Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Monday, January 30, 2012

The greatest of these is LOVE.

I have never met a group of people with similar phenotype that have such a strong sense of self-hate comparable to that of Asian cultures. I thought Black people in America had some self-worth issues, but it is nothing compared to what I see and experience daily while living in Asia, specifically Southeast Asia.

It is illegal in America to discriminate against hiring someone based on their "race", hair color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Even if the employer really didn't like the candidate because they are Black or Latino or too White, or too fat, or whatever, the employer would not have the audacity to literally verbalize what they think for fear of being sued by the candidate or ridiculed by the NAACP.  Apparently this sense of tactfulness does not apply in Asia. If your employer thinks you're too fat, too short, too dark, or too "Asian" they feel they have the right to say so, and not offer you the job because you don't meet their superficial requirements of the ideal employee. I just had a conversion with an Asian co-worker over lunch. Most of the current lunch time topics are centered around the pathetic situation with the school we're employed by here in Vietnam. This particular lecturer is of Asian ethnicity (I won't get more detailed than this). And might I add the school is owned and operated by people of an ethnicity from Southeast Asia. This lecturer has been living in Vietnam for a while, working as a designer. He decided to apply for a teaching job at the school because, as he stated,
"I'm tired of having to re-train every Vietnamese employee I hire. I wanted to see what was wrong with the education they were receiving at the universities in the city." 

And now that he's here, he can see the problems. Let me tell you, there are many. However, during this designer's interview with the Asian director of this school, before he was even hired, the director made it very clear to him that,


"We usually don't hire Asians."

As he told me, "It took everything in my power not to punch him." 
Punch? He would've got a foot up his arse at the least.
Yes it is true. Since the school is a private education institute, and funded by the students who pay their tuition, it is critical that the school give the customers what they want. The perception is that Western lecturers know more about everything, design, business, English, etc.  So the student who sees a Western lecturer in their classroom will feel they are gaining more, getting their "money's worth" than if they saw an Asian lecturer. And heaven forbid the lecturer is Vietnamese, the students would really have a fit. Another co-worker actually got demoted from lecturer to administrative assistant because the Vietnamese business students did not want to learn from a Vietnamese business woman.

I have observed this inferior behavior and try my best to breath an air of self love in my students. I remind them that their skin would look healthier if it actually experienced at least 1 minute of sunlight a day. I remind them that while they continue to bash Vietnamese design, it is in THEIR power to re-construct what Vietnamese design looks like. I remind them that the one thing that makes them unique as a designer is their culture. No one else in the world knows what it is like to be Vietnamese, use this as your strength, let this be your source of creative inspiration. I can only hope they are enlightened to learn that when we love ourselves, there's nothing and no one that can stop you from fulfilling your God given destiny, no force can prohibit you from achieving your highest potential. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I think we can finally say it's a new year.

Well, I've been reared into the new year of the dragon quite proper. Flower exhibits, dragon parades, drumming every morning, even right now, 9:11 AM. The city is a buzz, the children our excited. It's fun to see. Though I do not understand the significance, and honestly don't care too, I enjoy being submerged in the Vietnamese cultural tradition of Tet.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Joy comes in the morning.

So, I got up in the middle of the night, like I have been for the past couple of days. The strategy is to nap for a bit, then get up and do design work. Though I usually sleep right through any alarm or music I have going. This night I also had my dimmer on, so that, with my iTunes blaring Aaliyah and having to empty my bladder, I got up. I only got up, however, with the intention of immediately going back to bed. 2 hours later, and now hearing the roosters crow, I'm still awake.

That's because I got some great news. A friend of mine from waaay back when has decided to take the ultimate faith walk and become a missionary for a faith based organization called the World Race. He had his interview last week, and got the call today, Tuesday January 17 his time acknowledging that he is on the team. The news is not only exciting, it is amazing. Amazing how God can work through people without us even knowing. Now, I know Jamal. I know what he does (travel), what he loves (talking and running), I know what makes him tick. But I had no idea he had been praying for something more fulfilling in his life.

Like extra help knocking at the door in a time of need, Just at the right time when he needed to hear from God, after his praying, the next day I posted the link to World Race on his fb page. Now he will be a true fisher of men. If that's not God at work, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A letter from a friend:

Tiana,

I wanted to say something on this special MLK Day. It may not have a lot of meaning worldwide because many people do not have sufficient background knowledge to have any strong emotions about it. But I do! I respect this American memorial day! And there are few “holidays” that I do respect, so this is quite special.

As a teenager, I remember memorizing King’s speeches from a CD that I had bought at Circuit City. I can’t explain it, but I found his peace and individual liberty/responsibility so appealing, like it was part of the Truth in this universe. My family grew up Baptist and Republican, so I had to learn history for myself. So I did. I learned that I cannot be part of any political association or even religious association, because even if that association knows any part of the Truth, they tend to practice it their own way rather than literally and directly. So this conclusion that I had drawn when I young, about King’s speeches containing real Truth, was only the beginning of coming out of tradition and into what I know to be Truth.

America is steeped in political and religious tradition, and they cannot escape and comprehend the Truth because they are bombarded by media tactics to keep them enslaved in religious, racial, and political sects. Democrats ask blacks to politically attack whites. Republicans ask pro-war people to politically attack pro-peace people.

And King was stuck in the middle. Or, perhaps, he transcended sectarian lines because his message of individual liberty and peace was part of the Truth of our Savior. I believe this is why he, along with Kennedy, and Lincoln were assassinated. Certain people just don’t want the public to be free from fear and free from danger, and responsible only to their Highest Liberator.

YAHUWAH bless you this day in your life with every spiritual blessing!

Jonathan

Monday, January 16, 2012

Exotic friends = exotic drinks

This past weekend was lovely. I had a great Saturday morning brunch with ladies of our bible study circle. Waffles with cinnamon (no chicken), scrambled eggs, Hungry Jack syrup, pineapple, cantaloupe, dragon fruit with honey, orange juice and warm soy milk with coffee. Yummmm. To finish the day I went to the spa at YKC to have an oatmeal bubble bath and reflexology foot massage. Dinner was blessed with sushi from Tokyo Deli.

On Sunday, I went to church then had lunch with Janell and our new friend from Barbados. I had to visit my Malaysian friend to pick up some things I left at her condo. As I tried to leave, so that I wouldn't be stuck in Phu My hung alllll day, she insisted I try one of her Lychee Martinis. Okaaaay, if you insist. Well, 3 martinis later, I finally made it home, belly full and very relaxed. :-) 

Chúc mừng năm mới!

Waiting to board the boat for the Underground River.
Happy Blessed New Year!
I had a great time with moms this past Christmas season. She built up the courage to fly all the way to Asia to check on her baby and make sure I was alright. Since Christmas time is crazy in Saigon, I thought it'd be best if we head to a peaceful place where the people speak more English. On Christmas day we flew to Palawan, into Puerto Princesa City. The main attraction of visiting Palawan is diving, but also viewing one of the new 7 wonders of the world, then Underground River. The river runs about 12 km. We saw 4 of the 12. There's a photo of us waiting patiently to board the boat which will take us to the island which holds this beautiful work of nature. Moms couldn't quite get adjusted to the rural-ness of Palawan. No TV in our hotel room, no hair dryer, no radio and too many bugs was too much for her to deal with. I loved only hearing the sound of the ocean to put me to sleep. If you love adventure and connecting with nature I would recommend Palawan, Philippines to travelers of Southeast Asia. After our Post-Christmas adventure we flew to Manila to visit with my friends from work. Almost every time you want to fly to a different Philippine island you must fly back to Manila. Of course our flight was delayed and we only had time to chow down on the Micky D's of Manila. however we had lots of Filipino food at the hotel in Palawan. Chicken adobo is great, some sort of green papaya soup with chicken and there is a citrus fruit called Calamansi that makes a great drink.

Our second destination was Boracay. Boracay is a wrench-shaped island off the coast of Panay Island. When you travel to Boracay you must fly into Panay Island to the city of Caticlan. You could also fly into Kalibo, which is what we did, because it is cheaper. But, you will have to sit on a bus for 2 hours to reach the Caticlan jetty. All of the flying and Southwest bus rides were a bit much, but once we arrived to Boracay we realized it was worth the wait. What a beautiful place!

Similar to our Caribbean paradises like Bahamas, Boracay is a haven of powdery white sand beaches. You can do almost anything you want. Any water sport, horse back riding, go-carts, lots of shopping and plenty of great places to eat especially seafood. Don't forget to check out the Obama Grill. The prices were high, but it's worth seeing. My favorite thing to do was swim, snorkel in the crystal clear water, and shop. You don't have to bring any beach fashion to Boracay, just do all your shopping there. I even found two fashionable swimsuits my size. I wasted soo much time driving around Saigon arguing to get a swimsuit custom made! Almost every hotel in Boracay sits directly on White Beach. No shoes required, till you get on the main road. I booked through Agoda.com and found a great hotel that happened to be right next to a night club in Boat Station 2, White Beach. Since this was New Year's Eve weekend in Boracay, the island was packed. It seemed like every culture from around the world was there. We managed to befriend some young South Africans. I even had a "Stella Got Her Groove Back" moment, when one of the SA guys bought me a drink as I sunbathed solo. Of course I kept in touch and moms and I met up with them on NYE. I also loved visiting Puka Beach. You take a tricycle up the main and only road to Puka Beach. If you go, buy Puka shell jewelry, it's a beach fashion must have! With soo many things to do, little time and a strict budget moms and I could't do everything. We did manage snorkeling, and we tried helmet diving but the company canceled on us at the last minute.Then, on NYE, we ended the day with a "Crazy Crepe" and sailed across the Sulu Sea, up and down the Boracay coastline. At night every club/lounge on the island was lit up, and ready for a party. 12:00 AM struck and a parade of fireworks ensued from Boat Station 1, 2 and 3.. I'd have to say it was the best fireworks show I've ever seen. I definitely recommend Boracay Island to anyone who can't live without water!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"I give myself away, so You can use me"

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.  - Matthew 10:39