Potential was the theme of the day. It started out with a webinar that Hillary set up with the Listening Center at John Hopkins where she works as an speech language pathologist. Hillary, Thuy, four Thuan An parents, and I gathered around a laptop in Thuy’s office to talk about the training program and the learning gained over the past four weeks. An American parent of a child with hearing loss joined in on the other end and did a great job sharing personal advice and ideas with the Vietnamese parents. It was really cool to have these parents from two countries and cultures talking to each other through an online interface with interpreter support. It was also a wonderful opportunity to show Thuy and our Vietnamese friends how technology can facilitate shared learning across miles and oceans.

In the afternoon, I met with Kit from the American consulate, for a cup of coffee in HCM City. She attended our program’s welcome ceremony back on July 12 and during that event’s lunch, I enjoyed talking with her about humanitarian concerns and her own experiences working abroad. We vowed to meet again to continue our conversation and finally had the chance to do so today. We had a terrific discussion about the Global Foundation’s future plans and potential opportunities through the American embassy’s international programs. I appreciated her optimistic and pragmatic world view, and her astute advice for me and the foundation. She is a wonderful person and I am grateful to know her.

From there, I picked up a delivery of quality, low-cost hearing aids delivered to me by SolarEar, a nonprofit based in Brazil. The batteries are powered by the sun so they last months longer than regular batteries, saving even more money for the hearing aid owner. I look forward to sharing this great product with the teachers and families at our training program tomorrow.
There is such a need for quality, low-cost hearing aids in this part of the world.

The day wrapped up with a visit to the brand new Phonak audiology center. Recently opened, it is the only clinic in South Vietnam that provides OAE, ABR, VRA, and conventional hearing screening tests – free of charge – and also fits hearing aids and provides ongoing care and audiology services. The clinic is collaborating with a medical college to establish an audiology curriculum to foster the advent of audiology in Vietnam and close the gap in hearing care service provision.

So, baby steps…but positive change is happening.

I returned to Thuan An Center in the late afternoon. The review sessions had just wrapped up for the day and it was great to walk into Thuy’s office to find the team relaxing and chatting together, having fun around a shared table. It has been very rewarding for me personally to see how well everyone has bonded over this four-week experience. It is just a terrific group.

After dinner, Hillary and I went upstairs to engage in two family consultations. The rest of our crew went out with some teachers for a motorbike ride to a porcelain factory and some Karaoke. That would have been something to see! I’ll have to get the low-down on that tomorrow.

The review sessions are going well as the program winds down in its remaining days. I’ve been working with Thuy to square away the bills, and took out a large sum of Vietnamese currency today at the bank. Their denominations are in thousands. As I collected the money, I thought to myself, man, if only these were US dollars…..I am a millionaire — in Vietnam. 🙂