Lincoln Academy Math teacher Kristi Curtis and her daughter Isabelle in Vietnam with the mother and grandmother of recent LA graduate William Doan. Ms. Curtis and Isabelle traveled to Vietnam in the summer of 2019 to visit William and several other Vietnamese international students.

In the summer of 2019 Lincoln Academy math teacher Kristi Curtis traveled to Vietnam with her daughter Isabelle to visit William Doan, a graduate of the LA class of 2019, whose family lives in Hanoi.

Curtis, who also graduated from LA in 1991, is a dorm parent in LA’s Kiah Bayley Hall, and in that capacity she is particularly close to the school’s residential students. “I like to travel somewhere each summer, and even before I lived in the dorm I had kids inviting me to visit them in their home countries. So this summer I decided to go!”

The mother and daughter spent two weeks in Vietnam, traveled around the country with Doan and his family, and also got to visit recent graduate Phong Mai ‘19, current junior Son (Scott) Nguyen, and their families.

Kristi and Isabelle Curtis at a temple they visited with William Doan’s family during their trip to Vietnam.

Some of the trips highlights included Ha Long Bay, considered “one of the seven modern wonders of the world,” according to Curtis. It was “absolutely stunning. We took a cruise around the harbor and went ocean kayaking through the caverns… the gelology is fascinating.” They also enjoyed parasailing in Da Nang, a coastal city beach vacation spot,where “the ocean is ridiculously warm and wonderful”

One of the interesting things Curtis learned about Vietnamese food is that each region has its own unique dishes and flavors, so that instead of ordering individual plates, restaurant guests order that region’s specialty, and “every meal is a community meal.”

Curtis said that traveling to see her students in Vietnam definitely impacts her work. “It helps more as a dorm parent than a classroom teacher, but it really is helpful when I am able to be more understanding of their culture… and traveling always helps me grow, and the more you grow, the more it helps in every aspect of life.”

Kristi and Isabelle Curtis with Willaim DOan (left) and former LA student Andrew Mai (right) in front of the restaurant where President Barack Obama ate while visiting Hanoi.

“It was a very amazing experience for me and my family to host Ms. Curtis and her daughter Isabelle for 2 weeks last summer,” said William Doan in an email from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is a first year student studying engineering. “My family really love foreigners. We were very excited to plan everything for them to have the best experience in Vietnam. Because it was also my short summer vacation in Vietnam, my parents took some days off at work to join us on the adventure around Vietnam. My grandfather was really happy to have American people staying in our house for the first time in his life. He couldn’t speak English but he was so friendly and asked me to translate his stories to Ms. Curtis and Isabelle. My cousins who were only 12 and 9 years old also wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to improve their English communication skills. We went to the zoo together to practice vocabulary about animals.”

“What surprised me the most was how people in Vietnam really loved to take pictures with Ms. Curtis and Isabelle everywhere…. After taking photos, some of them asked me how I knew these two foreigners. Sometimes I was funny and told them that they were American movie stars that I met in the US. Overall, it was really a pleasure to have people from different countries in the world coming to Vietnam to learn about the culture and the beauty of our country.”

“We generally see [the residential students] on their own, without their families,” said Curtis. “It was great to see the students’ families just doting on them, because we don’t get to see that part when they are here, away from home, at boarding school. As a mother, it pulls on your heartstrings a little.”