For an entire morning last September, a young monk named Sengdao Oudomsinh stood outside his temple in Laos hoping to catch a glimpse of President Barack Obama.
Obama was passing through Sengdao’s tiny town of Luang Prabang during his final trip as president to Asia. And Sengdao, an 18-year-old monk, had fantasies of shaking the American president’s hand — or better yet, asking one of the many burning questions he had for Obama, whose speeches had inspired him from half a world away.
Sengdao came away disappointed that day, not realizing that Obama’s motorcade had taken another route through town. But last week, more than six months later, Sengdao got something even better: a personal letter from the former president offering words of advice, reflection and encouragement.
“Dear Novice Sengdao,” it began. “My staff let me know you had some questions that you had hoped to ask me during my recent visit to Laos …”
“I couldn’t …