Undoubtedly, ACE is an experience to remember. Although virtual, I have established lifelong connections, made friends from Duke as well as Stanford, and learned a lot from Vietnamese culture and the Vietnamese coaches. In fact, having virtual ACE this summer has enabled me to include various other things in my schedule, such as taking a summer class, training, and being able to see my family.
As a team and individually, we were able to adapt to teaching the Vietnamese youth through pre-recorded videos and meeting them online over Zoom. Of course, technology always possesses challenges on both ends, whether it’s poor internet connection, or issues with sound or video. Despite those challenges, we were still able to make the time with the kids valuable and engaging, whether it was through karaoke, games, trivia, or Pictionary. Not only did we do everything possible for the Vietnamese middle school children to benefit from a virtual program, but the virtual environment also allowed us to connect with them, encourage them, and motivate them while having fun. This was extremely rewarding.
“I got to meet up with one of the Stanford ACE coaches, Lolo Foster, who happened to live only a short drive away from me! In no way did I miss out on the ability to establish connections and make friends through the program’s virtual experience.”
– Marge Bilokin, Duke Women’s Tennis
Bonding with my Vietnamese college teammates was easy. They were an easy-going group with similar values and giving personalities, yet different in that they all grew up in different parts of Vietnam, in different environments, and possessed different perspectives on various subjects. In order to discuss and get to know each other more, we set up a few meetings outside of the regular meeting times to chat about differences in lifestyle and discuss any current global issues. In addition, the cultural cooking exchange activity bonded us even closer, allowing us to get a taste of Vietnamese food (fried bananas are delicious by the way – highly recommend) and for them to get a taste of our peanut butter banana sandwich.
ACE has been a highlight of my summer, and I’m glad that I got to do it virtually. It has allowed me to make friends. In fact, I got to meet up with one of the Stanford ACE coaches, Lolo Foster, who happened to live only a short drive away from me! In no way did I miss out on the ability to establish connections and make friends through the program’s virtual experience. Visiting Vietnam, trying out their street food, and visiting the Vietnamese coaches, has become a must-do for me next summer!