The bright sun and familiar sights and sounds enveloped me like a warm hug as I made my way out of the airport in Ho Chi Minh City. It is a long flight from the US, but I never fail to get a second wind upon arriving here. The energy of this city is palpable and contagious and it is always exciting to get started on the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss’ latest adventure.

A friend met me with bright flowers and was welcomed company in the taxi ride to the apartment where I’ll be making my base until the rest of the team arrives later in the month. This is a great neighborhood enclave off a major street with its own set of inviting shops and cafes to explore. The Tet (New Year) decorations are still up and it is nice to know that there are people on this side of the world who share my procrastination at taking down holiday cheer.

Last night, I was invited to join an informal networking event of expat speech pathologists, school counselors, psychologists, and rehabilitation professionals working in Vietnam. It was fun to arrive at the restaurant and see familiar faces, including some professionals who attended our Saturday lecture event during last January’s Mobile Mission and a doctor from Children’s Hospital 1 where we will be working later this month.

The stories shared over the course of the evening were wonderful to hear. This group has been working around the world for years – most as part of the international school network. Besides tales of different schools and perspectives on the global community, there were stories of compassion such as helping to install the first bathroom in a village in the Philippines and lending a hand to a child’s education costs so he could eventually graduate and go to college in the US where he is now studying social work with plans to return to his country to help others. They all had such passion for what they do and for giving back to humanity. The evening certainly offered a lot of inspiration that each of us can help each other in small ways to make the world a better place. I was grateful to have been a part of the conversation.

I’m looking forward to getting things rolling later today with a ride out to Lai Thieu to work with Thuy, my good friend and co-partner on this Vietnam program. Let’s get this show started!