It was a cold and dreary day that Sunday when I first arrived in DC to prepare for our fellowship training week with the Advocacy Project. I had seen the schedule beforehand and was fairly certain I was in for a jam-packed week, a week full of firsts. To be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect as I went to sleep that night, stomach full of butterflies. Monday morning quickly rolled around and the sun came out. Like a true Californian, I figured only good things would come my way today. After all, sunny days are happy days.
After a quick round of introduction that morning, I knew I was in for quite an experience. I was sitting in a room with eleven incredibly amazing and accomplished Peace Fellows, who are all about to disperse to different corners of the world to make a difference. Some will be in Nepal; others will go to Uganda, Jordan, or Mali, to name a few. In my case, I will be heading back to the motherland, back to Vietnam!
As a Global student at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, I’m required to complete six months of international service, so my time with the Advocacy Project and my host organization, the Association for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (AEPD), will extend beyond the usual fellowship length of ten weeks. This upcoming trip will be the first time I’ve been back to Vietnam for a period longer than three weeks since I immigrated to the US at nine years old. It will also be my first time working on the issue of Agent Orange and with Vietnamese families affected by the pesticide.
Throughout training, we’re challenged to learn new skills and improve upon our existing skill set so we can all better support our host organization. I had my first experience filming a video, building a website, and setting up a Global Giving page. I also got to re-familiarize myself with tools that I’ve worked with previously such as iMovie, and WordPress. In addition to learning these great skills, we’re also developing our individual strategic plan on how we can best utilize them to strengthen our specific host organization.
Our days are long, but they’re rewarding, and we’re in great company. As the week wraps up, I’m feeling a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and appreciation. A huge thank-you goes out to the amazing team at AP for supporting us all this week and in the upcoming weeks. I’ll be counting down the day to my own departure to Dong Hoi, Vietnam where I will begin my work with AEPD.
Oh, guess what? The sun’s still out this Friday afternoon as our training comes to an end. If that’s any indication, I think we can all expect plenty of good days and exciting times ahead.
Posted By Ai Hoang
Posted May 25th, 2016