Thursday, June 19, 2008

No. Seriously?

When I tell people I'm going to Vietnam I get either, "Wow, that's really cool." or "Why?" My answer is that I've been fascinated with Asia for a long time, and I want to visit Vietnam in particular because my Dad was there for the war. (Several of the elderly folks I know seem to think the war is still going on and are concerned about me getting shot, but I try to assure them that I'm much more likely to get shot in Chicago.)

My Dad was in the war for one year. He did a tour on a river boat, and I don't know much else, other than that it affected him deeply. He didn't talk about it much, but he screamed in his sleep. I think the weight of holding all of that inside for so long played a large part in cutting his life short.

In an odd way I think that the war, which was officially over by the time I was 2 played a big role in my life too. I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for by going there. Maybe going there and seeing a country with a quickly growing economy that has rebuilt and moved on will give me some kind of "closure". Kind of like the sense of relief that comes from seeing an old girlfriend with a new boyfriend. But I don't really feel any guilt about the war, even though I know Dad did. Before he died, I told him that I wanted to go there and do some volunteer work, and he really liked the idea of his son going back there to do some good. Maybe I'll learn something about my relationship with my Dad while I'm there. Maybe I won't. Either way, I don't think teaching and helping kids with developmental disabilities will be a waste of my time, and I hope that in some way my work there will be a fitting tribute to my father.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Holy Crap!

I just bought a one-way ticket to Hanoi!

I've been doing research, and getting rid of stuff, and taking classes, and talking to people about this for months, but now it seems real. I've really been looking forward to this for a long time, but now I'm actually really excited.

As I've been doing research, I've come to the conclusion that I would rather find a volunteer position in Vietnam than a regular teaching job. It seems like it would be a better fit for me, and I'm hoping to do some more volunteer work in the future, so why not now?

I found a guy through that is connecting me with a volunteer position in a school in or near Hanoi that would take care of my lodging for me. After I booked the flight I could let him know when I'll be arriving so we can get the ball rolling on work papers and that sort of thing. It's a relief to move from just thinking and talking about this trip to actually making it happen.

And on the other hand, it's also a little scary. Mainly because I have no idea what I'm doing. For instance, I have a lay over in Taipei. Where's Taipei? I've gotten pretty comfortable being a competent and confident person, and this whole things just blows all of that out of the water. This is good. I think this is just what I need right now.

Now, I'm going to look up Taipei...