Mia Coward (Vietnam)

Mia Coward, a native Prince Georges County Maryland, is a Graduate student obtaining her Master’s in Public Policy with a concentration in education, social policy, and non-profit leadership at the University of Maryland-College Park. Before taking two years off to get her Master's degree, Mia was a policy associate at Child Care Aware of America working on childcare and early education policy with their advocacy and communications team. She received her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Media Studies at Bennett College. Mia recently worked with World Vision US in the Child Protection and Education department to intern with their All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development Team. She has also worked with organizations ranging from the Intersector Project, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and The Upper Room Global Ministries in Nashville, TN. Her interest includes improving the literacy rate for high poverty communities, influencing equity and inclusion, and grassroots innovation for marginalized communities across the world. In her free time, she enjoys listening to live poetry and trying to new cuisines. -

First Week of Hard Work and Bliss

15 Jul

I wake up around 5:30 every morning, which is very weird for me since at home that would probably never happen unless I am traveling with family or friends. I lay there for a second, realizing that today I actually get to go in to the office and be around the staff. I leave my room to get breakfast from downstairs in the hostel. Once I turn the corner to get to the office, I see Ngoc and we laugh upon seeing each other, both thinking about the weekend we just had together, and then Ms. Hong smiles at us both. I walk up and Ms. Hong gives me a big warm hug and says “Finally!” And I say, “Yes, Finally!” We all walk into the office and I meet Thao (AEPD Accountant), who has also been working with her husband to help with my work visa process.

The four of us then head off to get some coffee to start the day and allow Ngoc to tell them about our journey. As I sat there and listen to Ngoc explain the story to them in Vietnamese, I began to think about all the things I had to get done now in less than the ten weeks allocated. I started to make a list in my head and think about the questions and when we were going to the field which would be next week. I knew that today would be a long day for me. The desk space that they have for me was nice. There is a beautiful plant in the window that reminds me of my own plant my grandmother gave to me (I named her Beatrice and have been making sure my mother is watering her while I’m gone). After the lunch break, I continued to work on creating templates for the families we would interview in the following weeks.  Later that day, the Canadian intern and I were asked to help with some ideas for the new café that AEPD was building. The paint had gone up and we were asked what colors they should use and if we thought the inside was nice. We gave our opinions and then discussed ideas for about 30 minutes then went back inside.

After-work snack with the AEPD team

After work, Ngoc, Thao, Dahlia, and I went to get some tasty snacks that I had never had before. The drink had different types of sweet beans in it and then we ate spicy dumplings. We enjoyed each other’s company before hopping in a taxi and ending the day. My first week went by so fast. Before I knew it, Thursday was here, I had finished the family templates, went over a little with Ms. Hong the plan for the weeks we have left together and prepared for my visits that would officially start at the end of the week. I made sure that I knew each family story by heart and was prepared to ask the survey questions that the teams had agreed upon. Each family is so different, so I am hoping that we are able to find ways to create a sustainable plan for them and other families affected by Agent Orange. 

Posted By Mia Coward (Vietnam)

Posted Jul 15th, 2019


  • Abby Lahvis

    July 15, 2019


    Sounds like you’re making progress and fitting in nicely! I am excited to hear about the family profiles.

  • rachel wright

    July 15, 2019


    It’s great to hear how much planning you’ve done in such a short amount of time in the office. I’m sure it will prepare you very nicely for a productive and interesting time in the field!

  • iain

    July 15, 2019


    Nicely written! Also shows that AEPD is a very friendly and welcoming particularly to smart young professionals who love Vietnam! You must feel right at home!

  • Emily

    July 18, 2019


    I love your descriptions! Keep up the good work and try not to worry too much about time issues. We believe in you!

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