Today I had a visitor. The first one in a year. A real live person – fully vaccinated, of course – sat in my den and actually chatted with me. I hardly knew how to act. Before he arrived, I spent a full hour vacuuming, mopping and dusting the room since I thought it might be nice to have it up to guest standards rather than family standards. I also put on clothes that I haven’t worn in a year – actual slacks, camisole and long-sleeved shirt – rather than greet him in my usual “uniform” of work jeans and one of my many pullover tops. Rachael stood at the door and seem to marvel that another human being – non-family – was in our den and when Ray arrived, he seemed equally surprised/delighted. My goodness. How long it’s been!
My visitor was my student Fong Nham, who I have known since I helped him with his medical school personal statement and secondaries four and a half years ago. We became fast friends over that process and have communicated many times since he went off to Florida International Medical School in Miami. We also worked together this past year on his residency personal statement. Fong will graduate from medical school in fifteen days. He’s headed to Detroit in June to find a place to live before starting his residency in Orthopedic Surgery beginning the first of July. He will be there for five years.
I have a few students that fall in the “Fong” category. We meet, we work together, we become real friends and we stay in close contact even after my job is complete. Today, Fong and I talked non-stop for two and a half hours. After writing two personal statements and countless secondaries together, we have shared a good many details about life and its challenges. He’s also been good at asking me questions as well so it’s never felt like a one-way relationship.
Fong will be back in Southern California to see his family from time to time and we’ve already agreed that he’ll definitely come back and also see me. We are friends, after all, and that’s what friends do.
Fongs’ parents always send along fresh fruit and real Chinese noodles for me and my family. Today, Fong arrived with a whole box of a special type of mango, Korean pears and both flour and rice noodles. This is something his Vietnamese mother insists upon and I deeply appreciate. We’ve met as well so it feels like a gift from old friends.
I am so proud of this young man who is the son of Vietnamese refugees who fled the brutal Communist Regime in the 1990s and given political asylum here in the U.S. He represents the very best of what being an American is all about. He is smart, kind, and compassionate. I have no doubt he’ll be a superlative orthopedic surgeon. He is already an exceptional person.
As for being our very first visitor after a year of the world combatting Covid-19, who better than Fong? He’s not only had the Corona virus but also both vaccines. It could be argued he’s been immunized twice.
Here’s a photo of Fong, a dear young man, who is off on his next adventure in life. Congratulations to soon-to-be Dr. Nham.