The lack of recent posting was due to the abundance of busyness for me lately. Dan Wessner and a group of seven students from EMU were in the south, first in Ho Chi Minh City and then in Long Xuyen. It went something like this:
May 17th, 2:30 a.m.: Two teachers and two students from AGU that will participate in the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at EMU (and me) got on the bus to Ho Chi Minh City. The four of them had to get to the immigration office when it opened to collect their passports and then immediately apply for a U.S. visa. They got the passports without a hitch, but when they paid for their visa applications, they were given an interview date of June 11th. I should note here that all Vietnamese citizens that apply for a U.S. visa have to have a short interview before they can be given a U.S. visa. But anyhow, the interview dates that were given were on June 11th, after they were scheduled to be back in Vietnam. But they got emergency request forms and we went to the hotel to fill out these forms and then fax them to the embassy.
The afternoon was spent relaxing and waiting. Dan and the students were arriving at 5 p.m. from Hanoi. At 4, the five of us got on the bus and headed for the airport. It seemed as though five flights were arriving at the same time, so we had to wait for a good half-hour until they had collected their bags and were off the plane.
The next few days were spent in or around Ho Chi Minh City. We went to museums, a Vietnamese amusement park, the Cu Chi Tunnels, etc. We ate some very expensive meals in District One and there was not much down time. Also, on Saturday the 19th was Tyler’s final goodbye party in Vietnam. About seven of us went out and ate cheeseburgers and listened to Irish music and laughed and talked. It was a good time, and he is missed, but I take comfort in knowing that he’ll be back in the fall (at least for a visit).
The entire morning of the 21st was the four folks from AGU at the U.S. Consulate having their visa interviews. I was nervous the whole morning; I would be in my room, then go down to the street and loiter around, waiting for a taxi to come back, then go back up to my room and try to watch some T.V., and then rush back downstairs and look for a taxi and wait. This process must’ve been repeated about 10 times throughout the morning, but at 11 a.m. everyone was back at the hotel and all of the interviews were successful.
Finally on the 22nd, we got on a bus bound for Long Xuyen. I was really glad to be coming home and eager for all of 6d1 to have a chance to interact with the EMU students. We had workshops in the morning for three days, and then we toured the city in the afternoon.
We went to places that even I hadn’t been in the city for years, including the Cao Dai temple.
The same day that we went to this particular temple, other students where back at the guest house cooking dinner. Dinner that’s been cooked by people that you know always seems to taste better. We sat on the floor and ate and laughed.
On Saturday morning we went out in the hot sun and toured Tiger Island, the home of Vietnam’s second president, Uncle Ton Duc Thang. It was extremely hot and sunny, but a very good little trip. Our big group even got to tour a large catfish farm on the banks of the Mekong.
Saturday evening was a farewell dinner at a local restaurant, and afterwards, we all came back the the guest house for singing and some games.
And then the next day, the group of eight from EMU and the colleagues and students from AGU got on a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City and flew out of Vietnam this morning.