Before applying to ACE this summer, I was disappointed as I did not think I would be able to participate. I had already made plans for working two jobs and taking a class, and I did not think I would have time. However, plans changed, and I was lucky enough to still be able to apply and join the ACE team for the 3-week program! I could not have been happier with this turn of events and I had an amazing experience. I will always remember working with the ACE program.
I was driven to participate by the excitement of being able to teach Vietnamese youth Biology and life skills. I have always enjoyed working with kids whether it is teaching a subject in school or trying to coach recreational soccer. This offered me another chance to work with kids from an entirely different part of the world. My first few days I received greeting videos from all the Vietnamese kids in their best English. I was enthusiastic to begin working with them and starting to help teach. Through my three weeks, I made countless videos and enjoyed watching the kids’ reactions and being able to talk with them in real-time over zoom as well. There was nothing more rewarding than the kids telling me they liked my lessons and that they had really gained something from this teaching.
“There was nothing more rewarding than the kids telling me they liked my lessons and that they had really gained something from this teaching.”
– Kees Heetderks, Duke Men’s Soccer
Another great thing about this experience was my skepticism on being able to meaningfully interact with people over Zoom exchanges. Even though I started off wondering if I would really be able to connect with other coaches and teach the children I soon realized what I was doing mattered and I had a great time with my other teammates and teachers. Through activities such as cultural exchange of different music and foods and exercises to get to know each other better even over zoom I had an amazing time and found myself making new friends.
This experience, while virtual, offered me a unique perspective into another culture and an opportunity to engage in service work. I can’t imagine my summer without this program and am so thankful I was able to participate. I cannot wait to continue to try to help teach others and work with kids.