From April to June this year, Student Engagement, a division of the Office of Student Life, kickstarted the summer for Fulbright students by lining up a series of try-out activities. These activities aim to cultivate a comprehensive development approach, with a focus on the youth’s physical and social health outside their classrooms.

Varying from healthy meal-making to rock climbing, five summery activities provided students with much-needed short breaks from their approaching final projects and exams. “The try-out series comprised of sports and recreation activities, which aim to promote a balanced lifestyle and enable students to thrive in both school and life,” shared Ms. Ruby Nguyen, Student Engagement Manager, the Office of Student Life. “This also aligns with Student Engagement’s long-term mission: to complement students’ in-class learning with experiential activities, and provide them with opportunities to develop important life skills, build community, and make rewarding connections.”

Attracting a total of 179 accumulated participants with nearly 100% Net Promoter Score, the try-out series brought a breath of fresh air to the campus as Fulbright students explored different after-hour leisure activities including making their salad, jumping for joy, putting together a smoothie bowl, awakening the senses to art via painting, and reaching higher in rock climbing.

“Make Your Own Salad”

The Try-out series was officially launched as Fulbright students got to make their salad, which was unique with various selections of carbs, veggies, proteins, and dressings. The options were endless whether the students wanted to create a paprika shrimp salad, a classic Caesar salad, a beef salad, a chicken salad, or a one-of-a-kind of their own. A healthy salad serving is a perfect quick-to-make dish that provided the right amount of nutrients such as fiber and good fat for a university student amid a hustle and bustle season. Moreover, preparing and having a nutrient-dense meal together at the heart of the Fulbright campus also strengthens social relationships among fellow students.

Sunday Jump Day

At Jump Arena Trampoline Park in Him Lam District 7, Fulbright students spent all their pent-up energy and improved their fitness in a heart-lifting jump fest involving bounce slam dunks, dodge ball, and rock climbing. They even burned more calories with High-Performance Trampoline, Sky Challenge, Ninja Challenge, and Giant Airbag.

It did not only refresh my mind after hours of heavy workload but also allow me to get out of my comfort zone and enhance my critical thinking skill,” excited Nguyen Quang Minh, student of Class 2023.

“Make Your Own Smoothie Bowl”

“Make Your Own Smoothie Bowl” encouraged students to spark creativity in making a colorful and nutritious meal from a wide range of seasonal water-rich fruits including apples, avocados, bananas, etc. The exciting part of a smoothie bowl was the loaded toppings of one’s choice from different seeds, nuts, granola, or coconut shavings. Among many smoothie lovers, Le Thao Tuong Vy shared: “Creating a smoothie bowl of my own made me realize how surprisingly simple it was to adopt a healthy and sustainable eating pattern. I will make more smoothie bowls as my new favorite daily snack!”

Canvas Painting

The process of making art is such a therapeutic act. Its benefits for one’s mental health touch the heart of not only those who considered themselves “artists” but many others who tried it out. Hence, on a summery Sunday morning, Fulbright students gathered at the Crescent campus and awakened their artistic selves with canvas painting. Even though many of them probably had not touched a paintbrush before, all of their pictures turned out strikingly aesthetic and charming.

Despite some of the hiccups along the way, such as limited skills in brush techniques or color mixing, Fulbright “unprofessional painters” worked around the difficulties with their larger-than-life imagination and problem-solving mindset. For example, a flock of birds was a beautiful distraction to an overdone gradient sunset sky. If thinking outside the box was second nature to a painter, then Fulbright students were indeed artists that morning.

Rock Climbing

The Try-out series finally culminated with a rock-climbing session in an indoor gym located in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City. Fulbright students were able to test their physical limits and improve every major muscle group in their bodies on a 15-meter climbing wall of 50+ routes, lead climbing, auto-belay, moon board, and a jungle gym. As rock climbing is an engaging form of cardio and a great way to practice stretching and flexibility, climbers had to use their arms and legs to pull their bodies up the wall, while their abs work to keep them stable and balanced.

Many students found indoor rock climbing – specifically the way they had to navigate the climbing route like a puzzle – to have a huge positive impact on their mental health. Additionally, getting to hang out with like-minded sports enthusiasts was a great weekend release.

Phương Mai