We’ve been nervous lately – and getting more nervous. No, we were not necessarily nervous about going to Viet Nam per se, nor were we nervous about learning to cope with a totally new culture. We were nervous because we didn’t know. When one doesn’t know what’s going on, the mind begins to play tricks – it begins to imagine problems that aren’t there.
And as I write this, we still don’t know where we will be assigned. We were told we would know by Thanksgiving. But, that day has come and passed. So, we got even more nervous.
- Knowing we are veterans, was the Vietnamese government raising concerns?
- If we’re not going to Viet Nam, will we be asked to go elsewhere? If so, do we want to go elsewhere? Is that our calling?
- Supposing we don’t go until the next academic year? What would that do as far as my retirement is concerned? Cancel it?
Left to fester, the doubts grow. Once can envision lots of “devilish” ways things could change.
But, after a phone call this morning, our minds and souls are at rest. The delay in our assignment is due to plowing through the paperwork. And yes - there is lots of paperwork in Viet Nam. That really is one of the societal differences, and one we know about.
In Viet Nam, the universities are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Training – MOET for short. Higher education administration is centralized in Viet Nam. While a school might request us be assigned there, the request must also be approved by MOET.
There’s more. In Viet Nam, local authorities hold considerable sway. Just as in the United States, foreigners are monitored for the sake of national security. The difference is that in Viet Nam, local police do the monitoring. They have a say into whether a teacher is going to employed at a local university.
Combine the paperwork blizzard endemic to any university, add in the need to have the selection approved at the national level, then throw in local law enforcement approval, and it becomes obvious that a lot of paper has to go from inbox to inbox.
The doubts are past – but we still don’t know where we will be assigned yet.
Patience, Doug. Patience.