Thursday, November 17, 2011


Last weekend, I was trapped in a taxi. I use the word "trapped" because there seemed to be a lot of complaining going on around me. I don't know if complaining is even the right word. Suspicion, maybe, or just a general air of "Vietnam is out to get me". It upset and disturbed me. I know we haven't been here long and I'm not saying that I don't understand how life here can be hard some days, but we are loving our experience here. I came home from this outing feeling heavy and burdened. In processing with Andrew later in the night after I got home, we agreed that if we get to the point where we cannot stay mostly focused on the good things about our life here, it will be time to move on.

A few days before this taxi ride, I was on the public bus. Struck by how lucky I was and wanting to make sure that I remembered this feeling, I had started a list of the things I love about Vietnam. This seems like a good time to share it.

Things I love about Vietnam

  • How friendly and helpful the Vietnamese people are
  • Trying to speak Vietnamese
  • Extravagant thunderstorms with super sharp lightening and hard bursts of rain – especially when I’m indoors
  • Sun, sun, sun
  • Wearing tank tops and flip flops in the rain
  •  Flowers in November
  • Crazy, crazy traffic
  • Riding my bike and walking most everywhere
  • Not having a car
  • CafĂ© sua da
  • Cha da
  • Ice
  • Outdoor swimming - year round!
  • Open air, open every day markets
  • Tropical plants
  • Starlight Bridge at the park near our house
  • The public bus
  • Good-natured bargaining
  • Velvet and silk
  • How diverse the kids’ school is
  • Getting caught outside in a huge downpour, kicking up our feet in the insta-puddles and LAUGHING out loud
  • Flocks of dragonflies
  • Naming the Geckos in the house
  •  Hanging our laundry outside every day
  •  Kids saying “hello!” to us in English with great enthusiasm
  • Beaches
Do I love these things every day and every moment (see crazy, crazy traffic)? No, of course not.  But,they are experiences that are new and different and valuable and I don't want us to forget them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Andrew came home from an all-school meeting last night with the news that there are 11 confirmed teacher departures for next year and 14 more still "on the fence". Once we learned that the Head of School was stepping down, we were guessing that there may be more departures. Why not? A new Head is no more or less unknown than a new school, right?

But 25?? If all those people leave, that is 25% of the Faculty. Of course, we don't know anything. This could be a completely normal part of the cycle of things here in the International School World and we are interpreting it from our staid, Western point of view. But it sure seems like a lot. And last year, there were only about 8 openings. But maybe that's because people were in their initial 2-year contracts.

Whatever, we feel a little sobered by the facts.

Meanwhile, today I go for an interview with Family Medical Practice - the result of a blind resume send. Not completely blind, I suppose, this is the clinic where we have been receiving our immunizations and medical care since arriving in Vietnam. One day I asked the Pediatrician if she had any job search ideas for me and explained a little bit about my background. She said, "Send your resume in. You never know." So I did.

Next week, I have an informational interview with a woman that our Head of School knows who works for a Foundation to raise money for heart surgeries for Vietnamese children. And, I have just about finished my application for an on-line Masters in Information Science (Library) for an Australian University.

Who knows what our future will bring. It is unsettling AND exciting.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

But we just got here.....

Believe it or not, people at school are having to decide now whether or not they plan to renew their contracts for the 2012-13 school year.

It started a couple of weeks ago with the Head of School sending out a letter announcing that he is resigning at the end of this school year for health and personal reasons. Whatever happens, this man has instrumentally altered the fabric of our family's life by hiring Andrew. We will forever be grateful to him - whether we continue to live and work overseas for these 2 years or for 20 more.

Last night, we found out that the Jackson Family, who has acted as our "buddy" since the interviewing process will also not be returning. We feel so sad by both of these losses (to us), decisions to the people making them.

And yet, this is a reminder that this is a part of this way of life. People come and go. Students leave as their parents are transferred, teachers and their children leave at the end of the school year. In some ways, it's a very transient life that we have embarked upon. In a year, we will be struggling to make this decision.

For now, we are healthy, we have a good home, we're riding our bikes and getting plenty of Vitamin D, we're having a chance to see Vietnam - a place we might never have come to without this opportunity, the kids are loving school, Andrew loves his teaching situation, and I am starting to explore options for myself.  It's not perfect, but we're here and we're happy.