Most succinctly, my desire to return to Vietnam and work with the IC3 curriculum is a desire to live it. On my first trip, I learned more than I had ever dreamed about the Vietnamese and myself. But, that understanding is incomplete and I feel an intense need to return. “They say you come to Vietnam and understand a lot in a few minutes. The rest has got to be lived. (Graham Greene’s The Quiet American.)” I want to live it.
I am returning to Vietnam because I want the next generation of Vietnamese students to continue learning inter-culturally. I have experienced the passion with which the faculty teaches the curriculum and the results within the students they teach. I have benefited from this program and I do not want it to wither away when there is so much potential for good. For the past several years, MCC has placed a volunteer at AGU to work with the IC3 curriculum. Regardless of the withdrawal of MCC support, IC3 remains an important part of the AGU curriculum. My return to Vietnam stems from a desire to see this partnership continue in the midst of economically uncertain times. With the current economic situation as it is, it is tempting to cease support of programs that seem expendable. I would argue; however, that programs that encourage the development of a deeper understanding of the other, as well as oneself are far from expendable.
In addition, I see my return to Vietnam as the purest possible expression of my Christian faith. Relationship is the first step toward understanding not only someone else, but also oneself. Intentionally cultivating relationships and developing empathy for and with people is what I believe my faith calls me to. As a follower of Christ, it is important that I seek to emulate the ways in which he lived, and that was in relationship with those who were very different from himself. Yet, while walking with them, he illustrated that it is not differences that identify us, but rather a shared humanity.