Singapore 12.45 AM 14.4.2015
I have just received the congratulation email from Mr. Khang Do who informed me that my application for Coach 4 College this summer was successful. This means I will continue to go for the face-to-face interview round for final chosen camp candidates. The email really made my day. I have waited for it since my application was submitted. Simply put, if I won’t screw everything up in the interview which is a chance for me to express myself and my passion, I will have a supposedly fruitful and memorable experience in Da Nang for 3 weeks. Hopefully everything goes fine for me.
This volunteer is among the most volunteer programs I am passionate about. It is quite meaningful indeed, the program is a teaching collaboration between American student-athletes and Vietnamese University students in the hope of making a change in life of primary-school kids in rural areas. Volunteers will be sent to primary schools in Da Nang, stay there, teach the kids, and organize sport competition and fun game for them as well.
Admittedly, I spent a whole day just writing 6 not-really-short essays answering 6 brain-attacking questions of the event organizers. Moreover, I genuinely hope that my summer will not just come by without me doing any meaningful stuff. That’s the reason why I really hope that I can make it count this summer vacation – a 18 year-old boy’s summer vacation. During the application process, I’ve attained some sort of profundity and insights as I took time to reflect about my own self.
Below is the 6 questions and my answers to those questions!
Question 1: Describe about yourself in the third perspective. Tell us why you are deserving a chance of being a member of Coach for College
It is a really hard question when I have to objectively describe myself since sincere speaking, the beauty of oneself’s characteristic is in the eye of beholder.
Hung luckily is given a childlike characteristics. He always appears with a smile on his bright face, a smile of happiness, which genuinely makes people around him feel pleased when they have a conversation, or just a brief talk with him. When things go wrong, opposing to what he’s expected, his tries his best not to let his unwanted irritation affect others by temporarily forgetting about his own unpleasantness and portraying his happy smile toward them.
He is childlike and ingenuous, but sometimes a bit too much. He has a 6 year-old younger brother who is extremely chubby yet really cute and adorable, and is the most precious gift ever given to him and his family. When his brother was 5, Hung had to leave his family in the pursuit of his dream for studying abroad and had less time spending with his little brother. When having a chance back home, he showed his love by intensively kissed and hugged his brother and somehow, his little brother showed a sign of resistance and a bit of discomfort, which is understandable. Hung sometimes makes his little brother cry because of over-teasing him by taking away his brother’s toys. But, deep inside his heart, Hung loves his young, cute brother,… really much!
Hung loves meeting, talking with people or giving others advises. He enjoys talking about philosophy and debating over sensitive issues. As such, he used to be Hanoi-Amsterdam Puzzle Debate Club and when studying aboard, he still manages to be part of Tembusu Debate Society. He used to have a period of time being a MC for SEAMAP English club, helping English-lovers to improve their speaking and listening skills. He used to be volunteer at Vietnam Museum of Ethnology with a position of facilitating the tickets purchasing process, and helping the visitors with their inquiries.
Hung is deserved to be granted a chance to be a part of Coach for College. He can learn and grow immensely when having an exposure to this meaningful activities. He deeply wants to be a part of an organization that can make significant changes in life of many kids by igniting them with a fire of knowledge and optimism. Give him a chance and he will not let it split.
Question 2: Do you have any motivational story? If yes, please share with us? Do you think your story will have any impact on the rural kids who probably will admire you as their model.
I was not a really smart and hard-working kid when young, I was rather a mischievous, academically under-performed one. My parents used to be called up for discussion a lot of time by my secondary school teachers regarding my lack of concentration toward learning and by my childishness. My secondary teachers once told my parent that their son possibly could do nothing good for his life and my parents would have to suffer their son for quite a long time. My mother even sometimes had to shed her tear because of me!
It was the the time I was in grade 9, studying with a lot of excellent and academically intelligent peers, since my class is a classified class (the best class) in school, made me feel insecure and unconfident in myself. My utmost goal at that time was just having a ticket to Le Quy Don high school which was an relatively acceptable high school in Hanoi. However, my mother had always wish that her son could have a chance to receive a well-rounded education of Hanoi Amsterdam High School so she genuinely encouraged me to apply for the specialized school.
At that time, nobody would believe that I even had a really tiny chance of getting admitted by the School, my teachers, my friends even myself. I was really pessimistic, distrusted and lost all of my confidence. But only my mother who put all her trusts in me motivated me to overcome the difficult time. Afraid of embedding a lot of stress on me, she helped me do all the application process to Hanoi Ams and always said to me that no matter how bad or good the result was, as long as I tried my best, I would never regret of not having applied to Ams.
During the last 4 months before the exam, a lot of stresses, giving-up thoughts but I had tried really hard. I read a lot of supplemental exam books, practiced a lot of commonly asked Math exam questions and learnt by heart all the Vietnamese poems, works in the Literature 9 grade text book to better prepare for the exam. And totally out of my and my parent’s expectation, Hanoi Ams was a place that I would spend my three years of high school. And that is the place where all of my dreams begin and starts to become reality.
I do not mean to be any role models for the kids, I just want to somehow make a little change, even tiny one will still count, to the life of the poor rural kids. I hope I can do either as small as just be the one who the kids want to play with or as big as the guidance for them just like my mother is to me. I hope the kids, after the program ends, will have their own dream, and work really hard and dedicating to achieve that dream. Finally, I hope that when they are trying their best and dedicating all their passion toward what they truly loves, no dream is impossible.
Question 3: Why do you thing sports are put in use as the mean for the kids to gain knowledge? What factors do you think that make this program different from other volunteer programs?
The ultimate goal of this program, subjectively speaking, is to make a change, no matter how big or small the change is, in a life of kids in poor rural area in Vietnam, to show them that life is still beautiful and there’s still hope for those who try. But the next question arises: how the goal is achieved or what is the approach?
By sports! Sports are the most effective way, by far, to engage those kids in the learning process. Personally, learning is not only a matter of academic subjects such as Literature, Mathematics, Biology, etc. but also involved in learning life-surviving skills. Scientifically speaking, effective learning is only achieved when it’s accompanied with joy and passion. Sports are put in use to avoid tedious lecture sharing session, monotonous teaching style, and rough, raw, uninteresting knowledge.
Playing sports is also a better way to nurture the close relationship between coaches and the kids, helping coaches to know their kids better. Kids who have drop out of school at really young age are usually having their hidden story, for example they are having financial difficulties, divorcing parents and many other reasons. As such, they may be sensitive. Playing sports is the way to bridge the physical as well as mental gap between coaches and kids. When kids are having fun with their time, it does really help them to open their soul, to welcome coaches to their world, to better understand them.
This volunteer program is really unique. Its uniqueness lies on the its length and content.
3-week is not a really long period of time but it’s enough for both the coaches and their kids to have a memorable time spending together. 3-week is enough for the coaches to have a nostalgia when in the future they’re thinking back to the time they had with their kids. 3-week is enough for the kids to wish their coaches could stay longer with them when the program ends.
The program does not only focus on teaching the kids, it is also a chance of international exposure and cultural exchange. Vietnamese participants are provided a really valuable opportunity to meet and learn from their American peers who are studying in many of the best universities in the world. Especially, the destination of the volunteering program is Hau Giang, Da Nang where have a lot of beautiful, breathtaking scenes as well as friendly and charming locals. It is promised that participants will have an affectionate memory spending there!
Question 4: Do you think it’s hard to build up an emotional link between coaches and kids?
Possibility of establishing emotional bonds with the kids depends on many factors such as the openness, characteristics of the coaches as well as the emotional, physical upbringing of the kids. Meaningful relationship is two-sided. One cannot fiercely force others to love or hate him/her. However, one can be truly what one is and sincerity is the key to any long-lasting relationships.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I may have an big impact on those kids’ life or not have any impact at all. However, I would like to try my best to understand them and help them. For example, I can sing “Chac Ai Do Se Ve” or “Em Cua Ngay Hom Qua” with kids, in the purpose of clearing the mental distance and try to get closer to them. At the end of the day, what I desperately hope that they will have a really fun time during the event, and after that the event will have positive effect on their so much vulnerable life.
I have a little 6 year-old younger brother. Time spending with him is all I’ve got with coaching or playing with kids. Sometimes, I am really impatient about teaching my brother of their schoolwork but looking at his chubby chin and white, smooth baby skin, all of the impatience magically disappears and is replaced with happiness feeling.
Question 5: Do you have any experiences related to effective working with people from different background?
I have studied in Singapore for a year where a lot of religions and races are happily coexisted. Singapore is a place of diversity where Christianity, Muslim, Hinduism or even Buddhism peacefully converges.
Spending a year in Singapore has granted me an opportunity of international, multi-cultural and multi-racial exposure. I have had time doing projects, playing, talking and hanging out with local students in Singapore, whose background are really different and even staying in a residential college with them.
I realize that the best way to work collaboratively and establish a trusted relationship is staying truly who you are and maintaining an open-minded attitude toward different points of view and appreciating the cultural difference and diversity.
Question 6: What will you gain after joining this program?
It is a really interesting question!
The very first thing that I will bring back is memory. I will keep this beautiful memory carefully in my own secret pocket of soul. And then when time elapses, I get older as a matter of fact, I will pull out the pocket and appreciate my young time when I live with all of my passion and most burning desire to try and experience new things.
I want other youth can have an opportunity to live with their own truest passion and no regret by urging them to try, not only this program but also any other programs that they find themselves passionate about. I would really love to see them in the future, when they’re looking back at what they’ve done in the past, they can feel happy about it. I would love to share my experience that may help them to overcome their fear and be confident in themselves because, in the past, I have lost a lot of chances due to my unconfidence and fear of trying out new things, fear of failures.
I strongly believe that any experiences that one has been through in his/her life will teach his/her something, regardless of significance. Even in the worst case that the program turns out not as I expect, it still teaches me that I only have a chance to experience college life once, it reminds me that I have to make my college time count and later in life, I will not look back and say regret words