Your message brought tears to my eyes! My story is among thousands of immigrant stories; I was blessed that Digital Clubhouse Network wanted to share mine with you. One day soon, I hope to write another blog about my preparation and visit with Mr. Smith and family. THANK YOU so very much for sharing your heartfelt words!
I have seen "Daughter From Danang." I know the journalist who helped Heidi reunite with her family. Even though I had a different "homecoming," it was an incredibly moving documentary that hit home for me as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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Words cannot express how grateful my family is for your special post. Thank you so very much for wanting to share my story and video with our Internal and External family too.
Last month, I met a Rochester Institute of Technology student named William Xu at the OCA National Convention in San Francisco. William followed up to tell me that he currently serves as the national president of Pi Delta Psi, the second-largest Asian American fraternity in the country and the only one with an emphasis on culture. He mentioned that the Rochester community has a large number of adopted Korean Americans, and he wants to create a fund within the fraternity’s national treasury that will pay for one or more students to return to their homeland to find their roots. He asked me to advise him on what students might need to prepare and what they might experience through the rediscovery process.
William shared: "I finally got around to watching the video... It was very touching and something I think should be shared with not only Vietnamese Americans but many Asian Americans who have in one way or another lost touch with their heritage and culture."
I hope that my broader message of always remembering where you come from; embracing your heritage; and never being ashamed of who you are resonates not only with Asian Americans, but with everyone who watches the video.
As the Beatles once sang, “with a little help from my friends” I know that we will find Mr. Smith and his family. We are now one step closer to making my dream come true – thank you from the bottom of my heart, Brian!
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Of course I remember you and thanks for revealing yourself! Thanks for your great ideas and posting your comments. I hope to see you on a flight; I'll even pass out peanuts for you! ;)
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Thanks Bill for your nice note to Kent! I agree, with Kent's busy schedule, it's a treat to have him take the time to respond to as many questions as he can. THANK YOU Kent for going above and beyond and for making your Hell's Kitchen fans KENT WEED fans too!
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Hubby and I are watching the show as I write our question of the night:
Do the contestants follow a recipe so the dishes come out of both kitchens the same? Or are they just given the ingredients and told to use their own techniques? I'm not a cook, but I can't believe Tenille had the scallops swimming in oil! Thanks - Kim and Pete Delevett
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Hi Brian! HAHA! Hardly a celebrity, we were on the show for only a minute. If you blinked, you would have missed us. Are you going to watch the show tonight? What's gonna happen between Joseph and Ramsay?
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Last year, after the Golden Globes were canceled, I wrote that my friend Kymberli Brady promised to invite me to the 2009 Globes. Well, she fulfilled her promise, and we hopped on a Southwest plane to attend the Golden Globes, followed by a string of after parties! But the (temporary) life of a movie star didn’t stop there. Kymberli’s brother, Kent Weed, happens to be the executive producer of the hit show, Hell’s Kitchen, and he invited us to have a nice dinner during the taping of the season six premiere. In case you don’t watch the show, Hell’s Kitchen is a cooking reality show where in the end, Chef Gordon Ramsay chooses the final contestant to be the head chef at one of his restaurants. This season, the top dog will get to run Araxi Restaurant in Whistler, British Columbia. Aside from the bright lights of the studio cameras, the sneaky microphones, and the faint shouting in the glass-enclosed kitchen, the set pretty much felt like a regular restaurant. Kymberli and I came ready to have a fancy, three-course dining experience. Shortly after we were seated, we met Van, one of the contestants. The Dallas lead cook was Mr. Personality Plus, but poor guy, he kept dropping his pans and shrimp on the floor as he was preparing our tableside shrimp scampi. We devoured the tiny but tasty appetizer and couldn’t wait for the next course. After countless breadsticks, rounds of wine, and over two hours of finger tapping, our waiter finally informed us that we were not going to get dinner. Are you kidding? Ramsay was so upset with the two teams that he shut down the show! So we left with roaring tummies and ended up ordering room-service hamburgers. I thought that night would be only a memory--until the show aired last night, and Kymberli and I had our minute of fame. And this morning, I started getting calls and emails from Coworkers, family, and friends from across the country asking if I ever got fed. Because we have a lot of Hell’s Kitchen fans at Southwest, Kymberli and I asked Kent to answer a few questions, as we try to pry what we can as to the “behind-the-scenes and behind-the-glass” goings-on. Q: How do the contestants get chosen? KENT: We conduct a nationwide search for chefs of all types of backgrounds. We look for people that are passionate about their work and have interesting personalities. We are not looking for reality show contestants. Rather, we are in search of real people that anyone can relate to. The restaurant industry is full of fascinating characters and we are out to give them an opportunity to move to the next level in their careers. Q: Will there be any other surprises that you can hint at coming up? KENT: I can tell you that this season promises to be the most explosive, the most volatile, and the most surprising season we have ever had. We have chefs that get burned, cut, and injured like never before. There is more fighting than ever before, and not just with Gordon but between the chefs as well. Even the mild-mannered Belgian maitre d’, JP, almost gets in a fight with one of the contestants. Every episode is a surprise. Q: In the second half of the season opener, after dinner service, one aspiring chef went head-to-head with Chef Ramsay and wanted to “take it outside” for the first time ever in the show’s history. What set this guy off, and did you know this was going to happen? KENT: No one knows what ultimately set Joseph off. But when he went, he went off in a big way. No one was more surprised than me. You all saw the same thing we did. One minute, Gordon is asking him a question and the next the guy is saying he's “nobody's -itch.” Everyone handles pressure differently, and I can only presume the pressure got to him and this was how he decided to deal with it--by going after Chef Ramsay and challenging him to a fight. You will have to wait until next week to see how it ends. It’s good stuff, make sure to have some popcorn on hand. Q: What other shows have you done or are working on right now? KENT: I also am the Executive Producer of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay, and we just finished filming the newest season, which will air sometime in the fall. In addition, I am the Executive Producer and Director of I Survived a Japanese Game Show for ABC. Q: Any comments for all of your fans at Southwest Airlines? KENT: I love Southwest Airlines and always have fond memories of the crew and staff when traveling with them. Thanks for all your support of HK, and I look forward to providing some juicy bits of information as the season continues. But wait, there’s another Hell’s Kitchen surprise! Kent also agreed to field some of your questions in the coming weeks, so don’t be shy. Fire away! And stay tuned for some exciting news!
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I can't believe you recognized me, haha! It was a fun experience even though we didn't get served dinner that night. I had bread sticks, two shrimp, and a glass of wine before they shut the show down. Poor Van, the shrimp and pans kept falling on the floor!
Yes, I'm still in San Jose, and I have a little boy who's almost a year old. Thanks for writing, it was so nice to see your name and note on the blog. Take care!
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On August 9, 2008, four days before the birth of my son James, I waddled to the “Road to Redress and Reparations” Forum that was presented by the San Jose Japanese American Citizens League, Nihonmachi Outreach Committee, and San Jose City College. The event commemorated the 25th Anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the legislation that officially apologized for interning thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. As a resident of San Jose’s Japantown, one of the last remaining Japantowns in America, I was already aware of the Japanese American internment. However, after listening to former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta and others recount their experiences and watching the film “Redress: the JACL Campaign for Justice,” I found myself feeling sadness and anguish for the 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans who were forced into internment camps during our nation’s darkest days. So when Southwest was asked to support the National Japanese American Memorial Foundations’ 6th Annual Awards Gala to honor the four surviving Japanese American Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients, I unequivocally said YES! Southwest’s support helped fly the Japanese American seniors from the U.S. Coast Guard and Air Force Academies and two Medal of Honor Recipients, George Sakato and Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, and their families to attend the special event. I have to give a BIG SHOUT OUT and KICK TAILS to our Inflight Crews, Denver (DEN), Albuquerque (ABQ), and Baltimore/Washington (BWI) Employees who recently went above the call of duty to help make the Sakatos and Miyamuras feel honored and LUVed! Our ABQ Supervisors William Semerjibashian and Laura Nuzum forwarded their photos and comments: “On April 19 we greeted Mr. Miyamura and his lovely wife at gate A5. We presented both of them with flowers and had the gate decorated for both his outbound and return flights on SWA! As the flight pulled into the gate, an announcement was made and some of the details were given as to who this magnificent man is and what he had done for our country. As he came off the plane, the other Customers in the gate area gave him a standing ovation. It was amazing! You could tell he was a bit shy when it came to all of the attention. He very humbly smiled and walked with his wife through the applauding people. There were a few tears, and after he had gone, many Customers came to us wanting to know more about what he had done and wanted to thank us for announcing that he was on our flight! It was a great day and we just wanted to share a piece of it with you. The photo came out a bit blurry, but I think you can see the happiness and emotion in Mr. Miyamura's face. Thanks for letting us know that he would be traveling with us!” Coincidentally, on my trip to BWI to attend the Gala, I was booked on the same flight as the Sakatos and Miyamuras, and in typical Southwest fashion, we had to celebrate our special guests onboard with games and trivia questions! It was also heartwarming to see our Customers getting out of their seats to express their appreciation or offer drinks to these two extraordinary men. George and Hershey both risked their lives to defend our country at a time when they were subjects of prejudice and discrimination. I believe their loyalty and unwavering patriotism were the epitome of heroism. During combat in France in 1944, Private Sakato displayed extraordinary heroism after his unit was pinned down by heavy fire, making a one-man rush that inspired his platoon to mount a counterattack, then taking charge of the squad after its leader was killed. And in 1951, as a machine-gun squad leader during the Korean War, Corporal Miyamura single-handedly brought down 50 enemy soldiers when his company’s position was overrun, suffering severe wounds in hand-to-hand combat while buying time for his men to retreat. At the Gala, Southwest Captains Rod Harrell, John Fluhart, and Paul Onorato, and I had the privilege of hosting George and his daughter Leslie at our table. According to John, “It was a truly memorable occasion for me and I really appreciated having the opportunity to honor such great American heroes.” And Cadet Captain Lafferty from West Point shared, “This is by far one of the best experiences I’ve had as being a cadet at West Point. I was deeply honored, humbled, and amazed by the heroism by the sacrifices made by the Japanese Americans I met. Their stories were both inspiring and touching and I hope that someday I can accomplish a fraction of the deeds these men did in service to our nation.” As the perfect evening was ending and it was time to say goodbye to my travel buddies, I wished George, Leslie, Hershey, his wife Terry, and niece Marisa a safe flight home and assured them that they were in good hands on their return flights. Before I walked away, I felt something cold and heavy placed in my hand. I looked down to see that Hershey had surreptitiously given me an autographed replica medal. When I returned home, I placed Hershey’s medal in my eight month-old son’s pudgy palm and whispered, “This is for you James, and it’s from a true American Hero!” I was so deeply moved by the stories shared during the Redress and Gala events that I had to share my thoughts for Asian Pacific American Month this May and for Memorial Day at the end of the month. Thank you to all Asian Pacific American heroes and heroines who came before and sacrificed everything to give us the opportunities we have today.
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I just filled out my profile on Southwest’s new online tool, Travel Guide. And I’m really excited about its debut this week! Ever since we got hitched in 1997, my hubby Peter and I have taken more than 35 (vacation) trips to over 20 countries. We couldn’t begin to count how many domestic trips we’ve flown on Southwest. We can’t help it, we’re TRAVELHOLICS! In case you didn’t catch my blog “Marry Me, Fly for Free. And He Did,” you know that the Delevett Family LUVS to pack up and go on a moment’s notice. However, the preparation isn’t always so simple. Since we’re too frugal to work with a travel agent, we usually invest the time to survey friends, family, and Coworkers on their opinions about the local hot spots for dining, live music, shopping, etc. Then we spend hours researching various web sites for additional historical, tourist, and logistical information. When traveling abroad, we always keep trusted copies of Lonely Planet or Fodor’s on hand; however, the Southwest Travel Guide will be our source for domestic travel information. After visiting the user-friendly Southwest Travel Guide and reading what the other travelers had to say about places we’d like to see or have already visited, I learned a lot of great information in just a few clicks. I even learned a few new things about where I live! It was nice to have hot deals, real testimonials, and FUN factoids all in one place. So before we take to the sky again, we’ll now log onto www.southwest.com/travelguide to check out the inside scoop that will help save us a lot of time and money for our next trip. What a fabulous travel tool, thanks Southwest!
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To jazzyspreetsing and Kathi! Thank you for sharing your posts! I love Herb's quote and Kathi, I enjoyed reading about your experiences. I was so bummed that I couldn't be in Dallas today to partipate in Colleen's special tribute, but it was nice to be with fellow Culture Committee members at OAK's Hokey Day today. We got to honor Colleen as we helped spread the LUV to our awesome Employees!
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Our tribute to Colleen continues this week. I didn't attend our Company's recent Awards Banquet on June 28th, but I vividly remember the one I attended two years ago for my Southwest Tenth Anniversary. After everyone at my table had won an award, it still didn't dawn on me that I was probably sitting at the table for a reason. It didn't hit me until our President Colleen Barrett announced my name to receive the surprise "Freedom Fighter" Award. I was SO stunned and emotional that I couldn't move from my chair, and my husband had to intervene and escort me to the stage. I also remember the first time I met Colleen, at the 1998 Oakland Message to the Field. I nervously tapped her shoulder to ask if I could take a picture before she left the auditorium. I quickly developed and framed the picture, and it still hangs in my office today. Again, little did I know how much this one extraordinary woman would influence my life for the next ten years! From thoughtful gifts to celebrate my birthdays and Southwest anniversaries, to various Company honors I've been fortunate to receive, Colleen's LUV and support have deeply touched me. Through Colleen's Culture Committee, I got to see the "Queen of Heart's" unwavering dedication to Southwest's mission firsthand and to learn why she's become a legend in her own right. Colleen is absolutely the hardest working woman I've ever known! Of course, "Uncle Herbie" has been special to me too. I'll never forget my flight home from Dallas on May 22nd, the day after Herbie's last shareholders meeting as Chairman of the Board, and I found him in the back of the plane, yukking it up with Customers and the Flight Crew. When the plane landed, a Flight Attendant announced Herb's retirement, and the 137 passengers and whole crew gave a standing ovation. Before he stepped off the plane in San Antonio, he was asked to autograph the "Thank You Herb" poster - a priceless shot of him laughing in the cockpit - in the forward galley. It moved me to watch Herb inscribe: "THX, Uncle Herbie." With a reassuring hug, he smiled at me and said, "Don't worry, I'll still be watching ya!" Both Colleen and Herb have been more than Servant Leaders and role models to me - they've been inspirations. Very few people know this, but Kim is actually my middle name. My biological mother, whom I never knew and who passed when I was a little girl, named me Phuong, which means the Phoenix. And if you don't already know from my previous blog posts, I love to travel and fly like a bird! As I stop to think about how my life has unfolded, I can unequivocally say it is no coincidence that I work for the Southwest Family. Having been born in a war-torn country and having worked to support myself throughout the majority of my adolescence, I learned very early to treat others as I'd like to be treated; help other people; fight for what's right; and count life's many blessings. How lucky I am to have found my home in a Company that lives by The Golden Rule; works hard to do the right thing for its Employees and Customers everyday; helps communities prosper; and after 37 years, still gives people the Freedom to Fly! Congratulations and thank you "Mother Colleen" and "Uncle Herbie" for making your dream a reality for your 34,000 kids and countless Customers and admirers throughout the world. Most of all, thank you for believing in and watching over THIS KID...I'm sure my mother, Nuoi Thi Phan, would say the same!
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paula and beth, thank you both for sharing your personal stories about your fathers. i never knew my biological father, but i've been lucky to have many father figures throughout my life. father's day brings a lot of mixed emotions for me as well, but i'm excited to celebrate tomorrow with a very special dad - my husband - his first father's day!! he has it pretty easy because i'm still preggers, and he scored with a few father's day gifts, haha! much love to you both, kim and baby bump
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April was a memorable month for me, as I participated in significant milestones for two Southwest Employees and experienced one myself while in Moscow! Earlier in the month, a longtime mentor of mine retired after 32 years of dedicating her LUV, talent, drive, and passion to Southwest. From Flight Attendant with hot pants and go-go boots to Director of the Legislative Communications and Grassroots Department, Susan Goodman was a Freedom Fighter from day one--July 1, 1975. At her retirement party, I learned about Susan's countless accomplishments, as our President Colleen Barrett, Chairman Herb Kelleher, and many other Southwest friends outlined her campaigns and victories since 1980. Over the majority of Susan's career, she fought on behalf of our Employees, Customers, and Company. In 2005, her Warrior Spirit and innate desire to make a difference were put to the test, and she rallied her many networks to successfully help repeal the Wright Amendment. In story after story, Susan's personal touch resonated with hundreds of Internal and External fans, and I felt so proud that I got the opportunity to work alongside and to know a true Southwest Heroine. For me, Susie not only brought out and recognized my best, but she also helped me to become the woman and professional that I am today. I am forever grateful for her Leadership and friendship, and I wish her a never-ending sunset in her happy ever after. Shortly after the retirement bash, my husband and I attended another celebration. This time, it was the marriage of another Southwest Employee, Michelle Reimherr, to her prince charming Brad Miller. I first met Michelle through a mutual Southwest friend almost 12 years ago, when Michelle worked in Customer Relations and I was a Customer Service Agent in New Orleans. We ended up working closely together when she later joined the Promotions Department and I became the Marketing Manager for San Jose. When Michelle and Brad first started dating, Brad and my husband Pete hit it off when they discovered that they were both Saints and LSU fans. Brad was born and raised in Louisiana, and he and Pete quickly became long-lost brothers. As we second-lined with them last weekend from St. Louis Cathedral and down the familiar streets of the French Quarter, I thought about how Southwest had brought us together for their perfect day. This special city played a role in both the beginning of my Southwest career and the beginning of Michelle and Brad's new life together. Speaking of the start of my Southwest career, I celebrated my 12 th Anniversary with the Company on April 28 th while Pete and I were on our "babymoon," the last trip abroad before the arrival of baby Delevett in August! Once again, thanks to our great flight benefits, we decided to take a long weekend to visit friends in Moscow. I'm blessed to have shared in my friends' momentous milestones. Cheers to the next chapters in your lives!
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To Craig, Gordon, Nga, Faith, Michael, Sally, Grace, Michele, Anne, Gary and Marcella: THANK YOU for taking the time to read my blog and to share your heartfelt comments with me. I've read each of them and was deeply touched by them too! I do hope that my story helps others to be proud of their heritage and family history, regardless of ethnicity (I agree with you Gordon!).
Even though I had a good childhood, I really never felt comfortable in my own skin growing up. Finding my Vietnamese family allowed me to see my place in the bigger picture and grounded me on many levels. Feel free to share any additional thoughts; I love hearing from you!
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
;) Kim and Baby to Be
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Last year, we introduced Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with facts and FUN trivia questions. Today, I want to share a few words from our President: Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, 2008 A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America Americans who trace their ancestry to Asia and the Pacific Islands have contributed much to our Nation. During Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, we highlight their importance to our great Nation. Asian/Pacific Americans have made our country better with their talents and hard work. Their values and commitment to family and community have helped shape and strengthen America. These citizens speak many languages, honor countless traditions, and practice different faiths, but they are bound by a shared commitment to freedom and liberty. The diversity among Asian/Pacific Americans adds to the cultural fabric of our society. Asian/Pacific Americans have enriched our culture, excelling in many fields, including education, business, science, technology, government, sports, and the arts. We especially honor those Asian/Pacific Americans who have answered the call to protect the cause of freedom by serving in our Armed Forces. These brave men and women set a powerful example for all Americans. As we celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, we are reminded of the richness of the Asian and Pacific cultures. Asian/Pacific Americans enhance the American experience and contribute to our country's legacy of diversity. To honor the achievements and contributions of Asian/Pacific Americans, the Congress, by Public Law 102-450, as amended, has designated the month of May each year as "Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month." NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 2008 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. I call upon the people of the United States to learn more about the history of Asian/Pacific Americans and their many contributions to our Nation and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second. GEORGE W. BUSH I am Vietnamese American. For the majority of my life, I admit that I was ashamed of my heritage and denied anything that smelled, tasted, sounded or looked Vietnamese. When I was two years old, I fled my motherland a few days before Saigon fell in 1975. I was fortunate to arrive to the United States with my ten-year-old brother and three teenage cousins. My brother and I were placed in foster homes and were later adopted into a Caucasian family and raised in a predominantly Caucasian community. With my almond-shaped eyes, round face, and dark skin, I didn't want to look or be "different" from any of my blue-eyed, blonde-haired classmates. Then in 1994, when I returned to Vietnam for the first time in almost 20 years, a miracle happened that would change my life forever - I not only found my long-lost extended family, but I also found my long-lost self! Since that auspicious day, I have come into my own and have embraced my heritage and the many customs that I hope to pass to my unborn child. I can identify with thousands of other Asian Pacific Americans who've lost their loved ones or have made extraordinary sacrifices for their families to succeed in America. I am grateful for the many opportunities that I've been given throughout my life, and I'm also blessed to work for a Company that empowers me to reach out and to support the passions and issues that Asian Pacific American communities share throughout the country. During the month of May, Southwest will be celebrating the many Asian Pacific American customs, accomplishments, and activities with you and will support various organizations and events across the country. Those include Asian Pacific Islander American Vote, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, Asian Americans for Community Involvement, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the 24 th Annual Los Angeles Asian Film Festival to name a few. We hope you and your families enjoy the many rich smells, sights, and sounds of all Asian Pacific American cultures during this exciting month!
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I recently attended my first Corporate Community Relations Consortium meeting in San Jose, where corporate community relations/affairs professionals network and share benchmarks. I left the meeting feeling a sense of pride for what these committed colleagues (representing Fortune 500 companies such as Yahoo, Intel, eBay, HP, Cisco Systems, and Adobe to name a few) collectively contribute back, not only to the Silicon Valley community, but also to the nation and even world. I also left the gathering with an ear-to-ear smile, because I'm now a part of this special cadre of folks whose primary role is to help meet the needs of a community.
I joined Southwest's Corporate Community Affairs Team (CCAT) last June when I transitioned over from Field Marketing, where I spent almost nine years of my Southwest career. The CCAT's vision is to engage in high profile, local, and grassroots initiatives that positively impact communities we serve. Our aim is to ensure that Southwest is a trusted partner and valued as a powerful source of influence among Internal and External Customers. The CCAT efforts can be measured in three main impact areas: Leadership, community/social responsibility, and education.
You may be wondering, why does the work of these Freedom Fighter frauleins matter to our Customers?
"Not only does Southwest contribute resources, but they also donate talent, time and creativity to the projects for which they commit."
--Maudine R. Cooper, President and CEO, Greater Washington Urban League
"With our partnership with Southwest Airlines, we have been able to train hundreds of College age Latinas to lead their communities and prepare them for leadership positions as they complete their college degrees. Gracias Southwest for helping shape the future of America!"
--Marissa Rivera-Albert, President National Hispana Leadership Institute
Whether it's helping young leaders of tomorrow attend college through programs like the signature !Lazante! Travel Awards program; supporting advocacy efforts for social justice; or honoring our national heroes such as the Tuskegee Airmen, the Team contributes its time, expertise, and resources to connect Southwest with the passions of our multi-faceted communities. We work collaboratively with other SWA departments, community leaders, elected officials, educators, entrepreneurs, and other influential organizations to help make a positive difference and to uplift, shape, and move our network of communities forward.
Here's a snapshot of a few accomplishments from 2007: Established and cultivated mutually beneficial relationships with more than 135 Community, Business, and Political based organizations in key cities, impacting local communities across the country. Community Affairs served on more than 33 Boards of Directors in an advisory, membership, and committee chair capacity, placing Southwest in an influential position with key decision makers. Southwest was recognized with 30+ special recognition awards for our commitment to the communities we serve. Southwest received the HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities) President's Award for Corporate Partner of the Year. MANA National awarded Southwest Airlines the "Corporation of the Year" Award at its annual "Las Primeras" Awards Gala. Now that you know a little CCAT trivia, the first person to correctly list the names of the small, but mighty group of six CCAT members featured in the picture, will win a $15 Blockbuster card! Okay, READY, SET, GO!
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According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2008 is the Year of the Rat, which begins on February 7th and ends on January 25th, 2009. First in the cycle of 12 animal signs, the Year of the Rat begins the sequence and recurs every twelfth year. Some famous RATS include Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson, and even William Shakespeare!
I'm excited about this "Rat-atouille" year (thanks to the Golden Globes), because I'm a RAT too - born in 1972! Traditionally, Lunar New Year is a time of thanksgiving, a time to celebrate with family and friends and remember beloved ancestors. Southwest Airlines is gearing up for various Lunar New Year celebrations this year and is proud to be sponsoring the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, the Lunar New Year Parade in Los Angeles and the Vietnamese Spring Festival and Parade in San Jose. And one of the many great things about my work in Corporate Community Affairs is that I get to work with extraordinary community Leaders who are driven to make a difference for the greater good, particularly within the Asian-American community.
Last week, one community Leader and longtime colleague and friend, Bill Imada, forwarded me an e-mail with an impromptu video that he shot after landing at Oakland Airport with Jane Cohen, Regional Marketing and Communications Director of the American Cancer Society. Bill is the Chairman and CEO of IW Group, a public relations and communications firm that specializes in reaching the Asian-American community, with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. He shared that an earlier Southwest flight with Jane was where they forged a campaign that would impact hundreds, if not thousands, of people almost four years later. As I read his very powerful message about how Southwest helped save lives and watched the humbling video, I was so moved by Bill and Jane's efforts that I felt compelled to share on the Blog.
Bill's edited email and video: Dear Kim,
I was riding back from Sacramento and ran into Jane Cohen, the regional director of marketing communications at the American Cancer Society. I actually didn't see her at first. She ended up sitting next to me and had my ear for more than an hour. During that hour-long Southwest Airlines journey, she told me a story about colon cancer that horrified and saddened me. (It is also known as colorectal cancer.) She said that Asian Americans in California and elsewhere around the country were not being screened for the pre-cancerous polyps that could lead to colon cancer. She said Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese were dying needlessly - from a cancer that is more than 90 percent curable if detected early - because they were fearful of knowing the unknown, didn't think they could afford the testing/screening; and/or didn't understand that this disease was one of the leading killers of all Americans. I told her that I would help.
When I got back to the office my creative team immediately agreed to help--all pro bono. However, due to the enormity of the challenge (Asian-American consumers over the age of 50 years were the target), we asked for help. Who did we approach? Dae Advertising. InterTREND Communications. AAAZa Advertising. Three of our fiercest competitors in California! But also some of our favorite people. People that would quickly understand the challenge and put aside all competitive issues to support the community.
It is so easy to say no these days to a competitor with his hand out asking for freebies. And even easier to say no to a person who can't afford to pay for these campaigns. But all three agencies said yes--which I believe is harder than saying no.
Together, after several years, we have developed campaigns for the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities. The Vietnamese campaign includes a TV and radio spot with actress Kieu Chinh (of the Joy Luck Club fame). The Chinese campaign focused on real issues and real people-all touched by colon cancer, including a survivor. And the Korean campaign touched on the impact that colon cancer has on loved ones, including family and friends.
In the Vietnamese campaign, actress Kieu Chinh talked from personal experience and it was quite moving. People cried. And more people took the step to call, ask questions and inquire about being screened.
So, if Jane and I weren't on that Southwest Airlines flight that day, this campaign may never have happened. Nor, would this amazing partnership that includes your agency, Dae Advertising. (Side note: Dae Advertising is the genius behind Southwest's Asian American advertising creative.)
The campaigns have saved lives. And there is now greater awareness among the older-adult community that colon cancer is fully treatable if detected early. And the tests don't have to impact your wallet too severely.
Jane and I found ourselves on another Southwest Airlines flight yesterday morning and talked about how we met by chance. Hence, we credit Southwest for helping us "move about the country" to do our work and to save lives. Lives that could have been lost if we weren't on that flight that day.
BTW, I talked fondly of Southwest Airlines at the national American Cancer Society Convention and had a small Southwest Airlines plane jet across my PowerPoint presentation. It was warmly received.
We have a soft spot for Southwest. Not only do we feel at home on Southwest, it is also a place for us to connect, reconnect and make new friends.
Talk about the power of brand loyalty and invaluable relationships! In this case, one of our community partners has such an affinity for Southwest that he's willing to spread the word on his own merit without any provocation or a Southwest paycheck.
I followed up with Jane and learned that when the campaign first launched, it garnered over 200 calls to the ACS Northern California Chinese unit; support from the three top-ranking Chinese state legislators; and new partnerships with hospitals, physicians and corporations. Most importantly, the national awareness campaign not only spread throughout the country but also began to touch lives internationally. And it continues to do so today.
It was such a joy to hear Jane's side of the testimonial, "We do amazing work on your planes. Southwest's flights help us move around the country, so we (ACS) can move people to action...we love Southwest!"
THANK YOU American Cancer Society, IW Group, Dae Advertising, AAAZa Advertising, and InterTREND Communications, for your passion, generosity, creativity, and commitment to SAVING LIVES every year.
To learn more about the American Cancer Society and how you can help save the life of someone you LUV, I encourage you to visit http://www.cancer.org or call
Have a HAPPY and HEALTHY Year of the RAT!
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Now we have a whole year to get in shape, right? THANK YOU so much for thinking of me this year and for next year too! One of my hometown girlfriends, who's a fashion writer for the local paper, would like to write a behind the scenes story about our experience to boot. So I'm crossing my fingers that everything will work out for us the next time around. And of course, Southwest will be ready to take us there!
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Kelli, I hope we meet one day! I'd love to hear all of your Southwest stories 😉 THANK YOU for keeping the Southwest Spirit alive and for Luving our Customers and Coworkers everyday. You're a GEM! Consider yourself hugged 😉
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Hi DAL FA! You are hilarious!!! Yes, it gives me a whole year to look for a fabulous dress 😉 Thank you for your kind words to my hubby; I forwarded your note already. How long have you worked for SWA?!
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What a bummer that the Golden Globes ceremony was canceled this year! Sure, some of my favorites like "Ratatouille" and Javier Bardem still won Golden Globes. But I have to admit, I love to watch the glitz of the red carpet every year too. Making it even more disappointing was that I was supposed to help a friend, Kymberli Brady, work the green room during this year's awards show. Kymberli and I bonded over a San Jose Chamber of Commerce trip two years ago as we lobbied various federal issues on Capitol Hill, including the repeal of the Wright Amendment. During the trip, she shared that her late father had been the director and co-executive producer of the Globes for 18 years. Kymberli has been in charge of producing THE ENVELOPES for the past 23 years. She didn't forget her promise to invite me to be a future "assistant"; this was going to be my year! (Fortunately, she's already given me a rain check for 2009.) However, one awards ceremony I will definitely be attending will be for the Bay Area Travel Writers next week. I have to brag just a little - my husband Peter will be receiving an award for a travel piece he wrote about our visit to Dachau during a trip we took to Germany with some Southwest friends. Every Thanksgiving for the past 13 years, Southwest's Director of Sports Marketing, Promotions and Licensing Andy Allmann and Senior Promotions Specialist of Multicultural Marketing Laura Lopez invite Coworkers and friends to the German Christmas markets. For years, Peter and I had heard the hilarious stories and fun adventures from the growing number of "Germ Alums." And in 2006, we decided to see how many bratwursts we could possibly consume in our three-day, whirlwind trip while visiting Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Munich, Dachau, and Heidelberg. (My stomach is still recuperating.) I'm not sure what my husband's acceptance speech will entail, but I know that a BIG THANKS goes to Andy and Laura for planning one of the most memorable trips we've ever experienced and for keeping our motley crew of 12 running like clockwork. And to Southwest, for hiring such special folks and for giving us fabulous flight bennies! What about you? Did your Golden Globe favs win? Who are your picks for the Oscars? Write and let us know!
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In an earlier blog entry, I shared my thoughts about visiting my extended Vietnamese family in the humid Mekong Delta with my husband, sisters-in-law, and Southwest Coworkers. A month later, I had another amazing family reunion; however, this time, it was in chilly Chicago with an exclusive group: The Delevett Granddaughters. I was included because I married into the family and was allowed to hang with the SISTAHS. Ranging from ages five to 39, four generations of Delevett women flew from all parts of the country to celebrate Grandma Jeanne's 89th birthday. Some of us hadn't seen each other in almost five years, and we had a lot of catching up to do. We laughed, cried, cooked, and danced – all in our pajamas! Being a Californian, one of my favorite parts of the trip was trying to make angels with the season's first snow. We had such a FUN time together, and we're already planning next year's Granddaughters-Only Weekend. Speaking of traditions, every milestone birthday I get together with a small group of childhood girlfriends to celebrate life. (Sorry, I'm not disclosing my age.) We recently met in New Orleans, where we let the bons temps rouler and had another unforgettable trip. Words can not express how much I appreciate that these dear friends take time out of their busy, busy lives to meet every five years. I hope that Southwest helps you and your loved ones create memories and traditions this holiday. Please tell us one of your favorite Southwest trips or one of the traditions you share with your family or friends. Happy Holidays!
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MARRY ME, FLY FREE! And he did.
On October 25, 2007, my hubby Peter and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in Cambodia. It was a special day because we renewed our vows with my sister-in-law Aimee, an ordained Episcopal priest, who officiated the surprise ceremony. The ceremony set the mood for visiting the sacred and majestic Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples.
Lucky for me, travel is in Pete's blood too. One of the perks of being a Southwest Employee is our ability to travel the country for FREE, and the WORLD for peanuts. (Not to mention discounts on hotels, car rentals, restaurants - even surfing lessons in Waikiki, to name a few!) We LUV to hop on a plane and travel just about anywhere. I remember flying to London to catch a play one weekend and then to Hawaii the next, just because we could.
Last weekend, as we trimmed our Christmas tree with the ornaments we've collected from throughout the world, I counted over 35 trips to over 20 countries since we got hitched. Some of our favorite ornaments are from Havana, Bali, Sydney, Athens, and Cairo.
Another great Southwest perk: If I work the qualified amount of hours per quarter, I receive Buddy Passes to give to additional family members and friends. In fact, SANTA'S HELPERS (my in-laws) will be using a couple of Buddy Passes to visit us this Holiday. HO, HO, HO, can't wait!
If you're passionate about travel, we're hiring! Visit our careers page for details.
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It was Oct. 20, 2007, and the East Meets West Foundation of Oakland, California, hosted a special recognition ceremony for Southwest's year-long support of the Operation Healthy Heart program. Because many Vietnamese Americans still have loved ones in Vietnam, and because Southwest is proud to serve many Asian communities throughout the United States, the LUV airline and Operation Healthy Heart came together for our Giving LUV, Saving Lives campaign. In our efforts to help build awareness, we partnered to support various EMW events that brought together many veterans, venture capitalists, and medical volunteers from around the U.S. These leaders not only share the same passion for saving lives, but many also happen to be our Customers!
The program that morning in Ho Chi Minh City's fast-growing Phu My Hung district included speeches by U.S. Consul General Ken Fairfax, hospital officials, local government leaders, Southwest representatives there on their own time, and most importantly a young OHH recipient, Thuy Nhi Nguyen and her father. The beautiful fourth grader was particularly moving because she spoke from her heart -- her new heart -- and expressed deep gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and hospital. "I promise to learn, to become a good child in my family, and to be a useful person in society," she said. I couldn't believe someone so little could be so selfless and mature.
Vietnam holds a special place in Southwest Employee Annmarie Masters' heart as well as in mine: five years ago, she adopted Anjolie, from Vietnam. Annmarie and Properties Manager Greg Gillis and his wife joined our vacation to Vietnam to meet the EMW's heart recipients and to meet my extended Vietnamese family. As I watched Annmarie and Anjolie pass out gifts to our new friends, my eyes welled up. I realized that Anjolie, like these children, had also been given a new life. Driven by love and the desire to help someone in need, Annmarie and her family had taken in a new family member from across the world. Now, back in Vietnam, the sprightly kindergartner was bestowing flashing heart necklaces on each of the brave survivors with great care.
I also was fortunate to have been adopted by an American family. And coincidentally, Anjolie was born in Ben Tre, the next town over from where my Vietnamese family lives in the Mekong Delta. The day after the hospital reception, on our journey down the Mekong River to visit my extended family, I watched Anjolie wave to the fishermen, the hardworking women rowing their goods to market, and the naked children playing in the sometimes dirty water, and I thought about how similar our lives were; I laughed to myself and called her "Mini Me." I also thought of how different our lives would have been had we been raised in Vietnam. I'm humbled each time I return to my motherland to see what life is like in a fascinating, but nevertheless developing, country.
When I returned to work in Silicon Valley, I attended a public policy luncheon keynoted by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. During the Q&A, the governor was asked if he was upset that he's not allowed to run for President, being Austrian born. He candidly responded that he doesn't worry about the one thing he can't do but was thankful for the things that he can do and has accomplished because of the opportunities America has afforded him. He added that one of the reasons he ran for Governor, was because he wanted to give back to the state that had given him so much throughout his life. His words resonated with me.
This Thanksgiving, as we sit around the table with our loved ones to stuff our bellies, I hope we all can count the abundant blessings and freedoms we have as Americans.
From our families to yours, cheers to a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
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At a recent meeting of Southwest's Culture Committee, I watched a presentation on our "Share the Spirit" initiative. During a month-long, Companywide drive, Southwest Airlines Employees donated toiletries, socks, sunscreen, candy, powdered drinks and other items, packaged into individual "LUV Rations" goodie bags with handwritten postcards, for more than 1,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. My fellow Culture Committee members and I were moved almost to tears as the Team captains of Share the Spirit showed videos of our Employees sending off the packages and showed pictures of their delivery to Bahrain. I was proud to know that our Company--which includes hundreds of current and former members of the military--had rallied to do that for our troops abroad.
It makes me even more proud to know that on June 28, our Company saluted the many veterans who work for Southwest with a VIP, red-carpet event at our Dallas headquarters.
To celebrate the delivery of our 500th plane, three dozen of the Company's war veterans and their guests flew to Seattle for a private tour of the Boeing 737 production facility, then brought the plane home to a heartfelt celebration. I was deeply touched to hear that as our Freedom Fighters deplaned amid cheers, several who had served in Vietnam remarked that it was the homecoming they had never received.
Ironically, June 28 is my birthday-- although growing up, I never knew that. When I was three-years old, I was airlifted out of Vietnam with my ten-year-old brother. We were adopted by a retired Navy captain and his family, and we grew up in peace and prosperity, unlike most Vietnamese who were unable to escape after the war. When I graduated from college, my husband and I returned to Vietnam and, miraculously, managed to find my long-lost relatives. From them, I learned that although I'd grown up celebrating my birthday on October 20, a date that was invented for me in a refugee camp because I had no birth certificate, I was actually born in June.
Even more ironically, on October 20 - my legal birthday--I was back in Vietnam with a small group of Southwest colleagues for another very special celebration. Earlier this year, Southwest launched our "Giving LUV, Saving Lives" campaign in partnership with the East Meets West Foundation of Oakland. East Meets West is one of the largest non-governmental organizations working in Vietnam, and its Operation Healthy Heart program provides corrective surgery for children with heart defects. Since 1994, the program has provided life-saving assistance to more than 1,200 Vietnamese children, but thousands more every year need such care.
Through our partnership with East Meets West, Southwest has helped make possible critical heart surgeries for at least ten children. Southwest, of course, is the LUV airline, and to me, this is the definition of love! In October, my Southwest colleagues and our families made the journey to Vietnam to meet the children we've helped save. I can't think of a better birthday present.
It's intensely gratifying for me to be a part of giving new life to another generation of Vietnamese children, as I was given a new life. It makes me proud to be an American and to work for a Company that cares to make a difference beyond our borders.
And I'm proud to work for a Company that honors those who've fought, and continue to fight, for our country. Because of veterans like those Southwest recognized, and because of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms, I'm able to celebrate two birthdays-- and to write this piece today.
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