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When people asked me what I was doing this summer, I would tell them that I was to do a unique service trip to south Vietnam. I figured that I would just teach kids biology and baseball. How very wrong I was.

First of all, I was taken aback by how little I can communicate with the students. Besides a wave and thumbs up, it is challenging to communicate with these students. I have never been in a position like this before. I’ve worked with kids from different backgrounds before but had always been able to talk with them. This has been a challenge which I am soon realizing is an opportunity to learn about myself.

“Over this week, I have learned about the communication of emotion, because emotion needs no words or tone changes. I am excited to take what these kids are showing and teaching me and work toward being a better listener and communicator. “

While I do talk to the kids through the help of Vietnamese coaches who can translate what I want to say, most of my communication is in emotion. When I tell a personal story of my sister being my role model, when I smile and jump around when a student knocks an empty water jug down with a wiffle ball, when I run to give a student a sticker after answering a tough biology question – these are the times in which the students can see me and I can see them.

Over this week, I have learned about the communication of emotion, because emotion needs no words or tone changes. I am excited to take what these kids are showing and teaching me and work toward being a better listener and communicator.

It saddens me to realize that I only have weeks left with these students. There is so much left to learn and experience. I feel extremely humbled to be a part of this incredible experience. I have no doubt that what I am learning will have a significant impact on the rest of my Duke career and beyond.

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