“UBELONG presented a way to experience teaching and couple that with my love of travel.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Michael Tobey
Age: 70
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English
Occupation: Retired
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Duration: 3 weeks
Start month: February 2018

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
As I entered retirement in 2017 wanted to find a productive way to “give back” in some manner. I had wanted to teach early in my career but the financial demand of raising a family took me into other directions. UBELONG presented a way to experience teaching and couple that with my love of travel to experience different countries and cultures.​

What did you take from the experience?
​Having two separate type of students to teach in Ho Chi Minh City afforded me the opportunity to experience the challenge of keeping younger children 10 – 15 years of age engaged in learning the basics vocabulary of English through verbal interaction along with a mixture of games with English content such as word searches and arithmetic problems. I also had a class of University students that had basic vocabulary but lacked the confidence of having conversations. This presented different challenges to engage the students in meaningful dialogue where they would gain experience in both listening and talking. Both types of classes were very rewarding.​

One gratifying class session was for the University students when I chose a topic of Jobs & Interviews. Providing many life experience suggestions to prepare them for job interviews I had them pair up and interview each other. We took breaks to discuss what worked and what needs more thought before started another round. At the end of the 90 minute class the students were so engaged they asked to continue with the practice interviews and subsequently I extended the class by another 60 minutes.

Tell me about somebody you met who impressed you?
​One of UBELONG’s primary local partner interns named Tran was an impressive, confident young lady who was very helpful in support of my teaching of the younger students. She displayed good judgement, a wonderful work ethic and balanced her time at work with university studies and helping out at home. She will be a success at what direction she chooses to take. I passed these observations on to the Local Team Leader who was grateful for the information as she looks for coaching opportunities for the interns.

In a sentence or less, what did you think about the food?
Living in a volunteer house I was able to experience many types of Vietnamese food along with the other volunteers all of which was tasty and healthy.​

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