I initially decided to apply to this program offered by CET Vietnam, because as an undergraduate student planning to eventually become a practicing physician, I find it crucial to broaden my views and examine the social determinants of health. My short 8 weeks in Vietnam allowed me to not only study these factors, but also to fully immerse myself in the beautiful Vietnamese culture.
Being Vietnamese-American in this program meant that my identity landed me right in the middle of two very different cultures. I was initially worried that I would not fit into either group, but I quickly came to realize I didn’t have to fit into a category. I had incredible support and constantly had the CET staff, my roommate, or my program-mates to discuss with. I learned more about myself with every interaction I had (even if it was just my uber driver!!), and being able to interface with the Vietnamese public was a special opportunity.
The summer program consisted of 3 courses: public health and development, service-learning, and Vietnamese language. The language course was very well organized, and I found my Vietnamese improved quickly because of how much I was able to practice and ask questions. The public health course, alongside the internship, moved outside the typical teaching style I was used to. Instead of the typical classroom learning, we always had the chance to attend events or interact with Vietnamese people in order to apply our readings and lectures on an interpersonal level. I greatly appreciated that each student could dive into the material as little or as much as they wanted to.
I am incredibly happy that at the conclusion of the two-month program, I was able to learn more about Vietnam’s development, gain insight about my identity, and make friends I know I will keep for a lifetime.