Ai Hoang

Ai Hoang was born in Vietnam and raised in Southern California. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013 with a BA in Sociology. After working for two years as a Supplemental Education Services Tutor and a Development Associate for the Boys & Girls Clubs, Ai returned to graduate school to pursue a Masters of Public Health degree from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. As a student in the Population & Health Department, she is specially interested in working to empower underserved families globally. Upon returning from her fellowship, Ai reflects that "I'm very grateful for the opportunity that AEPD and the families affected by Agent Orange have afforded me this past year. They welcomed me into their home with open arms and shared amazing stories. They helped me understand the issue of Agent Orange on such a personal level and made this experience all the more memorable."

Peace Fellowship Training: A Week of Firsts

25 May
AP Peace Fellows gathered at Healy Hall every morning this past week to train for their work this summer.

AP Peace Fellows gathered at Healy Hall every morning this past week to train for their work this summer.

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.

ai training

Attending a social media training session at Georgetown University

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


  • Amanda

    June 3, 2016


    So excited to see what’s coming next for you Ai, and for the families you will surely have a lasting impact on. I look forward to reading your future blogs!

  • Hannah Chi

    June 9, 2016


    Ai, it sounds like you are about to embark on an incredible journey! We all look forward to hearing about your experiences and both the challenges and successes. I can’t wait to read about the trip through this blog!

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