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Paper airplanes are universal. I repeat: paper airplanes are universal. If you ever find yourself halfway across the world in a classroom surrounded by students who don’t speak your language that you must teach, remember this.

Who knew that simple origami could make such a good first impression? In a mix of first-day-of-school eagerness, language confusion and 81{639f82de1b4b629c2cbc70ca3399ae95f04e1d6c782a3ccc5e0955dead873b7f} humidity, the decision to fold one simple airplane made a world of difference. As soon as they saw my feat of aviation, the kids’ faces lit up. They immediately knew the drill. I turned on my speaker and starting blasting music.

In that moment I knew … this was going to be a very special three weeks.

So far it has been nothing but that. I could never have mentally prepared for the wonderful and challenging experiences that have ensued. Trying new food on a daily basis. Showering in the dark. Belting “Let It Go” Karaoke edition late at night with my fellow coaches. Bartering (not very successfully) with shop keepers who don’t know a word of English. Teaching volleyball to students who clearly know the sport better than I do. Partying it up with in-class dance parties. This list goes on and on.

I could write for hours. Sadly it is 11:27pm here, and I have some extraordinary kids to teach in the morning. But I assure you, Vietnam has been phenomenal.

(And so have the paper airplanes.)

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