An Elementary School teacher on secondment from UNIS New York, Dr Alice Ann Winner, was the first Head of School.
The United Nations International School of Hanoi opened its doors for the first time in 1988 with 4 students in the borrowed classrooms of a local high school.
An Elementary School teacher on secondment from UNIS New York, Dr Alice Ann Winner, was the first Head of School. She arrived with the year’s school supplies in her suitcases and quickly recruited a colleague, Jo Perry, whose husband worked at the British Embassy.
“We had four rooms in a recently built Vietnamese High School [Hanoi-Amsterdam]. We had a generator, which I had to learn how to use. And we taught. We did what was necessary to do.”
Swimming lessons were in the borrowed pools of the Swedish and Finnish Embassies, the talented daughter of her Russian neighbours was recruited to teach music, the first science teacher joined UNIS following a casual conversation at a social gathering and a “bored Australian woman I met” was thrilled to become the school’s first art teacher.
Dr Winner tells that she was the first and only American to be living in Vietnam in 1988 and the warmth of the welcome she received: “The UN wanted us and the Vietnamese Government wanted us too.”
When she left Vietnam after two years, there were already 40 students enrolled at UNIS Hanoi from the growing international Embassy and UN community. Not a single student was a native English speaker.
“My job was done. I was here to set up a school… It was a great and glorious experience and the highlight of my professional life.”
Dr Alice Ann Winner
Head of School 1988-1990
(From Dr Winner’s visit to UNIS Hanoi in May 2013 for the 25th Anniversary celebrations)
Hear more from our first Head of School: