20th Presentation was the Most Meaningful: Harvard Vietnamese Association Alumni Gathering
August 1, 2022
by Dr. Plastic Picker
I’m still trying to process it all. It was such a beautiful day yesterday. Michael Tran who was our leader back in our undergraduate days was the Co-President of the Harvard Vietnamese Association and Director of RYSE, Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment. Mr. Plastic Picker and I had been involved with BRYE, Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment. Both had largely served the Boston Vietnamese refugee community back then. Dr. Michael Tran organized a reunion for Harvard Vietnamese Association alumni in California. A lot of people came. I mean A LOT!
One of our classmates had been a Physics concentrator back in the day, and I always remember thinking he was really smart. He was, because I remember we took Organic Chemistry together and for him the class was easy. I struggled with it and did reasonable, but I needed it for medical school admissions. He was just taking it because – actually I don’t think he even needed to take it! He mentioned during the closing part of the reunion, that the importance of the Harvard experience was really the connections and experiences and people we met. And for this group of alumni that gathered, that was absolutely true.
It’s a glimpse into Harvard that most people don’t think about. The smaller communities within Harvard, that struggle with identify and how to find a place in the university. And we found our Harvard, and it was partially with each other. Given that one man was able to bring alumni from all over the state together (and I have to say in general we are an accomplished group) is saying a lot. It speaks to his leadership, his moral authority as someone who back then was a very young man and that we as young teenagers admired and followed. Michael said come, and we came. Even Mr. Plastic Picker came, and he’s not even Vietnamese! He’s Korean!
It’s honestly going to take me months to process this all. I’m thankful for this journey of climate and health activism, because it made me come to this gathering to present.
But and to tell them this.
But it was just a wonderful wonderful day yesterday. And a transformative day. My children, my husband and myself felt those authentic connections as we drove back home from Orange County to San Diego. It’s amazing to feel loved and be loved. And honestly that is what happened yesterday. And that I was given space to tell them how much I loved all children and the earth, and to ask for some help – was icing on the Vietnamese coconut flavored desert.