Thursday, July 11, 2013

Two Pitt student-athletes visit Vietnam in Coach for College program.

Pitt Coach for College 2013
From the Coach for College Facebook page.

One benefit of the University of Pittsburgh's joining the ACC is its participation in Coach for College, a program "that brings together US student-athletes and Vietnamese university students to teach academics, sports and life skills at summer camps to children in rural Vietnam." An excerpt from a July 9 university press release, about two Pitt students visiting Vietnam this summer:
Alec Sheaffer has already returned from her three week stint in Vietnam, in which she taught baseball on the field and health in the classroom. She is a rehab science major, and her experiences through "Coach for College" have instilled in her a new career goal. "I was thinking about doing physical therapy, and I still want to do something similar, but now more related to kids, especially after my experience," she said. "It was an eye-opening experience for sure. It was something out of the ordinary because, as a student-athlete, you don't get many opportunities to do stuff like this because we have such a busy schedule."

The "Coach for College" program puts together two American athletes, two bilingual Vietnamese college students and one older high school student who previously participated in the program, and places them in charge of a group of Vietnamese students. The American student-athletes participate in the camp as coaches in their first year, and one of them can return for a second year as the camp director. Sheaffer had an "awesome" experience and thinks she might return for a second year next summer. "I was really close with my director," she said. "I want to more coaching and other stuff like that, so I am definitely considering becoming a camp director."

Here's a lengthy excerpt from the Coach for College website profiling the location:
The commune is located an hour from the city of Can Tho and about six hours from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's largest city. This community has the lowest income per capita in the Hau Giang province and also in the entire Mekong River Delta region, a region covering 40,000 square km. According to the Chairman of the Hoa An People's Committee, Hoa An is a remote rural commune, with a total area of 4,982 hecta, a population of 18,150 people among which there are 660 households living under poverty line, approximately equivalent to 18.25%. 90% of the population lives on farming, handicraft making and small business. Each family in the Hoa An Commune makes an average of $200/year and very few are college educated. 85% of those who complete primary school continue on to middle school and 70% of those who complete middle school continue on to high school. Of those who make it to high school, only 2.8% continue on to college.

The Coach for College program matches the objectives of the Hoa An Research Center, the government of the commune, Can Tho University, and the middle school. The Hoa An Research Center, run by professor Duong van Ni from Can Tho University, conducts community based research and is located at the center of the commune. The center provides food and accommodation for the student-athletes and Vietnamese college students who participate in the program. The partner middle school is located 4 km away from this center.

In the whole district there is only one open space/field to play soccer, which can only be used during the dry season. People in the commune often have to travel very far from their homes to play soccer or volleyball. An indoor court is necessary to play badminton and volleyball due to strong winds and frequent rain in the Mekong Delta. Before the sports court was built, none of the middle schools in the district had sport facilities.