It is Monday, March 22. Today is a cloudy, breezy day in Hanoi, perfect for us to walk around doing errands before leaving. To recap Quang Ngai:
After spending Thursday visiting compassion houses MQI had helped build we returned 'home' to our hotel. The evaluation forms we had distributed to teachers and administrators had been filled out and returned. We looked them over and then began to think about our final conference with Tinh Khe middle school personnel and representatives from the District Education Office. However, we also had an appointment with a journalist who wanted to interview us so most of our planning got put off until morning.
Nonetheless, we had our comments ready. All six English teachers as well as the principal and the vice-principal in charge of curriculum were there. Also, Mr Khoi, a retired history teacher who had sat in on some of our classes. I think he is on the District school board. The head of the District Education office was there as well as Mr. Do for MQI. Appropriate comments were made by teachers and officials. We gave our assessment and said we'd write a report to the MQI board back home. Do gave an eloquent speech saying that we had come not only to help teach English but to advance peace and reconciliation between Americans and Vietnamese. The three of us were presented with a gift each from the school and we presented a gift: a metal turtle of Haitian make and a gift of money for the library to help offset the library's expenses. The library rents textbooks at a reduced rate to children whose families are too poor to be able to buy their own textbooks. Some families are too poor to even pay the reduced rental rate. Based on figures the librarian gave us for this year, we think we gave enough to cover that deficit for next year. Then the school invited us to go to a seaside restaurant for a final meal together. What fun! By now the teachers are much more relaxed and less shy about talking with us. We all hope Margaret and I will be able to raise the funds to return next year.
Saturday we left Tinh Khe at 8 AM. A couple of teachers came by to bid us "Tam Biet": See you later, expressing the hope that we will return. En route to Danang we stopped in Tam Ky to visit a former patient and subsequent employee of the Quaker Service program some 40 years ago. Both Margaret and I had worked in that program. Chi Mai was delighted to see us and excited to talk about her upcoming trip to the USA next June. Some of the former US volunteers of Quaker Service raised the money and arranged tourist visas for her and her daughter to come for a reunion of those she knew while we worked in Quang Ngai.
Sunday morning I went to the protestant church not far from our hotel. It is Lenten season and the church was quite full. The church is fitted with computer and a large projection screen so power point is used to show the words of hymns and later the main points of the sermon. With help of my own English Bible I was able to follow quite well. I walked back to the hotel, stopping to buy some cashew nuts in the market en route.
Sunday afternoon Margaret and I went with our travel agent to visit the Buddhist pagoda near her home. The monks there have taken in quite a number of orphaned or abandoned children. One of the women 'caretakers' of these children is unable to walk. Originally, I thought the travel agent said she was an amputee but it turned out she had polio as a child with both legs severely affected. I'd promised to visit and evaluate her. So I did a fairly detailed exam then went back to the travel agent's office, wrote up my notes and downloaded the pictures I'd taken of her legs so this report could be forwarded to Red Cross who may help her get needed treatment (probably some surgery and physical therapy) then braces. It seemed a wonderful day to spend a Sunday. Now we are doing last minute things before I leave for San Francisco tomorrow AM. So: Tam Biet, Vietnam, for this year.