Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

IF there were reasons why i would NEVER come back to Saigon. . .

#1 hearing the blaring sounds of drums and horns at 4 AM! causing me to jump out of deep sleep, and abusing my ear drums for the next 45 minutes. There are many [what I would call ignorant] cultural practices of the Vietnamese, but this is by far the most ridiculous. I have the off-key drumming and chanting to thank for my headache.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

my rainy season serenade. . . when we let God have His way.

When the rain paralyzes my schedule, I remember a hymn we sang at Highland Crest Baptist church:
Chorus:
Showers of Blessings, 
Showers of Blessings we need:
Mercy-drops 'round us are falling, 
But for the showers we plead.

The verses:
There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

There shall be showers of blessing;
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come, and now honor Thy Word.

There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

There shall be showers of blessing,
If we but trust and obey;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
If we let God have His way.

Romans 12:2

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

I think the challenge of any educator is not to simply share information with your students but to convince them that with this knowledge and God given talent they can do great things. I had my senior level students fill out a survey during the first week of classes for the October term. "What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What do you enjoy about design? Why are you excited to graduate?" These were a few of the questions I asked. "I don't think I'm good at anything, I need improvement in all areas. I don't think my work is that great. I'm not." –was a response I received. Clearly this student needs to be empowered. It's interesting how their personalities show through their work. Just like the somber responses to the survey, this young girl's work made use of various colors of blue. Almost every piece was blue. Along with her colored contacts. Must be her favorite hue. Well, what about yellow, aquamarine, aubergine, or hot pink? If you can not venture out and use different colors to create a harmonious design for your client, then my dear, you will not last as a graphic designer. Hopefully, with some coaching, by the end of the term no hue will go unused in her portfolio and she will boldly express to her interviewers how talented she is.

Who told this student she was not good? Is she overly self critical, or is their a disapproving voice in her ear at home? (Or as Pastor Moss would say, "Stop listening to the Crows in your life".) How has the communist society brainwashed this young girl? her family and friends? As I spend more time in Vietnam I am asking more questions, getting to know various opinions about the way of life in Saigon.

I had an interesting conversation today with a young man, Vietnamese ethnicity, but raised in France. I am not sure how we got on the topic of superiority/inferiority among different ethnic groups in a society but he made an interesting statement, "Some French men, they come here to Saigon because they miss the colonialism," How so? I asked, "They know that as an older French white male with money they will STILL be treated with more respect from most Vietnamese especially in restaurants and bars. So after spending several months here, even the nicest man will turn into an asshole because he is used to the "special" treatment her receives." Hmmmm, so after several years of being colonized by the French, Vietnamese still have a colonial way of thinking, they see French culture as something to be revered.  Sounds similar to the "slave mentality" still lingering in Black America.

My student made a comment about living/working in Vietnam. "I would not work in Vietnam, at least not right out school." Why? "It's just not good there's no film industry here, I don't like living here." So if something about your society is not good, how do you make it better? "Man, only God knows that answer!" I'm starting to feel a trend of hopelessness coming from these students. Can't say that I blame them. How do you transform your way of thinking, your friends thinking, your parents thinking, your neighbors thinking when everyone in your society lives in fear of your government?  What makes Ho Chi Minh City more progressive than ol' Saigon?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

good morning

Every day in Saigon the sun rises and sets in a 12 hour time period, 5:40 ish AM and 5:40 ish PM. Unlike North America, there are no long summer nights, and short winter days. There's no "spring forward", "fall back" time changes. Only a consistent, natural clock giving us 12 hours of darkness, 12 hours of light. The intensity of the sun light in my room tells me what time it is. Faint yellow means 5:55 AM, bright white yellow means well after 7 AM. I have become adjusted to my sun clock. However if my body succumbs to laziness, there is always the rooster down the alley, or the cats in heat to disturb my slumber.