Today would've been Lian's 22nd birthday. He passed away a few months ago, having had his fill with life as, among other things, his parents' son. We weren't really great friends, but I knew him to be a smart, hard-working, and nice guy who shared many of the same values as I did.
I know a lot of people were a little put off by his reticent demeanor. I will admit I didn't have the best impression of him when we first met last October. We even got into a couple of scuffles while playing basketball. But he had a good heart and was always willing to help others in need. I don't think enough people we worked with over the summer realized that in him.
My favorite time with Lian was spent not over work, or basketball, or any of the NVIDIA intern events. It was spent preparing school supplies for children in needy families as RAFT volunteers. I'm pretty sure he also didn't have the best opinion of me for a long while. But we got along splendid after spending that afternoon together stuffing dozens of backpacks full of crayons, rulers, notebooks, and all sorts of neat stuff.
It's a terrible shame that he's no longer with us. I can only imagine how trapped he must've felt about life, but I think I can safely say that it wasn't as bad as it seemed. He was just so closed off from everybody that no one knew what he was going through. I guess that silly model minority mumbo jumbo isn't all roses after all. Just remember folks, when in doubt, show some love. I know it's hard, and I'm certainly no saint, but I think we should all try. Try for people like Lian.
R.I.P. Lianhan Zhao 1983-2005