I feel like I might end up in Vietnam at my next school! No they don’t speak Spanish in Vietnam. No I most likely wont be able to save as much money as I currently do in Vietnam. Nor have I even applied to any schools in Vietnam!
However, it seems like every time I open my news feed I see something about how awesome Vietnam is. Or on Facebook one of my fellow international educator friends is posting about her weeks long backpacking trip through Vietnam. Or my friend at work tells another story about her fabulous life living in Ho Chi Minh City (more commonly known as Saigon). I just feel like the Universe is trying to convince me to give Vietnam a shot.
I took a look at some of the schools there and Saigon South International School sounds like it is the most highly regarded school in Saigon (though my friend who worked in Saigon loved working for the American International School too). If you were interested in Hanoi (I’m not very interested due to some comments from friends), there is a really amazing school there called the United Nations International School of Hanoi. Below is a post about how well SSIS measures up:
I give this school a 10/10!
1. What type of school is it?
According to their website, “SSIS is owned by the Phu My Hung Corporation but operates as a non-profit entity within the company.” Kinda tricky, but it sounds like it is basically non-profit, US accredited, offering an IB diploma.
2. Student population:
On the school website it says there are, “870 students from over thirty-five countries.” The school says that there is a 20% cap to provide a true mix of nationalities. Their website breaks it down, “…19 % of our student body are US citizens, 19% are Korean and 16% are Vietnamese.” It sounds like a good mix to me!
3. Class size:
Their website also says the student to staff ratio is 10:1! My favorite part is that there is an English speaking certified Vietnamese TA for each elementary classroom. After having had a TA for 3 of the 5 years that I’ve taught overseas, I just think this is the ideal situation for any elementary classroom- especially one with a very high percentage of ESL students.
On the school website it doesn’t explicitly say that every student has access to a computer, in fact the school website says there are only 400 computer “workstations” at the school, but they do mention a 1:1 initiative. They also mention that 4th and 5th graders will be required to bring Apple laptops to school each day (in addition to the middle school and high school students who already bring laptops). They are transitioning to all Mac computers in the school and want students to have them too. Sounds great to me!
There is a “retirement allowance” of 10 to 12.5%. I wonder if this means that each month this amount is credited to your monthly paycheck, or if you get that amount when you move on from the school. I would ask about this. Either way, it is free money!
6. Overall package:
The package at SSIS seems really great for Vietnam since the cost of living is so low. According to the school website, “A first-year salary ranges from $37,000 to $50,500 and benefits include housing (allowance credited monthly), travel allowance, relocation/settling-in allowance, health insurance, home leave, sick leave, personal leave, life insurance, disability insurance, a retirement allowance (10 to 12.5%), tuition waiver for up to two children, and staff development opportunities.”
7. City Profile:
My friends who have been to Saigon (HCMC) have described it as the New York City of Vietnam. A huge, crazy city full of stuff to do at any minute of the day. The locals are said to be very friendly and welcoming to Americans. The cost of living is low and many teachers and visitors to Saigon say they like to eat out every night. You can find tons of stuff to keep you busy: museums, tunnels to explore, bike tours, temples, food tours, cooking classes, great architecture, movie theaters, malls, and of course, many traditional markets.
8. Salsa Dancing:
This site lists 5 nights of salsa dancing per week! It doesn’t seem like Cuban Salsa is really popular here, but I did see a mention of a giant salsa rueda so maybe it is just a little hard to find.
The school website lists the school as having, “107 professional teachers of 12 different nationalities.” This sounds like a great mix of teachers!
Who doesn’t love Vietnamese food? Vietnamese coffees, spring rolls, and Phó noodle soups anyone? Also my friends said that you can find ANY international food that you are looking for too! I fell in love with all kinds of Phó at home in Portland, and I can’t wait to try it in Vietnam! If you want to learn more about Vietnamese food and don’t mind getting a little drool on your keyboard check out Serious Eats’s post about the 20 Vietnamese Dishes You Should Know.
Please comment! Have you been to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)? Would you want to work there? Have you or someone you know worked at the Saigon South International School? Can you add any info to what I’ve listed above?