Posted by: viaprograms | July 20, 2010

AUSL Summer Program Intern

200 participants and Stanford coordinators will join VIA’s programs at Stanford this summer. We are grateful to alumni for helping in many ways including arranging company visits, lecturing as guest lecturers, and joining as dinner guests. Two alumni are also joining as interns. Avis Lai will be joining AUSL this summer. She was an ALC program participant in 2006 and an AUSL program participant in 2008.  We asked her three questions for the blog.

Avis, second from left, joins alumna Amanda Le and VIA staff for a welcome boba drink!

1. How do you describe your ALC and AUSL experiences?

ALC 2006 and AUSL 2008 are both wonderful experiences to me. ALC was my first VIA program and it was also my first time to the U.S. I joined lots of different activities, experiencing American culture and having interaction with different people. It was really great to spend the summer in ALC. We were busy but also had a lot of fun. What I didn’t expect was the influence that ALC had on me. After I came back to Taiwan, the sunshine and free atmosphere in California remains in my heart and I tried to keep that feeling in my daily life. I became more confident to be myself in just the way I want and also become more open and optimistic. Even now, I could still see the change on me and I really appreciate that.

After two years, I went back to Stanford again and joined the AUSL program, which is very different from ALC. In AUSL, I got the chance to experience the gap between rich and poor, to see the operations of NPOs in the U.S., and to know more about organic farming and nature of America. Most importantly, I found like-minded friends in AUSL. We did services together and shared our thoughts. The daily reflections were the important time for discussion and I was lucky to be able to share not only with my group members but also members from other groups. Knowing all different kinds of social issues was really inspiring and we still keep in touch now.

2. Why did you decide to return to VIA as an AUSL intern this summer and what do you look forward to?

I’ve gained a lot from both ALC and AUSL programs. The two programs are really good and they do make influence through different activities. That’s why I want to come back and help. On the other hand, I’ve been working in related area for two years after graduating from college, my job was kind of similar to AUSL and it would be interesting to know how VIA runs the program. I would like to learn from the VIA experience and compare it with the experience I had in Taiwan. I believe it would be very different being a staff rather than being a participant, maybe even quite challenging. Somehow I wish I could help more for the AUSL program, making a great summer with both the participants and the staff together.

3. Any surprises you experienced coming back to the U.S. this time?

At first, I was quite confident about communicating and having conversations in English, because I was doing fine when I joined the programs. However this time, when I stay in a host family, really going into their daily life, when I go into the office, actually having discussion and work with the staff, I found there’s still a lot to improve. Sometimes the conversations are still too fast to me and there is a lot of vocabulary I don’t understand. I think I should practice more on English.

On the other hand, because I have no longer staying with program participants from Asia, who shared similar background with me, but live with host family and work with VIA staff, I am able to take a closer look at the real American life, including the living style and working style. I got the chance to know about America deeper. Everyday I see new things and have new experience. It’s really interesting and I like it a lot.

Welcome back, Avis, and thanks for the interview! Leave a question or comment for her.


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