An Open Letter to 2023

No wishes, no resolutions, only intentions.

3 min readJan 10, 2023
Happy new year! A photo by my colleague, Jean Kay, during our school’s 10th-year anniversary dinner.

Which story will you make this year? That was how I ended my open letter to 2022.

This was the story I made.

2022 was that of radical change. At its beginning, the relationship that held me fell apart. In the middle, I launched like a rocket from Manila to Hanoi. At its end, I began to settle.

It was an exhilarating and terrifying passage.

In every new territory, apartment, and hotel room, I was expecting for something to go wrong. And they did.

There were trips to the hospital. My first time teaching middle schoolers was chaotic. Having zero friends and family around led to more isolation.

Things went right as well.

I moved to a nicer place, and met a few good friends to eat with and talk to, both Filipino and Vietnamese. I found libraries and cafes that served as my thinking space. Relationships with my students improved. There was more time for writing.

It’s a sweet year-end gift from my 6th-grade student, Huy. Photo by the author.

While the future is infinitely unclear (will I stay here? will I move somewhere else?), life in this country had gotten better.

I have no wishes for the upcoming year, only intentions.

I intend to form real friendships that grow slowly with time — relationships that are supportive, positive, and backed by delightful dishes.

To write it all down. Living in a new country, what is seemingly banal has a captivating story hiding underneath.

To write with candor and absolute love of writing — nothing less than that.

To teach the way I want to be taught. I notice, when I’m relaxed in the classroom, my students are, too. When I’m stiff, they feel the tension. Students are more receptive when they are happy as much as I read faster when I’m completely engrossed in a book.

To face uncertainty with humility and acceptance.

To be present to my family, despite being absent from home, with quick calls, gifts, and daily I love yous.

And while I am here in Vietnam, I intend to be here fully. To sit in her corners, stroll through her roads, savor as much as desired, and be mesmerized — always — by her newness.

Thank you, 2022. You weren’t any better than the years before, but still, you were a gift.

2023, I welcome you.

Odyssa is a Filipino writer and teacher based in Hanoi, Vietnam. She is the author of Like A New Sun Rising: A Collection of Poems on Love and From Where I Stand: A Collection of Poems on Travel.

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