really is so much fun.

During the past week i have also been working with Jo and attending meetings with the deputy head master of Dai Loc and the head of the education dept of Quang Nam province to discuss the future of the swim program in Dai Loc and the surrounding areas.  I am very happy to be involved with this and to be able to support Jo and Trung (manager for swim vietnam) to allow the program to continue.  They have a very bright future ahead.

So I know there are many more stories to tell but I have to get back to work (ha ha)  I have been teaching almost every day and loving it.  This week we have two more meeting to attend one at Thien Phouc for the new pool and the other in Tam Ky with the forieng affairs dept to discuss and network with other ngo's operating in Vietnam should be very interesting. We are trying to get the government to support us with some funding  so keep all your fingers crossed!!

Water Skills for Life

2013 Journey Begins....

Well the first three weeks of this years adventure was spent with my friend Jenny and I travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia and ending in Hoi An where I am at the present volunteering with swim Vietnam again for the 4th year.  

On my arrival here Jo (Swim Vietnam Director) and the other volunteers met for a meeting in town where I was informed that Jo was heading back to the UK for 10 days and myself and Trung were looking after things while she was away that was all good but she left the same day so a very quick handover. 

Now for the update on the swim program. All is going relative well.  Have been catching up with all the teachers, new and old, and overseeing what they are doing at the two pools in Hoi An, hopping in the pool to help teach which is fab however a soon as I get in I seem to have a class of my own.  too funny these poor kids have to put up with my very limited Vietnamese but they all have a giggle and do understand with a hand action (yes still not mastered the pronunciation!!)  still a few issues with water quality and other small stuff but on the whole the teachers are doing a great job.  This week we have 9 prospective teachers from one of the outlying areas where swim Vietnam will be putting up another pool so that will make 6 in total.  These guys are all sports teachers from the local schools and they all have told me they can swim very well but on further inspection yesterday at the pool some have it and some don't so there is fair bit of training to happen to get them up to standard.

The other volunteers here are having a ball. There are three from Australia and two from Ireland.  They have worked out at Dai Loc and Nam Phouc and have experienced so much of Vietnamese life they had some very funny stories to tell.  I have had so many dinners, coffees and catchups which has been really nice seeing all my friends here in Hoi An and looking forward to working and helping out. So now we are up to date I hope that you are all well and I will keep you posted.

There have been a lot of changes here in Hoi An and the program is progressing to adding another pool at the end of the year so that will make a total of 6 pools.  

I have some talking/meetings with Jo to do to see what happens in the future.  

Wish you were all here enjoying the heat!!!

Water Skills for Life

2012 Swim Vietnam Latest Update

OMG you would not believe the changes that have happened over the past 2 years.  The instructors are doing a great job and are really very good and would give some of our guys in Oz a run for their money.  We now have the two pools in Hoi An and another being built this June and also two demouontable pools about 20kms from here.

Jo is doing a great job now and has been working hard for the program and it is jumping along in leaps and bounds.   The boys are very excited about their big trip to Australia and  we spent yesterday going over powerpoint presentation that they will present at the course.  They are actually doing the presenters course (i hope to be doing mine  in July at the conference) so they will be pretty well occupied the whole time they are in Perth. Dick Johnson from Hillarys Rotary are sponsoring the trip for the boys.  They have a very full agenda and they have a free day on Saturday 16 June then on the Sunday they have a  masters swimming event at Riverton Masters long course.  .

AJ and I leave here on Saturday which I am not looking forward to I must say.  Next year I hope to come back for a longer time perhaps 2 to 3 months.  The Instructors really don't need any help and just last week Tao was directing AJ and me what to do next with the kids had a big giggle with that.  They are showing so much initiative and I am so proud of them.

So this is my adventure for 2012.  Keep watching this space for the next exciting episode!

President, Water Skills for Life

2012 Next Update

So last Friday AJ arrived and Mary moved out to stay with her sisters in the Hoi An hotel in town. 

On Sunday we had our big training day for the teachers which went really well.  Trung and Vinh were the presenters and we assisted as we wrote the training session.  The boys performed really well they are becoming a great asset to Swim Vietnam. 

Since AJ has been here we have been having a great time.  She has seen a great improvement in the program from last time she was here two years ago.  We have had a bbq at Van's house with 15 of the teachers and I have purchased a camera for them to use in the program as none of them have one.  Unbelievable isn't it.  They were so appreciative and now they can take photos on their trip to Oz.  

Well the last week of my 2012 adventure is approaching far too fast.  it is great to have AJ here and we picked up where we left off in 2010 full of laughs and gin & tonics!!

See you all very soon back in oz and not looking forward to the cold weather!

President, Water Skills for Life

2012 Week 3...

So week 3 rolled on and Mary came to Hoi An with her sisters and we had a lot of fun.  

Mary stayed in my house as it was easier to show her the swim program.  So i played tour leader again around Hoi An it was so much fun showing people around and showing them places to eat and buy clothes shoes etc.  

Mary and I went to the school pool and did an additional training session with the teachers who will be teaching adults so they could brush up on their skills.  This worked really well and Mary played the part of the scared swimmer.  

Over the next two weeks we went to Nam Phouc school which is 20km from Hoi An where a new demountable pool is located.  We met the new teachers and the headmaster at the school and had lunch at one of the teachers houses which was a great experience for Mary. 

There is so much happening here it is hard to put it all in writing.  So it is safe to say the program is going from best to better and the future is looking really good.  I have been able to help Jo with lots of things not only teaching/training so I am happy to report that yes I will be returning next year.

Happy (and safe) Swimming.

President, Water Skills for Life

2012 The Second Week

Week 2 in Hoi An saw Fiona arrive to stay for the week.  

Had lots of fun showing her around Hoi An and the many shops and eating places it was so nice to be able to show her what I have been going on about over the last two years and she has seen it for herself. 

I have also been helping some of the businesses here with some design work for flyers and menu boards which I was happy to do got to eat for free at Dingo Deli yum yum yum!!  

So back to the swimming and what I really came here to do. Seen many of the teachers do their teaching at both the school pool in town and at Palm Gardens.  OMG you should see how well they are teaching now. 

It is just amazing to see how far they have come there are even two of the senior teachers coming to Australia to WA to join a austswim course and help as a teacher trainer.  Trung and Vinh are so excited!!

Till next time - give a skill for life to save a life...

President, Water Skills for Life

2012 the first week

Well this is just a brief overview of the last week and I have kept pretty busy.

Fiona arrived on Saturday and she is having fun with clothes, shoes and bags being made and going to my friend Van for cooking class today at green bamboo.

So the craziness of this place and the many visitors is continuing and its so much fun. This together with the swim program have kept me pretty busy.

As I type the place next door to me is a construction for a new house. When I arrived it was a bare plot of land and within the time I have been here a two story house is half way complete. You should see how things are built here it is just too funny to watch. Would never happen in Oz.

So for those who have been following from the beginning there always has been some little thing which has made my trip here an experience to remember. The first year it was the bike (and yes my bike this year and I are only acquaintances not friends yet!) the second was the concrete bed and who could ever forget that! and this year its the padlock on the gate OMG it is so hard to unlock and the opening too small to manoeuvre in I have a bruise on my hand and its not funny. Took me over 20mins one night to try and unlock in the end I had to call the landlord for help. As they say here Oi Joy Oi!

President, Water Skills for Life

2012 My Return to Vietnam Swim Program

This years adventure begins with the flight here. I had to quickly collect my bags, clear customs and run to the domestic terminal changing trolleys mid way then line up there and check bags back in even though I had been checked through from Sydney all the time reminding myself this is the Vietnamese way oh how quickly I had forgotten this part of the journey!!! I finally arrived at Da nang airport to be pleasantly surprised it is now an international airport all new and shiny!

My friend Van's brother picked me up and we scooted down to Hoi An to where I will be staying for the next 5 weeks. My accommodation is by far better than last year and no concrete bed boy am I happy about that!! However there is always something to make my trip a highlight I now have padlocks on the gates and front door to contend with and let just say that its not easy to unlock in fact it took me 15mins in the dark to try and unlock the bloody gate!!! I have now mastered it but its very tricky. As soon as I had arrived at my place to stay it was lets meet the landlord passport to give to the police and paper work to fill out as well as organise my transport (bicycle) and finally get some rest.

The following two days were public holidays here so no swim lessons which was a good thing as I needed to organise food water make contact with my Vietnamese friends and generally catch up with everyone. The weather here has been really hot in fact last Thursday was the worst 38c and 90% humidity AHHHHH needless to say we copped a beauty of a thunderstorm that afternoon lightening thunder and a huge down pour for an hour.

So news from the swim programs: Swim Vietnam is going really well. One of the head teachers Trung has done a presenters course in Ho chi Minh so now should be able to present the Austswim course here but in saying that he has told me that he needs help until he feels confident to do himself, We have one new pool out of Hoi An about 20km away which is going great, and another which we have just taken delivery of which will be installed out in another province about 30km from Hoi An and the other big news for the pool is we are building another in-ground pool in Hoi An which has just got approval.

The other big news is two of the senior teachers are being sponsored by Rotary Hillarys in WA to come to Australia and do some training with Austswim in Perth and attend some of the swim centres. Trung and Vinh are very excited to be coming but they thought that it would be easy to come and see me until I explained i lived on the other side of the Country. Oh Well there is always next time. Maybe Water Skills for life could look at sponsoring instructors to come to Oz in the future.

Golden Turtles Swim Club is up and running at the new kindy just around the corner from where I am staying. Kerre runs classes on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for the expat kids and then the Vietnamese kids. Kerre has 3 older Vietnamese ladies helping out and being trained as swim instructors which is great. I hopped on in last Thursday and it was a lot of fun. She does need help with getting some funds together to put in here own pool and provide things like proper swim clothing for the instructors.

So Hoi An is booming there is a lot of new places opening up and a few more expats arriving to set up businesses or to work in the hospitality industry here. Its still a great place to be and still relaxing but opportunity knocks for those who want to make a go of it.

Tanya President,
Water Skills for Life