In Remembrance of Yen Ngo

The+Su+Co+of+the+Quam+Nam+Buddhist+Temple%2C+in+East+Moline%2C+sits+silently+during+the+remembrance.+

The Su Co of the Quam Nam Buddhist Temple, in East Moline, sits silently during the remembrance.

Brittnany Nelson

Over winter break Augustana students woke up one morning to find an email notifying them of the passing of first year international student Yen Ngo. On the arrival back to school for the second half of winter term, students had the opportunity to attend an informal remembrance for Yen. This took place on Monday January 8 at 5 p.m. in Gavle Room 3.
Junior Austin Albert met Ngo this past fall. “I first met Yen through my directing class. She had come in to audition for the scenes and after she was done with her monologue I knew that I had to have her in my scene. She was so funny. She had a certain dryness to the way she made her jokes that really just got to me. And I got her in my scene. When we would practice, she would go all out. Most people are a little reserved when they’re just rehearsing something for the first time but not her. She acted a little crazy and I had to help her dial it back a little, but the crazy was a really good thing for her role.
“I would see her around campus sometimes after that, too. She always saw me first and would wave to me. She always seemed very happy to see me. She was a wonderful person. One of my fondest memories with her was one day during rehearsal, Yen, the rest of the cast, and I all sat around for awhile just talking about kids shows. We talked a lot about Spongebob. She had really liked that show. We sat and quoted lines from it for awhile. I’m not sure how many people knew her, but she was definitely someone you wanted to know.”
Ngo’s roommate, first-year Annette Schneider, described her as kind, positive, and quirky. “She always put a smile on my face or made me laugh,” Schneider said.
Sophomore Scott Brick met Yen this fall through a directing class. He said, “She cared about people in the little ways. One day while she sat down next to me in the dining hall when I was there alone. She asked if I was eating enough. When I told her I was feeling under the weather, she asked if I needed medicine or hot soup.”
At the event, students sat around in a circle – a single candle sitting in the middle of the floor – and they were able to share their thoughts and memories of Ngo. Pastor Richard Priggie started off the night with welcoming everyone back to campus and then handed the mic to Quan Vi, the Design Director for Communication and Marketing. Vi explained the proceedings of everything having to do with Ngo’s passing. He talked about seeing Ngo’s family when they first got to the airport, and he said that “it broke my heart.”
Afterwards Pastor Kristen Glass-Perez shared a short poem by Ranata Suzuki that goes as follows: “Your memory feels like home to me. So whenever my mind wanders, it always finds its way back to you.” This then lead into a time of sharing from those in attendance. Multiple people shared memories or thoughts on Ngo and her time here at Augustana.
The remembrance on the 8th was not the only chance students and faculty had to come together. On Thursday, Jan. 11 in Gavle Room 3, a more formal remembrance was held. Five people shared their words and thoughts on the passing of Ngo. Pastor Priggie read for President Steve Bahls, who could not be in attendance, and was then followed by Liz Nino, Director of International Recruitment, Minh Ta, President of the Vietnamese Student Organization, and Shanela Ranaraja and Israel Mulugeta, first-years and friends of Ngo’s. During their small speeches each one talked about Ngo’s love for life and adventure, as well as her interest in Journalism and growing love of Theatre.
Once the speeches were concluded, the Su Co of the Quam Nam Buddhist Temple in East Moline gave a statement, translated for the audience by Ta. The last event to take place during the remembrance was a candle lighting. Those in attendance had been given candles when first entering and proceeded to light them at this time while Pastor Richard Priggie and Pastor Kristen Glass-Perez read scriptures and prayers.
As the Augustana community begins to move forward after this tragic loss, Pastor Glass-Perez would like everyone to remember the poem by Ranata Suzuki, but in a different way: “Yen’s memory feels like home to us. So, whenever our minds wander, they find their way back to you.”