The scurry of activity has escalated around Thuan An with the starting date of the teacher training program now just days away. Thuy and I took a tour of the facility today and it was like being in the midst of an army of ants with an impending storm brewing. The school suffered a water main break several months ago and the hired construction crew has been working furiously to finish the repairs. Hammers, nails, dust, and boards scatter around the lower level of the yellow French colonial building. Meanwhile, the cleaning staff has been hard at work in the heat and humidity freshening up the sleeping ward where the Vietnamese participants will board four to a room for the next month. The grounds crew has been sprucing up the drives while the cooks have been placing orders and stocking up on food. The kitchen will be manned by six cooks over the course of the program, serving lunch and dinner to over 120 people on a regular basis.

The past few days, Thuy, two of her staff, and I have been finalizing the nuances for the program. While its been a lot of work and hours, we’ve definitely had fun along the way. Today, we took a break for lunch and ended up kicking back for about an hour talking about last night’s World Cup game. I was schooled on how to use chop sticks the RIGHT way. Seems my hand has been too close to the pick-up-food area end of the sticks this whole time…

Thuy and her team finalized the translations of the massive handbooks that will be distributed to all the participants. There are two – one for the parent program and one for the teacher program. Yesterday, the Thuan An printer was put to work cranking out one copy of each – a total of about 600 pages (!!) Then, they motorbiked for an hour each way into HCMC to a copy shop where they are now being copied and bound. The picture here is a shot of them en route with the last load – the parent program. It was great to get that big job done, for sure!

Our program kicks off on Monday at 9 am local time with a welcome ceremony at Thuan An Center. Media members, NGO counterparts, government officials, university representatives, and even members of the American consulate are scheduled to attend along with over 120 workshop participants. We are all looking forward to seeing a year’s worth of hard work and planning come to life. After the pomp and circumstance, the program begins in the afternoon when the 95 teachers settle in with their handbooks to begin the curriculum that our team has developed over the past year. The evening program for families starts later that night with an audiology presentation.

Tomorrow morning, I head to the airport to pick up the foundation’s team. This past week has been mere prologue to the real show. Let the games begin!