Notes on teaching at a school for high-risk students

In another life, the windowless structure was a drug store. But in 2005, it reopened as a charter school for high-risk students. It still looked like a drug store, though, with its surveillance cameras and metal detectors. There was no cafeteria, only a microwave and two vending machines — one…

The duty and trauma of watching AAPI violence

An Asian student shared that she was afraid of talking about race in her essay, fearing that she be ridiculed by her peers, and believing that they would minimalize, dismiss, or even worse, correct her experience and opinion on the matter.

“Social media is killing me,” she said. “I can’t…

Whenever I hear or see the term WHITE POWER, my mind wanders back to these types of vintage photos from the civil rights era — white boys in buzz cuts chanting the N-WORD, waving Confederate flags, and demanding that segregation be upheld.

I often wonder, what happened to these boys?

“I’ll let you ask me anything,” I said. “You won’t get in trouble.” We were at Bob Evans and I was drinking coffee but wished it was a beer.

“What’s sex?” my 10-year old son asked.

Ever since my wife’s pregnancy he’s been asking how babies are made. I gave…

Unpacking Mr. Keating’s teaching legacy

It’s said that your first five years in the classroom is where you learn to be a teacher. In those early years, I mucked my way through the lesson plans, and at the end of the day, beat myself up for my mistakes: rushing a lesson; forgetting an important idea…

Turning writing assignments into magazine layouts

A reflection on digital memorials

Facebook sent a reminder that it was Lucky’s birthday, my boxing instructor whom passed in September 2014. I hate this feature because there are some things I don’t want to be reminded of — like my dead friends’ birthdays. I was overwhelmed while browsing the messages left by his friends…

The Business of Whiteness in Asian Education

When I first applied to be an English teacher abroad, I was naive, believing that the experiences I was seeing and reading on social media would be my own. Teach all week; play all weekend. I imagined myself trekking through China or South Korea. How could I not when these…

Parenting Through Racism

“He called me Chinese,” my 9-year-old son said. “I was going to tell him I’m Vietnamese, but he did this weird thing with his face. Then he and his friends laughed at me and I forgot.”

“What did you say?” I asked, afraid of his response.


“How do you…

Inside the Ole Miss Classroom

“If you do that, the black students will stop coming to class.”

I was the only Asian instructor in a room filled with white college instructors discussing how they were going to address privilege in the University of Mississippi classroom. Being that we were at the University of Mississippi (Ole…

David Tran

Writer. Teacher. MFA from University of Mississippi. Stories in PANK, Fiction Southeast, and bathroom stalls all across America.

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