It has been 73 days since I left home for Vietnam, and I am now about half way through the International Project. In some ways it has gone fast and in some ways it has been incredibly slow. I had the opportunity to reflect on my experience recently when ASU invited me to do an interview for their international student news section. If I am being honest, I will tell you that I was not prepared for this, but then again, your first shot at international business and development is one of those things that you can never truly be prepared for. You don’t know how you will react to being alone in a different country with a language barrier until you get there. There are intense days where I feel like I have made the wrong decision and regret taking the project. There are days where my excitement is so bright that I can’t imagine going home. I have absolutely loved lecturing and teaching, just as much as I have absolutely hated the slow pace in which things get done. Brandon and I have looked at jobs in Vietnam while looking at buying a new house in Mesa. Life, just like international development, seems to be balancing on a knifepoint right now; wobbling back and forth, threatening to go one way or another. Just when you feel like you know where it will go, something sways it back the other direction. Because of that, I am learning not to take things to seriously or to personally. I am learning to value adaptability over strict accountability for timelines. I am learning to find a new balance between pushing to get things done and waiting things out. In the process, I am finding my own voice and my own confidence, learning how to trust my decisions and standing up for what expertise I know I bring to the table.
Since this is the midway point, I am saying goodbye to Vietnam and packing up the project there. While it did not go as planned (what ever does, am I right?), I am eternally grateful for the experience I have had there. I am sad to leave all of the great people I have met and sincerely hope to meet with them again in the future. Hanoi Medical University was very hospitable to me and everyone I encountered was helpful beyond measure. Many other people are saying goodbye to HMU this week also, as their very first cohort for the International Masters in Public Health program prepares for graduation in October. The completion of this first year is a great milestone for the university and the students involved. I have been collaborating with HMU leadership on their closing ceremony and writing the script for a movie that will play at the graduation (mostly just editing the English script they already have). I am proud of the accomplishments that the university, the students, and the faculty have seen this year. I am proud of the work I have done as well.
Now moving forward! Yesterday I moved into my new apartment at Chiang Mai Universities’ Faculty of Nursing Dormitory in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I am living in the “visiting Professors Wing” in a brand new one bedroom apartment. The building is about 4 months old and squeaky clean. I am loving it. I have a neighbor too! She is a faculty Nursing Skills professor in Florida who will be here for the next 4 weeks. She is teaching nursing skills on manikins and I hope to drop into one of her classes while I’m am here. I am looking forward to starting the data collection phase at the local Hospital in the next week or so. Wish me luck!