Because I’m DONE! Tomorrow morning I will go with Chi Vy, the program assistant to print off my 45 page ISP paper and then to submit both my paper and presentation to my academic director. I cannot believe my ISP period is over and that daunting paper and presentation over with.
To briefly update you all about my last few weeks during ISP, I moved out to Binh Duong for two weeks. The first week I stayed at a guesthouse, it was quite lonely to say the least and I felt pretty homesick. It did not help that Thanksgiving fell that same week. I realized I absolutely love the holiday season especially because of the time you get to spend with family. My prayers asking to fill the lack of company were answered Friday morning when my adviser Dr. Danh introduced me to a family friend who worked in the center right next to the one I was interning at. Dr. Thanh went to high school with my uncle and heard from my dad that I was doing research in BD. He graciously welcomed me to stay at his home with his family. In the spur of the moment, I decided to move in with them, so I got a mini-homestay during my ISP time as well. They live in Lai Thieu, a village within Binh Duong, coincidentally my dad’s childhood hometown. I was able to visit the church that my dad grew up going to and walked about the fresh market where his childhood home still stands. I enjoyed being about to explore the area that my dad spent his childhood and learning more about my dad’s side of the family. And of course, the company and home-cooked meals were a plus!
Every morning and afternoon Dr. Thanh would take me to the Health Prevention center, it wasn’t out of his way seeing that his work office was right next door. I finished my interviews within 3 days and spent the next week (with lots of free time) analyzing the data, doing literature review, writing my paper, and preparing my presentation slide. Needless to say, I got a bulk of my ISP assignment done which was really nice after returning to HCMC and not having to worry about working on my paper. It was definitely bittersweet finishing my case study time in BD. I met some great people at the Health Prevention center, and hope in the future I can return to help them in any way that I can.
Finishing a bulk of my work also gave me the time to visit my mom’s side of the family in Da Lat, by far one of my favorite places in Vietnam. My friend, Jenny, tagged along with me too. It was a great time, a well deserved break from ISP work, and cherished memory of meeting more extended family. I especially loved listening to stories about my mom and uncles when they were younger. My mom and her brothers grew up in Saigon, actually near Ben Thanh Market in District 1, but during the summer, to beat the heat of the city, my grandparents would send them to stay with their aunts in Da Lat. The oldest aunt lived on a small farm with three boys. I got to meet these..I guess I would call them uncles…while in Da Lat. They were so helpful and took care of everything for me and Jenny. They are also really funny.
The family took us to see the major tourist sites around Da Lat and surrounding area. The city reminded me a lot of Asheville. The weather was cool. Air was fresh. And the sights both of natural and of the city itself were beautiful.
Saturday morning was presentation day! I was nervous about the presentation… especially since that I really had not practiced. And we had a number of special guests like the relations teams from the SIT headquarters sitting in for the morning session….when I was presenting. But I got it done and heard overall good feedback about my presentation and findings.
I think my classmates would agree with me saying that the we still cannot believe that this semester is over. Done. ISP submitted. A whole semester in Vietnam over with. Though a majority of us have a few travel plans before officially heading back to America, we all are looking forward to reuniting with family, friends, and the comforts of homes but we know that we will truly miss Vietnam. Goodbyes are always difficult. I have learned a tremendous amount about myself within these short four months, I cannot even begin to explain.
Vietnam, the places I visited, the people I interacted with, the extended family I met, and the friendships I formed, will always hold a special place in my heart. I know in the future I will return to my que huong – my home.
Now…about those travel plans…off to Cambodia and Thailand on Wednesday then home just in time for Christmas!