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Thứ Năm, 15 tháng 11, 2012

Recently almost every new person I've met told me I look like someone they know. Yesterday, when I talked to an old couple at the bus stop, they said I look similar to a neighbour's niece. Last week, a lady exclaimed that I very much resemble her male cousin (what?). I didn't think about it at first, but this kind of comment starts catching my attention when it happens again and again in a short period of time. Then it dawned on me last night, is it possible that as I collect many life stories, I slowly develop within myself many features from different people, but in the end, I will look like no one?

It's 1.5 year after my returning to Vietnam, and it seems only until now do I feel fully integrated into the society around me. By integration I mean a network I have successfully rebuilt after 4 years being away. I can easily fill my weekends with meeting with friends, attending social events and other activities. A good network means when I need to go shopping or check out a new restaurant, I have friends who I can ask to join me. I no longer get irritated with people's attitude when they ask about my income or my decision not to stay in Canada. People also stop being curious and outwardly obtrusive when it comes to my personal life. I have a boyfriend and I know his family. In other words, I am socially and emotionally secured. It takes me 1.5 year to achieve that.

Besides a full-time job, I am volunteering for 4 groups, and thinking of taking up one more part-time job and various free-lance commitments. The thing I love about these volunteer works is they allow me to participate in growth and the process of growing. With Hagar, an international NGO working with trafficked and abused women and girls, I am assigned to work with a 15 years old girl who was trafficked to China. Basically, I act as a "big sister" by meeting her every weekend, taking her out, exposing her to different groups of people, and hopefully she will gradually feel connected and confident in herself. In the Ha Noi ca tru club, I MC one performance per week, and help them get their name to the online community, especially English-speaking population of tourists and travellers. In addition to these two rather fixed volunteer work, I monitor the website and facebook page for the Rice scholarship program, which provides scholarships for poor students belonging to ethnic minority groups in mountainous provinces. Finally, there is a recently and informally formed group called "the gender talk", an initiative promoted by a local self-identified enthusiastic feminist and few expats working in gender field. I have joined this group for half a year now, and as the founder is going to study abroad soon, she expects that I will take over the organizing part after she leaves.

I have had a disturbing value crisis early this year, jumped through 4 organizations on my way to seek a fulfilling job, and ended up with a job I was very excited in the beginning but after one month was equally disappointed. There is nothing I hate about the job (except the drinking part), but I haven't found anything thrilling either. Yet, seems like 1.5 year has taught me one thing. No job will provide me with everything I want, good salary, opportunity to learn, time to think and reflect, a friendly and supportive team. I'd better be content with a rather boring job, with few chances to learn and grow, but on the other hand I have time to do my own things (like Im writing this post in the office) and don't have to conform to office unstated rules such as wearing high heels, intense make up or glossy dresses.

Something rings true. I have been disillusioned and disappointed a lot after 1.5 years leaving school and diving into the real world, but also, I have started to appreciate this piece of wisdom: "Happiness can be found in the little things you do everyday". After all, when I am stressed out, my little garden always helps, because I love watching plants grow.

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