The Love 100 Hearts Project . 2

Mr. Bogerding’s letter has been with me for the last 30 some years. I photocopied them so I would not lose them. I carried them close, in my mind and in my heart. Senior year was quiet, and I never saw my English teacher again!

I did not write much after high school, only when I was asked to write. I was very good at writing in my own Vietnamese language, but very often afraid to write in English. Mr. Borgerding’s letter kept circling back whenever I needed to put something on paper. Sometimes, at the low points in my life, I could hear him speak in my head “You are special, you have a talent, I believe in you!”

We did not have much during our first few years in America. I wore second-hand clothes from our church. My hair was straight and black. I was not popular. I was just an ordinary refugee girl from Vietnam wishing for blond hair and blue eyes. I was always hiding in the girl’s locker room wishing I could be different, the one with beautiful golden hair, the popular one, the pretty one, the tall one. But my special English teacher wrote a letter to me. Out of all the 24 students in his class, he gave me the only A. He may as well have given me a castle with pink horses. He may as well have given me the brightest glowing stars in the dark night or even a set of angel wings. From that day on, I would often close my eyes and dream of his words: “You will be a famous writer in this country one day! I believe in you!”

Sometimes, the black clouds would come into my life and the sky would be dark. Then out of nowhere, a small sliver of light would push the clouds and send gorgeous sunlight. Those special words linger in my head, once in a while, they would come out and lift me up high in the air. I dream of writing my first novel… just for Mr. Borgending!

My father passed away one cold winter as I was carrying my second child. Exactly 60 days after his funeral, I sat alone in our basement and wept. For the first time in my life, I just finally realized I lost my father forever! Without thinking, I took out a piece of paper and started to write, the pencil was moving in my hands, memories came flooding in, I did not have to think too much, I just wrote. My little short essay was published in the local paper the follow month, then together with other stories, it was gathered in a small hard-cover book called “Voices for the Land”. The publisher sent a copy to the house. When I opened the package and saw my writing… Mr. Borgeding came back and stood next to me again. My heart hurts whenever I think of him, a lovely kind of hurt! I wish he knew the impact of his letters. It has been 30 years since and those simple words still color my universe. His words carry me from the bottom of a confused world and send me up in the cloud for even just a few seconds. Sometimes those words keep me up there for a while.

A simple letter, it was only a simple letter 30 years ago. Could those words of kindness have that much impact in a young girl? Could fifteen minutes spend writing a short letter with a few powerful words changed a person life? Do you need more proof?

This is the beginning of the “Love 100 hearts” project by sending 100 letters to teenagers, near and far… If you are reading this, and you could feel the power of words from Mr. Borgerding, would you come along?


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