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It has been a little more than one week since arriving in Vietnam and it would be an understatement to say that I have learned a lot. From picking up some new words to becoming obsessed with Vietnamese coffee, I think all of the other coaches will agree that it feels like we have been in this country for weeks.

Every night after dinner, both the American and Vietnamese coaches will gather to create a lesson plan for our classes, including Life Skills. Last Thursday’s life skills topic was “Adapting to Change.” We planned fun activities for the students to keep them engaged and organized our key ideas to share with the class. Despite planning this lesson with the perspective of being some “life expert,” I myself am still learning how to adapt to change every day. In fact, this entire program in Vietnam so far has been filled with unexpectedness and unfamiliarity; the lesson plan happens to be the perfect embodiment of what I have learned in the first week of ACE in Vietnam. Here are two of the key points of the lesson.

1. Be ready to adapt to change

During one of the volleyball lessons, we focused on setting and tried to play some fun games with kids. Students, however, quickly got bored with the game and could not stay focused at all. Volleyballs were flying everywhere, voices were rising, and the first class was a mess. The other coaches and I decided to entirely change the lesson plan and use a gigantic blow-up globe to make the class more enjoyable. All of the planning from the last night may have felt like a waste, but because we were open to changing and improvising the class turned out to be a huge success. Students were so energetic and willing to run around with beaming smiles. This willingness on our part brought joy to the students, which is what really matters in the end.

2. Change is for the better

Coming to Vietnam itself was a huge change. From being at Stanford and living a very routine lifestyle of practice, class, and friends, I did not know what to expect from Vietnam. The minute I got out of the airport and was hit by the massive wall of humidity and lack of familiarity, I felt out of place and nervous. The first few days were honestly tough as my body was constantly exhausted, I taught students in English without knowing if they actually understood me, and I was busy every hour of the day. However, I soon realized that these discomforts were simply temporary and could be worth it in the end. Soon, students would call my name from down the hall and give me candy from their pockets with a smile. The Vietnamese coaches and I would sing along to High School Musical on one of our walks. The hotel owner’s son, Sumo, would be stretching with us. The smallest things have been the most significant memories so far, and I am realizing that without the change in environment and willingness to come to Vietnam I would not have made these memories. Though the change seemed tough for a bit, ACE has reemphasized the fact that we can grow from change.

“I myself am still learning how to adapt to change every day. In fact, this entire program in Vietnam so far has been filled with unexpectedness and unfamiliarity; the lesson plan happens to be the perfect embodiment of what I have learned in the first week of ACE in Vietnam.”

To sum up my week, I would say that it has been very different, but in a good way. While there are still so many new opportunities to learn from, I have grown to become a more open-minded person. I think I am more ready to learn from my fellow American coaches, Vietnamese coaches, directors, and, most importantly, the students. I know that in the next two weeks there will be more changes, but now I am excited for them.

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