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A Meeting with Someone Special

By Annie Liu, Student of HFI

On the 11th of November, 2021, the sophomores of HFI attended an online meeting with Ly Tran, author of House of Sticks.

A few weeks ago, before this event, we were introduced to a recently published book, House of Sticks, in our Pre-AP English course. The book is a memoir of Ly Tran’s immigrant life that discusses family conflict, school problems, depression, racism, and many things we could relate to. We felt a connection between this book and our lives.

When I was scrolling through Instagram one day, I came across her page by accident. Due to my curiosity, I private messaged her, talking about my feelings for the book and asking for some advice, not expecting a reply. To my surprise, she replied within a few days, answering my questions and thanking me for reading her book. Getting inspiration, I invited her to come and meet with us online to discuss her book and ask some questions. She generously agreed to attend this meeting, and I arranged a time for us to meet.

Before this meeting, I created a group chat with the sophomores who intended to participate and collected some possible questions to send to Ms. Tran. My English teacher Toby and I went through the entire process the day before. Then, on the evening of our planned date, my helpers and I set up the classroom for the meeting. We were prepared and very excited to see Ms. Tran and talk with her for the first time.

The meeting started with a few introductions from my English teacher, Ms. Tran, and our class. We then discussed a few general topics such as her writing process, her family, her Chinese/Vietnamese identity. All nerves beforehand were calmed due to her friendly manner. After getting to know her better, we offered the students a chance to talk to her and ask her questions online. The students were very attentive and wanted to interact with the author. Many of them asked questions about specific parts of the book they related to and talked about their own experiences with her. One student related to the part in the book that talked about how Ms. Tran’s friends tried to help her with depression since she also had a friend she was trying to help. Many students were interested in Ms. Tran’s personal life since she had written about her boyfriend and his child in the book. They wondered what their relationship was like now and was happy to hear that they were still together. Another student asked her to recommend some good pieces of literature and advice for writing. I was interested in the family’s reaction to this book. Ms. Tran answered all the questions warmly and was very generous. It was a very heart-warming scene to watch. After the questions, we took a picture together to record this sweet moment.

Overall, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience where we opened up our hearts, talking about a book that we all connected with. However, most importantly, we all learned something new and from this experience and expanded our horizons.

(Our picture together during the meeting)

Special thanks to Ly Tran for coming to this meeting and for your kindness.

Thanks to Toby for helping me organize this event and giving me support when I needed it.

Thanks to my helpers who helped me set up the meeting.