Hawkeyes Teach, Coach Kids in Vietnam

by Sara Epstein Moninger

Adeline Kenlin traveled alone to Vietnam in July 2023 with an open mind, a bit of trepidation, and dreams of becoming a collegiate gymnastics coach. Three weeks later, the University of Iowa student returned home with a boost of self-confidence, a terrific smoothie recipe, and a broadened worldview.

The graduate student in sport and recreation management is a fourth-year Hawkeye gymnast and was one of two UI student-athletes to participate in Coach for College, an international service-learning program that groups U.S. student-athletes with Vietnamese university students to teach academics, sports, and life skills at a summer camp for disadvantaged children in rural Vietnam.

For student-athletes, the program provides a meaningful and relevant experience—and a study-abroad option that accommodates their demanding training schedules. Over the course of three weeks, they work with youth to help them develop long-term goals, increase their motivation for education, and learn skills to be successful. College students from more than 40 U.S. universities and 30 Vietnamese colleges, representing 26 sports, have participated. Iowa has sent 13 Hawkeyes since the program began in 2008.

Though Kenlin ultimately aims to work with college students, she says she was inspired teaching biology and dance to some 100 sixth and seventh graders in the Vi Thuy district of Vietnam.


Photography courtesy of Adeline Kenlin