Brown Fellows create lifelong memories in Vietnam and Cambodia
September 2, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
serene moment during the trip through Vietnam and Cambodia.
“Interacting with the people of Vietnam and learning about their
culture and customs was fascinating and also caused me to
reflect on my own cultural identity,” Fryar says.
Audrey Jenkins says that the trip was “incredibly eye-opening.
I learned so much about Vietnamese culture and beliefs and met
so many amazing people.”
Rahul Joseph (above, with Brown Fellow first-year Rachel Ison)
says that he is looking forward to “being a part of the supportive
Centre community and having access to the opportunities it
brings. What else could I ask for in a college?”
On Wednesday, August 25, the 10 Brown Fellows from the Class of 2014 arrived on campus, and they arrived from a whirlwind summer adventure.
The students, recipients of Kentucky’s most prestigious fellowship, recently spent two and a half weeks traveling through Vietnam and Cambodia for their first summer enrichment experience. The summer event is but one of the many components of the Brown Fellows Program; in addition, each fellow receives full tuition, room and board, three additional summer enrichment programs, on-campus program mentors, field-based experiential learning opportunities and more.
(The Brown Fellows Program was launched last year by the James Graham Brown Foundation. The foundation selected Centre as the private institution and the University of Louisville as the public campus to host the Program.)
Last year, Centre’s first class of Brown Fellows traveled to Panama for their summer adventure, where all participants had a remarkable time. The location of this year’s trip was on the opposite side of the world and was just as memorable.
“The word ‘enjoyable' really doesn't do the trip justice,” Audrey Jenkins ’14 of Sioux City, Iowa, says. “It was incredibly eye-opening. I learned so much about Vietnamese culture and beliefs and met so many amazing people—and the food was delicious. Everything there was so different than anything I had ever encountered prior to the trip. It shocked, enthralled and enchanted me. The trip was an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything.”
The students visited several very different environments while abroad, from modern cities to poverty-stricken villages. “These experiences took us out of our comfort zone and pushed us to become more independent and aware of our surroundings,” Catherine Parks ’14 of Salisbury, N.C., says.
The other fellows agreed that the trip opened their eyes to a wider world.
“The most rewarding aspect of the trip this summer was interacting with people from another culture and seeing their society thrive in an environment very different from ours,” Rahul Joseph ’14 of Lexington, Ky., says. “By giving us a holistic view of Vietnam and Cambodia, the Brown Fellows Program exposed us to what life is like in Southeast Asia, with regard to both the past and the present.”
Michael Fryar ’14 of Lexington, Ky., says that “interacting with the people of Vietnam and learning about their culture and customs was fascinating and also caused me to reflect on my own cultural identity.”
Spending time abroad also helped prepare the students for college life—as well as helping them form close friendships before even arriving on campus.
“Whether intentionally or not, the trip did prepare me in part for college life,” Joseph says. “I spent two and a half weeks living in a different part of the world, eating new types of food, meeting other students my age with a variety of interests, rooming with a complete stranger and being away from my hometown, family and friends. If that doesn't prepare me for the transition to college, I don’t know what will!”
Madeline Hooper ’14 of Little Rock, Ark., says that the trip helped prepare her for life at Centre by “reminding me that I'm part of a much bigger world. Since I'm in the middle of the huge transition from high school to college, it's easy to become focused on my own whims and worries. Traveling to these distant countries reminded me that the world needs me to do something useful with the education I'll receive at Centre; it gave me a renewed sense of purpose.”
Jenkins says that before trip, she knew no one from Centre. “I was just a lone little girl from Iowa. But now I know at least nine kids from Centre who are absolutely brilliant and incredible, and I know that I’ll meet many more who are equally wonderful. I can hardly wait!”
Learning more about the other fellowship recipients was one of Hooper’s favorite aspects of the trip. “Getting to know the other Brown Fellows in the context of a completely foreign environment was wonderful,” she says. “As we explored two beautiful countries and encountered unfamiliar situations, we bonded quickly, and I loved being with such smart and lively people.”
And now that they’re back in the States and getting settled on campus, the Brown Fellows are more eager than ever to begin their Centre careers.
“There are obviously many things to be excited about,” Joseph says. “I’m definitely looking forward to being a part of the supportive Centre community and having access to the opportunities it brings. What else could I ask for in a college?”
Parks says that she cannot wait to participate in the many activities Centre offers. “Every time I talk to a current Centre student, he or she can’t say enough good things about their experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom. I’m excited to have the freedom to take interesting classes while also making new friends through golf and student organizations. I’m ecstatic to be at Centre.”
Though she says she is not sure exactly what to expect from college life, Jenkins says that she is looking forward “to learning from people much smarter than myself, meeting new, fascinating friends and ultimately deciding what it is that I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s a terrifying and thrilling adventure that I'm about to start.”