“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it…It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.” ~ Mary Oliver
It’s Valentine’s Day! And on this gorgeous and sunny February Friday, it’s impossible not to bask in the energy and sentiment of the day. Our very own Alumni and Student Engagement Manager, Jessica Suen, and her long-time partner (and former Aim High teacher!), Danny Chui, are getting married this year. The two met at Aim High in 2010, and the rest, as they say, is history. What’s more? Their families are from the same city in China, Zhong Shan. In their own words, Danny and Jessica share their Aim High love story!
When did you meet? Summer 2010. I was a volunteer and he was teaching. We got to know each other quickly, because as as volunteer, I helped teachers get supplies for classrooms and also grade their students’ papers. We also bonded while planning site-wide scavenger hunts—we’d stay after the day was done, explore the school and think of clever places to hide clues. We remained just friends for many summers, until we finally started dating when I was a sophomore in college. At that point, we were spending so much time together at Aim High, it was hard not to develop feelings!
What are some of your favorite things about Danny? Danny is so passionate about his work as an assistant principal. He’s also so strong-minded—once he puts his mind to something, he gets it done. He also always puts others before himself.
What was the proposal like? I knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it on the day it happened, at all. He got all of my friends involved, which was really sweet. I remember asking if I could take his coat for him at one point during the day and he said no—I should have seen it coming then, since he’s always hot in his coat, but I didn’t! [Side note: the ring was burning a hole in Danny’s coat pocket – more from him about this, below!].
How has your relationship with Danny changed you as a person? I’ve stayed the same. Before I met him, I was so young, and I wasn’t really looking for anything. And so, he’s been with me for a long time, and I really don’t think I’ve changed. I will say, he makes me feel better about myself, and is always reminding me of my strengths.
What were your first impressions of Jessica? Jessica and I worked together on many levels, but I really appreciated her creativity and dedication to Aim High. I honestly remember being able to trust her wholly with any task that I assigned, including running to various grocery stores in order to purchase the cheapest grocery items for our afternoon cooking activity. She was really dedicated to us staying under budget, which probably made for her being a great Campus Coordinator later on!
What are some of your favorite things about Jessica? She has a great sense of humor and a glowing warmth. Coming home to her every day just helps wash away all of the tough things. It’s a blessing to be with her.
What was the proposal like? You know the old adage of the ring burning a hole in your pocket? That was me all night. I could feel myself sweating inside my peacoat in the dead of winter, and there were even several points where she put her hands inside my coat to stay warm, so I had to shift the ring around so she wouldn’t feel it. Talk about anxiety. But, the night itself turned out well. I asked her best girl friends to help me get her out of the house, and I put it on a night where they all could be there. So, I proposed in front of a lit-up tree at Ghiradelli Square, and then afterwards, I surprised her with a party at a bar near and dear to our hearts. All of her friends were there waiting for her, and I bought a case of champagne to go with an assortment of dessert.
How has your relationship with Jessica changed you as a person? I’ve grown much more patient. I am very driven, focused on efficiency, and oriented towards long-term plans and completing those goals with expediency and strong results. Jess is more laid back and likes to take her time. She’s been a really good balance for me.
Congratulations to Danny and Jessica, and Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Aim High! Whether you are spending the day coupled, consciously uncoupled, surrounded by friends who are family, family who are friends, or blissfully solo, we hope this day is a reminder to keep an eye out for love—in all its forms!