Director Interview: Sam White

This summer, we’re sitting down with all our program directors to have them share a little more about themselves, their passions, and what they’re looking forward to this summer.

Introducing Sam White

1) Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got connected to VIA?

I’m the Program Director for the ACE in China Program. I’m also a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University. I became connected with VIA through their Global Fellowship Program. I started as an intern for the summer training program in Chiang Mai. Later, I became the program director for the ACE in China Program, which encourages college athletes to participate in civic engagement abroad. I really love working with college students-I teach classes in my department as a graduate instructor and get to spend time with athletes who are passionate about global service in the summer.

2) Where have you traveled before, and what is the most unexpected place you’ve found yourself?

I’ve traveled to around 17 countries. But I think the most unexpected place I have found myself was Wyoming, USA.  I visited the Grand Tetons in Wyoming a few years ago-it’s still one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

3) What is something you could spend hours doing, and not notice the time pass at all?

Running – I love running. Admittedly, I can definitely notice the time pass when on runs, but it’s something I genuinely enjoy doing. One of the first things I pack when traveling is my pair of sneakers. I’ve also completed several half-marathons and a full marathon. I hope to complete an ultra-marathon one day!

4) What is your favorite food away from home?

One of the best meals I have ever had in my life was vapatá.  It’s a stew that I had while living in the Northeastern state of Bahia in Brazil. I also love grilled yak cheese which I’ve had while in Shangri-La. Finally, if I’m traveling abroad, I really miss pizza.

About the Job

1) What do you enjoy most about running programs?

I really enjoy working with the students. I feel lucky to be able to see them get excited about running camps, meeting youth in the village, and building relationships with each other.

2) What has been your biggest challenge and your biggest success in the last year?

The biggest challenge is also my favorite one – continuing to learn from and learn with a new group of participants. It’s tough to let go of one group and prepare for another group! My biggest success is watching a new program blossom into something that has been meaningful for alumni. It’s been fantastic to hear from past participants about how much of an impact the program has had for them.

3) What have you got planned for this summer? Is there anything your especially looking forward to?

I’m excited to lead the ACE in China Program for a third summer. I’m looking forward to also seeing our partner organization, CERS, while I’m there.

4) What makes an awesome program?

Participants who are energized, excited to learn, compassionate, and interested in really growing with a new community.

5) What are you most excited to learn from your participants?

So much! But mainly, I like hearing about how they see the world and what they hope to achieve. I’m also excited to learn about the cool things they’re doing as student-athletes!

6) Any other wisdom or insights you’d like to impart?

You will never have this experience again. Even if you come back to the same place, you will never experience it in the same way with the same people at the same time. Enjoy it and be in the moment.