Ted Nguyen doesn’t just tell stories. Through photographs and social media, his narratives come to life.
“The power of images makes everything real,” said Nguyen, an award-winning social media, public relations and marketing communications strategist. “Visual storytelling via social media has totally changed the game.”
He stands before a large screen displaying a grainy, black and white photograph of himself as a child holding a teddy bear and standing with his mother, father and younger brother. In the days leading up to the fall of Saigon, which commemorated its 40th anniversary last week, refugees sought desperately to flee the country, he said. But Nguyen’s father, a proud naval officer, refused to leave his beloved country, his mother and the rest of his family behind.
Nguyen said his mother, however, knew what fate awaited them if they stayed. She looked him in the eye and threatened to jump in the harbor with her first-born son — Nguyen — if he didn’t agree to leave Saigon immediately.
“Hearing me cry motivated my father to leave,” said Nguyen, staring at the photograph.
The keynote speaker’s personal story of hardship and triumph was one of many recently shared at the 10th annual Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month celebration hosted by Southern California Edison (SCE).
At the event, SCE joined the national celebration of AAPI Heritage Month and commitment to diversity and inclusion, and its appreciation of business and community partnerships in the Asian community. SCE also recognized AAPI energy-efficient champions and partners who give back to the communities they serve.
“We serve literally the most diverse customer base of any utility in the nation,” said Ted Craver, chairman, president and CEO of Edison International, the parent company of SCE. “We have many different people from many different backgrounds and this is something that we believe is a strength not only of Southern California, but a strength for our company.
“If our communities do well, we do well,” Craver added. “If we do well, our communities do well. In my mind, that’s the essence of partnership.”
Recipients of SCE’s 2015 Energy Efficiency Participation Award were Foreign Exchange and RePET, Inc. Both businesses were honored for their participation in SCE’s energy-conservation programs, which have improved their energy efficiency and reduced electricity usage.
Receiving SCE’s 2015 Community Partnership Award was the Asian Pacific Community Fund. The nonprofit provides culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate services to enhance the lives of 225,000 people annually in 27 Asian and Pacific Islander languages, in addition to English and Spanish. The Chinese American Construction Professionals received SCE’s 2015 Diverse Business Enterprise Award.
Jestin Ma, a 2014 Edison Scholar and freshman at Stanford University, thanked his parents, teachers at San Gabriel High School, friends and Edison for helping to foster and cultivate his personal growth.
“We should remember to water our roots, even after our branches are healthy or even if we’re drought-resistant cacti,” he said. “Giving back to the things and people that helped build our foundation is one of the best gifts we can give. As an Edison Scholar, I’ll always remember to give water to my roots.