We provide many opportunities for professional development and practice, student service learning, civic engagement and volunteerism.

Individual examples include formal internships, service learning and research work supported by academic institutions, as well as voluntary help from individuals from all walks of life.

Professional and organizational opportunities include partnerships, agreements, memos of understanding, donations, and other fair, equitable and mutually respectful relationships. See Who We Are for our Service Partners and Employer Club members, and consider how your group could be a part of our work. Academics and researchers are invited to join our network.

Certifications and Continuing Ed units are ways in which professionals stay current by developing and improving their skills. We're developing professional learning opportunities along with our higher education allies and Research Network members. See below.


  • Your organization is interested? We give hour-long talks about our community for a small honorarium. Call us.

  • We are ready for college! MDA works closely with colleges and universities, providing learning opportunities of mutually benefit. Read this page for more details.

  • In connection with UNCG Dept of Public Health Education, MDA has offered its first Community Health Scholar award to Xuem Siu, an MPH candidate at UNCG.

  • Recent social work grads from NCAT and UNCG, Kiana Hutcherson and Joana Mendez, have both built their futures based on the extraordinary Covid response work they did at MDA.

  • Lila Nie Miles, RN is a member of MDA's board and regular volunteer who uses her professional expertise and community knowledge to help organize vaccination clinics.


“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve."— MLK

General volunteer help from community members and general public is always welcome by MDA. If you have special skills as a retired educator, health worker, business person, etc please let us know. In order for volunteers to be comfortable and confident in their assigned tasks, they undergo Orientation and Training which can include attendance at community events.

Schedules and commitments are worked out between MDA and the individual and while the nature of volunteer work is often less formal than other opportunities listed here, we ask that all volunteers respect the mission, daily operations and staff assignments which cannot be adjusted to meet volunteers' individual priorities.


  • Professor C. is a lifetime learner and retired educator who has traveled the world and always been active in social justice and local issues. She was a regular presence at the Women's Learning Group and a patient language teacher. In retirement her time commitment was steady but flexible. Her impact on community women was profound.

  • Warren gave us a call whenever the NCAT farm field needed to be harvested because together he and Montagnard community members would quickly and skillfully pick tomatoes, cow peas, butternut squash and other demonstration crops whose projects had ended. In turn, community members would distribute collected harvests among families and make sure nothing was wasted.

Next steps


MDA regularly offers internship opportunities for senior undergraduates and graduate students and some summer opportunities for juniors. If you are a college student, grad or post-doc and are interested in working with us, contact us.




  • The learner's school or college must have an MDA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or its equivalent.

  • Learners must receive MDA Orientation and Training.

  • There must be a clear chain of accountability among the school/college, MDA and learner(s) and agreed set of procedures about who to contact to resolve any issues or problems.

Contact us for more information.




This is a conscientious effort by an individual or group to address specific issues of public concern with the goal towards improving community life. Such involvement is basic to the principals and practice of democracy. MDA welcomes participation by people of all backgrounds. Interested individuals must undergo Orientation and Training and may be asked to attend community events in order to gain a better understanding of the community before beginning projects.

Civic engagement work, unlike the general contributions of volunteers, is both topic-driven, specific and guided. It can be undertaken by anyone over the age of 16. You do not have to be a student.


  • Sun works with MDA partner, the Southeast Asian Coalition, in order to promote civil society issues such as Citizenship information fairs and voter registration information geared specificially to newcomer communities. Various events are designed to encourage Montagnard community members' active involvement in the American social and political life consistent with democratic values.

  • To address broad concerns shared by many in the wake of the devastating fire at a refugee apartment complex, Network members and friends had a hand in organizing a series of dialog circles about what happened and what steps could be taken to prevent future disasters that affected many families including Montagnard community members. Officials and organization representatives attended, but so did average civilians.

Next steps

  • The Montagnard community encounters many issues that have broader implications beyond the immediate interests of the community. Your interest in community concerns and understanding how they connect to broader public issues (governance, minority representation, health, education housing, etc) ensures that no single special interest group speaking "on behalf" of refugees, newcomers or the Montagnard community can sway decision-makers with their own agendas.

  • We always welcome allies from all walks of life. Contact us with your questions.




Gap Year and Study Abroad are popular learning excursions that take place under the guidance of an educational program. But why go abroad when you can study here in the Triad? Greensboro is one of the most diverse medium-sized Southern cities, with over one hundred languages spoken in its schools. The region is home to the largest community of Montagnards outside of our homeland in Vietnam's Central Highlands. We are also recognized by the United Nations as an indigenous people and our experiences reflect the legacy of modern war between super powers and developing countries, issues arising from refugee and indigenous rights, globalism and urbanism, modernity and the preservation and promotion of indigenous traditions and customs.


  • Aidan was interested in international affairs, living abroad, and thought he'd apply to the Peace Corps when he graduated. He wanted to get experience interacting with non-native English speakers, especially those from non-Western countries. When he learned that Guilford County boasts over 100 languages spoken in its public schools, he realized that he could get a lot of advanced knowledge from the experiences he gained working with the Montagnard community.

  • Hlois was born in the US but was immersed in the Montagnard community, language and culture. She performed hundreds of hours of college service learning work in her community and a research assistant in the Montagnard Hypertension Project. In her final year she accompanied a UNCG team including Network members Sharon Morrison and Betsy Renfrew to Thailand and acted as the trip's language interpreter.

Next steps

  • Find out what offices, departments or programs might credit you for Global/Diversity Learning experiences. Most Study Abroad programs expect you to board an airplane with a passport as a requirement, but you should have other options depending on your major or focus of study.

  • You should have a focused area of interest and be prepared to be challenged since MDA requires SL participants to undergo Orientation and Training which includes cultural competency and anti-racism practice.

  • Contact us with your questions.


Service learning (SL) is purposeful, hands-on experience executed by students in school or college and that exists in the framework of "applied democracy" and civil discourse. MDA requires that service learning takes place within the community, based on community needs, and the performance of students subject to review and criticism from college supervisors (preceptors) and MDA. SL can be organized in many ways, based on a school or college program, course, club, gap year, summer term or other. It can include an individual learner or a group. SL is recognized for its ability to profoundly affect ways that learners define themselves and their responsibilities as students and community members in a democratic society.


  • As a course requirement, Karla chose to help Women's Learning Group members practice English at neighborhood meeting places. Her work was supervised and she reported hours. She completed the course's 20 hours and then chose to continue her work.

  • In order to fulfill her service learning hours, Lek organized an afterschool homework help hour at her old high school. Many of the youth were refugee students like herself. As a member of the Jarai tribe, she inspired college students from diverse backgrounds to join her team and assist her.

Next steps

  • Find out what offices or programs at your college or university support Service Learning. Good SL programs are structured, meaning they require goals, reflection and extended time commitment. If you've only got half an hour per week, then consider becoming a Volunteer (see below).

  • Consult your academic adviser or other knowledgeable source about whether your SL interests might align with a course requirement. By working with the Montagnard community, students have gotten course credit for fields from sustainable food systems to media studies.

  • MDA requires SL participants to undergo Orientation and Training before you perform service. Contact us with your questions.



Academic based community-engaged scholarship (CES), participatory action research (PAR) and community based participatory research (CBPR), on the undergraduate or graduate levels, are welcomed by MDA. Topics, themes and methods are subject to approval by MDA's Community Advisory Council. Your institution may have additional qualifications and guidelines. Through MDA's Montagnard / Asian Community Disparities Research Network, you may receive feedback on project ideas and design. Like service learning, research is recognized for its ability to profoundly affect ways that learners define themselves and their responsibilities as students, career professionals and community members within a democratic society.


  • Joining an ongoing project Jordan was an underclassman considering his choice of major and career path. He began regular attendance at weekly Montagnard Hypertesion Project meetings and was soon fully immersed as one of twenty research assistants collecting health data and interacting with community members.

  • Proposing a new project Robin interacted with the Montagnard community since her freshman college year completed service learning hours at community sites and volunteered at various events. She proposed a senior thesis on Montagnard resettlement which was supported by the Research Network. Her thesis review committee included Network members.

Next steps

  • Whether joining an ongoing project or proposing a new project, MDA is interested in sustained, serious research that is coordinated with existing Network endeavors. You can contact the Network directly about areas of research or questions about contacting members.

  • Actual proposals ready for review can be sent on to the Community Advisory Council (link).



We're working with our Research Network members affiliated with local colleges and universities to assist us in creating learning modules about the experiences of our refugee community, one of the largest and oldest in the Triad region, our encounters with local, state and regional services and institutions, and the unique perspectives we can provide to practicing professionals in law, policing, housing, healthcare, education and other fields.

As newcomers, refugees and immigrants continue to make up a significant number of residents in our region, we hope to engage professionals and together tackle serious system gaps in the provision of care and services.