Hello, ATG Community!
This is Aivy Nguyen, your Marketing/PR Director for ATG, popping in to re-cap my fantastic experience working with Catalyst Foundation as a first-time camp counselor!
I had an amazing time a few weeks ago in New Jersey at the Catalyst Culture Camp, where I was not only a first-time camp counselor, but I also had the opportunity to present a sneak peek of Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam and talk about ATG during a parent session workshop. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Catalyst is a non-profit that focuses on improving the lives of orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children in Vietnam. They have two camps a year, one in Minnesota and one on the east Coast, to promote Vietnamese culture to families that have adopted children from Vietnam and to allow those families to meet and bond with one another.
After the 12-hour trek in a van filled with other counselors from the Mid-west, we descended upon Rowan University in the morning, just in time to help set-up camp for the weekend. Time quickly passed and as the evening drew near, so did the the families. You could feel the energy and excitement begin to build all around the room as each family checked-in, and I eagerly awaited for the evening to begin. It definitely took me a few moments to adjust to seeing so many multi-racial familes, but very refreshing nonetheless. For the first first session of the evening, I had the wonderful privilege to work alongside Hanna Nguyen and Kristina Doan and teach traditional Vietnamese hat and ribbon dance. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to interact with the kids and parents and to find out that so much grace and elegance exists among some of our male counselors!
Later that evening, all 60 counselors put on a Culture Camp Counselor Talent Show in which our creative skills were put to the test and we all had to perform impromptu acts. It was very entertaining to say the least. From Vietnamese story-telling, human pyramids, Michael Jackson impersonating, to a parody of Vietnamese hat and ribbon dancing to the Mulan soundtrack–it was quite the spectacle.
But no worries, the campers got to show-off their talents and knowledge of the Vietnamese culture as well.
The time in New Jersey at the Catalyst Culture Camp was absolutely amazing. It was a great experience and a bit surreal, all at the same time. In the past, the kids we worked with in Vietnam were pre-adoption who were fully immersed in the Vietnamese culture and definitely knew more about it than I did. This time around, the kids were around the same age but they were exactly opposite. They were still the same happy kids, but one set didn’t know the language and had just completely different mindsets.
I thoroughly enjoyed the three energy-fused days of meeting the families, craft-making, dancing, talent shows and many rounds of piggy back rides. In a span of only three days, I developed bonds with not only my fellow counselors, but with the kids as well. There was a definite void and slight feeling of emptiness as we loaded the van and pulled out of Rowan University campus. It was a great experience, and one I will never forget. I will definitely be back again next year!
Looking forward to see everyone back in Dallas for the Dallas premiere of Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam and our 2nd Annual Cocktails for a Cause fundraiser!!!