Interview: Journey to Vietnam Helps Waid Decide Career Path
By JAYSON FLORES ’14
On March 27, Tanesha Waid ’13 presented in the Civility in Action Leadership Discussion Series, an initiative through the Office of Institutional Diversity. Her presentation centered on her experience in the Vira I. Heinz Program, which provides young women at sophomore level or higher with a scholarship to travel anywhere in the world to pursue a project of their choosing. Waid followed her passion for education and helping youth by traveling to Vietnam and working in the Truyen Tin Orphanage, which is located right outside of Ho Chi Minh City. After the presentation concluded, Waid was interviewed about her experience with Vira Heinz.
What is the purpose of Civility in Action events?
Civility in Action is an initiative based in the Office of Institutional Diversity, which is meant to convince the Arcadia community to take action against incivility and injustice. Instead of focusing on conversations, it’s about being active in making a change.
The Civility in Action Leadership Discussion Series highlights the actions of those who are actively working to transform communities. It highlights their leadership style and lets others springboard ideas for how they could make a difference at Arcadia, in the Greater Philadelphia community, or in the world.
What was it like getting into the Vira Heinz Program?
Getting into the Heinz Program was very exciting. The application process is thorough and competitive, so receiving the news that I was selected as a member of the 2011 cohort was beyond words. Recipients of the Vira Heinz Scholarship Program for Women in Global Leadership are truly women dedicated to becoming global ambassadors, so it was an honor to be included in those ranks. I also would not have been able to afford studying or volunteering abroad with my own funds, especially to a country that is quite literally on the other side of the word. I had the passion and the drive, but not the resources.
Why did you pick Vietnam?
Vietnam essentially picked me. I decided to do a reverse order search, picking the organization that I wanted to volunteer with first instead of picking my destination. I found A Broader View, which is located in Wyncote, Pa., very close to campus. I knew if I ever needed to stop in their office for any reason it wouldn’t be a problem. Chantal Barr, who was a Heinz recipient the year before me, used ABV for her volunteer trip to Ghana. She raved about the support she received from them, so I took comfort in knowing another Arcadia student had a great experience with their team. They are also fairly small and family-owned; they genuinely care about their volunteers and the people that their volunteers serve. After deciding that I wanted to use one of their programs, I checked out each of their sites in South America, Asia and Africa. The Vietnam program stood out as soon as I read the description. I loved that you could live in the orphanage you volunteered in, and that you really get the chance to help make a better life for the children. Because the orphanage is right outside of Vietnam’s biggest city, Ho Chi Minh City, being a skilled English speaker opens up several job options in tourism for the kids.
What was one of the best parts about Vietnam?
I don’t think I could name one specific thing. The people that I was volunteering with definitely made my trip amazing through. There was no time to feel homesick or super overwhelmed by the hectic schedule when there was always a baby that needed to be fed, a toddler that wanted to be spun around in circles, or a group of teen boys that needed an extra person to have even teams for barefoot soccer. I really loved being in the classroom with the kids I was given. Even though it was their summer break, they were still happy to be learning in the classroom. They loved playing review games with the boys going against the girls, and they were ecstatic the day that we gave them English names. I also had a lot of great times exploring Vietnam with the local volunteers. Many of them invited me into their homes to meet their families and have a meal. It really gave me an authentic cultural experience.
How has the experience changed you?
I’ve definitely become more passionate about youth issues and I’ve made a point of being able to understand how our own foster care system works since it’s not really something we discuss on a regular basis. I became more of an activist for all causes near and dear to my heart and changed my leadership style in order to be a better ally and advocate. My experience also helped me decide my career path in educational non-profit work.