It is not so far removed in my memory – that terrible time in our history when people did not WANT to go to Vietnam.
Last Monday, May 2, 2011, I sobbed as I watched Thomas, Yuki and Ryusei, with their lives packed into several suitcases, walk off into the San Francisco airport to board a plane for the long journey to Saigon. I realized how my parents and sisters must have felt when I left South Africa in 1978 to come live in America. “I’ll be back in two years,” I said. I did not realize that their hearts must have broken. But now, 33 years later, I do. Because mine did. But I also know that my family would never have denied me the opportunity I found here in the USA. The blessings of Katie, our kids, and her family, and the business opportunities. And that is what I wish Thomas, as he takes on a major new career challenge with a game development studio for a French company, Gameloft in Saigon. What a wonderful adventure for a young family. And what an opportunity for young Ryusei and Yuki and Thomas to experience and learn from another culture, another language, another part of the world.
Thomas’ Blog, Goodbye San Francisco, Chao Saigon posted on April 2, 2011, exactly one month before leaving, speaks volumes – not only of the work that needed to be done, but the organization he and Yuki developed to make the move possible in such a short time. Katie and I were privileged to help with this, and I truly feel having gone through this with them was another excellent bonding opportunity for all of us.
And then there is Ryusei, the most wonderful two-year-old. I could not resist posting this video of their last week in San Francisco.
By the way, there may be those purists who might think that I, and by inference, Thomas, miss-spelled the Italian greeting Chiao. Wikipedia confirms that the Vietnamese version of the ancient Venetian word for “Hello” or “Goodbye” is actually spelled CHAO in Vietnamese, and that there was considerable exchanges between Marco Polo of the Republic of Venice and Vietnam in the 13th Century. Not that I doubted Tommy’s language skills, of course…