February 5, 2011
Chuc Mung Nam Moi: Happy New Year! This is the third day of the Lunar New Year (Tet) as celebrated in Asia. People in Vietnam will be visiting friends and enjoying special feasts. I am in the midst of preparing to go to Vietnam just after Tet for my fourth year in a row. I fully expect this to be my last trip there as I'm finding the long trip across the Pacific increasingly demanding. So it will be a very special trip for me.
At the moment, Margaret Roberts and I have our visas, tickets, and plans. What is still unknown is if we will have the needed approval from the authorities in Quang Ngai province to proceed with our proposed program of volunteering as teacher-aides to the English teachers in the Tinh Khe primary school #1 and the middle school. This year they have requested additional documentation which we have submitted but no final answer yet. The District Education Dept. has approved a proposed plan and local people are optimistic and enthusiastic about the prospect of our arrival.
Margaret and I volunteered there together last year and are looking forward to seeing the teachers we met then. One of the thrilling bits of news conveyed to us by Mrs. Tinh, our translator, is that the Tinh Khe Middle School students turned in the best performance in regional English competition last spring (after our departure) in the history of the school! While we think the credit goes to the hardworking teachers and students, we'd like to think that our presence there may have contributed a little extra bit of enthusiasm in their efforts. We look forward to the possibilities this year. Hold us in your thoughts and prayers while we proceed as way opens.