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This year, I was excited to be one of 10 Cadence employees selected from 130 applicants to participate in the company’s first international volunteer service immersion program with the nonprofit Team4Tech. The team was brought together to work with Kidspire Vietnam to develop tech curriculum that could be delivered to orphans in Vietnam to help them secure a job. I am incredibly lucky to work for a company like Cadence that offers employees a chance for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As a Vietnamese immigrant and First-Generation student, this experience allowed me to give back to those who were not as fortunate to receive the same opportunities for education. Being able to visit an orphanage in my hometown and utilize my technical skills to improve their quality of education was one of the most profound experiences for me, personally and professionally.
For eight weeks, we spent countless hours collaborating via conference calls and emails with Cadence team members from Chelmsford, Columbia, Dublin, Noida, Paris, and San Jose to create workshops around 3D printing, digital portfolios, and Technovation. When the time came to implement our curriculum at the orphanage in Vietnam, we were as nervous as the students. I was part of the digital portfolio team and our task was to support Kidspire Vietnam’s goal of helping every student create a digital portfolio to market their skills and education. When I saw the children’s faces light up as soon as they clicked the “Publish” button and realized their digital portfolio was live, I knew we were making a difference for them.
One of the most impactful moments for me was during the last workshop. I looked around and saw the younger students outside the classroom peeking in through the crevices of the window. It was almost 9pm, which meant the students should have been getting ready for bed or running off to play with their friends. Instead, I saw their eager faces still curious to see what we were teaching the older students and what more they could learn. These children are faced with very harsh conditions and unfortunate circumstances, yet they still had a yearning for knowledge and that was so inspiring to see. By the end of the night, there was not a single dry eye as we said our goodbyes.
I had the opportunity to meet and work alongside some amazing people that I otherwise would not have. Despite all the challenges, technical issues, foreign environment, and humidity, we all worked well together as a team to overcome them. The classroom we were in was very run down and had no AC or proper audio/visual set up. Through Team4Tech, Cadence donated $15,000 USD to renovate the classroom into an innovation lab. It took months, but the innovation lab is now complete and we hear the students are so thrilled they get to call this place their own. They now have AC, proper audio/visual, and outlets on tables to charge their laptops.
I was able to reunite with members of my team at the 6th annual Team4Tech Gala where we celebrated the 60,000 underserved students that Team4Tech and their partners have reached since 2013. Team4Tech co-founders, Julie Clugage and Lila Ibrahim, believed that education could be transformative and help combat poverty. What I enjoyed about the event was that it gave me the opportunity to learn more about Team4Tech and how the nonprofits Cadence has supported are continuing with their overall project. It was so amazing to be in the same room as hundreds of people who believed in the same values and who I could reflect on this incredibly experience with.