Twenty Eleven

2010 came and went, and some important events happened along the way. I…

  • lived in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, at my wonderful grandmother’s condo (January 18th–February 24th)
  • received my first tattoo, an initials and date of death tribute to my father (February 23rd)
  • attended a Volunteers in Asia (VIA) Spring Orientation in Sausalito, California (April 9th–April 11th)
  • ate dim sum, watched Wicked at the Orpheum, attended a Corinne Bailey Rae concert, and was overwhelmed by taiko drummers during my first trip ever to San Francisco, California (April 12th–April 17th)
  • returned to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for two months in preparation for a year with VIA and a goodbye to Saigon as home (June 22nd)
  • became 144-hour TESOL certified (August 31st)
  • said farewell to Saigon and made Hanoi my permanent home in Vietnam (August 31st)
  • guest lectured at Hanoi University for a semester (September–December)
  • reached my 1-year anniversary working with Graph Paper Press (September 13th)
  • attended a VIA mid-year conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (November 28th–December 4th)
  • committed to a 1-year extension on my guesthouse lease in The Old Quarter (December)

I’d rather not reflect on feelings or other non-action based items from the last year. That’s not what Twenty Ten was about; it was instead about never stopping and always moving. It was also about respecting how little time we all have to get stuff done in our lives before we expire.

25/8/2010 To 29/11/2010

I flew last night to Saigon from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I’d been there for a week, attending the Volunteers in Asia mid-year conference.

The conference was stressful. Volunteers in Asia, like many organizations in the States, is very seriously revisiting its finances for not only the immediate future but also the ultimate future of the NGO. It was our responsibility to talk about it and figure out what, if anything, we as volunteers can do to smartly focus VIA’s efforts in Southeast Asia. I doubt much of our recommendations, if any, will matter. I’ll actually be shocked if they did.

If anything good came out of the conference it was an opportunity for me to revisit the last three months of my life and present them to fellow volunteers in the form of images, video, and music. We are all spread throughout Southeast Asia—other than Vietnam’s in-country representative, I’m the only VIA-affiliated member who is posted in Hanoi—and there are very few of us in the region, so this exercise was critical to putting faces and feelings to bland, paper-based post descriptions.

For someone who doesn’t go into a lot of specific detail about his day-to-day life, it was important for my video to accurately portray my last three months. I eat (a lot), spend a great deal of time at home, have girl troubles and triumphs, party and dine with coworkers, and think—probably too much—about my future in Vietnam. This was not only for VIA but also (mostly, actually) for my family and friends in the United States, who collectively have an incredibly difficult time visualizing or understanding my reality in Vietnam. I don’t blame them; I would, too.

I had fun making this, if only because during the time spent creating it I thought long and hard about my role with Volunteers in Asia, my professional and social life in Hanoi, and my future—if there is one—in the United States.

Every three months now and then I will make a video like this. I need to keep track of my life and do it in such a way that the photos, videos, and music I use all preserve as much as possible my state of mind at the time of the video’s creation. Sometimes I’m happy, other times sad. But it all happens while music is playing in my head and at least I’m surrounded by wonderful souls who know how to make me laugh.

Tomorrow I’ll leave Saigon and return to Hanoi to finish 2010. Seems appropriate, I think.