Archive for July, 2016

(July 28, 2016 – Little Saigon, Orange County, CA)  The day after President Barak Obama (aka POTUS-BO) gave an historical bookend speech at the DNC2016, I had these comments to share on my FB page.  I thought it worth repeating and sharing here, for a larger audience.

‪#‎TFT‬  (ThankFull Thursday)  Let us pray: and give thanks to our magnificently brilliant President Barak Obama whose DNC2016 convention speech serves as a perfect and historic bookend to his DNC2004 “breakout” speech.

Let us heed his wise and urgent words to heart: to give thanks for the sacrifices of our forefathers (and mothers) and our current day elders for passing onto us, this enduring legacy of “America: Land of the Free, Home of the Brave!”
For all of us (who are not Native Americans), at some point in our family lineage, we came to this great nation of immigrants from another country in search of something “better”… Be it escaping bombed homelands, famine, political, religious persecution.
Or simply, because in our native lands, we couldn’t fathom a “better future” for our children. Those of us who made gut-wrenching decisions to leave our beloved birth countries, do so with conviction, commitment and resolve to work hard, do whatever is necessary to survive, with profound #Hope and #Faith that we will succeed.  This was what POTUS-BO was talking about last night.
Today, I share with you these photos of #MaiBelovedPapaSon–a man I love more than life and yes, more than #POTUS-BO. Both of these iconic men have served as ‘father figures’ to me and to many countless other people in this country (and around the globe).  Both have dedicated their lives to service and to raise “UP!” our ethnic communities in need.
SVN Chairman's Council at the Chevy Chase, MD NYL General Office in 1976

Son Văn Nguyễn’s promotional photo in 1976.  Literally, 1 year fresh of the boat, he was the top agent for his local office.  For the next 40 years, he would be the #1 VietnAmerican salesman nationwide for this U.S. Fortune 500 life insurance company, selling first-world investment products to families freshly immigrated from a war-torn developing country.

In a split second decision, Papa Son resolved to flee his ancestral homeland in April, 1975 when there was clear and imminent danger that the Việt Cộng (communists) would be victorious. Because in his soul, he knew he could never live under oppressive tyranny. He knew he had to be free–even if it meant losing everything, including his life and that of his wife and four young children.

Forty one years later, earlier this week, the top Senior Vice President (SVP) of his beloved company for which he has served as the “Model Minority” Refugee-Immigrant-American success story, came all the way from their NYC Home Office of New York Life (NYL), to bequeath to Papa Son this plaque and honor him, “For 40 Years of Service.” This plaque will travel back to the NYC Home Office, where it will hang on their “Wall of Fame,” honoring iconic NYL Life-Time Achievers!

SVN_receiving NYL 40 years' Lifetime Achievement Award_7.26.16

Pictured here with Papa Son is Italian-American SVP, Sal Farina who, at the peak of his illustrious career at NYL, managed over 600 agents in their 100,000 sq. foot Long Island, NY General Office.

For over 4 decades, my courageous and committed father was more than a top seller nationwide for a flagship company that’s almost 200 years old, in this relatively “young” Nation that’s not even seen its tricentennial birthday. Dad served his company by breaking sales records in our post-1975, refugee-immigrant, poor Diasporic Việt communities nationwide. These refugee communities suffered unspeakable racism and anti-immigrant sentiments during those trying years after that “shameful War.”

After achieving his phenomenal success back East while headquartered at the Chevy Chase, MD General Office (G.O.), Papa Son dared to travel West, to audaciously chase his “California Dream.” His vision was to boldly go where there were enclaves of new Vietnamese refugee communities, to help NYL recruit and mentor dozens of Vietnamese agents and trail-blaze culturally-competent marketing throughout the country.

He enabled his NYL company to better understand our complex, bipolar VietnAmericanese, war-torn history, psychology and culture, in order to better serve the financial needs of our VietnAmerican families and communities. Meanwhile, he invested, his heart, time, passion and compassion to identify, mentor and empower younger, new agents as well as educate our Little Saigonnaise via ethnic media.

At first, in the 1980s, he began by helping his good friends and founding editors at the premier Vietnamese language newspaper in the Diaspora, Báo Người Việt, improve their content, business marketing and outreach. (Back in Vietnam, right before the Fall of Saigon, Papa Son served as a translator for the South Vietnamese President’s press secretary. His job was to read the breaking news coming across the teletype from Reuters, Associated Press, etc and translate them from English and French into Vietnamese.)

In this 21st century, he then graduated to Viet-language radio. Today, he heads Viet California Radio (VNCR, 106.3FM) which reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners from LA, Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino Counties. On VNCR, he has for almost a decade, pioneered linguistically-competent outreach to help empower monolingual and Limited English Proficient (LEP) Việt listeners on how to improve their net worth and savings through investing in insurance and annuities products. His weekly half hour finances and insurance/variety radio show draws thousands of avid fans in our Southland. Through this powerful radio medium, he shares his worldly, transnational, inter-generational wisdom about news, current events, entertainment, sports–especially “Tennis & Life”–wherein he somehow, cleverly weaves a “teachable NYL moment” within those 30 minutes.

Papa Son has since passed this legacy of hard work, diligence,#Faith #Hope, culturally-competent marketing and multi-media outreach onto all his four adult children (now in our mid and late 40s). By 2005, my eldest brother dethroned my father as the top sales Vietnamese sales agent in the country. Meanwhile, my older sister serves this Fortune 500 company as a leading sales manager here in the same Orange Coast General Office.

SVN_NYL Team 40 yrs Award_7.26.16

(From left to right): Hồng Phạm, SVN’s business partner, also a top NYL sales agent for over 25 yrs; NYL former SVP fr. NYC, Sal Farina; SVN, the Man of Honor; Chris Prudhomme (NYL General Mgr of OC G.O., French-American, born in N’Awlins, LA; Gigi Mai-Khanh Nguyễn (SVN’s daughter, now a NYL sales mgr at O.C.-G.O.); and Châu (NYC-based NYL Ethnic Marketing Specialist who’s also a SVN mentee)

I share my father’s story partly because I am ever so proud of all that he has accomplished, given, paid forward, to build ‪#‎OurLittleSaigons‬ (in the Metro DC/VA/MD, Boston, Florida’s pan-handle, Houston, San Jose and here in our OC areas) since 1976. But more so, because his story is an example of what refugee-immigrant-American “exceptionalism” can look like.

THIS is the America we can be proud of and continue to build upon for posterity. A nation, that is “united, under God,” indivisible by demagogues and narcissists… And one that is made great(er) by the “diverse, decent, generous, industrious, thoughtful, innovative” folks who come from all over the world bringing their uniquely ethnic #Hope and #Faith to contribute to our collective “greatness.”

It is this honorable (“not-as-yet” perfect) Union that opened its compassionate arms to my family 6-pack of post-war refugees and gave us limitless opportunities, in one single generation. ‪#‎RefugeesWelcome‬

This November, ‪#‎IamwithHER‬… to break ALL the glass (and bamboo) ceilings for ALL our children, moving ‪#‎Forward‬! Let’s roll up our sleeves and continue this important work of nation-building and raising UP! our communities in need.


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