PHOTO COURTESY OF KENNY NGUYEN, Zhou (left) and Nguyen (right) pose in front of the camera for their first photo together. Although Nguyen didn’t think anything of it back then, he is thankful that this memory was taken.

Nguyen thankful for Zhou

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At the age of five, Kenny Nguyen left Vietnam with his family to start their new life in the U.S. Moving away from his relatives, friends, and country was overwhelming, especially for Nguyen. 

In 2011, Nguyen arrived in America knowing little to no English and having no friends. Loneliness engulfed Nguyen as he found himself playing alone during recess. As he watched the other kids have fun, a part of him wished he could experience the same. Nguyen’s life in Vietnam was very different compared to his new life in America because he had friends and family who he could socialize and spend time with. 

“I felt really sad when I left Vietnam because it made me feel like I lost aspects of my culture,” Nguyen said. “I missed eating street food, especially bún bò huế with my grandma and grandpa. When I boarded the plane, I felt homesick, I was entering a country I didn’t know and leaving my friends and family behind.”

However, Nguyen’s worries were soon replaced by excitement and happiness once he made his first friend, Andy Zhou. Zhou and Nguyen have been friends for ten years and are still close as ever. Nguyen met Zhou on the playground after seeing him play with Pokémon cards. From there, the boys would hang out under the slides and play soccer together. Throughout the years, their friendship blossomed through similar interests such as their love for card games, Doraemon, and Beyblades. 

“To be completely honest, there were too many amazing times I’ve spent with Andy Zhou; he’s been there for me whenever I needed him the most, through thick and thin,” Nguyen said. “I’ve known him since first grade and we’ve been best friends ever since.” 

Now, Nguyen and Zhou spend their time going out on adventures and doing whatever comes to their minds. 

“When I’m around him, I feel like I can just be myself without anything holding me back,” Nguyen said. “One Sunday afternoon, we wanted a plan to cure our boredom. A light bulb lit up in my head and I asked Andy if he wanted to go have a picnic and watch the sunset. He excitedly said yes and we [trekked] over to the beach with our basket full of grapes to watch the sunset and talk to each other. This was a very fond memory I’ll never forget that strengthened our friendship even more.” 

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