Reflecting Nam, Finally

It’s been over two months since I’ve com back from Vietnam and I’ve never actually published any type of summary, or conclusion.

Even now it seems like some type of dream- like I picture the whole experience in my head as if someone else lived it. To be honest I haven’t given the experience the reflection it deserves. The reflection it demands is more like it, as the person that arrived in Da Nang is not the same person who left.

As part of committing to my corner, and committing to myself, I resolve now to revisit. I resolve to remember, put into words what I learned and what I experienced, and to acknowledge the change that happened within me as a result even if it was minor- even if I don’t know exactly what’s different.

So, where to start? I figured a good place to beginning would be the actual record of what I felt, tasted, experienced, lived, breathed in. Here’s a few excerpts from the journal I kept while I was there…and be prepared for more Vietnam reflections in the future.

“Sometimes my dumb brain doesn’t think twice about this kind of stuff. Of course I can drive the 6 hours between Iowa and Indiana 4 times by myself this summer. Of course I can fly all the way around the world to coach a sport I know nothing about. I don’t know if it’s arrogance or if it’s confidence, it’s smaller than that. I just believe I can. It brought me to Vietnam.”

“I want to sear the colorful rooftops and bridge into my mind forever. How my hands looked in the ocean when I went out a little further by myself this morning. How peaceful. The little old lady with no teeth who serves us our iced coffee with milk. How it felt to use my hands to crawl up the last few steps of Marble Mountain, and how to wind whipped around my face at the top overlooking the pagoda.”

“Officially halfway through teaching. Six days down, six to go. Two competitions down, one to go. Two weeks down, two to go. I don’t know how many days are left exactly versus how many I’ve already been here and I am not going to count to find out. The longer I’m here, the more I find myself on “Nam” time- aka not wanting to stress about the logistical details of well, anything.”

“I’ve been in this state where I feel like I’ve been here forever and I”m never leaving- like this is my life now. I go to work, I hang out with my friends on the weekends, I run errands. The city of Da Nang has won me over, heart and soul. It makes me want to travel more; I want to find my corners and pockets of the world.”

“I hope these kids walk around with a strut when they get a goal, make a save, execute a pass, or make a great defensive play. Yes, I’m thrilled my team came second. But I’m even happier with how Tram stood up tall and confident after she made her first shot. Those are the life skills to be learned here. You win some you lose some. Take pride in your accomplishments. And you don’t back down.”

“It’s so strange to think about that first Sunday at school. Even that first Monday, in the classrooms across the courts. It seems like six months ago. Like a different person. I was so afraid, I didn’t know what to do. I guess the plot twist here is I may now know what I’m doing, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to leave these kids. I don’t know what to feel. I can’t believe the opportunity I’ve been given actually has an ending point to it. I’m going to miss so many things- big and small”


Those big and small things I’ve been missing? They’ll be coming up in the next week or so :)


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