Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Our tour is moving at a whirlwind pace, literally. After our 9pm arrival and it nearing 10pm before our luggage and boxes with our admissions materials was delivered to our rooms, it was nearly 10pm. I feel FAST asleep which was essential as I needed to be up at 5:45am to get ready and have breakfast before our 6:45am departure from the hotel. Today we did two college fairs and in another two hours, I will be attending the IIE Shanghai fair from 6-9pm. I am looking forward to representing Augsburg and sharing our campus with the people of China...if I can only keep myself awake. :)
Tomorrow the bus departs at 6:30am and we will be visiting Concordia high school from 8am-10:30. From there we will travel to Shanghai American School Pudong to meet with their students. At 4:20pm our group departs and we will fly to Beijing.
I am exhausted..literally, yet I couldnt' love more what I am doing.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Yesterday I visited two high schools in Ho Chi Minh city and attended the Institute of International Education (IIE) college fair. There were over 2000 attendees and Augsburg's presence was felt. Several students approached me to share their story of how they learned about Augsburg and why they want to attend our "University". I was especially moved by their understanding of Augsburg's mission and how we live it out. Students talked to me about our website and how impressed they were with our marketing. MANY students actually wanted to take several of our inquiry cards with them because they "loved" the design. They talked to me about our commitment to service. One student knew about Augsburg because a friend of her's studied abroad in Minnesota and told her, "Augsburg is the best "University" in the area." This particular student gave me her completed application to Augsburg and told me that she is taking one year off after high school to do community service before beginning her pursuit of higher education. She understands Augsburg. Many students talked about their deep interest in becoming an "Auggie" because of their conversations with a recent graduate of Augsburg who is from Hanoi. They have learned about student life and Minneapolis through emails with her and are "very impressed." Augsburg's alumnus understand Augsburg. Our international presence is growing and I am proud.
Tomorrow I leave for Hong Kong. My journey continues and I am thankful for my time in Vietnam. I have connected with the families of current students, I have spent time with an alumni of Augsburg and her family, and I have made new connections that I look forward to nurturing. I am grateful to the people who have made my trip unique and who have shared their stories with me. Until next year, Vietnam....Chao tam biet.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Okay..and here's the story about drinking Bird's Nest. This is a real drink that is made from boiling a bird's nest found in Vietnam. Yes, I said boiling a bird's nest. The story is that the saliva that comes from the bird's mouth when building the nest is absorbed and by boiling it, the extract is released and is very nutrient filled. I've got to say, it was refreshing and delicious. So, there's one more thing to add to my, "I've never tried that before." list.
Here's a quick update on my travels. I flew from Hanoi to HCM yesterday. The minute I left the airport I could feel the vibe of this city and it was energetic. I learned that there are 18 million people living in Vietnam and 8 million of them live in Saigon. Here's another quick fact--There are over 5 million motor bikes in HCM alone. Until you have the opportunity to see what 5 million motor bikes in one city looks like you almost can't even imagine it, but let me help you try by sharing the advice that I received from a colleage before traveling to this country for the first time. When I told him that I would be going to HCM city he looked me straight in the eye and said, "Do you know how to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh city?" And I replied, "No." (Obviously..but a rhetorical response seemed necessary.) And with a no-nonsense look on his face he told me, "You just close your eyes and walk." I grinned. A big grin. I found this commentary humorous. He just looked at me and said, "I mean this seriously." He was right.
So, I find myself back in this vibrant city and and I couldn't have receieved a more hospitable welcome from Ana and Mr. Piet, the parents of Tina Nguyen, an '08 international student alumni of Augsburg. They have taken me to eat food I would have never tasted....A vietnamese pancake, coconut milk with jelly, snail stuffed with ground pork, cuddlefish, iced tea, and more. I have been eating more than any person should EVER eat, but it seems outlandish NOT to while I am here. They have taken me to the countryside, they have helped me bargain in the market, they set up appointments for me to meet with advisors and prospective students. They have welcomed me to their country and they have not accepted one penny from me. They refuse. I am humbled.
The city is constantly in motion, at all hours of the day. I am amazed at how people don't have more accidents or knock each other over while driving. Literally. Remember readers....8 million people in one city with more than 5 million motor bikes. This does not include cars, taxi's, buses, etc. I am amazed.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The second leg of my trip was from Seattle to Seoul, Korea. I sat next to a couple from India. They spoke broken English (0k, they knew about 5 words, literally, but the little that we did talk, we got along fine) and we became "friends". They were in Seattle for two months visiting their daughter. What we bonded over wasn't the conversation, but food. The woman initially gave me a big handful of grapes. I wasn't very hungry, but I didn't want to say no. I've learned enough in my lifetime to accept food from others, especially people from different countries. By saying no, in essence, I fear coming off as disrespectful. I chose not to "risk" that and ate the not-so-fresh fruit. A couple of hours later, and the three of us were back to bonding over food. The two of them were eating something that looked A LOT like dried fish food. They started eating and I got up to go to the bathroom. When I returned to my seat there was a paper bowl on my tray table 1/4 filled with this yellow flakey stuff, oh! and 6 Ritz bits...how those made the bowl, I'll never know. I tried it with a big smile on my face the whole time I was moving the spoon to my mouth for the first bite thinking, "Please don't let this taste like fish food. Please don't let this taste like fish food." And IT DIDN'T! :) It was sort of salty and peanutty.
A few hours later even MORE food came out of their bag and, you've most likely guessed it by now, they wanted to share. Admittedly, I had never tried or SEEN any of the Indian food they were presenting me, so this was a fun adventure. This time I got a paper plate with two home made pieces of round bread that was a bit thicker than a tortilla and greasier. Not my favorite, but I was already in SO deep at this point in our "friendship", I couldn't say no. I mean, the woman grabbed my hand and called me her "sister". Bonding people. We were bonding. Next to the greasy tortillas I got three small scoops of different flavors. One looked like jelly but the flavor was a bit spicy, sweet and pickled. My taste buds were NOT enjoying this option. Next was a pickeled jalapeno that had something like a bunch of nuts all over in it. Again, a very intense mixture of flavors which was edible, but not to my liking. And the third scoop was much like crushed peanuts. So, basically, you eat with your hands, breaking off a piece of bread and then you pick up your flavor of choice with your fingers using your bread as a utinsel, and you eat. I didn't have enough water to get me through this plate, but the dear couple was pleased, and that made me happy. We got a picture at the end of the flight..my first one of this trip.
Now I am in Hanoi and yesterday was my first official work day. Nothing like arriving to your hotel at midnight and starting your work day just 8 short hours later. I had a great day. An international student alumni of Augsburg met me at my hotel and we visited Hanoi Amsterdam high school. I presented to the 10-12th graders and then in 4 different classrooms. The students were attentive, very interested in Augsburg, and extremely bright. Later in the afternoon I had individual appointments with three students and their parents. My day ended with dinner at the home of one of Augsburg's current students parent's house. We ate steamed fish, Vietnamese spring rolls, and crab soup. Dessert followed...fresh mango, papaya and some small pastries. By 10pm I could barely keep my eyes open..but this trip has just begun and I'm having a blast!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Before I leave, though, I will have the great pleasure of seeing Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul, and Mary sing in the quad at Augsburg College. I am SO excited for this opporunity that has been gifted to us all because of a deep friendship and a lot of gratitude. Here's the story. An incoming transfer student from Vietnam has been singing with Peter for some years. The two of them developed a freindship and because Peter is so pleased with all Augsburg has done for this international student from Vietnam, he will be singing on our campus as a way to say, "Thank you." If you read my blog and live in the area, the concert will take place on Thursday, September 25th from 11:45am-1:15pm. Let's bring a big crowd.
And, if you read this blog and you live in any of the countries that I will be visiting in October email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can schedule a time to meet. In between now and then, check out what the students at Augsburg are doing on their very own Homemade site: http://www.augsburg.edu/admissions/homemade/index.html.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
*Athletic sports are in full swing. There are football, soccer, and volleyball games happening on most nights. The track and field team is in full gear as well. If you want to follow Auggies Athletics, check it out here: http://www.augsburg.edu/athletics/landing/
*The air is crisp and even chilly. Especially in the morning and evening. Last night I went to the men's soccer game and put on jeans for the first time in months. Personally, I like the change of seasons and the feeling of putting jeans and a sweater on. It's cozy. It's comfortable. Fall is nearly here.
*High school students are applying to Augsburg. I read 5 international student applications just yesterday and met with a sister of an applicant from Congo this morning. I LOVE this part of my job. Working with international students and forming relationships with each individual and their families. This year Augsburg welcomed 18 new international students to our campus from countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Argentina, Ecuador, Sweden, Slovenia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Norway, and Canada.
If you are considering applying to Augsburg, check out our application and newly launched web design here: http://www.augsburg.edu/admissions/international/
Fall is here.
The recruitment cycle begins again.
Life is good.