I was surfing reddit when I stumbled upon the post, “My friend had lunch with the two Sulus!” I clicked on the title, you know, because I wanted proof! And I got it. Then naturally, I gravitated towards the comments section to see if I can dig a little deeper because I’m nosy like that. I clicked to up-vote the comment, “Is there a back story to this? How’d the lunch come to be?”
Shortly after, a redditor by the name of applehxcsauce replied:
Hey! I’m the girl in the photo. It was one of the promises for Promise for Education to raise scholarships for the UCs. They’re both graduates of the UCs and John’s promise was to take one person out to lunch with George Takei if his fundraising goal was met and I somehow won (I never win anything). It was in LA and it was amazing. They’re two of the most intellectual and humble people I’ve ever come across. George is well known for how great he is, but I was really taken aback at how amazing and underrated John Cho is. Seriously the nicest guy I’ve ever met.
I thought the response was cool, but nobody was asking the questions that I wanted to ask. I thought to myself, ‘hey I work at shonblog, maybe i can ask for an interview…maybe” So, I emailed applehxcsauce and I asked for an informal interview. And I got it.
Her name is Charlsie and the following is our super informal interview. :)
(ME) as a social media website, we have the opportunity to interact with a lot of people. we find that you can learn a lot simply by talking to people, as i’m sure you have by talking to the sulus. knowing that you were going into the lunch with them, did you have burning questions to ask them? or did you just go in like, whatever happens, happens?
(Charlsie) I kinda went in with whatever happens, happens because I had all these questions planned out in my head what I would ask them, but when I actually ended up seeing John at the table, I basically froze up and forgot everything. Then George walked in, and it was just a really out of body experience considering it was a 3 person table and I’m sitting across George Takei and John Cho… a little intimidating haha.
(ME) going in, did you see it as meeting two very important people, two ordinary people or something in between? be as detailed as you can be :)
(Charlsie) Their personality traits really seemed to define who they were and what inspired them to pursue what they did. They’re both UC Berkeley alumni, except George went to UCLA after so that’s what he’s more associated with. I guess I just figured considering who they were they wouldn’t be so… normal. They were just joking around, laughing, putting food on my plate, asking me if I was okay with what they were ordering, making Star Trek references, that type of thing.
(ME) you said (on reddit) you were taken back by how intellectual takei and cho was… what was it about them that makes them such intellectual and humble people? i’m sure you have friends and family with these qualities… was it the fact that they were who they were? did you expected them to be any different?
(Charlsie) For the intellectual part, they were really praising each other for their character and who they were as people (like when George was in the restroom, and John would sneak in a compliment that I could tell how much he respected George, that type of thing). Well to begin with, this all happened because John was raising $5000 in scholarship money for students on Promise for Education and if his goal was met, he would take a fan out to lunch with George. I went in expecting there to be other people, cameras, perhaps PR people, but nothing. Just him. And with saying that, I don’t believe they ever intended for this to have really become known had my friend not posted that image on reddit, which leads me to only have more respect for them.
George was talking about his experience growing up in a Japanese internment camp in what was the size of a horse stall, how people’s cultures and memories can be distorted from what they want to remember and what they want to share, and how his firm belief in the progress of our nation is immersing ourselves in other languages and cultures like studying abroad. He mentioned he was on the Board for a foundation that sends dozens of students form all over the country for a year study in Japan in any type of major. He also just seemed to know everything about anything.
And John’s love for his children is so immense. They were discussing how his son is now 5 because he gave a speech at a “No on prop 8″ event in 2008 where he describes (I youtubed it later, they just discussed how great of a speech it was) that, “”I foolishly chose a profession that has historically not offered Asian Americans equal opportunities. However, I would’ve given up years ago if I didn’t believe in the idea. But equality in this country is only possible because we work at its execution and perfection. I know that when a fan pats me on the back or when he cheers at an Asian American on tv, what he’s cheering is the affirmation of the idea of equality. But for it to be possible and permanent, for it to have value and for it to be valid, it has to apply to everyone. I just had a son and I know that I want him to have an equal chance at happiness. I want to say to him someday that I protected that right for him.” Then they go on to discuss the current state of the public education system and how hard it was of a decision to pick between private and public. But that they grew up in the public school system and that a lot of education isn’t just in the classroom, but rather is the exposure to other cultures, and what other people are like and that for a system that needs help, we need to work with it and believe in it.