This was the best summer experience I could have ever imagined for myself. Working with other Vietnamese college students and putting our minds together to create lesson plans for the Vietnamese middle school youth was the highlight of my day. During the three weeks I also had the opportunity to create lifelong friendships. At the beginning it was interesting to see how quickly we all began to click. By the end of the program, the 2-hour time slot per day seemed like a short 10-minute meeting.
Something that I will forever remember and cherish from this experience is to always be kind to everyone and grateful for what I have. My Vietnamese friends that I made shared kindness with every action and word they spoke. I am so thankful for every lesson that they taught me, and I will be forever grateful to ACE for allowing me this opportunity.
“When the ACE Duke and Stanford student-athletes debriefed after the ACE program ended, one of the most important lessons we felt like we learned was to live in the moment.”
– Keeley Akagi, Stanford Field Hockey
One person I met through the program was a girl named Tam who is a Vietnamese university student. Although she was not on my team for Biology or on my “Red Life Skills Team,” she presented herself in a positive and self-aware sense while we were in the large group and these qualities really stuck out to me. I eventually got to know her better and better, and I learned more about her family and her goals and what shaped her as a person. I found such beauty in the stories from her childhood and the way she was brought up and how she always strived to be the best version of herself. Her story continues to inspire me.
When the ACE Duke and Stanford student-athletes debriefed after the ACE program ended, one of the most important lessons we felt like we learned was to live in the moment. As student-athletes, we become very busy and often forget to think about what’s happening right now and instead, only focus on the future and what’s ahead. We forget to live in the moment because all we can think about is how we are going to get to the next place. For example, like trying to fit studying for a Chemistry exam in when it doesn’t fit with our practice schedules.
Life can become chaotic, and we forget to just focus on the now. Every meeting during our ACE program, the Vietnamese college students we worked with were so attentive to the present and so focused on the moment instead of what was next. This inspired me to continually try and live my life in the same way going forward.