“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
– Fred Rogers
I turned on my computer the other day to find these words on the screen. How did Mr. Rogers know I was at an ending and a beginning in this journey? I’m preparing to leave Hanoi but am only halfway through my year abroad, which began six months ago in Honduras.
Last week, I moved out of my apartment to an AirBnB for my final week in Hanoi. I’m transitioning from having a home here to becoming a traveler. I spent an afternoon discovering Hanoi as a tourist when a fellow Fulbright Distinguished Teacher came to visit after finishing her work in Korea. Monica, her husband Steve, and I discovered places I never knew existed, even after living here for four months.
The next few weeks will give me more opportunities to be a tourist as I travel through Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s great to have this opportunity, but at the same time somewhat unsettling to have no structure to my days.
Where I’m From
On my last day at Nguyễn Tất Thành School, several students stood and spoke one by one about their feelings after being in my poetry classes. One ninth grader admitted that at first her classmates said, “I just wish Tim would go away,” since writing poems in English seemed like an impossible task. They later came to realize that they could write poems and enjoy doing so. Another student thanked me for helping her find her “creative gene.” One boy said writing poems helped him express his emotions. It was touching and humbling to hear many students speak about their experience in my classes.
But I’m not really done teaching. I hope to share my Fulbright project with schools during my travels over the next six months. New comments and poems are coming from schools in Connecticut and Arizona, and I have scheduled a visit to school a few hours outside of Hanoi. Best of all, the author of the original “Where I’m From” poem (the title of the poetry site), George Ella Lyon, has written me after I shared the site with her. She loves the poems and thanked the students for their work.
Some Random Thoughts
At this halfway point, I feel that time has gone too quickly, that a year abroad is not enough. It seems like a long time when planning it, but it really does fly by.
Readers of this blog may think I’m having one adventure after another. It seems that way, but there are plenty of boring days, stressful days, and every other kind of day in between. I’m just living my life somewhere else.
My itinerary is not set in stone, but as of now looks something like this: Vietnam and Cambodia in Jan./Feb. The Philippines from mid-February through March. April – June will hopefully include Thailand (again), Myanmar, Laos, and maybe a few other surprises. I will be doing some traveling, some volunteering, some teaching, and lots of learning.
And look who has just arrived (fresh off a 28-hour journey)!
January 10, 2017 at 14:06
As always Tim I love reading the blog! Your photography is outstanding!! Been reading the students poems which i am really enjoying. Can’t wait to see what you and Vicki Ann put into the blog very much looking forward to your pictures and writing hope you guys have a great time!!
January 14, 2017 at 06:33
And I love reading your comments! Vicky Ann’s at mass now so I have a moment to catch up on some things! We’re having a lot of fun – it’s great to have her here. One day I’ll have some time to write about it.
January 10, 2017 at 14:10
LOVE this post!!!!! And of course, I love Mr. Rogers……
You should be so proud of the work you have done so far…..you obviously have made a major impact on your students – not that I ever had any doubts…..You are so inspiring, Tim……looking forward to following you on the second half of your adventure!
Might I add…..the photos of Vicky-Ann are fabulous!!!! Hi Vicky!!!
January 14, 2017 at 06:33
Classic Vicky Ann coming through the gate. She hasn’t stopped moving since she arrived!
January 10, 2017 at 14:37
Yay – Vicky Ann made it!!!
January 11, 2017 at 00:57
Yeah! I can’t believe I made it either. Right after the photo the driver said so glad your wife made it, and I agreed. Love always, VA
January 14, 2017 at 06:34
She is so thrilled you’re following our adventures, but she needs to give me some time to write!
Linda A Wight
January 10, 2017 at 15:21
Enjoy reading about your teaching ,Tim, and the students you have met. I’m sure there have been many stressful and challenging days, and , yes, even “boring” days. When you look back, you will be amazed at what you have done in your life. It is nice that you have friends accompanying you on your travels. Looking forward to reading about your future travelling on your blog.
January 14, 2017 at 06:35
I am glad to have my friend here, and glad you’re following along from home!
January 10, 2017 at 20:24
I am enjoying your tweets and now your blog! You’ve captured great moments in your writing and through your pictures. Thank you for sharing your experience. Let me know if you need a classroom to collaborate with…
January 14, 2017 at 06:37
Hi Nancy, Great to hear from you. You can check the poetry site and have your students leave comments and even contribute poems if they want. Contact me if you want me to Skype with your class.
January 10, 2017 at 21:12
Well said Tim! Enjoy the next leg of your journey and your time with Vicky-Ann! We miss you! xox
January 14, 2017 at 06:37
MIss you guys too! I think Vicky Ann and Kenny would have had a great time together.
Cindy J Cassidy
January 11, 2017 at 11:04
My favorite pumpkins! Have safe travels, fun adventures and meaningful opportunities for both of you, students and travelers wanting to know more. Hugs and love Tim and VAD xoxoxo
PS – didn’t appreciate the picture of the snakes in a jar VickyAnn!! (BLECH!!)
January 14, 2017 at 06:38
Every picture I take of our friend, I think, “Oh, Cindy’s gonna love this one.”
January 11, 2017 at 18:53
How wonderful it must be to have seen Vicky Ann’s smiling face! There will be no dull moments now!
I loved this quote and can’t wait to see and hear about what is next on your journey. The photographs are stunning and it is all just so different than here. Stay safe and looking forward to your next blog.
January 14, 2017 at 06:39
Vietnam loves Vicky Ann. I feel like no one notices me anymore, but that’s alright – it’s fun watching her, and people’s reactions to her!