Teachers & Testimonials 2016

This year we found all three essays submitted for the Nancy O’Keefe Bolick Scholarship so compelling that we awarded each of these teachers an award.  Here are some excerpts from their essays:

Vietnamese people are incredibly generous, welcoming, and kind, that I am even more thankful to be able to have an opportunity like this to impact someone’s life, even if it is in a small way.  Although I am here alone, I feel that people care about my well-being here, and for that I am truly grateful.

Mia Kaitasto, Long Xuyen

Mia, Teachers Day

Vietnam had a great impact on me and it has changed me in many ways. I was and still am in awe by the kindness and the generosity of many people here. They might not have many possessions but they are willing to share everything with you. The ties between the people of the community are strong, and experiencing this rekindled my faith in humanity.

Anna Tsagkari, Tra Vinh

Anna in class

The richness of history and diversity of culture in Vietnam has drawn me in with eager eyes, the food has kept me perpetually full, and the colorful way of life has never let a dull moment pass. Each day I am weaving meaningful connections with my students, friends, and fellow educators here. Living abroad changes every part of you, beginning with how you see the world and come to understand your place within it.

Allison Donine, Can Tho

Allison with Thu-Thuy and Vietnamese colleague

anna-tsagkariAnna Tsagkari, a native of Greece who has a bachelor’s and master’s in French language and literature, took up her duties at Tra Vinh University in late August.  She is offering classes in both English and French.  Having already lived and studied in several European countries, she is eager to get to know Vietnam and its people as part of her commitment to developing herglobal citizenship and “intercultural identity.”




Allison Donine graduated from Pitzer College in 2016 with a degree in Environmental Policy.
During her junior year she spent five months studying in rural Nepal, where she discovered the importance of speaking English for students wishing to pursue international career opportunities.  This year she is teaching oral communication at Can Tho University.

mia-kataistoMia Kataisto earned a bachelor’s in International Studies and Russian from the University of Michigan.  Having grown up in a bilingual family, she is fluent in Finnish, Russian, and English.   She is teaching at An Giang University, in Long Xuyen.  Mia’s first exposure to Asia came during college, when she studied in Australia and then traveled to Bali.  An avid runner, she will take part in marathons while she is in Vietnam.

thu-thuy-doThe family of Thu-Thuy Do came to the United States from Vietnam in the mid-1970s, starting a new life in Worcester, Mass.  At Worcester State University, Thu-Thuy studied Communication with a minor in Media Production, earning her bachelor’s in 2015.  The chance to reconnect with her heritage prompted her to seek out Thu-Thuy to seek out the Teachers in Vietnam program the following year.  Currently she is sharing a guesthouse suite in Can Tho with Allison, while fulfilling this lifelong dream.

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