Self-discovery Through Service: Jenny’s Story

Jenny Nguyen is a native Lincolnite and a senior at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln studying psychology. Through her experience at the UNL Career Center, Jenny learned about an internship available at the Asian Center.

“I’d heard of the Asian Center before through my parents. They came to the US from Vietnam before I was born and the Asian Center helped them settle into life in Lincoln,” says Jenny.

As a second-generation immigrant in Lincoln, Jenny did not experience overt discrimination, but she did encounter stereotypes and slights. Then COVID changed everything.

“When the pandemic hit, and I saw so many stories about Asian hate on this news, it shook me. I couldn’t understand why people would do these things. It really brought discrimination to the forefront for me,” says Jenny.

“When I saw the internship at the Asian Center, I thought, ‘Maybe this is a way I can help local immigrants and fight discrimination by caring for people.’ I didn’t know much about becoming a US citizen, so I learned a lot along the way!” says Jenny.

The internship with the Asian Center’s Citizenship Class gave Jenny a window into the experiences of New Americans in Lincoln. Seeing immigrant and refugee students sacrifice time they could be spending with their families to come to class, study, and learn was inspiring for Jenny. 

“It was motivating to see students reach milestones along the citizenship process! They’re so proud and we’re all cheering along with them. I was even able to speak Vietnamese with some women, helping them understand parts of the curriculum.

“This internship taught me about citizenship, but it really taught me a lot more. I got to know people from other countries trying to build a new life in Lincoln. I learned about all the ways that the Asian Center helps immigrants with EVERYTHING they need to settle here and be successful," says Jenny.

“And I discovered how much I enjoy teaching! In fact, on the last day of citizenship class, the instructor, Sarah, told me I’d make a great teacher. This whole experience has been very impactful for me in so many ways. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity and grateful that Lincoln has a place like the Asian Center making our city a better, more inclusive community,” says Jenny.