My 30-year Ball High School reunion is this weekend in Galveston, but I’m 10,000-miles away in Adelaide, Australia.
I feel grateful to the Class of 1989 and to Galveston.
My family arrived on the island in 1975 as Vietnamese refugees, and my three older brothers (now surgeons) also graduated from BHS. From the beginning, our stomachs were full thanks to free lunches, and our minds were nurtured thanks to teachers who cared. Our hearts also were warmed by new friends.
It was people like Marsha Alvarez, my first American friend, who found me hiding under a table when I didn’t speak English and whose mother drove me to preschool on rainy days.
Maricruz Rabago Velasco befriended me in middle school, and her parents planned a fundraiser for my service trip to Paraguay. Torey Wilson showed me how much we had in common despite how different we looked.
The Class of 1989 is diverse — we disagree on politics, religion, immigration — even football. But we’re bound by our our school and to our island. So, when we disagree, we still listen and we still wish each other well. That's a gift these days. Thanks to organizer Angela Wilson, our class will be reunited soon. Thank you, Galveston. Thank you, Class of 1989, and have a wonderful reunion.
Tho Bella Dinh-Zarr
BHS Class of 1989 class president, and former vice chairman and board member of the National Transportation Safety Board