Maddie Black, a senior communication studies major from Longmont, Colorado, traveled to Vietnam for the session after Kenlin’s. She worked with eighth and ninth graders in a rural neighborhood called Rach Goi and made a major career discovery.
“Teaching was never something that I thought I’d be interested in doing, but seeing kids when they ‘get’ something is powerful,” says Black, an Academic All–Big Ten swimmer who taught English and coached volleyball in the program. “I didn’t realize that teaching English was so accessible in other countries, and that a lot of countries are eager to have native English speakers teach. I found it so fulfilling that I would love to continue doing it for as long as I can. Plus, it would allow me to travel.”
Though Black was assigned to the same province as gymnast Adeline Kenlin, the two worked in different areas.
“The Vietnamese people were so incredibly kind and giving. I could cry talking about them,” Black says. “The kids will give you everything when they have nothing. I came home every single day with a new bracelet or a sticker. They were so grateful and eager to be there and learn—it was unlike anything I have seen in the United States. Continuing education is the program’s mission, because by the time kids in Vietnam reach high school, many of them drop out to pursue jobs.”