Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday Travels Through Friday

Today was our last day teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, with a morning session with the kids at the Tu Xuong Center.  I did a 5am wake up so that I could get in a 6 miler before we headed out.  it was very peaceful this morning and I really enjoyed running the same route and saying hi to all of the locals in their normal spots.  There is the lady that sells these green pouches of food in the same spot, she is there from 5am until late as I saw her last night at 7pm on the evening run.  There are the 3 guys that smoke and drink their morning iced coffee on the corner by the bridge.  There are the security guards at the International neighborhood, who sometimes wave, sometimes ignore me, and sometimes they are sleeping.  There are also the Navy Security guards or Navy equivalent in Vietnam, that are posted there every morning who I always smile at, but only receive expressionless stares in return.  It was a very good morning run and a good sunrise to start the day. 
As I usually do every morning after the run here, I get on email and facebook to catch up with the US and rest of the world and found a great note from my friend Rose.  She let me know I won the 20’s year age division and was the 7th woman overall in the OR train running series.  I am so excited to find this out, I didn’t know I was competing in it, but still an awesome way to start out the day!!  Standings at the link below:
After a quick breakfast loving the dragon fruit still (pictured below)
we were off to the Tu Xuong where we continued on a lesson plan were the kids were making presentations about themselves and then giving presentations in English.  The students were very good at using the web to find information and then transfer that into slides that contained images, graphics, and transitions that were unique to their style.  In a culture where there is very little opportunity to stand out and be different, we were able to really see the kids personalities shine through in their creative work in the presentations.  Most of the students were shy about presenting in English, and since I started doing my introduction in my just learned Vietnamese I can relate to the feeling of standing up in front of the group and trying to speak in a language that is not natural for you.  The kids really did a wonderful job and were very fun to work with. 
We headed straight back to the hotel to pack up and do a quick lunch and then it was off to the boat for a 90 minute trip to the Vung Tau Providence.  The boat ride was totally easy with many people taking the time out for a quick nap.  I took the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and take some pictures. 
We arrived to our hotel only to experience a hilarious calamity of events from the overall hotel not being actually complete due to construction to my room having an entire window that was not finished, to broken AZ, non working internet, and then the power went out, which made the entire hotel pitch black with no back up lighting or generators available.  Let’s just say that it was an interesting experience to say the least, but nothing that some rice wine with dinner could not cure.  Plus some of the views are very cool as pictured below with some of our fabulous dishes from dinner below. 

After dinner we had to work on setting up some of the programs on the computers for the next day of teaching.  So we piled into 2 war rooms and began our work with one room working on teacher prep and the second room working on computer configuration.  I do have to say that with the music and fun dance party the config room won out on most fun for the night.  Note this is post rice wine and yes there was most definitely some G6 involved!!
Friday morning I woke up early even though we did not get to sleep until late thinking “I am in Vung Tau!! There is no time to be tired, I have to get out there and explore!”  So that is what I did.  Our hotel is less than a mile from the beach so I ran straight there seeing, for the first time in Vietnam, more people on the streets than motorbikes and traffic.  It was really cool to see how many people are out there working out and running first thing in the morning here in Vung Tau.  It was early enough that the beach was not too crowded so I ran along the water line for a few more miles and just soaked up the calm of the water and the beautiful scenery around me.  It was a wonderful run and a great start to a another fabulous day. 

After a quick breakfast, lol ok well it was somewhat quick and interesting.  I was tempted to order the “crap mea” but we just didn’t have time for that in the morning, so instead it was bread with jam and butter, and they also brought me just a bowl of sugar, but as tempting as it was, I did not add it to the loaf. 

We headed to Vung Tau Orphanage to meet 4 groups of kids that we worked with the entire day from 8 to 5 teaching varying levels of computer skills.  This group was a bit more challenging because they really were at all different levels from never have worked with a computer and did not know now to read and write to those that have used the computer before.  Even with these challenges the kids were excited to be there and to learn. 

After our long day working with the kids I was ready to get out there on foot and explore the city a bit more first hand.  So back on with the running shoes and out for another adventure around town before I completely lost the sun.  I headed out in the pouring rain during a thunder storm and ran completely free, it was amazing just to be out there and alive and I was thankful for every second of it.  It has been eye opening being here and I can only summarize here in the blog, but taking the time out to run once or twice a day is when I really get to reflect on this experience and really be so thankful for every experience and person I am so blessed to have in my life.  Love you all and thank you for being a part of this journey with me.  xo

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