“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
– Benjamin Mee
Multiple moments of insane courage and embarrassing bravery occurred during ACE in Place Vietnam Session I. As cliché as those phrases sound, insane courage & embarrassing bravery, were used, embodied, and personified by every member of the Vietnam program. American coaches attempted to introduce themselves in Vietnamese over Zoom or make Vietnamese ice-cream. Our Vietnamese coaches shared about Têt Holiday & their daily routines. Coaches, program directors, and the Vietnamese middle school youth put their hearts and lives on display for everyone to get to know –and that takes insane courage.
In our ever-changing global landscape, diving into a virtual experience with ACE was necessary due to this year’s global health impacts. Before starting this ACE in Place experience, I was excited but unsure about our success in forming deep relationships over Zoom. The virtual world can be challenging to navigate, but both directors and participants handled each day with patience, intentionality, and courage. I am thankful for a virtual experience over a traveling experience because each American coach was treated like a friend rather than a visitor of Vietnam. We got to dive deep into who we are as people, what we love, and what our dreams are through intentionality during our time together. We did not have days to explore the countryside of Vietnam or meet our CFC children in person, but we got to meet the hearts of the Vietnamese coaches, children, and directors without distraction.
There are many interactions, experiences, and activities in which I participated in that have changed how I look at the world. I joined this ACE program believing how I interact with others and how I view the world would evolve and change. However, I was surprised about the growth I and many others had in each moment of this program.
Our group growth stemmed from the people we surrounded ourselves with during the program. The Vietnamese and American coaches were phenomenal. In my life skills group, with Trang and Syd, I learned what it was like to be from different cultures but still connect with each other because of what we value in life. We danced to “Camp Rock,” we watched Trang eat her favorite fruit – durian, and we cried when we watched the “see you later” video because we all connected with each other.
“We did not have days to explore the countryside of Vietnam or meet our CFC children in person, but we got to meet the hearts of the Vietnamese coaches, children, and directors without distraction.”
– Elizabeth Reneau, Duke Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field
I experienced moments of laugher and silliness throughout this program, but I also experienced moments of significant vulnerability and honesty. For both the moments of fun & moments of great meaning, we all had to step into each moment with courage. I never knew that a simple movie quote about twenty seconds of courage would not only apply to, but change my life. So, I encourage anyone reading this to count to twenty and take a leap of faith into something new because you never know who you will meet or how they will change your life. Thank you to my new friends from Vietnam and Stanford for changing my life.