Do works closely with the Center for New North Carolinians and spoke on her experience doing service with children of similar backgrounds to her.
The Kernodle Center for Civic Life inspires, educates and prepares students to partner with diverse communities to address local and global challenges. Through Elon Volunteers!, the center is a hub for service on campus, providing opportunities for Elon students to engage through various types of programming. This is all possible through the hard work and dedication of its many student leaders.
Yuzu Do ’23, the executive director of outreach and collaboration for Elon Volunteers!, is one of those hard-working leaders. In her position, she is tasked with leadership and student recruitment as well as outreach.
Born and raised in Vietnam until she was 12 years old, Do now lives in Greensboro with her family and has dedicated much of her time to helping other immigrant students and children through her work at the Kernodle Center.
She originally became involved with Elon Volunteers! through immigrant and refugee outreach at the Center for New North Carolinians, a program devoted to fostering a safe and supportive learning environment for immigrants and refugees living in North Carolina. At the center, she worked as a volunteer coordinator.
“I knew I wanted to work with children that are going through the same experience I went through as a young immigrant,” she said. “I saw myself in those children and I wanted to encourage them by teaching them all of the opportunities available to them like I was taught myself.”
While there, she immediately made meaningful connections with the children through their shared backgrounds and their ability to see themselves in one another. Do continued by reflecting on her own time spent in a program similar to the Center for New North Carolinians when she was a child and how hard it was to learn a new language and transition into a new culture.
“When I came to America, I was going to a school called Doris Henderson Newcomers School. Most of the people who worked there were American students volunteering and that inspired me to do the same,” Do said.
She highlights CNNC as a service opportunity that has stuck with her throughout the years. She spoke about how working there acted as a positive reminder that your work will impact others no matter how much or how little you put in.
Her experience there opened her eyes to how important reflection is when it comes to community service and how she believes a lot of that needed reflection has been lost.
“For me, reflection is one of the most important parts of community service. I feel like that aspect has been sort of lost and my time at CNNC helped me understand just how important it is,” Do said.
As she continued working with Elon Volunteers!, she was drawn to apply for a higher leadership position despite her previously shying away from it in the past. What pushed her to make that leap into a leadership role was a personal challenge to improve her outreach and sociability skills.
Through her executive director position, Do hopes that she is expanding the perspectives of Elon Volunteers! through her identity as an immigrant.
As far as what encourages her to return to the Kernodle Center each year, she credits the people and relationships she has formed through it.
“[The Kernodle Center] really is made up of people who are sympathetic and open-minded. And those people draw me back every year,” Do said.
She has always had the desire to help people and give back to the community around her. She talked about the feeling of joy she gets knowing that she can make someone’s day better and how even the thought of that keeps her driven to do more.
“Supporting people is something I really enjoy. Being able to say, ‘Oh I helped someone today,’ keeps me going to do more and more,” she said.
She wants to encourage other students to get involved with all the things the Kernodle Center has to offer, such as the Special Olympics happening in April. She highlights it as a good starting point for service and a great opportunity for all types of students to get involved in.
“People from all kinds of backgrounds and service experiences can participate in it. It is just a nice opportunity for people to come together and give back,” she said “Anything is possible and your story is your strength. I was able to embrace and reflect on my own experience and now I use that to have a positive impact on others.”