Ai Hoang

Ai Hoang was born in Vietnam and raised in Southern California. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013 with a BA in Sociology. After working for two years as a Supplemental Education Services Tutor and a Development Associate for the Boys & Girls Clubs, Ai returned to graduate school to pursue a Masters of Public Health degree from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. As a student in the Population & Health Department, she is specially interested in working to empower underserved families globally. Upon returning from her fellowship, Ai reflects that "I'm very grateful for the opportunity that AEPD and the families affected by Agent Orange have afforded me this past year. They welcomed me into their home with open arms and shared amazing stories. They helped me understand the issue of Agent Orange on such a personal level and made this experience all the more memorable."

What’s In a Song?

29 Jun
Mr. Nam helping his wife, Mrs. Huong, with her work

Mr. Nam helping his wife, Mrs. Huong, with her work


We met Mrs. Huong and her husband after a busy day on the road. Mrs. Huong is a tailor, trained by AEPD. She was born with her disability while her husband, Mr. Nam, lost his arm during a work accident. The couple met while Mrs. Huong was rehearsing for a singing competition organized by AEPD. They’ve been married for two years now. When asked what he loves most about life these days, Mr. Nam said, “After my accident, I was deeply depressed and went through a very rough time. But now, we’re working. I’m happily married and we’re expecting a child in the next month!” Their smiles and positivity were absolutely contagious. I’ve been told previously that Mrs. Huong is a great singer, so I was excited to see her perform. Her song selection though… She had me tearing up inside, a lot like how I get whenever I watch videos of baby birds learning to fly. Enjoy!

“Blooming Flower”

I used to wish that I wasn’t myself.
I used to wish that I could be like everybody else.
So I could live an easy and carefree life,
So I could live the life that I had always dreamed of.

But I realized, my heart is capable of unconditional love,
And it is filled with big dreams.
I realized that when faced with obstacles,
I learn to love my life even more.
I’m growing stronger and I’m learning to believe in myself.

My life resembles that of a blooming flower,
Standing strong through it all, overcoming and
Living with a great thirst for life.

I may face hardship in the future,
But I will look to tomorrow
Because tomorrow is a brand new day,
Full of sunshine.
And I am in charge of writing my own life story,
For me.

So, what’s in a song? In this case, plenty of hope, excitement and optimism.

Posted By Ai Hoang

Posted Jun 29th, 2016


  • Amanda Reis

    June 29, 2016


    Thank you for sharing this video Ai! “Blooming Flower” is a stunning song filled with so much emotion. I can imagine just how contagious Mr. Nam and Mrs. Huong’s positivity is. Best of luck to them in starting their family!

  • Kay Scanlan

    June 29, 2016


    Such a powerful story that Mrs. Huong and her husband love their lives despite their disabilities and help each other overcome their challenges. She is a beautiful singer as well and “Blooming Flower” carries a resonating message. Thank you for sharing their story in your blog this week!

  • Laura Stateler

    June 29, 2016


    Thanks for sharing this story! Mrs. Huong has such a beautiful voice and the lyrics of this song are touching! I look forward to reading more stories about the people you are meeting!

  • Rita

    July 7, 2016


    Beautiful story and song, thank you for sharing this, Ai. Best wishes to Mrs. Huong and Mr. Nam’s new family!

Enter your Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *