I was part of the YES Abroad class of 2009: one of 48 high school students from all walks of American culture to live with host families and study in local schools overseas. I spent my year in Mali learning French, making life-long friendships, and ultimately, discovering my passion.
In Mali, I had the opportunity to meet with people displaced by violence in different parts of the region. As a daughter of Vietnamese and prisoner of war refugee parents who grew up in inner-city trailer parks in the suburbs of Atlanta, I was deeply humbled by their stories. I brought these inspirational experiences back home with me and volunteered at international refugee assistance and cultural exchange organizations in both Atlanta and Paris, France. These experiences helped me to secure my current internship as a West Africa Program Assistant at the Department of State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.