This weekend the kids at our Saturday English School (SES) program had turkey for the very first time. We told them it was chicken…really large chicken. They had just arrived to the US this year, this was their very first Thanksgiving celebration, and turkey is a weird meat that they were not going to touch. After they eat the turkey and like it, we then say, “Ha ha, you just ate turkey and you liked it!” That’s how VFA rolls, following the motto for the SES program: “Curiosity, Perseverance, Deception.”
Over 120 kids showed up, middle and high-schoolers from all over the world. The program, done in partnership with Seattle World School (SWS) serves over 15 languages. I stood near the door and scanned the room, inspired by the students, some of whom take two buses to get to our program each week.
Hi everyone, sorry for the lateness of this post. I was traveling back from Berlin. It is good to be back in Seattle, though I am jetlagged and look kind of like someone just punched me in both eyes. Today I realized I have lost 5 pounds, which gives me a great idea: The Vegan Balkans Diet! Basically, just become a vegan, then go to the Balkans.
Since I’m jetlagged and trying not to fall asleep until at least 9pm, I don’t know how coherent this post is going to be. Berlin, Germany was really great, except that people were kind of rude, saying things like “You do not have an account at this bank? Then no, you may not withdrawal money here” and “Stop! You can’t just try to break off a piece of the Berlin Wall at this museum!”
Hi everyone. I am so exhausted. I don’t think I have thought this intensely for this long a period of time since, I don’t know, maybe the first season of Game of Thrones. I am now in Serbia in the city of Belgrade, some place that I never thought I would be. No one really says, “I want to go to Serbia for vacation” or “We’re going to Serbia for our honeymoon” or “Congratulations, you just won a free trip to Serbia!”
And that’s too bad, because the city is beautiful. Belgrade has been fought over in 115 wars and burned to the ground 44 times in its history by various armies. But, except for the buildings bombed by NATO during the Kosovo War in 1999, everything looks great, with shiny glass buildings standing harmoniously next to ancient architecture. I have been trying to absorb everything. There are some painful memories of the brutal atrocities committed during the tumultuous past, a significant part by the Serb army, but as a whole the country is trying to move forward with its future, a major step being joining the European Union.
The past few days have been intense, filled with 10 to 15 hours daily of meetings with government officials, local business leaders, education leaders, city planners, etc. The lunches and dinners are also packed with interesting stuff. In Copenhagen we toured the city by bicycle, learned about the port’s development while riding down the canal on a boat, talked with top officials of the Danish Parliment, got a briefing from an association of employers, had dinner with an industry leader in her office, toured and chatted with the publicly-financed radio and television station, rode the light rail and learned about its development, spent a night at a wine maker’s mansion and learned from him the challenges employers are facing with the inheritance tax and the high costs of hiring workers, toured a “ghetto” where many of the immigrants are living, and sat through a beautiful opera where I was struggling to stay awake after 12 hours information.
Each of those events would make a great blog post, if I had more time and weren’t so lazy. With everything being so fascinating, I didn’t think it was taking a toll on me, until one of the other fellows told me “Every morning, it looks like someone had broken into your hotel room and beat you.”
Hi everyone. For the first time in my eight years with the organization, my board has decided to conduct a performance review. These are two words that send chills up and down every Executive Director’s spine, on par with “budget deficit” and “annual event.” The board had a clandestine meeting three weeks ago to talk about my performance as an ED. Soon they will meet with me to deliver feedback.
I’m nervous. I just know they’re going to say something like, “Vu, you’ve developed a reputation as a drunkard and a loudmouth. That’s affecting VFA’s image. We need you to stop mixing drinks at work. Also, funders are saying you’ve been dressing up as Oliver Twist during site visits and literally begging for money.”