The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Grayson Buchanan.
It appears I may or may not have forgotten to write a blog during the entirety of my 102 days teaching in Vietnam, which is unfortunate, but I suppose it’s better late than never. Anyway, moving on – Vietnam and how it was.
I feel like time is denser in Vietnam. I’ve thought about it a lot during my time there, and while looking back it’s all a blur, it also felt like every single moment was filled with so much that I can’t even describe; as such, I’ve come to the conclusion that the time there is not faster or slower, but simply denser. Just to right quick get the general things out of the way, as I’ve done in these blogs before, I’m going to very quickly list off a few things either I’ve done or Vietnam has given me.
In Vietnam I have: gotten in the wrong car within 30 minutes of leaving the airport on my first day, used a razor for the first time, tried and generally failed to learn how to ride a motorbike, gotten in a minor motorbiking accident (don’t tell my mom), gone to Cat Ba 3 times, 2 different national parks, and Hanoi twice, gotten angry at pho, taught hundreds of kindergarten classes, a few state school classes, and one 45-year-old Vietnamese businessman economics in English (which I can barely talk about in English either), gone on a first date (not with the businessman), had a student as why there were so many nipples on my face (we think and hope he meant freckles), watched a child eat a dead cicada off of the ground and was too late, was almost thrown up on a lot (never actually was though, so we’re fine), was born into the Hokey Pokey (molded by it), developed a few signature dance moves, was a sexy? pumpkin for Halloween bought a tuxedo for 1,000,000 dong, made a goodbye book for people to write in when I know I’ll never see them again because let’s not kid ourselves, climbed 2 different mountains, changed my personal Instagram to a Fanta Fan Page (follow me if you want but it’s not important), and was commuting to a school when our car was involved in minor hit and run. There is so much more that I either can’t remember or can’t say here that I’ll take with me in my memories.
My point with all this is that for the last 3 months I feel like I’ve lived more and had so many more moments than I’ve had anywhere else, and the year really is just beginning. It’s so hard to leave everyone and everything behind (You ever break down in a Vietnamese airport at 4:30 in the morning? It’s a blast let me tell you), but I’ll take those connections with me too. So if y’all don’t mind I’ll take a small amount of the page to say goodbye to some people I’ll bring with me. Goodbye: Kithan (the myth), Edith (my Romanian sister), Aditi (my future ex-wife), Sophie (who might come to the monastery too), and Brinley (my favorite doctor).
It’s all been so much and I feel, think, and know that I’m a different person writing this than the person I was in the JFK airport writing the last blog. I’ve fallen in love with so many places here, so many people, that leaving now almost feels like I’m leaving home again, which I guess I am. I’m going to miss the home I found here, the people, the places, the culture, the emotions, the families, but forward is the only way to go, the only way to move.
I’m on a plane to Taiwan as I’m writing this, on the way to the Fo Guan Shan monastery where I’ll be until January 10th. I’ll find family there too, and eventually will have to leave, but while I’ll leave them or they’ll leave me, something will remain beyond all of that. What remains is why we keep moving forward, keep learning and experiencing.
Anyway, Tạm Biệt