Kyle Kessler & Richard Boehnke

Richard and Kyle at a local orphanage they work with for CTYEP
December 5, 2013

In addition to teaching at Can Tho University, Kyle and Richard serve as directors of the Can Tho Youth Empowerment Project. CTYEP works to cultivate meaningful exchanges between students at Can Tho University and the broader community by engaging in charitable works at the Buu Tri Pagoda (a pagoda that cares for over 100 orphaned children) and Ho Tu Thien (a local charity that provides shelter and educational opportunities to homeless and street children). Kyle and Richard invite you to learn more about CTYEP and help them reach their fundraising goal of $3,000 to keep the program going!

“With your help, we have the power to fundamentally change children’s lives for the better, and there is no greater gift that you can give this holiday season.”

- Kyle and Richard

Visit their Indiegogo crowdfunding page to DONATE NOW.

What activities do you do in your spare time?

Kyle: Most of my spare time here in Can Tho is spent drinking coffee with friends and students, lots and lots of coffee. Other than that, I have found time to play soccer with friends, become a pool shark, make a serious dent in the house library, and teach at an English center. Letting the laidback Delta lifestyle wash over you is something I have thoroughly enjoyed

Richard: When I have a few days put together it’s great to get out of the city and see Vietnam. Otherwise, in Can Tho, I spent a good deal of time going to coffee, playing music, reading, writing, and pondering.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned during your time on PiA?

Kyle: When asked, “Do you really want to know what you are eating?” The only appropriate answer is “No.” The most eye opening learning experience however, is that I don’t have all the answers. This may seem simple, but understanding that you need to keep learning will be the most important thing you learn while in PiA. For as basic as this statement sounds, I have found that it is easier said than done.

Richard: I am now ready for something more. No longer feel the need to jump from job to job and am excited to find a position where I will work for an extended period of time. I know that I have the ability to adapt and thrive in difficult situations and am now looking to settle in a place, at least for a while, and see what I can build.

What has been your most embarrassing moment in Asia? (So far … there will be more! ☺)

Kyle: While sitting in class one day, a mutant spider the likes of which Lucifer himself created crawled across the floor of the classroom while I was teaching. Instead of handling this in a masculine and mature way, I jumped on top of my desk and let out a high-pitched screech, “KILL IT, KILL IT!!!” One of the students then picked up the creature by the leg and threw it out of the classroom window. The next 3 minutes of class were spent with the students laughing at their not so cool teacher.

Richard: Well, I have done some pretty odd things; sang at weddings (in Vietnamese), performed a skit for freshman students, judged the student fashion show; but none of these were really embarrassing. It may have been, after singing at a wedding, when I was sandwiched in between the bride's two younger sisters for the entirety of the party and old Vietnamese men proceeded to make lewd jokes about my situation for the rest of the evening. That, or realizing that I was playing “find the foreigner” just as much as everyone else in Rach Gia, because, well, I needed to speak English with somebody. There really is nothing like driving down the street on a terrible motorbike, with a large package of toilet paper, and screeching to a halt so I could marvel at a foreigner looking at a map and offering my assistance simply because, yes, I live here.

What do you miss the most from home?

Kyle: Anything made from potatoes and saturated fat, purple Skittles, Gatorade, Sportcenter, family, friends, and not being perceived as “special” simply because I was born in the Western Hemisphere.

Richard: Being able to walk into a restaurant, sit, and order in the local language whilst being completely ignored by everyone around.

What do you miss the least from home?

Kyle: Cold weather, Christmas music before Thanksgiving, smart phones, and a constant rush on time which makes it impossible to relax, appreciate life, and discover new things about oneself. Being in a place where people put a high value on spending time enjoying life with family and friends has been, for lack of a better word, cool.

Richard: I don’t miss the speed, the stress, or the pressure that is placed upon finding something that is “worthwhile” to do. While the endless coffee invitations here can become tiresome, it is wonderful to live in a place where such a high premium is placed upon spending time with family and friends; where work is the means to this most valuable end.

What do you hope to do after your PiA fellowship?

Kyle: My hope is to stay on PiA for another year and continue spreading the mission and valuable work of this organization. After that…. No idea. Ideally, I would like to fuse my passion of closing achievement gaps for children from rural areas and life in Asia into some related job opportunity. That being said, planning into the future has never been my strong suit.

Richard: We’ll see.

Please write an original haiku on the PiA-related topic of your choice.

First haiku ever
Probably could be better
PiA hell yeah

Food is important
Fetal eggs and durian
Xín mơi ăn thử đi

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