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John’s Journey: 2023 Vietnam–U.S. Virtual Exchange

John before his Junior Homecoming
John before his Junior Homecoming

Who am I?

Hi, my name is John. I’m a 17 year old from the state of Virginia. I am currently going into my senior year of high-school and making that big choice in life on where I want to further my education. I play for my school football team, and for the past four years, I’ve met a lot of brothers and people I call family (that being my teammates and my coaches). Through football, I’ve fought through loads of adversity, whether it be the team we’re preparing to play that week or battling my used-to-be very bad anxiety. But football really let me let go of that anxiety in the end. It became life to me. So, with one more season left—my last rodeo, as I like to say—I’m gonna make sure to give it my all.

Why did I link?

I chose to join Learn2Link (L2L) because it was an opportunity for me to connect with new people and people I already knew better. And I made some pretty good friends. Now, sometimes we get a little busy, but that’s a part of growing up I think for all of us. I also joined to try and make a change in the world. I knew it wouldn’t be a ginormous thing, but it could be one step of many steps to make the world a better place.

John and Hien during L2L's 2023 Vietnam–U.S. Virtual Exchange
John and Hien during L2L's 2023 Vietnam–U.S. Virtual Exchange

What have I learned?

One thing I did learn from L2L is to always try new things. I can’t lie and say that I wasn’t a little nervous or skeptical of how we did some things and how they went, but I was wrong. In the end, it was one of the best choices I’ve made because I really enjoyed the meetings with not just people from Virginia, but also my partner from overseas. One thing I would like to add is that Hien (my partner) is one of the brightest and funniest people I’ve met to this day. He has such a huge heart to help others out. And it did take a little bit, but slowly, we both came out of our shells and learned that yeah, we’re different, but at the same time, we’re very, very much alike. And if people around the world could realize that we’re not all so different, we could all finally get along.

John playing football, now as a captain of his high-school team
John playing football, now as as a captain of his high-school team

How have I grown?

I’d say I’ve grown to cherish the time we have with everyone we love and meet in life and to always try to find the moments that we’ll never forget. One moment that I’ll never forget is the one-on-one time with my partner. We got to learn about one another and how we live, how our cultures are very different from one another on how we do things. But I also grew to appreciate the things people do for you. My aunt, the person who I owe a lot of my success in life to, showed me that in life we hit roadblocks, but it’s how you react to those things that make you who you are. She showed me that you can hit the detours and get back on the road again. Yeah, sometimes life gets tough, and you just want to lay down and give up, but she never did. And she showed me that with a lot of time, effort, and support, you can accomplish your dreams and do what people said was impossible.*

*Editors note: John's aunt is a co-founder of L2L and served as a co-facilitator for our 2023 Vietnam–U.S. Virtual Exchange.

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