It’s a breezy and sunny day here in Long Xuyen. Whenever it’s windy in town it seems to completely change the place. In some respects it’s quite refreshing, and in other areas the wind kicks up dust that gets into your eyes or blows the scent of some garbage towards you. But it’s nice to see the tree branches waving outside the office window.
In 29 days I’ll be on the plane home, and already the Foreign Language Department has organized a farewell party for me, and I’ve organized one of my own involving more people from the community. Three years ago I was finishing up my second round of farewells at home (due to a delayed visa) and preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. Now I’m trying to imagine life away from Long Xuyen. Last night I went out to dinner with an older Australian man who’s been working in Long Xuyen for the past five years. When he learned that I was going home, he said, “I thought you were here for life.”
However, yesterday I learned that Will and Michelle, the two VIA volunteers that arrived here in late August, will be leaving Vietnam due to health problems. They’ve been in Ho Chi Minh City for the past several weeks visiting doctors, but I guess eventually it was just too much for them, and I don’t blame them. AGU is going to be quite pressed next semester to find enough teachers, because I will be gone (an interim replacement might be in the works, but I think it’d be too late for me to overlap with them), Lillian is leaving in February, and now Will and Michelle are also no longer here. However, AGU is partially culpable in their departure because when they first arrived there was a changeover in leadership in our department, and because of this it led to scheduling and other problems that created stress for first-time teachers. When I arrived here I was lucky to be in the company of other volunteers for about six months; volunteers who were just finishing extended stays in Long Xuyen. I think that after this next summer, it will be a completely clean slate in terms of foreign volunteers here; there will be no one overlapping which will make it more difficult for future volunteers to learn about the university, the city, the country and the culture.