The End of the Trip

It never seems we’ve had enough time at the end of these trips. In the last few days, the energy among the volunteers becomes tangible – we can all feel the end coming, and want to get everything done that we can before time runs out.

In our last week, I finished up as much of the instrument maintenance and set up work as I could. I rehaired bows, replaced pegs, changed strings, and cut and installed bridges and soundposts. I prepared larger instruments for the “littles” (our youngest students) who were ready to move up in size, and updated our inventory records and instrument assignments.

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While I was working on instruments in the mornings, most of the rest of the volunteers went out to bike maintenance/repair visits for girls who have received bikes through the RPS Bikes for Girls program. These were led by Jane and Steve Ewashkiw, yoga instructors and long-distance bicyclists, who joined us for the last week and a half of the trip.

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We also held two Eyeglass Giveaway events, in which we gave away reading glasses to elderly members of the local community, and we paid one last visit to the village of Son Tan to lead another weekend art class.

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On weekday afternoons, we continued teaching art and music in Cam Duc. With our music students, we were preparing for a final concert to be held at a local café for family and friends. All the kids were working hard, practicing a lot at home and coming to long lesson/rehearsals. When the time came the concert went off without a hitch – everyone from the littles to the teachers performed, and we even had two soloists: Vy, one of our older students, and Huy, originally a student and now one of our local teachers.

After all was said and done, it was time to say goodbye – and no one says goodbye like our students in Cam Duc. I’ve never felt more appreciated than I do at the Cam Duc farewell party at the end of every trip. There is always singing (songs about saying goodbye and meeting again), gifts for everyone from just about everyone, a giant, beautiful cake, and all kinds of improvised games. And of course, there are always some tears. After a month working with the music and art students, it’s hard to leave them behind, and hard for them to see us go. But eventually, the trip has to end. Early on Thursday morning we gave our last hugs, waved our last goodbyes, and got on the plane to Saigon.

Thanks again to Rich and Wesley, and also to Cathy Jorin, for the photos I used in this post.