Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Another Cultural Storytime

Today I was at work and a student stapled his finger... The way it was handled was oh-so-much different to the way it would've been handled anywhere I've ever seen. I'm going to try my best to talk about it without getting angry and offending the culture of this country I have adopted as my own.

I have a private class on Thursdays. They are pretty advanced so I don't need an assistant to translate. Meaning; there was no parent or other adult around.

The students were drawing themselves as Egyptian pharaohs and including what they would have buried in the tomb with them. They had been working so well and quietly and I was working away on a report for them on my computer.

One student was playing around under his seat and suddenly he very calmly raised his hand

"Uhhh, teacher...?" He sounded as if nothing was the matter.

"Yes, what is it?" I replied, without even looking up from my computer.

"Umm, my finger" He said. I had a look this time.

I could see something shining on his finger and from a distance it looked like some glass. I thought that he had found some glass on the ground and had pressed his finger to it to pick it up and was just simply giving it to me.

"Oh no problem, give it here" I held out my hand

He started to look a little green and I noticed his eyes had this terrified sickening look in them. I came over to have a closer look and that's when I noticed it. He had been trying to pick up (I think) the stapler at his feet and had somehow completely stapled his finger horizontally. Like; if you hold your finger horizontal to your face, see the tip? All you could see there was the silver line of the staple. Then from the top view you could see the tip just poking out the other side near his fingernail.

It had completely gone into his finger.

I instantly started to feel sick and as I yelled at one other student not to pull it out, I grabbed my phone so that he could call his mum who was somewhere nearby.

The other students started to freak out and were yelling for someone.

  *I'd like to point out that at this stage the student was still just sitting there staring at his finger*

One of the other students' mums came running in and asked him in Vietnamese

"Does it hurt?"

He said "Yeah, it does"

She is completely unphased, and simply says "No problem".

She then proceeds to yank it out and slap him on the arm with a "All good" kinda demeanor.

If this happened to me, and my mum was just a calls away, I would be staying there with the stapler in my finger until my own mum came to take it out. And I am 21 years old. I know they have different relationships with their parents here but surely they would prefer their own mother to be there and help them out.

So since it was yanked out and the mum had left, it has started to trickle blood out of the three punctures two at the entry point and one where it came out the other side) and he was still just sitting there with the same expression (although at this point he looked like he was about to pass out at any moment)

I grabbed a tissue, and wrapped it around his finger and squeezed it tightly (just as I had always been told and had always done) while comforting him.

That's when the mum came in, started saying "No, don't do that!" to me in an annoyed 'this girl can't do anything' voice. She took the tissue off and wrapped some medical tape around it. That's it. Just medical tape. Non-absorbent, strong, going-to-hurt-when-it-gets-pulled-off, medical tape.

I can't possibly be wrong in saying that it would've been better to secure a tissue at least to the area. After only five or so minutes the blood had actually started to come through the tape because, well, nothing was soaking it up!

I guess things are done differently here blah blah blah I'm constantly being reminded that my way is not always the right way but in this case I'm being left thinking 'surely'

What do you think? What's something you've encountered that really shows the cultural differences between Vietnam and wherever you're from. Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!
-Millie Burns

Check out my last post → "What the Heck are all Those Notebooks for?"


  1. What - you didn't take a photo???
    Poor kid. Must've been awful 🙁