This is one of my favorite TED Talks. Celeste Headlee talks about how to have a better conversation – it’s not about those skills as look, nod and smile, but actually paying attention to the conversation. In the end she told through her childhood meeting a lot of people, she “grew up assuming everyone has some hidden, amazing things about them”. She always keeps her mind open and always prepared to be amazed.
I took this advice and always try to truly listen in a conversation. I believe that there are always things that we can learn from every single person I meet whoever they are. Even sometimes using a second language blocks my way to get the whole sense of the conversation, then I would observe more, listen more with all my best.
I met great people during the fellowship in Ontario. They are great because they are all doing the good things, however big or small. This writing would be about some of them and what I learnt about them personally. I cannot write about all of them, but believe me, I would remember.
Adam and Angie
Mr. Adam Brown is the city manager of Ontario. I was hosted at his family for one week. I felt like being a part of his family, with Angie – his wife, with their 4 children, a naughty dog, an easy-to-get-angry dog, a super old dog and a cat. We played puzzle, practiced piano, sat on the couch and watched movie. We went to the church. We cooked, cleaned, hanged out, went to the marching band competition. I love talking to Angie about how we should raise children. I like the way Adam spent hour and hour after work to deal with the transformer costume for his son. The kids just helps to take care of each other and the house. It was the family value that I learnt from them.
Chief Terry Leighton – Fire department
He is a man who cares. I spent my first official day at work with Chief Terry. He introduced me to the whole staffs in the city hall, very carefully explained all the positions and asked me what other activities besides the itinerary that I want to involve. He was so busy for the two following weeks after that, but in the last week he just helped me to arrange everything from our random conversation before. He just remembered. We also talked a lot about everything: family, life, our jobs… Chief Terry said he think the fellowship is just great. He can know others from different culture and change what they picture about them before – in my case, a Vietnamese. A lot of US people know about Vietnam through Vietnam war and they have different points of view and pictures about that. I am here, in person, experience the US culture and share Vietnam culture. Seeing and talking to people in person generates understanding and replaces all stereotype and assumption.
Chief Cal Kunz
It is never easy for me to pronounce his name perfectly. At the first time we met, I said I’m a coffee person and because of jet lag, I couldn’t sleep well until then. Three hours later, he brought a new package of his favorite coffee, a bottle of water, a coffee machine, and a mud. It was all for me. He even made a cup of coffee with scream and brought it to my office. At my last day, we had a conversation about “bad apple”. He said the media generates a lot bad pictures about the police despites all good things they do every day. I have to admit that I read a lot about all those bad apples he mentioned, and the trip really changed the way I pictured about the police. Ontario is lucky to have all very good policemen – they are funny, they are friendly, and they just want to help.
Peter is quiet. But he also looks strong inside and be a person who will be there when you need help. He is the human resource staff and the city manager’s assistant. He also takes care of communication work of the city and was in charge of planning my fellowship here. He devotes himself into work, patiently and humbly. His calmness is a treasure. There was a day when the citizens came to the council meeting and they were not very pleased about some decision. And I love what he said after that, “when they yelled at me today, I did not see they are yelling, I see they are caring out loud”.
Mr. Ronald Verini is the mayor the city of Ontario, the founder of Veteran advocates of Ore-Ida and a Vietnam veteran. He did a great job for the city, but I am impressed most with what he is doing for the veterans in the area. He started the Veteran Advocates to support veterans who needs help physically and mentally. They can come there to have lunch, talk to each other or play game on the newspaper, a hug and I think, for the most part, they come for not being alone. Mayor Ron said, after going through the war, every day to him is a present. He did not get the sense of the war, but he respected his countries, as Vietnamese soldiers respected theirs. It is a sensitive topic to talk about, but we are all open. I came to meet people who fought in Vietnam and they shared how they loved the beauty of Vietnam and showed me all the things they kept from Vietnam. Knowing about history is not for hate, it is for not letting bad things happen again.
Betsy is the city engineer. She is knowledgeable, hard-working, full of energy and truly the one who is waiting to be amazed by all people she meets. She gives you the feeling that you are special and you are listened. I just totally admired her.
I left Ontario yesterday with a lot of gifts from all of them. I’ll miss all people here, and all the beauty of canyon around. If I have a chance, I’m just sure I will come back.