This is a photo of me the day I arrived in America in 1993. I came with my parents and one suitcase. It only had a few days’ clothes and the things they couldn’t bear to leave behind. Most people can probably tell by my name that I am an immigrant. What most people don’t know is that almost all Vietnamese immigrants are refugees. 

And what were they fleeing? An oppressive regime, a war-torn country, unjust political incarceration, religious persecution, the ghosts of their fallen countrymen. And what did they believe they were coming to? A new world, the land of opportunity, a future for themselves and their child, a life worth living.

So they sold their possessions, they took only what they needed, they said their goodbyes, and they left the only home they had ever known. My family and I came on a plane, but many people didn’t. Many people snuck out of the country on fishing boats – packed in like sardines beneath the deck with no concept of time or day. Many never made it.

These are the conditions by which people flee their countries. This is not a holiday for them. This is not a choice. These are people on their last lifeline. America is a country founded by immigrants, forged from revolution, and for so long has stood as a symbol of hope and freedom. To turn these people away would be un-American, un-Constitutional, and inhumane.

You may not know these people. You may not have seen their faces. It’s easy to turn away, to distance yourself, to think it does not apply to you – but you know me, you have seen my face. You went to school with me. You’ve worked alongside me. And that Syrian child just as easily is this Vietnamese child. The difference is the year. 

In 1993, America let me in. It embraced me. It offered me shelter from the storm. This is 2017, and that shouldn’t change. 


In case you didn’t know this about me – know that I am an immigrant, a person of color, a woman; the very demographic Donald Trump seeks to obliterate. Today, I am incredibly proud to be 1 of 750,000 people (in LA) who stood for themselves, who stood for those who couldn’t, who are here to change that which we cannot accept.

“The people, united, will never be divided.”

Los Angeles, January 21, 2017.


When I say 2016 was wild, I mean wild. There nothing expected about this year. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that I really should stop trying to predict how my year will play out because I’ve consistently been wrong since 18.

Now why was 2016 so wild? Let me tell you – it started off shaky. I was coming off 2015, which was absolutely brilliant; so I was determined to keep the momentum going. In hindsight, I realized that I was initially pushing myself in the wrong direction. And it was bad. Real bad. But then it got good, real good. Let’s break it down:

TRAVEL: Portland, Hawaii, San Francisco, Germany, Italy, Seattle. Also the #MBbirthdaytour (SF > Europe > Seattle)? Out of control in the best possible way. Couldn’t imagine a better way to turn 27. Bonus? That latter half was done on someone else’s dime or cashed in on my frequent flyer miles aka FREE.

LIFE: I am a homeowner. I honestly don’t know how this happened. What started as a casual thought steamrolled itself into a mortgage. At a ripe old age of 26, I had somehow mucked myself into making an offer on a home and then buying it. Escrow closed at the end of May, renovations in June, and I moved back to Orange County in July. 

CAREER: So I was commuting to LA from OC because of the move, which was not fun. Recruiter contacted me while I was on holiday in August (the #MBbirthdaytour), gave my two weeks in September, and started a new journey in October. Absolutely love my new job, love my team, and love what I do. Each day is a new challenge. It’s spectacular.

I’m officially not going to make any predictions for 2017. For the first time ever, I’m just going to let it roll out. So cheers! 

Photo by Caleb Thal.

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