#3: Kids Around the World

Now, as a self-admitted “own child-a-phobe” I am actually quite enamored of children. Especially other people’s children. I was raised to respect little people as just that…deserving respect and to be heard as much as any adult.

Some people pointed out that I did not blog about some places. Vietnam was one of those. For a few reasons I just didn’t get the chance to share my love of Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon with the world. The main one being that I did my service visits in this port. I spent one day at a School for the Disabled (I’m not sure how I feel about that term, is it right? I mean they taught ME how to tell them my name using American Sign Language (ASL)) and another at a Day School which had kids from all socio-economic brackets.

Those kids wore.us.out. and we loved every minute of it. Kids everywhere are the same, unbiased, affectionate, curious, kind-hearted, hard headed, desiring to give and receive love. I still don’t want any of my own, but I had a great time playing with kids from Brazil to China. Peek-a-boo, the Hokey Pokey…magic, no matter what language barriers separate you. And little boys….all of them, love.love.love.karate. I spent literally about an hour “playing” karate with these two. Thank God for my very own 10 year old nephew. I knew exactly what to do.

We loaded them up with stickers, pens, pencils, bubble gum, toothbrushes and one professor did magic tricks! the funny thing was that most of these kids have NOTHING, school isn’t free so their families are scraping together the $35 US/year it takes to send these guys and girls to school. Makes you appreciate our (admittedly) flawed but free and compulsory system here in the US huh? Anyway, I think that cheesey Whitney Houston song has it right…”I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way….”  Plus, they’re just so darn cute, it makes you feel like your heart will burst out of your chest.

#4: Cooking Class: Vietnam

This was hands down my favorite cooking class. Possibly the best one I’ve ever taken, and as you know, I’ve taken one or two 😉

First, the class was all of $36 including our crazy taxi ride way out to the facility. If you are EVER in Vietnam and you like to cook (or eat) head out to the Vietnam Cookery Center.

Second, I arranged it myself and ended up w/ 7 of my SAS students who wanted to go…so we did. And they LOVED it. That’s Isaiah aka “Zeke” pictured, Shaan got into it and here’s a couple pics of the remaining 5 students I took.

Third, the chef and his assistants were hella-funny, great humor, phenomenal facility, great menu and all the little touches that most places don’t do. The let us take pictures w/ the head chef, gave us each a “diploma” and each of us had our own individual work station and we followed along and made our own meals to our tastes as the chef led.

The cooking class in China was a favorite in terms of being in a top notch international facility w/ real chefs in training. India was great because of the outdoor facility and evening of relaxation and Capetown’s class was great for the info on spices and the spices that I shipped back home. In fact, I just made a Chicken Braai for my family w/ some of those spices…and it was goooooood!

#7: Cooking Class: India

I took 4 cooking classes while out on the road. Loved the introduction to the history of a particular country’s cuisine, access to local culinary talent and new tips/tricks on how to shop, buy and select the freshest ingredients.

#8: The Union aka The Living Room

Onboard the ship, The Union was the main gathering space for large community events. I loved it when the union was full, it was like a huge, cozy living room with 700 of your closest friends and family members. Sometimes we’d have late night events and I’d go in my pajamas (by week 4 of the voyage the students were already going to class in their pajamas!).

The Union is where we started our journey together and where we ended our journey together. The place we played, the place we prayed.

I got to be a eucharistic minister on Easter Sunday and serve communion wine to the 400+ people who came for Easter Service w/ Archbishop Tutu. I was nominated and selected to give the staff reflection speech at the shipboard convocation, I was blessed to sit and watch my colleagues, peers, friends and students showcase their talents..great and small.

I miss it.

#9: Brown Paper Studios Theatre

DSCN3613, originally uploaded by funchilde.

Brown Paper Studios is the name of the outfit that Professor Judyie Al-Bilali runs in Capetown, So. Africa. On ship she taught 3 courses, including a directors/playwright’s course and her theater class put on a two night show.

Watching the student’s write their own (moving, intelligent, funny) material, grown in comfort and confidence and face the community with their politics, insecurities, hopes, dreams and fears is something that any mentor, educator, or parent can understand as a gift. Moments of magic, watching young people transform and blossom.

#10: Remembering Virginia Tech

DSCN3689, originally uploaded by funchilde.

Terrible pic, but i busted my coolpix S6, so yes, every time i leave the country, i sacrifice a nikon coolpix to the camera gods.

we were pulling into hong kong when the tragedy at Virginia Tech occurred. And we stopped everything as a community and Archbishop Desmond Tutu led us in a community reflection/prayer and a moment of silence. The 2nd to last week on the ship we had an “Remembering Virginia Tech” day and everyone wore either orange, maroon or black shirts. It was beautiful to see the whole community come together. We had 4 VT students sailing with us, and one professor who received her PhD from Tech.

The last week we wore red yarn around our wrists and as you can see from the photo, hung the names of all those lost in our most central location on board.

I like how despite the fact that we were half a world away, and could easily have shrugged the tragedy off and kept on going, we didn’t. It made me proud to be a part of a caring community. And grateful that we had the ability to remember our fellow students, educators and friends.

#11: On Ship Faculty/Staff Lounge

faculty/staff lounge 🙂, originally uploaded by funchilde.

The faculty/staff lounge was the one place on board where students could not go. It was our own slice of heaven complete with Karaoke and Margaritas. Sometimes too much of one led to the other….

The students pretty much took over every square inch of the ship and it was nice to have a place to retreat to with the grown folks. We held meetings of grand import here as well as knocked back a few to celebrate everything from birthdays to surviving a particularly eventful port with everyone alive and on board. Mostly I’ll miss the people. My friends that became like family.

#12: Places of Worship Around the World

DSCN2630, originally uploaded by funchilde.

By the end I was admittedly “Templed Out” but I enjoyed visiting the Churches, Synagogues, Temples and Shrines from Brazil to Japan. Watching how the world worships confirms that the religions may be different, but the core beliefs, needs and desires are generally the same. This pic is from a Catholic church in southern India.