I May Not Change The World, But I Could Change Their World


After three years of undergraduate experience in biochemistry, I have managed to narrow down my career path in public health. This summer I have had the opportunity to work with the Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (Viet-Aid). Viet-Aid is a non-profit organization that aims to build a strong Vietnamese community and a vibrant Fields Corner neighborhood located in Dorchester of Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to work with Viet-Aid directly due to some political changes. As a result, I was redirected to a professor in the Connell School of Nursing to be a research assistant. Although this incident completely changed my internship placement this summer, nevertheless, my goals this summer stay the same.

With this professor, I have the opportunity to carry out a public health evidence-based research. The main goal of this study is to understand how to best translate and adopt the Diabetes Prevention Program for cultural and linguistic relevance for Vietnamese Americans. According to the recent Center for Disease Control report, Type 2 Diabetes is a growing problem among Asian Americans. Yet, an appropriate Certified Diabetes Prevention Program for Vietnamese American has not been adapted. As a native speaker, I help translate many documents and facilitate community outreach events. Before testing the translated program on people, we are holding focused groups with Diabetic Vietnamese Americans to discuss their experiences, lifestyles, and hear their opinions about the current standardized Certified Diabetes Prevention Program. Since public health is a multidisciplinary field, our research has to partner with a variety of stakeholders from local small businesses, community health center, religious groups, and community center such as Viet-Aid. In this way, my placement this summer has not changed so drastically. At the same time, I have had the opportunity to apply the majority of materials that I learned in my public health courses to this internship from determining social determinants, to factoring out risk factors, and to involving stakeholders into the change.

The countless interactions and relationships I had at Boston College have taught me to believe in the potential that I can have ‘to be men and women for others’. This internship has been personal to me, not only due to the location being in my old home, but it is also due to the majority of immigrants  I will be working with. As an 1.5 immigrant, I have the advantage of being in between two cultures: Vietnamese and American. Although this prevention program cannot directly change the world, fix social justice, or bring about health equity, at least for this particular under-served community, this research can change their world.

Written by Ngan Tran, BC Class of 2017