In a radical change of scenery from Haverford, Connie Friedman ’15 will spend the next year biking around lush green paddy fields and strolling along canals in Vi Than, the mid-sized capital city of Hậu Giang Province in Vietnam.
Friedman has been selected for the prestigious Princeton in Asia (PiA) fellowship program, which was awarded to 150 students from across the country this year. She will be an English teaching fellow at the Hua Giang Community College, where she will reside on campus. She flies to Vietnam on Aug 17.
“I just want to travel and experience life,” says Friedman. “I like the unexpected, and I like change. And, I think PiA is going to be a huge change and it’s going to be difficult.”
Affiliated with Princeton University and founded in 1898 by a group of its undergraduates, PiA seeks to foster cross-cultural exchange and understanding between Asia and the U.S. by sponsoring recent college graduates for service-oriented work in Asia.
It will be a year of thorough cultural immersion, as Friedman is the only PiA fellow in her rural post and because she will also have to learn Vietnamese. Just an hour away by motorbike, however, are four other PiA fellows who are also based in southern Vietnam; Friedman hopes to stay connected with them.
“I am looking forward to meeting the people that I will become friends with and the community that I get to be a part of,” she says. “[I] have no idea what to expect.”
This will not be Friedman’s first time teaching. She was a teaching assistant for both biochemistry and superlab classes for her chemistry major at Haverford. She also tutored at an orphanage in Mozambique during the summer of 2012.
But in addition to her classroom work, she has additional exciting plans for her year in Vietnam. She wants to use the year for personal reflection and to explore her interests in medicine and journalism. Having taken the MCATS this summer with an eye towards eventually attending medical school, Friedman hopes travel, blog, and try her hand at medical writing and medical journalism.
“It’s my year to figure out what I really enjoy doing and what I want to do after,” she says.
—Hina Fathima ’15
Photo by Hina Fathima ’15.
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.