Meet the Authors
SHARON ORLOPP is an expert on everyday inclusion. As the Global Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Walmart, she created unique experiential immersion trips to teach others about different cultures. As an author, editor, and speaker, she is passionate about building a world where every person is valued and included. Sharon believes in the transformative power of personal stories to touch the heart, which in turn changes behavior.
THUHANG TRAN was born in Saigon and developed polio as a toddler. When Saigon fell in 1975, her father narrowly escaped to the US and left his family behind. Later, the family was told that he had been killed in a helicopter crash. It took almost fifteen years for Thuhang’s family to be reunited. When Thuhang immigrated to America, she had surgery and intense physical therapy that enabled her to stand upright after crawling and squatting on the floor for seventeen years. She went on to start her new life by learning English, graduating from college, and working at several Fortune 500 companies in Information Technology. Several years ago, she focused her energy on helping orphaned and disabled children in Vietnam. Her future goals include creating a nonprofit organization to help disabled children in her home country.
ASK THE AUTHORS
Why did you feel Sharon would be an ideal writer for your life story?
Thuhang ... "When we met, I felt like I had known Sharon for a long time. Sharon has a unique personality and character, and I have never met anyone like her. She is positive, has an open mind, and is straightforward like me. She listened intently to my story and understood me, so I was comfortable sharing the details of my life with her. Sharon believed my story was fascinating and asked whether I had thought about writing a book. People were always telling me to write a book about my life story, but I had not yet found the right person to help me. Sharon eagerly offered and I accepted. We have become great partners!"
What motivated you to write this remarkable true story?
Sharon ... "It embodies a universal story of hope and determination that prevails against incredible odds, and it demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit. There is a powerful element of family love, particularly the bond between a father and a daughter. Her story highlights how grit, determination, and continual personal reinvention can enable success. Thuhang represents many aspects of diversity: Vietnamese, immigrant, disabled, woman. Diversity is woven into the fabric of America; it is what makes our country great. It is timely due to current events and rhetoric about immigrants and refugees. There is current interest in Vietnam as seen in Mark Bowden’s recently published book, Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam, as well as documentaries on Vietnam by Ken Burns and Rory Kennedy."
What do you hope people will gain by reading Standing Up After Saigon?
Thuhang ... "Personally, I hope that by sharing my life experiences, I will give my nieces and nephews the ability to understand more about what their parents and grandparents have been through. I hope they will better appreciate what they have. I also want readers a gain a new perspective when reading about my struggles. I want to encourage people not to judge others. When you see a differently abled person, don’t be afraid to offer help. Treat them with love, patience, understanding, and grace. I hope my story will provide comfort and inspiration."
Sharon ... "The most significant message in the book is the power of hope. With hope, you have everything. Without hope, you have nothing."