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Courtesy: Whitney Hills
Alyssa Smith
Smith Prepares to Head to Vietnam
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 07/12/2014
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Hi everyone!

As you all know, summer is a time for soaking up the rays, working on your sock tan, rebooting your mind and body before classes start up in August.  It's a time to unite with friends and catch up on all that's happened over the past year.  It's also a time when student-athletes get the opportunity to be involved with some incredible programs and businesses.  Whether it's an internship, a job opportunity, or a volunteer service project, summer is a chance to get hands on experience that's hard to come by between our rigorous classes and practice schedules. I have been one of the many student athletes who gets to take advantage of this opportunity in the form of a volunteer service project.

I have been fortunate enough to have been accepted into a program called Coach for College which aims to take "A Global Initiative to Promote Higher Education Through Sports."  It offers the opportunity for U.S. student-athletes and Vietnamese university students to work with children in grades 6-8 teaching them various academic courses, sports, and life skills over the course of three and a half weeks. As a student-athlete, I know first-hand how impactful sports have been, and continue to be, in my life. It has allowed me to be a part of an incredible university and given me the confidence to pursue my dreams without fear of failing because there is a strong support system behind me.  For these reasons, the mission statement of this program really hit home to me. It sounded like the perfect way to take the opportunities and lessons I've learned from my experiences in sports and academics and pay it forward to the next generation. Did I also mention that the program takes place in rural Vietnam?

While this might not be the ideal spot many would think to spend almost a third of your summer, it's the spot that I will be lucky enough to call my home starting this coming Wednesday, July 16.  I leave in just a few days to begin one of the craziest journeys sure to be filled with laughs, frustration, and lifelong bonds. It will be my first time out of the country (besides Fiji for a family vacation) by myself which provides a whole other element of uncertainty. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit nervous, but I think that's a good thing.  I really believe that you have to do things that push your comfort zones to really grow as a person and this will definitely be pushing the limits of my comfort zone! The cost of being a little uncomfortable for a few days is more than worth the possibility of changing a young boy or girl’s life for the better.  Being submersed in a completely different culture will also allow me to have a more diverse perspective on how things are done in different parts of the world.   More than anything though I'm excited to be able to help these children, hopefully really make a difference in their lives, and give them some of the tools and inspiration to pursue higher education and make a difference in their communities.  

That's all for now but I'll be sure to keep all of you updated on my travels!  Wish me luck and Go Duke!

Until next time!
Alyssa Smith
Class of '17