Testimonials

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Fellowship Testimonial Devin 2010

Devon Gonier

China Fellow, 2010-2013

“My VIA experience has completely changed my professional trajectory in many ways. I originally only planned on coming for one year, but since my arrival I have come to appreciate the value of teaching and development work far more than I previously had. As a result, I think whatever career path I choose moving forward will need to involve one of these two aspects or both of them.”

Fellowship Testimonial Rani 2012

Rani Robelus

Indonesia Fellow, 2012-2013

“I came to Indonesia with the goal of reconnecting with my roots. I relearned the language and the culture, but most of all it gave me a new understanding of my mother that I had just a peek of the first time I went back. Many Indonesians told me my constant smiling and laughter was the Indonesian part of me– and I learned from many of them about how to live life the best way: to live in the present and to do so with a smile, and to have no worries because more often than not, it works out in the end. This year has made me more open to taking risks and with a calm attitude, independent enough to do things like move to Myanmar without a plan and travel alone extensively (things I wouldn’t have done before this year!). But the people I crossed paths with also made me realize I never want to live with limitations– whether they come from culture or religion or family. I learned a lot about Islam and had close Muslim friends.”

Fellowship Testimonial Marc 2013

Marc Gaulier

Myanmar Fellow, 2012-2013

“Living in Myanmar has been the single most eye-opening and enlightening experience I have ever had. I have already gained invaluable experience in the field of appropriate technology at Proximity Designs, had to tackle the challenge of teaching English in a country where critical thinking is suppressed in schools, as well as gain functional Burmese language skills. I have been experiencing a truly different way of life here, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Fellowship Testimonial Grace 2012

Grace Kistler-Fair

Indonesia Fellow, 2012-2014

“One of the most rewarding experiences I had the past year was helping villagers in Kinahrejo (a small village north of Jogja). This area had been devastated by the Merapi eruptions just 3 years ago, and I was amazed at how resilient and optimistic the villagers remained despite the terrible things that happened to them. They were eager to learn, were extremely friendly, and made me so happy to be in Indonesia.”

Fellowship Testimonial Anna 2012

Anna Jacobson

Myanmar Fellow, 2012-2013

“I came to Myanmar interested to learn about the historic political and economic reforms taking place in this country. Living in Yangon during this incredibly unique time of change has allowed me to witness first hand the complex nuances of a country in transition that I otherwise would only see through headlines and newspapers. Through the personal relationships I’ve forged with friends and coworkers, I’ve learned so much about the history, culture and language of this fascinating country, and the kindness of the people I’ve met in Myanmar will stay with me for years to come.”

Fellowship Testimonial Laura 2012

Laura Hall

Vietnam Fellow, 2012-2013 | Myanmar Fellow, 2013-2014

“The most rewarding experience this year was traveling to the local orphanage and home for children with disabilities with my students. I created a student-led, on-campus club with one of my students while I was at TVU and enjoyed greatly spending time with both my students and the children at each place. I learned how caring and compassionate all people can be despite background and differences, I learned how being kind can be so simple and so rewarding, and I learned how an idea can really change lives, especially my own. I will never ever forget my time spent in Vietnam.”

Fellowship Testimonial Signe 2012

Signe Knutsen

China Fellow, 2012-2013

“Prior to beginning my year with VIA, I was very nervous about teaching. Now, as I reflect over this past year and all the wonderful experiences, I can honestly say that teaching has been one of the most rewarding. Building relationships with my students in and out of the classroom made for a richer learning process, for all of us. Relationship building, in any aspect of cultural exchange, makes for a richer experience and that is something I will remember and apply in the future.”

 Fellowship Testimonial Toku 2012

Toku Hankins

Vietnam Fellow, 2012-2013 | Indonesia Fellow, 2013-2014

“Working abroad in a service position and making friends were the most rewarding experiences for me. Working at a public institution in Vietnam was such an exciting experience because I was able to see first-hand the bureaucracy of a developing country. I learned so much about work culture in Vietnam and learning about the local culture from new friends made the next day something to look forward to.”