“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

When my mother closed her eyes and jumped from the Saigon docks onto a puttering fishing boat 30 years ago, she had no idea where life was going to take her. "What choice did I have?" she would often retort when asked about our family's flight to safety after the Vietnam War.

Three months later, I was born in a refugee camp in California. As a Vietnamese-American, I grew up in relative luxury. There was no fear of tanks or bullets, no concern of transient uncertainty. I am the only American-born member in my family of eight, and my daily stresses were not about survival. Rather, they were about mundane things like test-scores, student-body elections and after-school sports.

Unlike my mother, I grew up with the privilege of choice…

…and I fully intend to indulge in this privilege.

I choose to remember my family history and draw on it as a source of strength during my occasional pangs of self-doubt; to challenge myself to be a better person and contribute, meaningfully, to the Common Good; to relish in the rich relationships unselfishly offered by my family and friends; to let optimism guide me; and to invite love to protect me.

I choose to open my eyes and live my life with abandon.

— Cali Tran