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We had our final Zoom meeting for the ACE Vietnam Program, and I found myself reflecting on the whole experience. I feel so incredibly thankful for the ACE experience, and I have gained a whole new respect for those I got to work with. The ACE program was so rewarding, even though it was virtual. I feel like I greatly contributed to making the program better for the Vietnamese kids, and I built some strong relationships with the Vietnamese coaches and my American friends that worked alongside me these past 3 weeks.

Throughout the experience, we learned so much about Vietnamese culture and each coach’s individual life. We talked about and showed our houses, our hometowns, holiday traditions, and our families. I found our small talks and random questions most interesting and insightful. We have many differences and similarities.

“Tien is just one example of someone that left a lasting impact on me through this experience.”

– Lillie Walker, Duke Softball

The coach in my life skills class was named Tien, and she was such a sweet and energetic girl. She talked about how it is very uncommon for women in her area to go to college. Their parents steer them away from it because, in their culture, women are supposed to get married and run the house. She had to fight with her parents to go to college.

I feel so blessed to come from a place that encourages women and men to go to college and to have the family support helping me reach my goals. Her story also made me respect her even more. Not only is Tien planning on attending college without support from her parents, but she also has a passion for helping other kids that have the same struggle. She started a YouTube channel to teach kids Physics, a subject that isn’t readily taught in Vietnam. I can’t believe how ambitious she is even without encouragement from her family and peers.

“I feel so blessed to come from a place that encourages women and men to go to college and to have the family support helping me reach my goals.”

– Lillie Walker, Duke Softball

Tien is just one example of someone that left a lasting impact on me through this experience. The next time I am complaining about going to class or having to study for an exam, I will remember Tien and the other Vietnamese students that are choosing to study even though their parents aren’t supporting them. I will remember how blessed I am to have the resources and support that I do. The experiences and friendship I gained through the ACE in Place Vietnam program will forever leave a lasting impact on my life

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