Participating in ACE this summer is such a mesmerizing opportunity because it allows me to give back to a community while enabling me to see parts of the world I have never seen before. I am excited to use my experience as a student-athlete to bring change to a community and bring individuals together through sports, recreation, and learning.
As part of the ACE in Vietnam program, participants will teach academics, sports and life skills to students at under-resourced middle schools in the Mekong Delta with the aim of encouraging them to prepare for higher education.
Allie’s past experiences with service include working as a proofreader for The Stanford Fund’s alumni mailings; working as a peer counselor for The Bridge, Stanford’s nationally-renowned peer counseling center; membership in the Associated Stanford Student Union Cabinet for Mental Health and Wellbeing, which works to make mental health resources more available to students; and volunteering as a sober monitor for many all-campus events. With her team, she has volunteered with OneLove, a charity promoting awareness of relationship violence; worked on getting one of their games sponsored to support mental health and well-being; and mentored young, lower-income girls through the BAWSI program.
Dear Future #ACEathletes,
- Best advice for learning about ACE: Definitely look into the programs before making a selection. I made my decision primarily based on the program description, specifically thinking about the kind of service I would be doing. The type of service is different at each location, so make a selection based on your own interests. I attended an info session and talked to two former ACE athletes about the program. Another big factor I considered was the location—I wanted to learn more about Vietnamese culture because compared to all the other locations, I knew the least about Vietnam. I talked to my coach and we both agreed this opportunity would be meaningful for me. The last factor I considered, which wasn’t a deciding factor, but was important, was which program would fit best with my summer schedule.
- Best advice for getting started at your program: Honestly when I first got on the plane to head to Ho Chi Minh City, I had no idea what I was doing. I had a super busy week leading up to the program, so I didn’t have too much time to mentally prepare myself for ACE. But when I got there, I realized everyone else was on the same page. We were all a little confused and overwhelmed by the language barrier, but we had an American program supervisor as well as a Vietnamese program supervisor that really helped us find our way. We had a day to explore the city and see its most famous landmarks and we bonded a lot with our fellow ACE athletes that day. Being thrown into an unknown situation together brought us all very close.
- Tips for getting to know your community: It was super easy for us to form relationships with members of the community because they were all so welcoming. We were lucky to be working alongside other Vietnamese college students and we had the opportunity to plan lessons with them and teach with them. I found it super helpful to show extreme interest in the things they brought up about their culture/community, especially their language. I showed interest in learning their language and it made conversations more entertaining. I also found it helpful to step out of my comfort zone and do weird things (i.e. playing a card game entirely in Vietnamese until 2am with 5 or 6 other Vietnamese teachers.) I was overbearing a little bit in having theVietnamese students translate almost everything the kids said back to me. I also brought at least one Vietnamese student with my American friends and I for the first week or so if we ever went into town for something. After leaving I came back with a much more open mind. I try anything new that comes my way: whether it’s food, getting to know someone, or some bizarre activity. I also became much more cognizant of what I take for granted every day. The kids in the community were so appreciative of the little treasures they had, and now I am much more appreciative of the little things I have. I have taken more interest in working in the field of education and doing service in my own community. Oh, and also I’ve decided to take a Vietnamese class.
- Tips for training: I actually found that I left Vietnam in much better shape than when I came there. I was a little bit smaller, and lost a little bit of strength, but it wasn’t anything severe. We had a nice quiet road near our homestay that had palm trees lined exactly 10 meters apart. I used that road to do long distance running and sprints on my own. I managed to go on longer runs with some fellow students, although that kind of stopped towards week 3. There was a tiny gym about a mile from our homestay that I went to twice. There was a super cheap payment (maybe 50 cents/hour), and some free weights there. A lot of the participants did some circuits and yoga on certain mornings so it was fun working out with them. It was interesting seeing all the various workouts amongst different sports. I also stayed in really good shape playing soccer every day (4 times a day) as I was coaching. Overall, super fun!! Training “outside the box”. The food was also very healthy so it wasn’t a problem staying on top of nutrition standards for athletes. The motivation to train every other day was a little difficult because we had early mornings, so it required getting up around 5:45/6, but I found that doing this every other day wasn’t too bad. I think the time change ended up helping with waking up early.