See you later

Today began with a celebration in my class. Several of my students brought me sweet gifts (Huy
carved a pencil that says "love" and Ly made me a yellow rose - she remembered from the first week when she and I had a talk about our favorite flowers and I mentioned yellow roses). My students brought all sorts of tropical fruits, sticky rice buns (they are gluten free!), cake, coffee, and soda. I tried to teach them while we ate but it wasn't super productive. There are some videos of us singing the Barney song (that was all them!) and somehow sparklers made their way into the picture. Eventually eating the cake evolved into a full fledged food fight with cake and frosting all over everyone (that was my first food fight! Huy put some frosting on my nose and then it began). After they calmed down we learned a little bit about food and restaurants - I was determined to teach them more on this last day!! In the afternoon only a few students returned and we spent time making imaginary restaurants and menus - Nam's menu included "chocolate on chicken" and "cheese and muffin." We sang "Just the Way You Are" one last time, enjoyed spending time together (there were some magic tricks) and it was sad to say goodbye. Three of the girls, who have barely spoken throughout the past month, said "I wish you success! I wish you happy always! I love you!" and gave me big hugs.

After that I spent time with the younger kids. I went outside and found Bao 10 feet above the ground in a tree. They gave me sweet letters and bracelets - Chi put a bracelet on my wrist, then stuck out her wrist to show that she had a matching bracelet. I almost burst into tears. Her little note was signed "young sister of Laura." Han gave me a big hug and said "I love you! I want you live Vietnam forever!" I bought them sugar cane juice and snacks and then we spent some time biking around on the dirt roads and saw some beautiful scenery. Over the last month I haven't ventured out much onto the dirt roads and I'm so glad that on these last few days the kids decided to take me around a bit and show me their houses before I go home. I didn't bring my camera for that bike ride but there were some lovely views of fields and mountains. I will just have to keep those images as memories just for me, or maybe come back one day with a camera. We stopped at Chi's grandparents' house which is on one of the dirt roads. It is much more peaceful and quiet than the noisy highway-side motel I've been living in for the last month. Their house has one room with a farm in the back. Her grandmother smiled at me and told me, via Han, that since we couldn't understand what the other one was saying she was just going to sit quietly. I smiled, and I just loved that. It was like there was this communication and connection in those few minutes we were sitting together at the table, without any words. Yesterday I said that Chi has her mother's smile…well, Chi's mother has Chi's grandmother's smile. So wide and sweet.

Chi told me her parents' names and wanted to know my parents' names. She said "Laura name father?" and I said "Gino" - she smiled "Chi-no! Chi-no!" pointing to herself. "Yes, Chi-no!" I said, laughing, mentally noting to put that in the blog! We made our way back to the church so I could get my things. Everyone had gone home by then except for us. Chi, Han and Bao walked me into my classroom, and then it was time to say goodbye. As I was packing my camera Chi came over solemnly, tapped me and gave me a hug. I looked at her and we both teared up. We kept saying "ok, bye. Bye" as she waved and walked out of the room. I am tearing up again as I remember that sweet moment. I hugged Bao and said goodbye but I think he is too little to understand. Isn't it amazing that in one month I grew to love two little kids who don't speak my language? Leaving them hurts my heart (now I'm crying!) I gave Han a big hug and we said "see you later! See you one day! Talk on Facebook!" I am getting all kinds of messages on Facebook from the kids saying "I will never forget you! I will come visit you! Thank you!" At the end of every day I always wave to the kids as they bike away and say "see you later!" Today I did the same. "See you later" - see you sometime. See you on Facebook, see you when I reread my blog, see you in the weeks, months and years to come when I continue to learn and grow from this experience. And maybe, one day, I'll see you when I buy another round of sugar cane juice.

 Huy's beautiful creation

 My favorite things! Mangosteen, rambutan and sticky rice bun (it's made of bean, rice, sugar and sesame)
 Ly and the flower she made for me! And crazy boys

 She gave me the little clip in my hair! She gave a little box to Duc to give to me and then hid in another classroom - she was too shy to give it to me herself!

 Ly brought a cake!

 And so begins the food fight


She followed me around grabbing me and speaking in Vietnamese. Apparently what she wanted was to take a picture with me and then to somehow have the picture printed out from my camera. We managed to fulfill half of that desire!

The kids
In front of the church
Motel tour



  1. So sweet Laura...what a beautiful celebration of your time there...feel teary myself reading your you