Wow. I am back in Asia and having a bit of culture shock! Even though we’ve lived here for two years, coming back is so familiar yet so strange. I (Allison) went to San Francisco and Redding for 2 weeks with our two interns and had such an amazing time. I think my friends in the States are too wonderful and that’s what makes it hard to return.☺ But it has been great to reconnect with Kevin and the girls the last couple of days. They did well without me here, which gives my heart such peace.
I needed to go to the US for work reasons, and I feel all of my goals in going were accomplished. I visited three different schools in San Francisco and got a good feel of what they would be like if we sent local students to high school there. I connected with leaders and friends in the Bay Area who support and love us. And I ate lots of FOOD… what a perk of traveling!
Then I spent the second week in Redding. I spoke several times to groups as small as 10 people and as large as 700 people about our work in Asia. These meetings ranged from business groups to social justice groups to presenting to people who may want to come work with us as interns in the future. We received such good feedback from business people, leaders, our advisory board, and friends. The longer we are here the more things develop and the more decisions we have to make. So it was great to bounce ideas off of trusted people and have outside perspective that we desperately need. I also interviewed a few potential interns for next year, and even got a little time to spend with some dear friends, which was so refreshing to my heart.
One other highlight of coming back to the States is that I am able to bring back presents from friends and family, especially for the girls. Our mail here doesn’t always work as international packages are often stolen, lost, and too expensive to mail. So we delayed Christmas until I returned. The kids were over the moon with ALL of the great toys, books, magazines and games that we can’t get here. It’s such a blessing to be able to still give them a slice of America even though we live so far away.
And did I mention I ate a lot, haha! Food is one of the biggest differences between living here and in the US, and food in Asia that I used to like now seems odd and a little gross. I am sure my taste buds will adjust back eventually. Until then, I will just lose all the weight I gained in America.
We are still moving forward on our work visa. It was supposed to be finished by the time I went to the US so that I could get it finalized at the embassy in SF, but it has been a longer process than expected. But I got my 5th set of fingerprints while in the US and was finally able to bring back our official document stating that I am not a criminal. All of our licenses and permits are completed in country, so our final step is for me to leave the country to go to an embassy so we can change from a student visa to a business visa.
There is still so much to be done, but this visit back to the States gave us some great resources, encouragement, and momentum to continue moving forward.