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Vietnam Aid Expedition - Ty Benny

The Goal: TO STRENGTHEN COMMUNITIES AND BUILD SAFE SPACES THROUGH SPORT.

 

I could never lose sight of my birthplace, no matter how far away I was. I'm Ty, born in the vibrant Vietnamese culture, but adoption from a humble orphanage at just nine months old redirected my residency and life’s course. I’m working on a project to bridge a community through sports returning home to Vietnam this December. The joy and lessons of team sports continue to play a massive role in my, and I am asking for your help in broadening them to a rural hamlet in Vietnam.

 

Growing up in Minnesota, I've always been curious about my birthplace and community. My adoptive family nurtured my sense of wonder and helped organize trips to see the country when I was younger. Through the years, I've discovered my passion for community through sports. I always had a broad sense of community, feeling welcomed in many different spaces, yet never indeed focused on my Vietnamese culture. From K-6th grade, I attended a Spanish immersion school while growing up in a Caucasian family seeing a little Asian boy in the mirror.  Being cognizant of different cultures played a significant role in expanding my curiosity toward my own. I needed to understand more of my culture to turn to the thing I loved most as my identity. More than just a pastime, sports have become; my refuge, a way to connect with others, and a vessel for rebuilding the sense of community I lost through adoption. Sports teams produce communities of support where differences don't matter: We share a common love of the game and desire to win with the supporters around us.

 

My story took an extraordinary turn when I felt an unyielding call to give back to the land that had given me life on my first trip back in middle school. I dreamed of bringing the transformative power of sports to a rural community in Vietnam that mirrored my beginnings. I’ve been constructing this project for years, and as we put it into motion, I’m asking for the collective efforts of supporters near and far.

 

I plan to bring 3-4 more leaders on the trip through my fundraising efforts. Acknowledging limitations, I ask that those who can't give their time to the project can help raise funds and spread awareness. If you're interested in joining the trip, please reach out and prepare to provide aid in a space where the community stands tall but resources are scarce.

 

With over 2300 people, 300+ of those kids, our project village needs support. Most of the kids in these areas know exercise from farming and gathering. Adding sports to the town will bring them closer to understanding their health and community through teamwork and engaging in structured play/fun. By providing these resources and teaching the sports, we create another safe space for the kids to mature and another bond to be started/shared within the community. Strengthening the community leads to an increased role and responsibility from everyone to look out for each other. Sport gives hope, confidence, and safe growth environments, which is why partnering with Catalyst Foundation was integral to this project.

 

While studying economics at Willamette University, I wrote a paper about the economic explosion following the war. The astounding economic disparity resonated with me as the cities prospered and the countryside wavered. Playing football at Willamette University taught me we find our true community through harsh times. The WU slogan, “Not unto ourselves are we born,” reminds me that a supportive community is always around us.

 

The goal is simple yet profound: TO STRENGTHEN COMMUNITIES AND BUILD SAFE SPACES THROUGH SPORT. To provide a beacon of hope for the village, a space for both young and old, boy or girl, to engage in activities that foster camaraderie, unity, and personal growth.

 

My journey from a child adopted from an orphanage to years later flying across the world to support a needy community is essential. It always has been and always will be the centerpiece of my story. Through sports and a deep sense of community, I've discovered the missing pieces of my story. Weaving them into the fabric of a brighter future. For the kids in villages that may never be afforded my opportunities: I hear you, I see you, and I am here for you. Please join me in raising funds, equipment, awareness, and HOPE throughout this winter's Vietnam Aid Expedition.

 

Thank you,

-Ty Benny

 

*If you want to join me, please email me at [email protected].

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