CAMBRIDGE, Mass.- Senior Lindey Kneib of the Harvard softball team spent her summer in Vietnam with the Coach for College program. Read about her experience below.
This summer, I got the opportunity to go to Vietnam through the program Coach for College. Coach for College is a program that sends college varsity athletes to Vietnam to teach an academic subject and sports for three weeks. In my camp there were student-athletes from Ohio State, Western Michigan, Princeton, and many other colleges from around the country. Along with American college students, we also had Vietnamese college students to translate and coach/teach alongside of us.
A typical day would consist of us getting on the bus to leave for the school at 6:20 a.m., eating breakfast at the school before classes would start at 7:00. In the morning we would teach eighth graders math, biology, English, and physics, as well as baseball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. Then, the eighth graders would be dismissed at 11:00 a.m., and the coaches would go to lunch. The ninth grade students would start classes at 1:00 p.m., and would end classes at 5:00 p.m. When classes were released for the day, us coaches would go to dinner and then some coaches would go back to the guest house, while others would stay and play volleyball or soccer with the locals. The locals would give us a ride home on their motorized bikes, and then we would do lesson planning as a group at 7:30 p.m., and either play games or just hang out afterwards.
The days were definitely long and hot, but I can honestly say that in my short time in Vietnam, I experienced my happiest and saddest memories. The happiest was the time I spent at a student's house. His mother grilled us bananas and made us rice paper to eat. His mother sold these same bananas and rice paper as a form of profit, but here they were feeding us for free. That evening we introduced the students to peanut butter, which some of them loved, while some of them thought was weird. We then walked around the market that evening, arms slung around the shoulder of our students--no words exchanged due to the fact that we did not have a translator, but there was a feeling of comfort and genuine friendship. Then, the saddest day was the day that we left. Saying goodbye to my students and the Vietnamese college coaches that I became friends with, was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I am certain that I left some of my heart in Vietnam, among the students and the locals.
I learned a lot in Vietnam. I learned that I have a passion for teaching, and am now getting certified to teach English as a foreign language so that I can teach overseas after I graduate. I learned that there is no language barrier; the barrier is created from being uncomfortable. And I learned that life-long friends can be created within the span of three weeks.