Welcome. This website and this blog are the places where I tell stories, share news,and speak truth to power. Why? I am on a mission to help other women of all ages and our girls rise up, celebrate their brilliance,and beat the odds. I am hopeful that our shared stories will inspire, motivate, challenge,and even make us laugh as we all move on our journeys from where we are to where we want to be in our lives. The process of defining and redefining our authentic selvesis perpetual. There is no structure, form, or set format for this journey, and so I begin now and worry about what to write about next at another time.
Outside The Bubble
How To Rise Up After a Fall
What happens when everything you have worked to achieve is wiped out?
This blog commentary is not intended to be a traditional book review.However, I read a great book that took me on a learning experienceand journey outside of my cultural bubbleto discover a perspective on how to rise up after a fall.
Ona Tuesdayin late MarchI received a enjoyableyet surprising announcement from Sharon Orlopp, the former and retired global chief diversity officer and senior vice president of Corporate Human Resources for Walmart. I have never met Sharon in person, but I know her,as we share mutual friends. Heremail announcement arrived on a shared email list of persons that enjoy a collective interest and commitment to diversity, justice,and expanding our world vision.
Sharon announced the forthcoming release of a new bookon May 1, 2018—Standing Up After Saigon: The Triumphant Story of Hope, Determination, and Reinvention. Co-authored with Thuhang Tran, Standing Up After Saigon, which has beenendorsed by corporate icons such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, captures a remarkable true story of familial love and triumph over adversity.
I was both excited to supportSharonas a new writer,and to read ThuhangTran’s amazing story,based on the upfront summaries that Sharonhad provided.Thuhang’s story is about a woman that contracted polio as a toddler, and howher family sacrificed to seek treatment, buttheir efforts were thwarted by the fall of Saigon. Her father, ChinhTran, was an air traffic controller in the South Vietnam Air Force at the time. The family became separatedin the evacuations from Saigon, and Chinh waspresumed dead. This nonfiction work follows Thuhang’sjourneyoutside of her comfort zone to the United States and her father’s unrelenting determination to reunite with his family.
As I waited for Standing Up After Saigon to arrive, I began reflecting on our individual emotional journeys of rising up after a fall. Most of us have fallen at some point in our lives or may expect to fall at some point in the future. After I received my fresh-off-the-press copy on May 3, I read the entire book in two days and finishedwitha learning experience that drew me outside of my bubble.I have few life experiences in common with Thuhang as an immigrant growing up with polio, but her journey to triumph encapsulate universal learning experiences that can assist anyone in their journey to stand up after a fall.
Standing Up After Saigon presents a compelling story as brilliantly captured by Thuhang and Sharon. It is well written and easy to comprehend story that invokes real emotions and deep weighty thought on multiple levels. There are many reflections, lessons and emotions to take away from reading Thuhang and Sharon’s work, however, the single most important take away for me was the notion of empathy, not pity, as the driving component for finding common ground across cultural differences and leveraging a rise up after a fall, disappointment or setback.
Today’s social and political environment seems so callous, raw and riddled with anger, full of blame shifting as an excuse for personal failures and the otherizing of women, minorities,and immigrants as the source of all societal setbacks. It is a sad norm that has high-profile figures resorting to angry tweets, rants, with calls to build a “wall,”to“ keep them out” because “they are trying to take our jobs.”Yet few of these high profile public and political figures express empathy for the experiences of those that look different and have experienced different struggles in their life experiences. The bedrock of America’s reputation as the land of opportunity for immigrants is built upon common values of empathy and opening our hearts, borders,and resources to provide a welcoming environment for those that seek torise up after a fall.
Nothing in Thuhang’s story rang of self-pity or a call for others to pity her; instead, it evoked a reminder of the value of empathy across diverse life experiences, races and genders. Thuhang’s reference to her battle with polio and growing up without the ability to walk was not to invoke pity. Her story of overcoming her adversities was not a tale of woe but an embrace of courage and determination as an immigrant with a disability seeking a new life and opportunity in America.
In reading Standing Up After Saigon, I read a story of a real person who shares some of our most established American values. Thuhang’s journey was simply by and through a different route as an immigrant to experience and contribute to our collective good. Here are just five (5) key lessons embedded in Thuhang’s story.
We will be tested. In Chapter one entitled Shattered Dreams. Thuhang brings to life the reality that inthe flash of an instant,our entire world and our dreams can be shattered and upended,compelling us to examine our will to excel when all is lost.
Be strong. Chapter two, Luat Rung: Jungle Law accounts how at times, we may all find our situationsunmanageable, irrational; we will find that our worldshave been upended. In such cases, it seems that only the strongest will survive,that we literally live under jungle law, luat rung.
Enlist the help of friends and family. In Chapter eight, Thuhang vividly reveals how her search for her father by enlisting the aid of friend, thus reinforcing that which we all know; when all falls down, life is austere, and belongings are meager, we are still lucky because we have each other.
Have empathy. In Chapter twelve, entitled ‘A Stranger in a Strange Land,’ is a gentle reminder that we can all find ourselves in unchartered watersat some point in our lives.
Standup after the fall. Taken as a whole, Thuhang’s narrative that sounds simple, but actually standing up and speaking truth to the challenge is the biggest step toward finding the courage and the only route to reinvention.
I have few life experiences in common with Thuhang as an immigrant growing up with polio. However, I found common ground with Thuhang because her journey to triumph encapsulated universal learning experiences that can assist anyone in their journey outside of their bubble and to stand up after a fall.