By Photographer Michael Costa
Everything in life comes full circle and that is how I describe the magnificent Viet Nam adventure that I recently participated in. Some would call it work that I have been doing this 15 day workshopwith the Stirring the Fire staff, but I see it in a different light and think of it as an open door, one that will lead to another documentary adventure.
This Viet Nam experience has been invaluable, like the commercial says “priceless.” I write this as I am flying back to my destination of San Francisco from the Incheon Airport in South Korea. As the Boeing 757 takes flight in the late evening sky, emotions come flooding over me. I am not going to lie and say that I am not sad about leaving because I am. This has been a life changing experience and I truly feel that I am going home a changed person. Strong feelings are pulsating through my body and I can feel the heat from my blood flowing through my veins. Looking out the window the tears begin to run as I feel such a sense of accomplishment and joy. I am already missing my companions and co-workers from the Stirring the Fire team. What fascinates me about the view through this tiny airplane window is that the more we ascend above Korea, in reflecting about my time in Viet Nam, it felt less like a country. To me it felt more like a living, vital intimate space where we were immersed in the daily life of two amazing entrepreneurial women and their families.
For two weeks, from December 1st-15th a group of six people, some who barely new each other, became a family. We all first gathered together with at midnight at the Hanoi airport and from there we all slowly began to bond and mold into an eclectic team with a purpose to create two short documentary films. We laughed, joked, walked, talked, ate a lot of amazing traditional Vietnamese food and even drank a little wine, like most families would during a Thanksgiving gathering. WE thoroughly enjoyed out time together – there was nothing dysfunctional about this family.
We interacted and engaged with one other, asking intimate questions and we had a sense of trust that made it safe to be vulnerable with each other. It is amazing how a group of people could bond so tightly just like super glue piecing together a shattered vase. With each passing day the bond with one another became.stronger. I think all of us will miss the witty comments, late night dinner walks, favorite restaurants, crossing the busy intersections and celebrating Phil and Julee’s 12th Anniversary in Viet Nam.
Lead by Phil Borges, a master social documentarian, we all began to pick each others brains and learn from each other. No one person contributed more than the other: it was an equal partnership, with one goal in mind, to tell a compelling story, in an honest representation of our two heroines, Ms. Ngan and Ms. Bich and their struggle to better their lives. Just like you and I, we all strive for a better future, no matter what our circumstances or background. We all want to be healthy, educated, clothed and have a roof over our heads so we can hold our heads high when we are surrounded by our peers. We discover that we are more alike than different, which is when the walls of judgment and separation come crumbling down, bringing humankind closer to achieving a peaceful co-existence.
Stay tuned! The Viet Nam films will be published for you to view soon!