Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rest in Peace, Elizabeth Edwards

May God comfort her family and friends.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Toi noi tieng Viet khong gioi

A few months ago, my cousin told me that creating "new neural pathways" was the best thing that we could do for ourselves as we traveled through our grief.
New pathways come from new experiences.
Well, I've got myself a winner.
I've been selected for an amazing assignment at work: teaching English in Vietnam for six months. The college is establishing a unique partnership with a college in Saigon. They are temporarily releasing me from my job as academic advisor, and I am returning to my roots as an ESOL teacher. Joel will take a leave of absence to come with me.
We leave in February.
We're soooo excited!

Friday, December 3, 2010


Plan A:
With Joel working a 12-hour shift on Thanksgiving Day and the girls being out-of-state/country, I had chosen to stay home last Thursday to rest and to wallow.

Plan B:
Wednesday morning, during my drive to work, I realized I didn't feel like wallowing--I felt like cooking. I want to have Thanksgiving. I avoided it last year, but I realized that this year I wanted it back. So I got on the phone and invited some international and ESOL students. Six boys without families in town. Five countries.
When I called one young man and his roommate, I spoke in clear, simple English.
"My husband and I invite you to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night."
Without hesitation, he responded, "Okay. We come."

I skipped the traditional early afternoon start time and told them to come at 7PM. That way, I'd have all day to cook, taking some of the pressure off. After work on Wednesday, I did the traditional last-minute Thanksgiving grocery-who-still-has-any-green-onions-left-why-can't-they-stock-enough-mushroom-soup-it's-not-like-it's-going-to-spoil-if-they-don't-sell-it-shopping.
I cooked at a leisurely pace on Thursday. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green salad, broccoli salad, lots of veggies, cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, and store-bought pecan pie. Joel arrived two hours early. Hurray!
They arrived right on time. Two boys from Guinea. One from Nigeria. One from Liberia. One from Somalia. One from Syria. Plus Joel from Brazil and me from the USA. What a fun mix of countries and cultures! A couple of the boys came to the U.S. as refugees. Some had obtained diversity visas. One was on a student visa. None of them had family here. A couple of them don't have family anywhere. I had games planned and the telling of the Thanksgiving story, etc. , in case the conversation lagged. It didn't. The one unifying theme throughout the night's talk? Soccer. When they found out that Joel was from Brazil, they were all pretty excited to talk about the Brazilian national soccer team, famous Brazilian players from a time before they were even born, several exciting games in the last few World Cups, and more. They exchanged numbers.
And, as they left, they said that Joel and I were like parents to them now.

I am thankful for so many things. This Thanksgiving, I was thankful for Thanksgiving.