June 12, 2018
By Brad Muller | More Features
As a South Carolina cross country runner and distance runner on the track and field team, rising junior Emily Crounse is accustomed to long trips on her feet. A long trip in an airplane isn’t her favorite thing, but Crounse is willing to go the distance this summer as she participates in the Coach for College program in Vietnam.
“I’m a little nervous about the long flight, and what I’m going to do on it,” Crounse said before making the trip. “I’m not nervous about where I’m going and what I’ll be doing. I’m looking forward to it a lot. My mom is probably more nervous than I am.
“I’ve been told it’s life-changing to see people from different walks of life and how they live. I know it will make me feel fortunate for everything we have here.”
What she’s doing is meeting up with students from other universities around the country to teach underprivileged Vietnamese children academics, athletics and some life skills as part of the Coach for College program. She found out about the program after her teammate, Bryce Simpson, made the trip last year.
“When I heard about Bryce doing this with the opportunity to do it during the summer, I thought it was awesome,” Crounse said. “Part of the reason is because I can’t do a study abroad during the school year because I have cross country in the fall and track in the spring. So, I’m always competing. Summer is the only time I’m not competing. I wanted to do something. I do a lot of community service in Columbia, but I wanted to do something outside of South Carolina and our community. To be able to do something outside of our country meant a lot to me.”
I think it will probably put into perspective how fortunate and blessed we are here.
While most college students look forward to “down time” during the summer, Crounse, a pharmacy major from Clifton Park, N.Y., is accustomed to staying busy and will be teaching biology and coaching baseball.
“I don’t really ever have any down time because I’m always competing,” Crounse said. “Being home all summer is a long time. Being able to get out of New York and South Carolina is something I may never get to do again. I’ll probably never get a chance to go to Asia again or do anything else like this. I’m really going to enjoy doing this.”
While she is serving as an instructor, Crounse understands she will likely learn a lot as well.
“I think it will probably put into perspective how fortunate and blessed we are here to have what we have with food, clean water, bathrooms and all of that,” Crounse said. “Some of that may be stuff they’ve never had, so they don’t know. It will teach me to not take anything for granted.”
The American instructors will be assisted by Vietnamese translators, and Crounse isn’t too concerned about the language barrier.
“I’m mostly worried about the food. I’m sure it will be fine, but it may take some getting used to, at first,” Crounse said. “As far as the language, we’ll have the Vietnamese coaches who will be able to help us talk to them.
“The biggest challenge will probably be not being able to talk to my family here all the time, and definitely the food thing, and maybe not being able to train at the level I should be. I’m looking forward to travelling around there after it’s done, too. Being able to see more than just the camp will be really great. It’s a really cool opportunity that I may never get to do again.”
When she has completed her three weeks with Coach for College later this month, Crounse intends to tour parts of Thailand as well, and she looks forward to sharing her experience upon her return.
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