By Jrehberg

Meet Our 2017 ATG Heritage and Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners!


The ATG is proud to announce the 2017 Heritage and Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners.

Check out the winners.


Kaitlyn Fisher, 11, Parker, Colorado 

Against The Grain means to me, people asking questions regarding me being adopted, about my birth mom, and being Micronesian.  My life is not the same as my friends and I often times have to explain how it’s normal having an adoptive mom and a birth mom, and explain how despite I am Micronesian by ethic background, I was born in the United States. So many people think I am “from” somewhere else.

I am explain and teach people about my ethnic background and how I am really American because I was born in the United States, and how it’s okay to have both an adoptive mom and a birth mom.  I can love them both.  Attending Heritage Camp has taught me that I am not the only person adopted and have white parents.  I really am not different because there are many others just like me.


Madison Fisher, 11, Parker, Colorado 

Going Against The Grain means to me, doing things that other don’t expect me to do.

As a Micronesian American, I do a lot of sports and things that I don’t see other kids of my background participating in.  I have been swimming on a swim team since I was six years old and surprise people how well and how fast I swim.  Also, this year at school I tried out for Wendy in Peter Pan.  Despite I didn’t get the role, I didn’t let it stop me from trying.


Christian Nguyen Ebel, 11, Sulphur Bluff, Texas 

“Against The Grain” means to me, pushing it to the limit and going to the top of the mountain where there is a pot of gold, or falling to the bottom, where there is lava. It means trying your best and not giving up. It is also how you try. You have to put in a lot of effort, otherwise, it doesn’t work. If you fall in the lava, you FAIL, but in failing you learn succeeding. You learn to rethink it, to try again and to do it right. It’s like when you are progressing in life, you are becoming rich, not only in money, but rich in love and connecting with people. When you are not progressing, you are feeling depressed and sad. But you have to try, to keep going, keep moving forward. It’s like try, fail, try, fail, SUCCEED! Don’t be like everyone else, being you is right.

I went “Against The Grain” by taking an educational trip to India last year. I wanted to help the kids in the slums by raising money for them. It took a lot of trying – 3 whole months to make the campaign video. I fixed my mind on it and raised $6,000 for the trip and donated money to Manav Sadhna at the Gandhi Ashram. They serve underprivileged kids in Ahmedabad. I changed India by a small portion. I just wrote a book about my experience in India and will donate proceeds from my book to my friends’ film to stop human trafficking.


Maeve Doubleday-Bush, 11, Glenwood Springs, Colorado 

Going Against The Grain means to me, that you don’t always have to fit in. You can be different from the others and you don’t have to listen to the mean things that other people are saying about you or your friends. This is not easy, but you need to trust and follow your instincts even if it is tough. You can work it out. Find a way to have fun even if others don’t want to hang out with you. You know you are doing the right thing. It really is their issue not yours.

Do the right thing and follow my instincts even when it is truly difficult. I don’t break the rules. I like to follow the rules. If the rules make no sense or seem overly strict, then rather than break the rules I will figure out a way to get them changed or make them work. Sometimes my friends and the other kids will break the rules, it doesn’t mean that I will, even if my friends are upset with me. I won’t bend to peer pressure. I don’t let my friends talk me into doing something I know is not right. Sometimes it means I have to be alone or go play with different people but I know I am doing the right thing.


Ian Gahagan, 10, Wales, Wisconsin

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? To me, against the grain means people should not care what heritage other people are from. It’s what’s inside that counts. If you see someone being racist, ignore them. They don’t know who you really are like the famous saying you can’t judge a book by its cover. That means you don’t know someone ’til you know them as a person, in person.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? How I go against the grain, is if I see someone being racist, I would say “How would you feel if someone did that to you and are you really making the right choice?” If it gets physical, use the self-defense we learned at Culture Camp. In all, go against the grain, don’t go with the crowd, but stand up for what is right.


Aran Balzer, 11, Aurora, Colorado

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? It means being different than other people.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? I can live my life according to what I think and know is right instead of worrying about what others think of me.


Maekhala Balzer, 9, Aurora, Colorado

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? To make a difference in the world.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? I can be myself.


Tassanee Balzer, 9, Aurora, Colorado

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? To be different in a good way

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? I can make a difference in the world by helping people.


Keira Gahagan, 7, Wales, Wisconsin 

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? If people are doing something that’s not right, don’t do it and tell them they are making the wrong choice and why. If they don’t listen, I would get the adult that’s in charge and tell them that those kids are making the wrong choice.

If kids are doing something unsafe, I would tell them they should stop doing that because they could hurt themselves or trip and fall. If they don’t stop after I ask them twice, I would report it to a teacher because it was the wrong choice and it was unsafe.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? If someone is making fun of someone I would say “Hey, I think you’re hurting that person’s feelings. I think you should stop.” One day at school, my friend L. was having trouble pronouncing the words thirty-five. Six people were making fun of her pronouncing those words. I said “I think you are hurting her feelings. I think you should stop. I don’t think she likes it”. They didn’t stop. They kept making fun of how she was pronouncing it. My friend acted like she didn’t care and kept working. I told the teacher a few minutes later that I told them to stop, but they did not. Whenever I was around my friend L., and other kids were around her, I never heard or saw kids make fun of her for the rest of the year.


Apply Today for the 2017 ATG Culture/Heritage Camp Scholarship

Heritage Camp
The 2017 Against The Grain Vietnamese and Thai Heritage Camp Scholarship application process is officially open! Following our support of orphanages and underprivileged children in Asia, Against The Grain also provides scholarships here at home to ten young Asian American adoptees each year to attend culture camps such as Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnamese Culture Camp and Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families SEAPI (Southeast Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Camp). Last year, we raised $1,000, allowing ten youths to spend a few days in the summer connecting with their heritage, bonding with new friends and participating in enriching activities for this year’s Heritage and Culture Camps.
Eligibility: Proof of camp registration with Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnamese Culture Camp and HCAF SEAPI Heritage Camp. Sorry, past recipients are not eligible for this year’s scholarship.
Due Date: Saturday, July 1, 2017
Application: Simply submit the following in an email to
– Name of Applicant
– Age of Applicant
– City and State
– Photo of Applicant
– Question 1: What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?
– Question 2: How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?

We Are Family, You Mean the World to Me

August 11, 2014
2014 Vietnamese Heritage Camp | Estes Park, Colorado
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On July 31st I returned to Colorado for my 9th Vietnamese Heritage Camp and my third camp as a director. We spent the past 3 weeks making final adjustments and planning prepared to execute another exciting camp. I rehearsed my new song every night leading up to camp leaving it up to the energy of the room to carry my tune from beginning to end. This year’s song was once again named after our camp theme We Are Family. Family has been a personal theme for me in 2014. My first child was born in March and I found out that I have a second cousin in Long Xuyen,  Vietnam.  In this song, I sang about the different types of family in my life. Watch the video
I was so happy and proud to have my ATG family join us at camp this year to share a workshop with our kids. Thank so much Tammy, George,  Gabby, Austen, Kate, Carol, Nikki and Hue. Your voices meant so much to our kids. You are all an inspiration to them and an important piece of their identity and growth.
After a few days of down pour and flash floods the sun burst through at Estes Park. I was back with our special community of families. It’s amazing to see the kids growing up each year. Many of these teenagers for 5-7 years old when I first began volunteering. There are few a campers I had the honor a privilege to get to know very well over the past 5 years. It’s not easy hearing that you’re a role model. Hearing stories from their lives and everything they have accomplished makes me feel so proud. A few of them were ATG camp scholarship winners from 2011-2014. Check out our 2014 winners
This was a milestone year for me as I was directing for the last time and turning 40 on the last day of camp. Looking back I remember the joy of discovering this community and feeling so much joy for the younger generation of Vietnamese adoptees. They have a place to come together to bond and share stories. Adoptive parents can meet up and be part of a small support group for a long weekend in the mountains.
I always leave camp on Sunday with new information about my culture and heritage. I discover new pieces of my identity. Camp made me the person I am today and I will be forever grateful for having been part of it. This Sunday I was surprised with a birthday video created by my wife and 5 month old daughter. A new chapter has begun. With excitement and fears I know I will be ok with the love and support from all my families.
My Best,
Jared Rehberg
ATG Board Advisor
Thank you ATG for the birthday carrot cake and sweet gifts for Mali Anh. I hear 40 is the new 30.

Congratulations to 2014 ATG Heritage/Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners

ATG is proud to announce the winners of the 2013 ATG Heritage/Culture Camp Scholarship Contest. Many thanks to all of our campers who submitted this year. Check out how our winners go Against The Grain’ and what going ‘Against The Grain’ means to them. Congratulations to our winners!


Avery Popelka


What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to you?
You pick something different than the other kids want to do.

How do you go ‘Against The Grain?’
I go against the grain by picking different foods to eat than others.  I like to listen to different songs than my friends.  I like to wear mismatched clothes.

Burk Popelka


What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to you?
It means going opposite.

How do you go ‘Against The Grain?’ 
At school, I play with the girls instead of the boys.


Teresa Kremer

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.51.49 AM

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to you?
Being different, having fun, being happy

How do you go ‘Against The Grain?’
I have blonde hair and there are not many kids at Vietnam Camp who have blond hair.  I like to be silly and use a squeaky voice.

Elizabeth Thompson


What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to you?

To me it means being different and not doing things the same as otherpeople. It sometimes makes me feel good. It also makes me feel unique and special in different ways.

How do you go ‘Against The Grain?’
Unlike other girls I actually play with boys and learn from them a teeny bit. I also have fun with them sometimes. I also am the only one who likes around the world, it’s a game about math. This is how I go against the grain.

Lia Kelly

lia and jackWhat does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to you?
Going against the grain means you are not afraid to come out with who you are and you’re brave enough to stand against society.





Paige Nappi

Vietnamese_Culture_Camp_2013_075What does ‘Against The Grain’  mean to you?
Going against the grain means being independent.

How do you go Against The Grain?’ 
I go against the grain by doing my own thing when friends want me to do something I don’t want to.



Minh LaBarge

DSC_3909What does ‘Against The Grain’  mean to you?
Going against some other person in a good way.

How do you go ‘Against The Grain?’ 
Be friendly, play fair.

Jolie LaBarge


What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to you?
Doing something out of the blue or doing something someone told you not to do but you do anyway.

How do you go ‘Against The Grain’ ?
Standing up for people. When someone is getting bullied or hurt you’re able to help them and be a friend.


(girl in the blue dress)





2014 HCAF Vietnamese Heritage Camp Scholarship Winners –  Estes Park, CO

Check out previous winners:





2014 ATG Vietnamese Heritage/Culture Camp Scholarship Contest

Win $100 for Vietnamese Heritage/Culture Camp! Enter today!

Against The Grain Productions is proud to announce the 2014 ATG Vietnamese Heritage/Culture Camp Scholarship Contest! ATG is giving away camp scholarships to 10 lucky campers to help pay for the camp of their choice. Past winners are not eligible.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Register for Heritage/Culture Camp: 

Step 2: Email us:

Email us with your child’s picture and your child’s answers to the following questions…
1. What does ‘Against The Grain?’ mean to you?
2. How do you go ‘Against The Grain’?
Email: Attach a picture from camp to share on the contest page. 🙂
Rules: Kids must be registered for a Heritage or Culture camp. Please send in your proof of registration. Only one entry per child. Past winners will not be entered into the final drawing.
Prize: 10 $100 stipends will be given away at random. The national drawing will be held July 1, 2014. Winners will be notified via email. Winners photo and answers will be posted on the ATG website in the beginning of August.

Good luck!

Check out our past Vietnamese Heritage/Culture Camp Scholarship Winners!

2013 Winners! Click here for details

Here are some of our winners from the 2013 Vietnamese Heritage Camp in Colorado.


2012 Winners! Click here for details



Chasing Dragonflies, Vietnamese Heritage Camp in Estes Park, CO


I can’t believe it almost a month since Heritage Camp ended. It was another memorable weekend filled with storytelling, music, family, friendship and sunny weather. Many thanks to all the Coordinators and Staff. Without you there would be no camp. I always look forward to returning to the mountains to learn about my birth culture, visit with old friends and make new ones.

This year’s camp theme was “Chasing Dragonflies.” We explored the Vietnamese creation story and other Vietnamese fairytales. The kids made dragonfly kites and Vietnamese spring rolls. It was so nice to have ATG’s very own Hue Dao Miner join us again. Hue worked with the kids to teach them a traditional Vietnamese dance. All the age groups performed with Hue at our Saturday night show.

“I went as a presenter and taught Vietnamese dance lessons and games to the middle school and high school children,” said Hue Dao Miner. “The kids are so bright! They learned their routines in an hour and performed it in a show for their parents. I choreographed and taught the middle schoolers a “múa nón” (hat dance), and the high schoolers a “vũ phiến” (fan dance). As you can tell in the following videos, they had a lot of fun performing them.”

Many thanks to Co-Director, Kristi Kremer, who put together a great camp with me this year. I will be returning as Co-Director for one more year. I’m happy to announce two new camp Co-Directors joining me, Veronica Thompson and Ethan.

Camp was extra special for me this year. My parents, Rick and Rita Rehberg, attended camp as guest presenters. It was so exciting to see my parents give a workshop on raising a multicultural adoptive family. Their 30 plus years of experience offered a new perspective to the family of campers just beginning their journey. Thank,s Mom and Dad.

Saturday night’s carnival and gala was so much fun. I had the honor to share the stage with fellow camper and adoptee Noelle Hemphill. ATG’s Hue Dao Miner joined me on stage again to announce the winners of our 2013 ATG Heritage Camp Scholarship Contest Winners. Our amazing counselors surprised us with a gorgeous candlelight dance. Our evening ended with a surprise dance party. This event will be official next year. Sometimes, you just need to dance!

See you next year!

Jared Rehberg and Noelle Hemphill perform Chasing Dragonflies

2013 VHC High School Fan Dance:

2013 VHC Middle School Hat Dance:

Congratulations to 2013 ATG Heritage/Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners

ATG is proud to announce the winners of the 2013 ATG Heritage/Culture Camp Scholarship Contest. Many thanks to all of our campers who submitted this year. Check out how our winners go Against The Grain and what going Against The Grain’ means to them. Congratulations to our winners!

ZoeDesserichZoe Desserich

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

Zoe is six-years-old and will be in first grade this fall. She was born in Phu Tho, Vietnam. She is very proud to be from Vietnam, and her kindergarten teacher told us that she talks about Vietnam all the time. She took in her baby book and showed the Vietnam photos to her entire class. When the class wrote a book together at the end of the year, choosing the setting, characters, etc, they decided the story should be set in Vietnam!

What does against the grain mean to you?

In our family, going “Against The Grain” means being yourself. It means that you are not afraid to be different. It means not doing or liking things just things just because someone else likes them.


ColinDesserichColin Desserich

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

Colin is five-years-old and will be in kindergarten this fall. He lives his life against the grain. He was adopted at birth in the U.S, and his family is a little different than most. While he loves with his mom, dad, brother and sister, he also loves to see his “Mama Amy” (his biological mom) and his biological brother and sister, too. He proudly says, “Mommy, I have two mommies!” He is a daredevil, and he is very competitive. He likes to run the hardest, ride his bike the fastest and jump from the highest heights. He loves to be silly and will do anything to make people laugh.

What does against the grain mean to you?

In our family, going “Against The Grain” means being yourself. It means that you are not afraid to be different. It means not doing or liking things just things just because someone else likes them.


CatoTranBrownCato Tran Brown

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

Unlike most five year olds, there are few mainstream cartoons that Cato is willing to watch.  Instead, he often prefers science and nature documentaries (“if they aren’t too scary”) or cooking shows.  It is not uncommon to find him hypnotized by Chef Jaques Pepin or asking us, “What’s a worm hole?”  He has an exceptional aptitude for this.  He could name most of the flowers and vegetables in our garden and tell you all about the solar system.

What does against the grain mean to you?

Doing things differently than others.


ReubenBrownReuben Brown

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

Reuben always looks for new ways to make his brother and parents laugh.  He likes to experiment with silly walks like sideways galloping or twisting struts.  He likes to make new sounds or use familiar words in new settings to get a laugh.

What does against the grain mean to you?

Doing what I like.


MayaVogelsonMaya Vogelson

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

I would ask for help or directions – like from the police or a crossing guard.

What does against the grain mean to you?

It means cutting through the grain when the grain is so strong.


KaliHauckKali Hauck

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

I am against the grain because I believe that being yourself and being truthful about who you are is very important. That being someone else just to fit in is not as good as just being you. Just be yourself and you will go a lot farther than those that pretend. For example I am different because, I am adopted, I am small, I am Asian, I like to do different things, I act different, I listen to different music. I may not be as outgoing as the other people at my school, but that’s okay. I do not change these qualities of myself, because that’s what makes me different and special. I just go with what feels right to me and what I feel is important in my life. I try and not focus on what others think of me. This can be hard, and everyone has their own struggles, but being different is cool. That’s how I go against the grain. I stay true to who I really am.

What does against the grain mean to you?

“Against The Grain” to me means that you are different than other people, but you are okay with that. That you aren’t exactly like the others. You do things in your own way and you don’t try and be someone you are not. You are strong and don’t let others get under your skin about who you are or how you don’t fit in. You are just you.


Gabriel EverettGabriel Everett

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

Well, like, I like to play batman even though Eliott doesn’t like to.

What does against the grain mean to you?

I guess not do do what someone else does, especially mean guys.


Eliott EverettEliott Everett

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

I don’t fight somebody…or I don’t know…I just don’t do things just cuz my friends do.

What does against the grain mean to you?

To not do what everyone else does…or something.


 SarahFoustSarah Foust

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

Some of the things that I do that are against the grain are that I don’t wear the same clothes that other kids wear.  I don’t talk in class when other kids are and I put my best in every project. I can spend hours doing origami and crafts and when I see something that I like, I research on-line and learn how to make it myself.

What does against the grain mean to you?

“Against The Grain” means not doing what everyone else is doing.


IMG_20130129_184856Grace Dickinson

How do you go ‘against the grain?’

I go against the grain when my friend Ryan wants me to sit with him at lunch, but he does not save a seat for my best friend Shefali.  I have to go against Ryan and say I would like to but only if you save a spot for Shefali, too. Also, when I’m at school and want to play 4 square, people are always making teams and being mean to each other. When people ask me, I say no, it’s not right to gang up on people.

What does against the grain mean to you?

Going “Against The Grain” means going against the crowd. Going “Against The Grain” means you should be independent and bold.



Here are some of our winners from the 2013 Vietnamese Heritage Camp in Colorado.










Passing the Torch: President Ford Centennial Birthday and Operation Babylift Reunion Celebration

Torch1975Passing the Torch: President Ford Centennial Birthday and  Operation Babylift Reunion Celebration

By Jared Rehberg, Director of Community Outreach (National)

It’s been 38 years since I was adopted from Vietnam during Operation Babylift and began my journey in the United States. During the years I often stopped to think about the other adoptees, the other Vietnamese families that left Vietnam and the volunteers from Operation Babylift. In 2000, I had the pleasure to attend two reunions and catch up with fellow adoptees and learn more about our special history together. As the years went by I lost contact with many of the adoptees. In 2009 I joined forces with ATG founder, Tammy Nguyen Lee to produce a documentary film called Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam. It was an honor to meet many of the heroes of the babylift and make new Vietnamese adoptee friends. Facebook groups have slowly reconnected me with adoptees from around the world, pre and post Operation Babylift.

This summer, Vietnamese American and founder of non-profit organization Torch 1975 Inc. has planned a special gathering to bring our special community together once again to reconnect and honor our past.

Torch 1975 Inc. ( a non-profit and non-partisan organization has announced the President Ford Centennial Birthday and Operation Babylift Reunion Celebration. The gathering will be held in Dana Point, Calif. July 12-15, 2013. Torch 1975 will bring together Original Flight Crew, Veterans and War Orphans to Celebrate and Honor Former President’s Efforts. This reunion will feature a panel of Operation Babylift participants and War Orphans.

“This year’s Operation Babylift reunion will have an additional impact because of the Centennial birthday of Gerald R. Ford,” says Torch1975 founder Jessica Nguyen. “We are honored to host such an amazing group of people. We have a fantastic gala planned for attendees around the Centennial birthday on Saturday evening, July 13th. We are already expecting International guests and members of the original crew of Operation Babylift (OBL).  We are looking forward to reuniting people that haven’t seen each other since 1975.  It will be an amazing event to remember!”

Keynote Speakers of the event include:

•      Ross Meador:  Attorney, OBL Coordinator in Saigon in 1975

•      LeAnn Thieman: National Hall of Fame public speaker, OBL author – book “This Must Be My Brother”, OBL adoptive parent

The event will be kicked off on Saturday, July 13th at 10:00 am with a tribute to President Ford and reenactment of the events that took place on April 5, 1975. All events are open to the public and include a panel discussion from reunited veterans and refugees from Operation Babylift on Sunday, July 14 at the OC Sailing & Events Center.

Panel presentations include:

•      The C-5A Galaxy Incident: Discussion & Aftermath

•      The Journey to America & Beyond

•      Adoptee Babies & Parents: Challenges & Victories

The event will commence on Monday, July 15th, celebrating Gerald Ford’s favorite pastime: Golf. The Gerald R. Ford Memorial Golf Tournament will take place from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm at San Juan Hills Golf Club in San Juan Capistrano. Calif.

Torch 1975 is actively accepting corporate sponsorship for this year’s event. To get involved please contact Jessica Nguyen at

You can learn more about event schedule and details here:

Guests can register for Gerald Ford Centennial Gala and Operation Babylift Reunion event by visiting

jessicajoehomepageI recently had the chance to ask Torch 1975 founder, Jessica Nguyen a few questions. Check out the interview below.

1. What inspired you to bring this event together?

As you see in my Epilogue, 1975 is a key element in my entire life.  I have researched many areas of the 1975 era:  refugees, immigrations, children, families, generations, Fall of Saigon, New Economic Zones, Children of Vietnam War, Soldiers, Communists, death, America and the freedom world, adoption, survivors, military, etc…  One of the areas that attracted my concentration the most was how other children were affected by the war?  And of course, Operation Babylift (OBL) with the stories of some 3000 babies and their lives airlifted out of Vietnam in the closing days of Vietnam War, being adopted and living overseas always comes up on the top of the list of any on-line search return.  I first found out about OBL in late 2011.

OBL is so fascinating, I am not the only one who knows about OBL; cannot leave it alone without further researching.  Being aided by Social Media, I was able to connect at first with your group via Mr. Phil Wise – a C-5A Galaxy crash survivor and a Vietnam Veteran – right on April 4th last year; many crash survivors consider April 4th 1975 as their second birthday.

I invested more and more time to learn and understand about the nature of the story.  I see President Ford as a hero, a Father of all these OBL children.  I was so touched and came to tears when I read the article about April 3rd 1975 – the date he encountered hostility from major broadcasting companies about his decision to evacuate War Orphans from Vietnam.  Many of his staff members were also against this move.  Despite the red-tape and bureaucracy in Washington DC, he stood firm in his decision; and the result is our Children of Vietnam War can be rescued, survive, and grow up peacefully in this freedom land – America!  He even went the extra mile to personally greet the babies arriving in San Francisco Int’l airport on April 5th, 1975.

As a child who grew up with only one parent – my mother, I often question how other children grew up with the lack of a parent like myself?  I am so amazed how you guys grew up as family adoptees to be fine people like we see in this group. The OBL community is indeed quite wonderful.  Looking deeper I can see Chris Colan, Mindy Kelpe, Tim Holtan, Kate Bukart, Jim Zimmerly, Jared Rehberg, Gregory Hodges, each and every one of you, a portrait exactly like your family’s last name.  I sometime wonder why not Jared Colan or vice versa?   God really arranged everything?  There must be a special power, besides the help of President Ford, to place each of you in the right family.  Adoption is great!

President Ford, my hero, author of OBL, and his birthday is coming up this July.  We are so thankful and forever indebted to him for Operation Babylift  – one of the greatest humanitarian efforts of the 20th century.  There is no better time for Children of Vietnam War like us to express our gratitude and appreciation to him by gathering together to commemorate him and his legacy to America with Torch 1975 Inc’s event “PRESIDENT FORD CENTENNIAL BIRTHDAY AND OPERATION BABYLIFT REUNION CELEBRATION.”

2. Is there a particular highlight of the weekend you are excited about?

Beside the Tribute/Reenactment on Saturday morning 07.13.13 and the 100th Birthday cake cutting, sharing, and Birthday song Tribute during President Ford Centennial Gala on Saturday evening 07.13.13, the PANEL/PRESENTATIONS & VENDORS on Sunday afternoon 07.14.13 is very revealing.  It consists of history direct with panelists, strong Vietnamese cultural roots with authentic food, Vietnamese Ao Dai fashion show modeling by OBL babies and their offspring, Vietnamese songs, etc…

3 significant Panels with first-hand experience Panelists:

v  The C-5A Galaxy Incident: Discussion & Aftermath

v  The Journey to America & Beyond

v  Adoptee Babies & Parents: Challenges & Victories

  • Book Signing opportunities by many OBL book authors
  • Authentic Vietnamese foods:  Filet Mignon Pho, egg rolls, spring rolls, chow-mein, etc…
  • Fashion Show (Vietnamese Ao Dai)

  3. For all the adoptees around the world who can’t make it, is there anything you’d like to say or share with them?

As Children born during the War time and growing up in hardship, we have a common bond.  We should keep in touch, support each other as much as we can, stay in the loop and network by all possible means.  Join the group, share your stories, pass the word about our EVENT for your friends/adoptees to come and meet one another, buy our Event DVD, etc…  We would love to see and hear from all OBL members and adoptees out there worldwide.  ‘Hi & Hugs’ are sending your way from us!

For more about Jessica, visit:



About Torch 1975 Inc.

Torch 1975 Inc. ( is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to support and serve America’s Veterans.  Based in Dana Point, Calif. – The mission of the organization is ‘ECHO’:  Educate; Connect; Heal; and Optimize situations for Veterans dealing with Readjustment issues, Employment, Educational Assistance, Scholarships, and Family Planning.  The organization was founded by Jessica Nguyen, a POW’s daughter, and was later joined by Colonel Joe Snyder – a retired Marine and former Mayor of Dana Point, Calif.

Torch 1975, Incorporated is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to supporting America’s Veterans. Torch 1975’s California entity license is C3399380, Federal EIN number is 45-4324829. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.


2013 Operation Babylift Reflections by Jared Rehberg

PageImage-497879-2533595-Operation_BabyliftEvery year during this week, I take a moment to reflect on my past. Life gets hectic with work, hobbies, friends and family. Thirty-eight years ago this week, I left the An Lac orphanage and South Vietnam on an airplane to begin my new life in America. This historic week would soon be call Operation Babylift. It would take 25 years before I would be reunited with other Vietnamese adoptees and begin to understand what happened so many years ago. After all the talk about politics and opinions, there was still over 3,000 children who were relocated around the world. Through the years, I’ve enjoyed connecting with Vietnamese adoptees around the world. I found comfort sharing familiar experiences and knowing that there was someone out there to talk to when I was in need of a shoulder or ear. Thanks to Facebook, we have groups and a mini address book of connections. After the reunion in Baltimore in 2000, I began writing and performing songs about my adoption experience. My life’s work led me to meeting Tammy Nguyen Lee and helping to produce her documentary film Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam. I will never forget our time together traveling, filming and screening our film. I learned so much more about my past and met so many wonderful people who share a common history. Today, I’m proud to be on the ATG Board for my 4th year servicing as Outreach Director. Weeks like this remind me of our ATG mission and my personal inspiration to give back to the Asian American community and continue to produce music and tell stories from my journey.

I wrote a special song for my Vietnamese adoptee brothers and sisters called Something to Save. You’re not alone. Our stories will be shared from generation to generation. Listen here:

Check out the film and learn more about Babylift:

PageImage-497879-2532745-13551_180274528873_112545978873_2778860_7654472_nOPERATION BABYLIFT: THE LOST CHILDREN OF VIETNAM tells the significant, yet untold story of the $2 million U.S. initiative that airlifted over 2,500 Vietnamese orphans out of a war-torn country from the impending threat of the Communist regime. These adoptees grew up facing unique challenges in America, including prejudice overshadowed by a controversial war and cultural identity crisis. Featuring compelling and insightful interviews of the volunteers, parents, and organizations directly involved, the documentary takes a contemporary look at Operation Babylift and its relevance to international adoption today.