I want to tell you all about Phuong

Published 6:26 pm Saturday, July 14, 2018

By  Yolande Robbins

I first met him several months ago at a small community gathering called by Cathy Sanford. She’s always doing things like this to interest and involve people in identifying and addressing issues of concern to them.

That evening as I was walking to our meeting place, I ran into an old friend whom I hadn’t seen for a long time. We hugged and got caught up on what had happened to him, and later I told others at that meeting about that brief encounter on the street.

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Phuong was there, and when he was asked by Cathy to speak, he did so about my friend whom I had just talked about and what I had said about him. But he did not know him. And I thought what a lovely thing to do.

Now this group consisted of a half-dozen or so women, all of us known to each other and none of us knowing this one man who was all of a sudden in our midst and one of us. He had read about this gathering in the paper and decided he would come. And what an evening that turned out to be!

Phuong was an engineer at ERDC, a military man, the father of two young children, and husband to a wife who home-schools her own and others’ children. He had also been an immigrant to this country from Vietnam when he was only nine years old and when he nor anyone in his family spoke a word of English. He was also demonstrably and very admirably fit.

To help give back to this community, Phuong and a friend had devised and were promoting a financial literacy program aimed at helping people with no financial management skills who were only used to living paycheck-to-paycheck. And at our meeting place that evening, he had found the perfect venue for his program. And the rest of us had found a friend!

Since then, we have joined him on his Facebook page, constantly in awe of all his achievements and interests and ongoing efforts to help others.

But for the fact that he read about our meeting and decided to come, none of us would know him. And what a loss that would have been.

So many of us extend ourselves into only those places where we are already known. Our encounters are remote and distant and hardly ever mitigated by the conscious effort to go where we are not known. If it’s true that 99 percent of life is just showing up, just think of what we miss by not showing up.

Phuong has given us a powerful example. None of the five or six of us who met him that evening can imagine our lives without him now.

So I want to invite you all to visit Phuong Nguyen on his Facebook page and get to know him like we do and all the great, good things he brings to us here.

Here, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.


Yolande Robbins is a community correspondent for The Vicksburg Post. You may email her at  yolanderobbins@fastmail.com