Nguyen Ngoc Van Tuong, or just Tuong, comes from a large farming family in Hoa An Commune in southern Vietnam. Tuong’s family is poor, and his childhood was far from easy. He recalls being so worried about his family’s precarious financial situation that he sometimes had trouble concentrating in school. But that didn’t stop Tuong from pursuing his education.
Now in his second year studying accounting at Can Tho University, Tuong says: “With a college education, I can find a good job that pays well. I can support myself and my family, and even help other people.” Tuong credits his success to a pivotal experience he had as a young teenager: playing sports with and learning from US college athletes through Thrive Networks’ Coach for College program.
Every summer, Coach for College runs several three-week summer camps in rural Vietnam for disadvantaged young teens. To date, the program has served over 3,000 vulnerable youngsters. Designed to improve participants’ motivation and educational attainment, each camp is staffed by two groups of volunteers: American college athletes and Vietnamese university students. These student “coaches” work together to bridge their two cultures, using sports to engage the middle school age students in learning valuable life skills.
Tuong attended the camp twice, the summers after 7th and 8th grade. On a typical day, he recalls, the campers played basketball or volleyball, and then attended academic classes like English, science, and health. Life skills and team building exercises were woven into the curriculum, and sports analogies were used to clarify difficult topics.
CFC taught me so many essential skills, and gave me the confidence to dream and to put my dreams into action.
— Nguyen Ngoc Van Tuong
Coach for College also taught Tuong the importance of giving back. He has volunteered with several groups that help younger students achieve their goals. Can Tho University awarded him the prestigious “Excellent Youth Member” award, which recognizes students who actively contribute to programs designed to help youth. When Tuong shares the lessons of Coach forCollege, he knows he is helping equip other young people with the tools tobuild a better future.