I grew up in Hanoi, the quiet capital of Vietnam, full of milk flowers in the fall and hardworking people all year round. Now I am an orthopaedic resident at the University of Iowa.
When Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, invited me to join him as an interpreter on his annual trip to Vietnam with the AAOS-VOA (Vietnamese Orthopaedic Association) Spinal Deformity program, I realized how much I missed my home. I had been back only three times since I left to study in the United States.
Since May 2009, Dr. Weinstein has been a part of the AAOS-VOA Visiting Faculty and Professional Development Program. The organized instructional course and teach-the-teachers training module led by American experts has provided critical support to Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons.
The course takes a multifaceted approach to pediatric spinal deformity care. Each day started with surgery that was broadcast live so course attendees could observe it in the conference room. In the afternoons, half the time would be spent in lectures on topics ranging from pediatric spine conditions to surgical techniques and the other half of the time was spent seeing children with a wide range of spinal deformity conditions.
To prepare for the lectures before the trip, I looked through Dr. Weinstein's translated presentations from the previous year's course. I appreciated how much work the Vietnamese doctors had put into the translations. Even for someone like me, who grew up speaking Vietnamese but did my medical school training in English in the United States, completing the translation was difficult.
Although the Vietnamese doctors had translated every word in Dr. Weinstein's lectures into Vietnamese, these literal translations sometimes...