Well, I have begun my long journey home, but I had to leave Laos a day early because my original flight from Vientiane to Seoul was canceled by Lao Airline. For obvious reasons no one is flying to and from South Korea, so the airline was losing money and decided to cancel flights to Korea in March. Right now I am staying the night in Bangkok and I fly tomorrow morning to Seoul (for a very short layover at the airport) and then onto Los Angles.
Even though the coronavirus is wreaking havoc around the world, the past two weeks were amazing for me! Cambodia and Laos lived up to Asia’s strong historical and cultural background values of kindness, smiling faces, being humble, genuine, and demonstrating polite behavior in both verbal and non-verbal cues and it was evident throughout my stay. I believe the most important part of my visit is making connections with people who want to make a difference in their community and now that my journey is coming to an end I must try to stay connected, which is hard to do, to ensure my new friends have the tools and information they need to be successful on their endeavors.
Before signing off I want to sincerely thank Arun and Thidalath for inviting me to their wonderful countries and sharing their culture with me. I also want to thank Nansi Ike, Mardi Jarim, Jack Bisase and Nok Phongphaivanh from the U.S. Embassies in Cambodia and Laos for making sure I was safe and organizing the YSEALI Program for U.S. Fellows. I want thank YSEALI alumni Tok Xayamoungkhoun and Noi Oulavanh for coordinating my activities in Laos and finally I want to give a big Thank You to Tony Green and Kara Elser of ICMA for selecting me as one of the 2020 U.S. Fellows and for their ongoing support to making my visit in Southeast Asia a memorable one.