Ok, so those updates I promised would follow in the weeks leading up to my departure? Yeah, turns out they fell a bit by the wayside in favor of spending time with friends and family, freaking out about the upcoming journey, and generally doing more shopping than was absolutely necessary. Even on the verge of a major life change, some things don’t change 🙂
But back to the topic at hand – a fateful dog walk.
Over the past few years my family has made a habit of walking the dogs in the evenings. These walks are a full family affair – both parents, both siblings, and of course all three dogs. We make a circuit of the neighborhood, stopping briefly to let the dogs do their dog thing, and we usually make it home without event. On the particular night in question, we happened to run into some neighbors and friends of my mothers. My sister and I had been walking ahead, and were waiting across the street for our parents to finish the conversation when we were beckoned over. I was introduced to the Dons, a friendly couple that lives a few blocks away whom I had never met. We began talking about my career goals (an idea that is always brought up once it is made known that you are living with your parents).
This is not a topic I was particularly happy to discuss. Since January I had been applying to competitive fellowships and teaching programs in Asia. At this point I had been rejected more times than I’d like to admit, and was not feeling particularly optimistic about my goal of living in Asia.
So I said that I was interested in teaching English in Asia, and that I was working to make this a reality (a true enough statement, if vague). Normally, this is a statement that people write off. I think it’s mostly heard as the wishful and bizarre thinking of a recent college grad that hasn’t woken up to the realities of the working world yet. But to my surprise, the Dons responded by asking me if I would be interested in Vietnam.
As it turns out, the Dons had visited Vietnam several years ago as part of an education exchange with a medical school in Can Tho. They had loved everything about their trip, thought the whole experience was fantastic, and would I like an introduction to the man who organized their trip? Naturally I said yes, that sounded lovely, though at the time I was feeling pessimistic and didn’t expect much more than a friendly reference.
I was given Dr. Rob’s contact information that night, and the next day we had set up a time to talk over the phone. After a day of serious time-zone confusion on my part, I had a lovely conversation with Dr. Rob, who offered to put me in touch with anyone and everyone he knew in Vietnam, which is a considerable amount, since he has been making regular trips to the country for the past decade.
I was in total disbelief – this was all starting to sound so great. Not a day later I was emailing the director of an English tutoring facility, and within a week I had a job offer.
Two weeks and I had bought a plane ticket.
Three months later I have a mostly packed bag, a passport full of new blank pages, and a whole stomach full of butterflies.
And it all started by walking the dogs.