Monday, November 28, 2011

Time Travel; and, Turkey by Surprise

          Alright. I’m back! Did you miss me? I feel like I’ve just been put in a time machine. The month of November has gone by in an absolute flash. Now it’s the 28th and I’m absolutely stunned at how quickly the entire semester has gone. It still feels like I just left last week, and now, I’m staring right at the end of the semester, just 3 weeks away. Let me try some metaphors . . . we are now at the twilight of the first semester, not quite dark, but there is little time left before the end. But then again, for me, and the other 6 students staying for the full school year, it is only lunchtime . . . as much as I would like to leave and head home in a few weeks with the rest of the semester students, I feel like that’s not a valid choice. Retreat is not an option! They don’t call it school semester abroad, it's School Year Abroad!

So some interesting things took place during the weeks since my last entry. As noted in my last post, I was filmed for an English-language television news journal, refereeing a soccer game! That was a lot of fun. I met the film crew at the fields before my game, and they filmed me preparing for the game, checking-in the teams and inspecting the field, and doing some warm-up stretches and jogging. Then, just before I took the field to start the game, I did an on camera interview, and talked about my experience with soccer and refereeing. The focus of the interview was that while I am at school here in Vietnam, I am volunteering my time to assist with running a youth soccer league and also refereeing some games (I'm donating the salary I would make for refereeing back to the league). Youth referees are as unique here in Vietnam as we are back in the States, so players and spectators definitely seem to take note when I'm on the field! The program aired on TV a few days ago, but my segment hasn't been posted on YouTube yet, so you’re going to have to wait a few days to see it. The game went smoothly, and the only not so smooth part involved a penalty kick right at the end, but by that time the camera crew was gone, so it worked out well. The next week after that game (last week), I was invited to referee for a professional football club! Well, it wasn’t actually the professional team; it was their U-15 academy team. A lot of professional clubs around the world have academies, where kids live and study, and also play soccer. These players may have only been 14-15 years old, but they were amazing! They had incredible ball control and passing skills. They played another club team, not affiliated with a pro team, that was coached by the directors of the league I referee for. They are a very good team, and rarely lose a game, but they lost 10-0! That, for those of you who know little about soccer, is a very, very high score! And especially because there were two very skilled teams on the pitch. But I guess that’s what you get when you play against a school that specializes in developing professional soccer players.

Last week, we had a Thanksgiving banquet. Yes, we actually celebrated Thanksgiving over here in Vietnam. And just a warning, the menu may shock you… oven cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, pumpkin pie, apple crisp, cakes, brownies… and the list goes on. It took a heroic search all across northern Vietnam to find the various ingredients (I think we ate the only two turkeys in country), and some fantastic cooking by some of my fellow students and teachers - but we had it all!! It was a large party, with host family members, students, teachers, and friends of the school from Ha Noi. There must have been at least 60 people there! The guests were treated to some fine musical performances and a play.

Looking forward to the events of interest these next few weeks. . . .  this upcoming Friday morning, at around 3 am(!), I am going to be attending an all-school town meeting at my alma-mater, Santa Barbara Middle School.  I'll be online on Skype, of course, and if all goes well with the technology, I'll be making a short presentation about my experiences so far in Vietnam, perhaps have time to show one of my videos, and then take questions from the audience.  The day after that, on Saturday, I'll head out of Ha Noi with my classmates as we go south for nine days to visit Saigon and the Mekong River Delta. Upon our return, we'll have just one week of school, and really only 4 days, because we have our final semester exams scheduled on Friday and Monday, December 16th and 19th. After the exams are done, we'll have just a few days to celebrate and decompress and then half of the students will return back to the US on December 22nd. And the biggest news for me, on December 20th my mom and dad and my sisters will arrive for a three-week visit! During their stay, we'll hang out in Ha Noi for several days, then we'll be traveling south by train to Hoi An (where we'll spend Christmas), and then will continue on traveling through Cambodia and Laos.  As luck would have it, on the same week that my family gets here, my godfather Aaron will also be visiting Ha Noi on an unrelated trip from his current home in Qatar, where he's a school teacher. I'm excited to have all my families together (host, real, and lifelong friends) - I'm sure we'll have a few great dinners that first week.  Special Note:  Uncle Aaron and Dad, if you're reading this, as this will be the first time we'll all be together in years, I expect to finally hear the Needles Story that has long eluded my ears....I believe that I'm old enough now.

I want to get this post up as quick as possible, so I will be adding pictures tomorrow and hopefully that video soon as well.

1 comment:

  1. Hey I want to hear that Needles Story too!!!
    Love you, Andrew.