Humans of Harker: Eric Tran carries over lessons from summer camp


Krishna Bheda

“I began working at Harker Summer Camp the summer after my freshman year,” Eric Tran (12) said. “I’ve been in that program even until now. Looking back and seeing the progression from this wide eyed and and really anxious and nervous kid, who was interested in working with younger campers but kind of scared how it would turn out, to now, I feel like I’m a leader among the staff. I’m one of the older staff and one of the more experienced, and its’ been cool to see how I’ve changed in that regard. I feel like now I’m more open, I’m more outgoing, and I’m not just better at dealing with kids and teaching them, but I’ve grown as a leader.”

by Krishna Bheda, Reporter

Every summer, Eric Tran (12) can be found leading kids through games of Capture the Flag and running through sprinklers at the Harker Summer Camp. It’s not only the place where he works, but also the place where he grew up.

“I came to summer camp the summer before kindergarten. Meeting these new people, [I realized that I was in] a different community from what I was used to,” he said. “I loved having the academics in the morning and then the fun and play in the afternoon. Summer camp shaped us into the people that we grew up into. [We learned] how to be a good [people].”

Eric’s leadership skills stem from interacting with his younger brother, Aaron Tran (8).

“A lot of the times it would just be me, my little brother and my grandma,” he said. “My grandma doesn’t speak English that well, so I had to take it upon myself to not only help my grandma with things that she was doing, but also guide my brother through life early on. I think from there, I [was given] the idea that I should and I could help others, and as I transitioned to middle school and high school I had a platform, because I was older now, to show those qualities.”

Arindam Ghosh (12) appreciates Eric’s kindness.

“He’s really easy to talk to and approachable. Whenever there is someone who is having a hard day, he always makes time for them,” Arindam said. “He goes out of his way to help everyone; he’s one of the best guys I know.”

Nirban Bhatia (12), another close friend of Eric’s, appreciates his willingness to support others.

“Eric is a really fun, caring, and compassionate individual,” said Nirban. “Anytime you need help with anything, Eric will go out of his way to help you and with sports or any other activities. Eric’s always involved making it more fun for everybody.”

In addition to staying close to his brother, Eric values his family highly and is grateful for their support.

“My family is important to me because they always have my back no matter what,” he said. “Loyalty is something that I value very highly, and no matter what happens, I always have someone there for me and that makes me feel safe.”

Eric’s parents immigrated from Vietnam, and over the years, he has spent more time reflecting on his identity and culture.

“I used to really see myself as Asian-American with an emphasis on American,” he said. “It’s not like I would push myself away from my Vietnamese culture, but I really grew up believing that I identify with my American side the most. I was born here and I was raised here. I told myself that I shouldn’t hang on to the fact that I come from a completely different culture and world. But the last couple years, I’ve started appreciated my roots way more and have taken time to think about who I am, my identity, my family, the culture that my parents grew up in, and how that has an influence on me.”

As Eric’s perspective in life grew throughout high school, he began to focus on more intangible traits instead of concrete achievements.

“I pride myself on my my idealism and my passion for life and for everything that I do,” he said. “I keep coming back to that because it’s so important to me as a person. I never really believed in that early on, I always got caught up in the whole thing about studying and school and going to college, get a job — something straightforward like that. But at the beginning of my junior year, something clicked, something changed. I changed my mentally and attitude towards everything. And now I try to live for myself to be happy as possible.”