An Evolution

Tell us a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

The chilly air of the California winter tingled across my face, my arms filled with dolls, bears, and toy cars. I cautiously trudged past the stores, making sure to not drop anything. I slipped. Before I knew it, the toys had all tumbled to the ground. The sound of children’s laughter filled my ears, but rather than feeling embarrassed, I broke into a wide smile. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but my goofiness would help mold a strong relationship with the children entrusted to me.

I was shocked to learn that, even today, many of the 189,000 Vietnamese-Americans who live in Little Saigon, one of the oldest and largest Vietnamese-American groups in the country, are refugees. So unfortunately, many families cannot enjoy the simple delights and luxuries of celebrating the holiday season. As the son of two Vietnamese immigrants myself, I felt a debt to my own community. With donations from my Key Club, I decided to reach out to a local church and asked them to connect us with refugees from around the area. I wanted to make sure these kids wouldn’t go empty-handed this holiday season, to instead finally have the opportunity to truly celebrate Christmas.

On that December morning, crowds of people had lined up in front of the Asian...

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