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Fleeing war-ravaged Vietnam, Due Quach (pronounced “Zway Kwok”) and her family faced a harrowing journey before they landed in an Indonesian refugee camp, where malnutrition, tropical diseases, and power outages ran rampant. Due barely made it out alive; many infants weren’t as fortunate. Relieved and grateful, the Quach family was granted asylum in America. But after resettlement in inner-city Philadelphia, soon realized that they’d traded one war zone for another.
In her new book Calm Clarity: How to Use Science to Rewire Your Brain for Greater Wisdom, Fulfillment and Joy, she describes her extraordinary journey to create a social enterprise which empowers people to overcome adversity and develop a mindset for growth, leadership and resilience.
As we reckon today with how we are threaded together as a nation of immigrants, and how easily we can fall apart, we weigh the burden of putting our sense of nation ahead of our shared humanity.
Monolithic narratives that Asian Americans are the “model minority” not only diminishes black and brown people, they create false divisions between immigrant communities. These narratives create separation that’s key to maintaining white dominance, and rendering the Asian community invisible.
What can we learn when we make the invisible visible? When we bring to light the forgotten stories of the influx of South and Southeast Asians who helped fortify the backbone of our country over the last half of the 20th Century? Due’s parents suppressed generations of trauma and sacrificed everything to give their children a chance at a better life. Through their story, we see how the burden of healing has been passed down to Due and her siblings, and begin to understand the invisible cost of the American dream.
With scare resources they’ve built business that have fueled our economy and made every sacrifice so their children have a chance at a better life. In many cases it’s required suppressing generations of trauma. T: the invisible cost of the American dream.
Due’s childhood trauma left her with significant developmental delays. But education, to young Due, was the ticket to a better life. As she excelled academically, her traditional parents grew increasingly concerned. How will she ever find a husband with all these achievements, they wondered? Nevertheless, Due persisted and was accepted into Harvard.
But life at home wasn’t easy.
Battling poverty and prejudice, her parents eventually scraped and saved enough to buy a run-down take-out restaurant where Due was put to work as soon as she turned eight. From her vantage point behind the counter, she witnessed robberies, shootings, and violent outbursts from customers. She’d pick up the phone to take an order and receive a death threat instead.
In her viral article “Poor and Traumatized at Harvard,” Due describes the debilitating reality of her experience as a first-generation college student at the most prestigious university in the world. Listening to her peers trade trust fund investment strategies and plans for summer internships and exotic vacations, Due realized that her rocket ship out of the inner city might just have landed on Mars.
Soon Due began to unravel. After months of serve depression, suicidal thoughts, and recurring nightmares, she had a massive panic attack that forced her to check herself into the hospital. The psychiatrist explained that her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was triggered by the toxic stress of her childhood.
Stabilized by medication and therapy, Due turned to neuroscience to learn how to rewire her malfunctioning brain circuitry and discovered mind-hacking techniques to build healthier brain habits. After landing a position at a prestigious firm, Due’s tenacious grit propelled her up the corporate ladder. She earned an MBA from Wharton, and was making more money in a year than her parents would make in a decade, but this unhappy pursuit of happiness left Due with an inexplicable emptiness inside.
In this clip, she describes how her search for meaning brought her to India to trace the steps of the Buddha on a year-long exploration of timeless questions. If relentless achievement doesn’t bring happiness, what does? Are we here for something greater than ourselves?
Equipped with her awakened inner guidance, Due paired the latest scientific research with ancient spiritual traditions to create the program that she wished she had growing up: Calm Clarity was born.
The Calm Clarity Framework, Due explains, shows how we fluctuate between three patterns of brain activation: fearful and defensive Brain 1.0, grasping and reward-seeking Brain 2.0, and wise, compassionate, creative Brain 3.0. The program provides tools and insights to cultivate Brain 3.0 so we can break free of self-limiting patterns hard-wired in Brain 1.0 and 2.0 and embody the highest expression of ourselves.
Brain 3.0, that inner sage, lies waiting inside each one of us. Calm Clarity’s empowering message is that with simple tools and regular training, we can rewire our brains to naturally experience more wisdom, fulfillment and lasting joy.
The strength Due summoned to overcome a deck stacked so firmly against her is as inspiring as it is rare. Unwilling to be reduced to a bootstrapping American immigrant success story. Unwilling to deny our inextricable interconnection. Unwilling to abandon the generation coming after her, Due is systematically building the safety net she never had.