Friday night, we danced the night away as if we were back in college, missing Richmond, Jessica, Debbie, David, Melody and Julia. We lasted until 11:00 pm and had one drink with lychee. That was enough for us to celebrate 18 years of friendship.
Heather was the first person I met at the Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 18 years ago this month. As a Hmong first generation student, I still remember how I worked that whole summer just to save up for the three hour trip for orientation. So I had to choose one of the last orientation dates. I knew my parents couldn’t afford the funds and time to go with me. So with much fierce and determination, I made the trip by myself and on the last day of orientation, I met this beautiful soul. I am tearing up as I reflect on this time period of my life. Transitioning and preparing for the next chapter after high school which was college for me was not easy but one of the best decisions I made not only for myself but my younger six siblings. My parents did not support my decision to move three hours away from home for college at all. They lectured me all the way down to Madison, Wisconsin as my father drove us with all my boxes for move-in day.
"Hmong girls don't do this, Hmong girls don't do that."
"Koj tsis mloog koj niam wb hais lawm ces kav liam koj nawb."
"Tshuav cov yaus, lawv saib ntsoov koj xwb, ntxim txiaj nawb."
Anywho, Heather and our circle of friends made all the difference in my life as a college student. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't know what the word "DIVERSITY" meant beyond racial identities. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't know what true friendships meant. Thank you for all the difference in my life my dear friends.
They say, you can't choose your parents but you can choose your friends. College is a time to explore and get your feet wet. It is a time to build relationships with people who may not look like you, think like you but it is great practice for the real world after college.
My love for you:
"Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious". - Rachel Wolchin
Keep SOAR-ing away!
How was your college experience? What made college worth the while for you? What kept you going? I'd love to hear from you. Please share below.