First of all, my deepest apologies to those of you who actually check this space occasionally for updates about my life here in Vietnam. Have no fear, I am still here and doing quite well. Time continues its steady, onward progression and my time here in Long Xuyen draws to a close as I write this last update. It's hard to believe that I leave the University on Tuesday, meet the Biblical Seminary IME group on Wednesday, and travel with them through Saigon, Long Xuyen, cross the Mekong into Phnom Penh, and wrap up our 11 days together with a brief exploration of Angkor Wat. Then I fly from Siem Reap to Saigon for one night before heading home to the States on 14 June. I'm looking forward to my two months at home and all that will happen. All I know for sure at this point is that I'll be taking my GRE's and spending a weekend in post-Christendom with my EMS classmates from the UK. Beyond that, quiet relaxation and time spent with family and friends await me... and I can't quite articulate how excited that makes me.
But, since it's been such a long time since I've updated, I'll give a brief re-cap of what's been happening here in the Delta:
1) As of last posting, my plans for next year were uncertain and I was feeling rather tense and unsettled by that reality. WELL... things have been finalized in a very satisfactory way (at least it appears that way). Starting in August, I'll return to Vietnam, more specifically Can Tho University. I wanted to remain in the Delta simply because I feel like I finally understand the culture, partially, and wasn't too keen on the idea of moving to an entirely new context for what I know would only be a year or so. Can Tho is older than AGU and therefore has a broader network of International partners. My role specifically will involve English language classes for Junior staff, writing assistance for Master's Students, application and test preparation for study abroad, and working to strengthen and create new international linkages for the university.
2) For those of you who don't follow my Facebook statuses, I just spent a week-ish in the UK for an EMS (Eastern Mennonite Seminary) class entitled "Struggle and Hope in PostChristendom. Although most of the group was stranded by the ashcloud from that Icelandic volcano, and the class got off to a late start, it was a good experience. While I'm still processing and figuring out what exactly it will mean for me in the future, it was nice to be engaged in academic discussions about faith, politics, and changing social realities. (I realize I'm a bit of a nerd, but I've learned to embrace it).
3) Since returning from the UK, I've been packing in preparation for the next three transitions. Tomorrow, I move the belongings that I will leave in Vietnam over the summer to Can Tho. I'll also see the campus and meet some more of the faculty that I'll be working with next fall. Like I said earlier, Tuesday I head to Saigon for two weeks with the Biblical students. Then it's home. Lots of transitions, not a lot of time. Good-byes have started and run pretty solid until I leave. For all my complaints, I know this has been a valuable experience and I'd be wrong to negate all of the positives for the challenges. I have worked with people who have demonstrated true dedication and willingness to embrace my unorthodox approach. I have lived with a multi-cultural, multi-generational community of volunteers and in them I have found support, a listening ear, and Friday evening drinking partners. I have taught over 100 students, who made up for their lack of English ability with a desire to learn. I have been blessed by invitations for meals, coffee, trips to the tailor, and countless other adventures. I have been well looked after when I was sick, and I am grateful. There was no preparing for this experience before I left 10 months ago, and if I'd tried, I would have probably talked myself out of coming in the first place.
As always, when I stand on the verge of something new, I feel a bittersweet longing for the familiar. It's safe to stay in one place, and even if there are exciting opportunities on the horizon, it's hard to take that initial step. Long Xuyen was a safe place to call 'home' but now it's time to move on. Whether Can Tho will be better or just different remains to be seen, but it's where I feel I'm being led. Who knows what lies in store after that, but that's alright. As I've just been reminded, while it's easy to get caught up in the future, my responsibility is to remain present. So... I guess I'm staying until I leave. And after that, I'm not quite sure.