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Enthusiasm of My Companion

Enthusiasm of My Companion

I took the picture above two years ago while I was volunteering my last days in Spain. The picture captures the enthusiasm of my companion, Viet, after dismounting from a donkey ride. Viet came to the city zoo twice weekly for riding therapy, an activity designed for youth with special needs. He worked hard during the riding sessions to learn vocabulary and arithmetic and while he could not always communicate fluidly, Viet was every bit an 8 year old boy and demonstrated his quirky humor with great effectiveness.

Viet’s ability to blossom every time he came to the zoo was a result of the community’s tremendous support. Numerous volunteers, families, and universities developed the riding program to create a unique environment in which youths like Viet could thrive. Individuals who concerted this effort maintained it with great ease and efficiency; this work ethic permeated everything the community did to support their own. In fact, their work translated so well even a foreigner like me understood.

Listening to the stories of people living with disabilities reminded myself of the potential within communities. While Vietnam’s civil services are not as mature as those in Spain—nearly all of our guest speakers are a part of nascent projects taking place within the last 5 years—foundations have been laid. The challenges to sustain this base and grow are being surmounted by pushing for greater awareness and interconnectedness within the Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American community. Looking at the greater scope of Viet Fellows, it is simply cool to see the network that I am a part of and therefore, expanding.

 


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