Traditional Tet Celebration in foreign teachers and students’ experiences


Tet always has a specific beauty which exists in Vietnamese minds. This is also an occasion to connect everyone in different cultures, and helps foreigners to understand Vietnam – a friendly and hospitable country.

Tet’s atmosphere is a special occasion with not only Vietnamese teachers and students, but also foreign teachers and students at PennSchool.

With Vietnamese, Tet is the time to go back home with family. But with a foreigner teacher – Mr. Jamie Strasman, Tet is the time to relax, travel and discover new lands. For expats who live in countries like Vietnam, the celebration is a little different. While the majority of Vietnamese citizens return to their hometowns to spend time with loved ones. Foreigners often make use of this special celebration by either discovering new reaches of this beautiful land, or taking the opportunity to visit neighboring countries. And I am no different. Since my arrival in Vietnam, I have enjoyed four TET celebrations; and I am approaching my fifth, with the same eager anticipation.”

As a foreign student at PennSchool, Bandara Alahakoon Kevin Chi Bao, B6A class also has different feelings when Tet is coming. “After a year living and studying in Vietnam, I have got many interesting experiences that I have never had before. Vietnamese people have many customs and special days. I am also impressed with the Lunar New Year.”

… I feel Tet is an occasion for everyone to remember origins, show their love, and share meaningful moments together. Wish for the most beautiful things to become true. Tet is becoming my childhood memories. I love Tet in the country that I have an opportunity to visit and live in. It also gives us a new beginning, to discover together. Tet, which gives the traditional value, has the distinctive features that make up the identity of Vietnam”.

And whoever you are, a Vietnamese or foreigner, you also have the same feeling. “Although the experience shared between Vietnamese and foreigners differs, the feeling is most certainly the same. Cities like Ho Chi Minh City and HaNoi see an exodus of people, either visiting their hometowns or a brand new place they’ve never seen before… And whether you’re Vietnamese or Foriegn you will be caught up in the excitement of this wonderful holiday.
– Mr. Jamie Strasman

Each person feels Tet in different tastes. Some people love Tet’s confectionery, love flowers’ fragrance and others are keen on the moments with family. And Kim Min Joo who is a Vietnam-Korea citizen in B4B class, has her private feelings with Tet. “I feel so lucky to have an opportunity to live in Vietnam and participate in Tet – the Lunar New Year… I really love to receive “li xi” or red envelopes on Tet holiday. “Li xi” shows the love of adults with children. Moreover, this also shows the reverence for grandparents. People exchange “li xi” which is printed with motifs and yellow letters, expressing their sincerity for each other.

Tet is also an opportunity for us to look back on the old year and send more expectations for a new year. This is the normal trend with both Vietnamese and foreigners. “Being caught between these two New Years gives me the chance to reflect upon what a New Year means to me, and I often find myself reflecting on my past, considering my present, and contemplating my future.” – Mr. Corrie Stroup

Tet is an occasion to feel the season changes, and an opportunity to find out about Vietnam traditional cultures.