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Huong Nguyen Volunteers with Alternative Breaks

Huong Nguyen is an incoming fourth year and Global Health major. Huong was born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam and came to America at the age of 10 with their family!

Alternative Breaks is a UCSD-funded program that provides service-learning trips abroad to learn about different social justice issues such as Education in Washington DC, Civic Engagement in Washington DC, Homes for the Homeless in New York, Public Health in Bali, Sustainability in Iceland, and Social Reforms in India.


Huong was a Site Leader for the Public Health program intended to go to Bali, Indonesia in the summer. Huong worked with their co-site leader to lead trip meetings.

“We researched and provided presentations and training on the effects of voluntourism, health inequity, women's rights, disability rights, environmentalism, and political climate in Bali so that our participants could have a sense of awareness before going on the trip itself.”

Unfortunately, despite all of their hard work, the trip was cancelled due to COVID-19 and the program was ended prematurely.

Huong mentions that while with Alternative Breaks, their largest obstacle was overcoming their own self doubt.

“I was new to the program and I didn't know whether I was doing a good enough of a job as a Site Leader or not. I was also struggling to balance my school work and my extracurricular activities because I was also taking a lot of STEM courses while trying to carry out my responsibilities as a leader.”

Despite these challenges, Huong notes that Alternative Breaks was undoubtedly the most enjoyable part of their third year experience.

“I grew so much as a person and also as a leader. I learned a lot about what it means to be there for people when they need you, how to take responsibilities with a sense of urgency, how to show people that you care about them, and how to just be a genuine person that everyone can relate to.”

In their free time, Huong attended the group socials and fundraising events.

“I think I made 15 new friendships with the people that I've met through the program, I've learned to cherish every single memory and experience that I've gotten from this, and I have most definitely grown to be a much more compassionate and loving person than ever before.”

Although Huong remained actively involved with Alternative Breaks through the Spring quarter, due to COVID-19, rather than focus on preparing for the trip;

“We're focusing on the social justice aspects where we can provide new information and new research topics to people who need them!”

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