Harrison, our only son, was born in 2004. His Vietnamese name is Khả Hiến. It means ‘offering all of your capabilities to others’. We hoped Harrison would grow up to understand how he could help people who are less fortunate. Maybe my expectations were misplaced though, because he has had a pretty tough childhood so far.
At 7 months, Harrison developed an allergy and developed a rash all over his body. Anyone who has a child with an eczema will understand how painful to see their children miserable night to day coping with the illness. We became kind of desperate trying to find the right type of medicine for him. Anyone who gave us advice, we tried it. Several years had passed when we noticed that his eczema was finally starting to go away.
However, a few unusual things happened in his development. Sometimes Harrison was ‘living in his own world’. He was extremely scared of strangers and liked to talk to himself about the sun, moon and the universe. I bought a lot of books and posters about the universe for him, after a few times looking at these pictures and listening to my reading; he had memorized the names of all the solar systems and his favorite movie was “My Fantastic Field Trip to the Planets.” Since then we have always said Harrison would become an astronaut.
At the time Harrison was school-age, we were living in a neighborhood in San Jose, California where a lot of low-income families live. The schools around the neighborhood were not very great. Harrison attended kindergarten and first grade at the school he was assigned and he wasn’t doing too well. After almost two years, my wife started to come to class with him every day but still he did not have any improvement. The school was big and most of teachers seemed very old. Harrison could not focus during their lectures. He also had a lot of trouble getting along with his classmates.
Finally, he started refusing to go to school. We knew in order to make our dream come true of Harrison succeeding in life; we needed to move to another place. Coincidentally, Mrs. Danita, the apartment Manager where we live informed us that Rocketship was building a new elementary school just a few blocks from our apartment. I went on the internet to find out more. I immediately was impressed. We registered Harrison in the lottery right away. Then we prayed for Harrison becoming a Rocketeer. In Vietnamese, we have an idiom: “Finding the best school for your children is better than giving them your fortune.”
Fortunately, Harrison was accepted into second grade at Rocketship Mosaic in 2011. At that time, Mr. Adam Nadeau was principal. Like the other teachers at Rocketship, Adam was young, dynamic and educated. He worked hard to create favorable conditions for Harrison and other Rocketeers to achieve a great education based on the individual’s needs. There was an equal focus on academics and on Harrison developing as a person.
Amazingly, both teachers and students in school were always helping Harrison during his day. My son was gradually learning to be confident and increasingly successful in school. He loved to go to school. He said “Hi” to everybody along his way. He improved English and math skills day by day. Harrison’s success comes from the dedicated guidance of many teachers and staff of Mosaic Elementary, especially as Miss Maria, Miss Lanvy, Miss Gray, and Mr. Santiago. I can’t thank them enough for their help and commitment to my son.
If I were to start school as student again, I would definitely choose Rocketship. At Rocketship, students learn much more than academics. They learn how respect teachers, they learn how to have empathy with friends, how to be responsible for their own learning and most importantly, to try their best every day.
I still have the same dream for my son, Harrison. I dream that he will become an astronaut and will fly up to a far away galaxy where so many amazing things await for him to explore.
What dreams do you have for your children?
Chi Nhu Bui and Diem Thi Nguyen moved from Vietnam directly to San Jose, which quickly became their new home. Harrison was born in 2004 and is now a fourth grader at Mosaic Elementary.