Friday, October 3, 2014

Food ALWAYS Win #Techmanity


After trick-o-treating, we always do the same thing when we get back home... Sort the good candies from the bad candies. My face always lit up when I got to open the Kit-Kats because those were my FAVORITES. So I thought... why not share the love?

A month ago, I applied to be an exhibitor for a tech conference called Techmanity and was accepted (yay Tam!) I had a chance to showcase my startup to thousands of attendees and my worry wasn't about how my idea was not going to be interesting enough, my worry was... how can I be interesting enough for THEM to come to my booth? The answer was so simple. Food. 

EVERYBODY loves food! There's not a single person I know that if I were to give them their favorite food, they would respond, "It's okay, I'm not really feeling like eating food this week." So what I did was I bought two BIG bags of candies filled with White & Milk Chocolate Kit Kats and Reeses Cups and stored my candy in a plastic container. Then, I made a sign that shows the audience how to get candy! (Clever... I know) 

But the best thing was... food was such a GREAT conversation starter. Instead of... "Hi, I'm Tam and I'm the founder of StudentHero. StudentHero is blah blah blah and we do X, Y, and Z and here is my business card i'll follow up with you maybe BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!!!!" The sad reality is, NO ONE CARES!!! They care about themselves and what YOU can do for them. So when I came early to set up my booth, I went all around not only to say hi to the other exhibitors but started the conversation by asking, "Would you like some candy?" We would then talk about candy and how we always threw away the Mike and Ikes and jellybeans during Halloween to savor the few Snickers or Kit Kats left in our candy bags. Food established a more fun, personal, and REAL relationship with one another. 

My beautiful booth!
Throughout the whole day, people kept coming to my booth to take selfies, eat candy, and have a good time. I would argue that StudentHero was one of the most engaging booths out of the whole conference because aside from the candy, they were genuinely engaged with my idea. It even got the attention of the CEO of Bindle, one of the conference's sponsors, to come over and personally meet me (and eventually recruit me to work for him). 

The next day was Day 2 and I checked my Bindle app (Imagine a huge effective group chat for the conference. That was Bindle and much more) before I went to the conference to see if anything was happening at 8 in the morning. Everyone on the chat was talking about donuts and how they were all so so so hungry... I don't know what hit me but.... I bought two dozens of donuts that morning posted a picture onto Bindle.

"Come to the StudentHero booth to get a donut!"

I came in that morning feeling like James Bond. I really had no motive buying the donuts but I really just wanted to brighten people's day with food! I shared it with the registration staff, and personally went to all of the exhibitors that I had made good friends with during Day 1 to share my donuts! The word, happy, would be an understatement. People from the Bindle app also came over to my booth to personally meet me and eat donuts with our little group. Food brought happiness and smiles all around... It was AWESOME! 

Other highlights of the conference:

Free goodies
interviewed by Spartan Daily
surrounded by awesome people
won a dark vadar mug (thanks Lendlayer)
A VC said he liked my idea (confidence booster)
Met Arthur Chu and got to be in his documentary
found out about Bindle (one of the coolest apps I have...) 
Met the awesome Mitty Chang (see you for boba next week!)
got offered FREE help for business and marketing consultant from two firms
got free tickets to Weezer and gave them away to my friend Tanya before the concert 
Received helpful feedback from SO many people (shoutout to Sam Lom for spending 30 minutes to talk with me)

Arthur Chu from Jeopardy!
Won this from a raffle :)

Damion from SmartPhoneRecords
now the best part after every conference!? the follow ups!!! (this is only half of the business cards I picked up)
Great first experience for me and for StudentHero! Shout out to my intern Bryan for helping me out for Day 1. Special thanks to all of Techmanity and their staff for providing an awesome experience :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

"You Should Be On American Idol"

I was in Rhode Island last week waiting for my train back to Boston, only to have read the train schedule wrong. The next train leaving to Boston was at 10:40pm. I looked down at my watch. 9:22pm. A few minutes go by and I see a woman squinting her eyes at the same train schedule. She looks confused and starts to glance around her to see if anyone else was confused as well. Being the curious observer I am, I get up from my seat and ask her if she needs help. She was also boarding the train to Boston and was frustrated at how long of a wait it was going to be. We sat down together and I asked her, “What are you doing here in Rhode Island?” This sparked our hour long conversation.

This woman was not your typical Bostonian. Her name was Dominique and her face alone had the ability to convey a story. From my first impression, I had a feeling Dominique possessed many introverted characteristics. She was reserved, shy, but had a smile that could light up a room.   Dominique was from Ireland, 61 years of age, and was in the United States because her best friend’s brother had just passed away. Up until the train arrived, it was awesome to observe how we were able to engage in such a deep conversation. We talked about how her experience on leaving her family was the single biggest regret she had and how much she cherished and loved her children. We talked about our life ambitions, goals, struggles, and eventually shared funny stories from our childhood. The conversation we had was amazing and flowed like a calm river on a sunny day.

Having really enjoyed getting to know her, I asked if I could film her for a video project I was doing. I asked her: "If you had to give advice to a large group of people, what would it be?” This is how she responded.
The time hit 10:30pm and we made our way onto the track. She stopped me and said, “You should be on American Idol.”

I was a little perplexed. I was thinking to myself “… Me? On American Idol? I wouldn’t even get past the first round.” I told her, “I love to sing and I do it all the time but I’m not very good at it.” She replied, “You should just go up there and talk because the judges would love you so easily.”

That was the line that stuck with me the most out of our whole conversation. “You should just go up there and talk because the judges would love you so easily.”

Dominique opened up and said she had never really exposed herself to anyone before and if she ever had, it was only to close friends and family. When she met me, she said she was shocked halfway through our conversation because of how insightful and engaging our conversation was. Dominique said she had been feeling really lonely living by herself, but after talking to me, she felt like this conversation had filled the emptiness in her stomach and something finally made her happy.
As she was talking and almost in tears, I stood there and became speechless. All I could really do was smile. Just smile and listen. I was simply awestruck by her kindness. I could not even wrap my head over how a simple conversation could  possibly make all the difference in another person’s life.

I’ll never forget this moment and it might arguably be one of the best moments of my entire life. Thank you, Dominque, for your role in shaping my life and filling it with new perspectives. I am glad I was also able to positively impact yours.

This reinvigorates me as I plan to start up an organization on my college campus called Bridge the Gaps. We believe that everyone is so crazy and awesome in their own unique way and we want to bring people together to share their thoughts in an open & safe environment, build life-long connections, and gain new perspectives. If you are a student at San Jose State University or UC Santa Barbara and find the idea of diving deeper into people’s stories to be awesome, I hope you can join us on this journey in bridging the gaps between people. Please support our upcoming organization and stay updated with our social media feeds by following us on the links down below.

Monday, June 30, 2014

How To Save Yourself When You Are Running Late

One of the major things that really really grinds my gears is when someone is late when we are scheduled to meet up. This one late person ruins my plans, makes other people late (and potentially ruin their plans), and wastes everyone's time. Specifically as a photographer, I have drove to many different places to shoot and some groups have shown up extremely late causing me to lose time and time is money. 

Usually if you are late to something, you most likely think wherever you are going is not “that” important. Think about the times when you were on time to something. Some events might immediately pop in your head like job interviews, meetings, first dates, or dinner with your girlfriend’s parents. Now think about the times where you showed up late to something and reflect on the differences in importance of the events. 
 I understand not everything goes your way and I myself have been late a countless amount of times due to carelessness and/or uncontrollable events. However, just because I’m late does not mean I am powerless. Here are 3 tips that I recommend people should do if they are late in order to make things a little more pleasant for everybody.
1) Let the person know ahead of time

Give your party a text or a call as soon as you know you will be late and do not be vague. Tell them your exact location, situation and an estimate time you’ll be there just to give them a realistic heads up. That way, your party can expect your arrival time and use that time wisely to do a variety of things. 

When I used to carpool with my friend Tony to school and he would be a few minutes behind, he would always give me a heads up which gave me time to do so many more things in the morning that I haven’t done yet. If he did not give me a heads up, I would have been ready at 7:00am waiting on the bottom of my staircase, anticipating his text or call. If he were to come at 7:15am without any heads up, I would be slightly irritated mostly because it’s 7 in the morning and also because every minute before school is absolutely crucial (I’m sure every student can attest to that statement). If he would have gave me a 5 minute heads up, I would have probably made myself a pizza pocket or a sandwich. If he gave me a 15 minutes heads up, I would have taken my time to cook eggs and eat without the feeling of being rushed (a feeling that no one enjoys). Let your party know ahead of time where you are because not only is it fair, but it gives the party a sense of direction on what to do in the meantime.
2) Do not be reckless

Mr. Lubbs, my AP Physics instructor, favorite quote was, “Slow is smooth, but smooth is fast.” When one does any activity, finishing these activities smoothly is ultimately the fastest way to accomplish anything. 
Take for example, a student running late for school. That person is more likely to rush, put all of their things together in a huge mess, and bolt out the door before realizing they forgot their 20 page report on top of the printer or forgot to refill their water bottle or even forget to grab their wallet on top of their desk. When people are late, they are also more likely to speed which increases their chances in getting into an accident and potentially cause them to be even later.  The amount of harm one can create while speeding and driving recklessly around cars is NOT worth the theoretical 1 or 2 minute advances and in the long run, these techniques WILL backfire. 

Instead, realize that you are late and continue the rest of your activities smoothly. Do not panic but pack your belongings together with a strong sense of urgency. Although being smooth can potentially be 1 or 2 minutes slower than rushing out the door, it is much more effective in the long run because it will get the job done vs. when one is rushed, they have a possibility of turning back to their house, wasting time to retrieve their 20 page paper on their desk, and keeping that grumpy mood the whole rest of the day. That is one example out of the many but I hope I get my point across that the myth of rushing and sprinting out the door to get somewhere faster, in the long run, is NOT beneficial. Think critically about the situation, determine the best moves to pursue, and act smoothly.
3) Own Up To It & Apologize

When you are late, don't spend the first half of your date or your work explaining the specific details that went on that morning or any roadblocks that you have just encountered. By doing so, you are drawing more and more attention onto your carelessness and putting the burden/blame on something else. Even if the situations are uncontrollable, apologize for your mistake and shift the topic to something else. Engage in a nice conversation with your date to at least make up for your tardiness and if you are daring enough, promise to improve or never do it again. You can't change the fact that you were late but what you can change is your future behavior and hopefully you will learn from your mistakes.
If you often find yourself late to events, here are two key tips (out of many in my arsenal) that I would recommend.

1) Keep your word

I had a lot of great mentors in life and Nick Leon, one of my District Council advisors, said something that really resonated with me about always keeping your word.

I remember one specific experience when our Interact District Council hosted a meeting for our local Rotary club a few years ago. I was talking with Charlie Wasser, the head of Rotary Emblem Merchandise, about sharing with him Interact's Digital work and Nick Leon approached the both of us, looked me straight in the eye and said, “You told Charlie that you will send him the website and YouTube videos by tonight. Not tomorrow, not next Friday, but tonight. It is absolutely urgent that you keep your word. Will you do it?”

I did not even stop to use the restroom when I finally arrived home because I wanted to prove to Nick that I was indeed a man of my word. I drafted my beautifully crafted email and felt this tingling sensation of accomplishment as soon as I hit send. I told somebody I was going to do something and I did it. I kept my word and sent the email on time. My key takeaway is to not make promises you cannot commit to and to always keep your word. 
2) "Prepare for the best and expect the worst."

I have horrible memory so every night, I would spend roughly 15 minutes to jot down some notes in my little notebook and take proper actions to prepare me for the next day. I would analyze my next day and prepare everything the night before so that in the morning, I wouldn't have to scramble everything together and have a chance of forgetting anything. A normal night for me might look like me packing my backpack with all of my school work and textbooks, packing a lunch, planning my outfits (HUGE time saver), and have an idea on what I'm going to eat for breakfast (Trying my best not to skip out on the most important meal of the day). This simply technique maximizes the amount of time I get to sleep in and in the case I wake up late, it wouldn't take long for me to throw on my planned outfit, grab my packed backpack & lunch, and eat my breakfast before jotting out the door. If I do forget what I needed to do, I could always glance back at my little notebook and see what I had wrote the night before to refresh my memory. Preparation is the key to not being late.
I hope these few tips help you guys out! How do you guys prevent tardiness?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Part 1: How Yugioh Made Me a Con-Artist

If you hadn't known already, the game of Yu-Gi-Oh acts like a black market. Cards can go on sale for as high as $200 and it all depends on the value of the cards (similar to the value of the dollar) and the supply and demand of these cards (similar to other real life situations). 
In this picture, the 11 cards that I was holding was worth roughly $1500 at the time.
Yu-Gi-Oh made me greedy and I turned into a Con-Artist whenever I had the chance to make a quick buck. When I was 13, my parents enrolled me in a summer program called Math Enrichment which included kids of all ages and I found a way to make solid money. Before I share my experience on that, I do have to clarify a few things before diving into my story.

A Yu-Gi-Oh booster box contained 24 booster packs and within each booster box, there is a guaranteed number of certain rare cards. Booster packs are worth around $3 and sold for $4-5 individually at local stores so I thought, what if I bought the packs in bulk and sold them? Not only that, I would bring the business to the customers instead of them having to come into the stores which made life a lot more convenient. But I also wanted the rare cards that were in the booster packs so my friends and I had a brilliant and evil strategy. 

Plan 1 

There are different rarities when it came to Yu-Gi-Oh but the Ultra, Ultimate, and Secret Rare's are usually the cards that are highest in demand which therefore are the cards that are valued higher. These cards are unique because they have a unique holographic glow as their design, which caused them to be just a hair thicker and heavier than the other common cards (non-halo). This meant that the booster packs that weighed more had a higher chance of containing an Ultra, Ultimate or Secret Rare card. My friends and I invested in a scale which could calculate the micro differences in the weight of the booster packs. Although this plan was not fool proof, it made the odds much better in our favor because we had a higher probability of finding the rarer cards. We opened the heavier packs in hope to obtain the rare cards and sold the lighter packs for $4 just like in the stores. Although we cannot accurately measure this procedure (Although I thought it was a success), we found a different plan and things got even worse.
This is a picture of the main Booster box I bought and sold for a profit.

My friend found an effective way to seal booster packs back together and make it look like it was unopened which took our scheme to a whole new level. Our new plan was to buy a booster box, open all 24 packs very carefully and lay the cards out on a table. We extracted the Ultra, Ultimate, and Secret cards out of these piles of cards and replaced them with cards of lower rarity. After this process, we sealed the booster packs together so it looked brand new and unopened. On average, we invested around $100 for a booster box, obtained all of the best cards, replaced the rare cards with cards of lower rarity, resealed all of the booster packs, and sold them for a cheaper price of $3. Not only are the consumers obtaining the booster packs at a lower value, the sales are coming to them so that buying booster packs was easier than ever. But who would fall for this trap?

The booster pack's seal wasn't foolproof. Any knowledgeable adult who took a 2nd or 3rd glance at the sealing would be suspicious and I was not trying to get kicked out of the local shops selling to other people my age or other adults. We took it upon ourselves to sell it to kids at an annual summer program called Math Enrichment. 

Kids LOVED Yu-Gi-Oh cards and everything about it. They loved trading cards, opening booster packs, dueling against each other and having fun. During one week of Math Enrichment, my friend and I had a great plan. We did a small investment in two booster boxes full of booster packs (48 packs total) and played out an acting scene so well, I'm surprised we aren't in Hollywood right now. 
In this picture, the Spell cards on the top row are all Pot of Duality's which are Secret Rares. The trap cards on the bottom row are all Solemn Judgments, the first and last 2 trap cards are Ultimate Rare while the middle 2 trap cards are Ultra Rare.

"WHOA TAM, HOW DO YOU HAVE SO MANY BOOSTER PACKS?!?", my friend screamed out.

"I bought them when I was at Top Deck (local card shop) last weekend and I'm trying to sell some packs. Do you want one?"

This conversation caught all of the kids' attention as they quickly circled around my friends and I. I purposely kept a few packs with Ultra, Ultimate and Secret Rare cards hidden so that I could "sell" this act as I told my friend to open one. My first friend opened it and he started jumping up and down screaming, 


The kids gazed at my crazy friend with wide eyes, stunned at how lucky he was to open a Secret Rare card on his first booster pack. One of them courageously stepped up to buy a booster pack to test his luck. I gave him one of the secret packs that I purposely made and he opened his pack to find an ultra rare card, one of the few available in the booster box. The kids surrounded him, asking him to see his cards, and were completely engaged in his success as well. Soon, my business took off and although the rest of the kids didn't open anything extremely valuable, I made a HELL of a lot of profit.

This was probably the most unethical things I have ever done in my life but I was 13 at the time and didn't really think much about my morals as I constantly do today. I've dramatically changed since this experience and can never imagine myself scamming little kids like this again. I just thought this was a pivotal time in my life that I constantly reflect back on and would like to share. 

Leave your thoughts below on what you think! 

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Interact: Anger, Bitterness, & Success


Interact is a leadership and community service based club in high school that had a indescribable impact on my life. In Interact, I helped the community, built my leadership skills, and met some of the greatest people in the world through Interact. Aside from the position I once possessed, there is an unwritten side of my Interact adventure that I would like to share. This is my story.

In my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I was in Interact... but not really. I guess you can say I was "active" but that was just the club's requirements I managed to fulfill. I knew for sure that I wasn't truly "active." Many people admired my charismatic personality and encouraged me to apply for a leadership position. When I went in for the interview, I had the worst experience of my life.
They asked me questions about the organization and I had no knowledge what our district number was, what area my school was a part of, what our International project was, and many other basic information one needs to know before entering the interview. I was an active member in a club and district in which I knew nothing about except that we would use schoolloop to register and volunteer . You can probably guess by now that I didn't get accepted onto the Interact Board that year.
In my junior year of high school, my high school opened up new positions called Board Members in addition to the previous leadership roles. These Board Members would assist the Interact Officers in finding events for the members to volunteer. This time, I planned to apply and felt much more prepared. I believed in the organization and I believed in myself that I would be a great fit into growing the home club. Since getting on the team as a Board Member would be much easier than applying to be an officer, I came into the interview proud and confident. During the next meeting, they announced out loud all of the new board members that got accepted onto the team. I sat patiently in the bleachers, anxious for the results.
At the beginning of the meeting, the president called out a couple of names, names that were not Tam Pham, and ended it with...

"Last but not least, Tony Tran!"

I could remember that single moment when the selected board members stood up and were applauded by the rest of the club for their accomplishments. My heart ached because I felt that I had much more potential than most of the students that were selected. I clapped silently because rejection stung like a bee sting: painful but not permanent. I sat with my head down throughout the rest of the meeting, droning out the latest updates the officers were preaching, and replayed that single moment in my head. Tony Tran, Tony Tran, Tony Tran...

I envied the officers for not choosing me. I envied the new board members. A wild rush of emotions came upon me that spelled out anger and bitterness. A feeling of cynicism burned within my stomach because I began doubting my skills and abilities. I wasn't "good enough" for Interact, how could I be good for anything else? 
But I remained "active" in Interact and despite the rejection, I became a lot more involved. This reminds me of David Kang's favorite quote by Donald H. McGannon, "Leadership is action, not position." I knew I could continue to grow the organization and grow as an individual if I kept progressing with my work. I started going to more socials, more volunteer events, and continued meeting a handful of awesome people. I bonded with the current officers and board members after meetings and I was happy. After x amount of weeks, I finally felt happy.

One board member dropped out of Interact completely midway through the semester and the president reached out to me. She offered me a spot on the team and I accepted it. That 2nd half of the school year made me feel a lot more at ease. I was able to build stronger relationships and be more involved facilitating the Interact club.
In the summer transitioning into my final year of high school, my friend encouraged me to apply for District Council (Main representatives of Interact District 5170). I had no idea on what it was and during my interview, I still didn't really know what it was. All I knew was that this role was a major leadership position, it was with Interact (my favorite organization), this seemed challenging, and Digital Media was something I really enjoyed.

I applied on a whim. In fact, I submitted my email at 11:59PM the day right before it was due. My application turned out to be 10 pages long and in this highly competitive race for the positions, I earned myself an interview with the Governors in downtown San Jose.

Everything happened so fast.

During that summer, I was at San Diego for a week long Venturing Scout camping trip when I received the call. I was accepted to be on Interact District Council and I didn't believe what I just heard. I ran around screaming at the top of my lungs like a little kid playing tag because everything felt so unreal. I doubted myself consistently and I remember at our first District Council retreat where we all met the team for the first time, I was laying next to the governor and asked, "Why me?"

I finally started to believe in myself which was a problem that I have constantly struggled with throughout my life. My experience on District Council was phenomenal and my DC experience put the icing on the cake for my senior year.

For those reading until the end, I strongly encourage you to apply for these leadership roles and to believe in yourself. You never really know where life can take you.
I want to give a special thank you for everyone that affected my life, especially those I have met through Interact. You guys are awesome. 

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bullshit ft. Random Acts of Kindness

My two cents of random acts of kindness is a mix of my faith in humanity sprinkled with a layer of bullshit. Yes, being kind to people is great and especially doing it annoymously is extremely noble in my eyes. But what do you call it when people do these acts of kindness for attention? 

Take for example the multiple YouTube videos of acts of kindness: a man giving a homesless man a "winning lottery ticket", giving subway sandwiches or blah blah blah. 

Yes, these acts are very kind and I can admit that I popped a tear while watching some of these videos... but what if it was fake? Even if it was true, isn't the popularity benefiting the user in not only their image and reputation, but with profit as well. People have made YouTube as their career and is their main source for income. The more views one video gets, the Youtube Partner generates more revenue. Being "kind" to others also makes you "look good" and naturally, people develop more respect for you, but is that gained respect fake? 

Here is where the subjectivity comes in. People doing acts of kindness not for being kind but for their own personal gain. Some argue that there is no such thing as an entirely selfless act. They argue that every act that we do no matter how selfless we think it could be, always has something gained for the person whether it would be that good feeling of pride, reputation boost, money, or other factors when doing these "random" acts of kindness. 

Some might ask me, so what Tam? Why do you care? One may argue that although people can be doing acts of kindness for the "wrong" reasons (or the reasons not entirely for what they intended it to be) they are still benefiting society and hopefully inspire other people to do these random acts of kindness. In a utilitarian point of view, it seems like everybody wins this way. Person A gains respect, the person that is being helped feels happier, and society can feel inspired and happy there are still (fake) people in this world who truly care about society! Why would you object to this Tam?

This idea even got more extreme as one CEO on a Linkedin article proposed for a Random Act of Kindness app where one can use the app to request a (not so) random act of kindness to their advantage. One user argued it seems like it was just a app where people scratches each others back because if you do them a favor, it is only right to return this act of kindness. 

BUT TAM YOU DON'T GET IT, this app can create more random acts of kindness in the world and overall make people happier!  My problem with this is that the intention is not there. It's like doing the wrong things for the right reasons. This topic is highly debatable but this was just my two cents. Leave a comment and add to the money jar? Let me know what you think.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

San Jose: Digital Divide

Featured on the San Jose Mercury News 
I volunteer every week at the The Third Street Community Center which is a place where people of all ages and backgrounds are actively engaged in enriching themselves and their community through education, arts, technology and service. Every first Friday of the month, the kids go on a field trip to the Tech Museum and I went to chaperone the kids for the first time! I brought along my DSLR camera to practice taking photos and I thought it would be fun to take pictures of some of the kids... and they loved it. I'm not sure if it was my camera or just kids being kids but they constantly begged me to take photos of them. They don't know where they will see the photos, where they're going to be posted, why I was even taking photos, but they were mesmerized by my camera. I had a strong relationship with one of the boys who will remain annoymous, but he wanted to be the model of the day. He  asked me, "Where can I see these photos?" I wasn't even sure myself what I was going to do with these photos but since his mom was one of the chaperones, I asked him if she had an email. 

"Mom, do you have an... email?" 

She gave him a blank stare with her eyes wide open. She looked once at her son, once at me, and once more at her son and then back at me. 

"No... sorry." She smiled, embarrassingly. 

I turn my head to him and he had a clueless face that spoke, "So what now?" 

I told them both that I would send these photos to the volunteer coordinator and the little boy screamed estatically and his mom formed a genuine smile. 

I've always knew these kids didn't come from the richest neighborhoods. These 1st and 3rd graders attended Horace Mann Elementary and wore navy polos and khaki jeans every time I saw them. But it really shocked me that she didn't have an email especially in our technology-driven generation. I know it's bad to assume but I'm going to do make some subjective conclusions.

She doesn't have an email so she probably doesn't work for any kind of company dealing with computers or technology. I'm not sure if she even works at all because she is chaperoning this field trip in the middle of a typical work day. Without an email, she probably doesn't have a Facebook or on any social media platforms. Without an email, she probably doesn't own an iPhone, a Macbook or anything technologically advanced, and maybe only have basic knowledge on how to use a computer. 

If these statements are true or false, these assumptions are all not bad things (if true)! I was just simply shocked because never have I asked someone for their email and they simply... didn't have one. It wasn't a, "I have an email but I never use it." or a "I forgot what it was, let me check my notebook and get back to you." This was an embarrassed, "No... I'm sorry." 

This is just another reminder on how blessed my life is (and hopefully your lives are too if you're reading this on a computer) that we simply have basic access to a computer and have social media platforms to communicate with. I hope I never take what I have for granted.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

9 Reasons Why Poverty is Beneficial For Society

I want to make a proposal to state that poverty is a good thing. Before you call me crazy, at least hear me out.

1) With poverty, dirty work gets done. We have a huge class of people who are forced to do the dirty work of society: garbage men, construction workers, and other jobs that require heavy labor. Nobody with $$$ would prefer to do this kind of work over other jobs.
2) People in poverty make great test patients. For example, dental students need to train on real people so they don't mess up on paying patients. Since those in poverty cannot comfortably dental care and they have many dental problems of their own, they agree to let the students help them fix their teeth. It usually goes well but for example, 2nd year dental students focus on cavities, but if they drill the tooth too far, the tooth shatters into thousands of pieces. Then, the 3rd year students can practice root canal, etc. This is one of the best ways to practice for these students and who (that has dental care) would volunteer to let students still in training fix their teeth?
3) Poverty can create employment. We have a ton of people servicing the poverty: social workers, prison workers, probation workers, worker in low-priced shops, etc.
4) Poor people help save the environment. They constantly hunt garbage cans looking for cans and bottles to properly dispose them properly in recycling clinics. Although this isn't a significant solution to climate change, everything counts.
5) Musical genres emerged out of poor communities. Genres like Rock n Roll, Hip Hop, & the Blues were greatly influenced from poor communities. Without the start of these genres, other genres might not have existed like Punk or Rap.
6) We can increase our vocabulary. Many different slang words that many of us use today in our everyday conversations or in the hottest songs on the radio come from those in poor communities. I can dig it.
7) We can build more big buildings and stadiums. To build a highway or a football stadium, we need vacant land and what better way to get this land than to take over the land of the poor communities? Their land is much cheaper because those in poverty can be paid off with less money than the middle or upper class.
8) The poor communities make great spots to place garbage dumps, power plants, etc. We all need somewhere to put these environmental hazards and I personally do not want to have one next door to me. Putting these things in poorer communities protect the good parts of our city to remain beautiful and safe from any toxic waste or getting sick.
9) Last but not least, poor people inspire me. I love walking around the streets in Downtown San Jose and witnessing homelessness with nothing to eat because they inspire me to never be like them. Knowing that there are people living much worse than me inspire me, the middle class, to stay in school and continue to work hard.

In my English class, we are learning to criticize through various arguments mixed with serious issues and light-hearted jokes. If you have a response, leave a comment below and let's have a fun conversation together :)

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Greatest Fear: Growing Up Alone

My greatest fear used to be growing up alone. My greatest fear was never finding my soul mate and growing old  while I attend my friends' receptions parties and get teased on by my parents on why I haven't found my true love yet. But this idea is starting to sound like a lot of bullshit.

As I continue to think critically about my life, I question myself: why do I need a significant other to be happy? Why do I need to find a "soul mate" to complete me? Is the word "soul mate" even real or is it something us as a society made up? What is "love" and how do you know when you're in "love"? What is "love" and why do we need it? People say you just simply know when you're in love but what if that is all psychological? Since we have this overarching presence of love everywhere, we just make our brains think that at a certain point in your relationship, you fall in "love", but I digress.

My biggest fear in life now is not living my life to the fullest. My biggest fear is not enjoying every second of my life no matter what it entails. I don't believe in an afterlife, so I feel even more inspired to live my life to the best of my ability. I have faith in humanity, that we will be the changing factors in shaping a better world. I believe in appreciating everything we have and our ability to make the best out of our opportunities.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Twelve Pathways To Higher Consciousness

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who breathes air.
T H E T W E L V E P A T H W A Y S To the Higher Consciousness Planes of Unconditional Love and Oneness FREEING MYSELF 1. I am freeing myself from security, sensation, and power addictions that make me try to forcefully control situations in my life, and thus destroy my serenity and keep me from loving myself and others. 2. I am discovering how my consciousness-dominating addictions create my illusory version of the changing world of people and situations around me. 3. I welcome the opportunity (even if painful) that my minute-to-minute experience offers me to become aware of the addictions I must reprogram to be liberated from my robot-like emotional patterns. BEING HERE NOW 4. l always remember that I have everything I need to enjoy my here and now -- unless I am letting my consciousness be dominated by demands and expectations based on the dead past or the imagined future. 5. I take full responsibility here and now for everything I experience, for it is my own programming that creates my actions and also influences the reactions of people around me. 6. I accept myself completely here and now and consciously experience everything I feel, think, say, and do (including my emotion-backed addictions) as a necessary part of my growth into higher consciousness. INTERACTING WITH OTHERS 7. I open myself genuinely to all people by being willing to fully communicate my deepest feelings, since hiding in any degree keeps me stuck in my illusion of separateness from other people. 8. I feel with loving compassion the problems of others without getting caught up emotionally in their predicaments that are offering them messages they need for their growth. 9. I act freely when I am tuned in, centered, and loving, but if possible I avoid acting when I am emotionally upset and depriving myself of the wisdom that flows from love and expanded consciousness. DISCOVERING MY CONSCIOUS-AWARENESS 10. I am continually calming the restless scanning of my rational mind in order to perceive the finer energies that enable me to unitively merge with everything around me. 11. I am constantly aware of which of the Seven Centers of Consciousness I am using, and I feel my energy, perceptiveness, love and inner peace growing as I open all of the Centers of Consciousness. 12. I am perceiving everyone, including myself, as an awakening being who is here to claim his or her birthright to the higher consciousness planes of unconditional love and oneness.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spoken Word: The System


One year ago, I wrote a Spoken Word piece of my frustration towards the educational system. CollegeBoard just announced major changes to the SATs which made me really happy that they finally realized that their standardized tests are composed of irrelevant skills needed for college and for the real world. High school students especially could accomplish a lot more with the time they end spend studying for the SATs and I'm glad change has finally happened! 

This system is like a Ford decelerating on the freeway
I mean it'll get you somewhere but not as fast of efficient is that okay?
I mean all the other cars have already sped up and it's quite a shame
for us to drive something so automatic yet we're still so far right-laned. 
America is always late to the big screen and eventually our locks will hold
but the vehicle will break down and you can't exactly walk out of a drive in.

School sucks and we all know it. 
And we're probably not frustrated at the school itself 
but fed up with the bad teaching and useless materials we learn and I melt
Into silver because if silence was golden, I wouldn't want too much Gucci anyways. 

Who the hell is ever ecstatic to study mathematics and memorize quadratics of the square root of no one gives a heck?
Because they base our intelligence on standardized tests and how many AP classes we take. 
Instead of looking at our inner strengths, like critical thinking, logic, or how many friends we make.

You can try to ignite the fire to our excitement for reading but all you've got left with? Spark notes
And if the teacher's lessons in class were so terrible you feel immune to,
it's pretty sad when you comprehend the whole concept off of YouTube. 

I mean we all go ham, while they're all expired bologna
And what do we do when the bread and cheese is in our reach but teachers can't teach? 
And the competition level is so high, there's almost no time to rest. 
The compiling homework, our own life struggles and personal responsibilities, no wonder why we're all so stressed. 

The school asked me to take geometry because they expect me to calculate the area of tall buildings
They asked me to take history because I'm totally going to go back to Vietnam and tell my folks about their own war. 
They ask me to take a language class but I'm already bilingual I speak the truth too.

So why don't we have classes that actually affect the real world?
Let's have a class devoted to studying the journey of successful business men or
Let's have a class on public speaking, or how to properly deal with ignorant jerks
Let's have a class on exploring career choices for our own future work. 

Don't get me wrong, I want to be in school because I can meet friends and learn 
but I'm getting more heated than my usual 98.6 degrees call it a heat burn
I'm slowly melting and I'm thirsty for change, and you can leave no child behind but most of us are already falling down because we are all not "college level" quite yet, and I'm quite upset. 

So the real question is, should we abolish this system or remodel it?
Should we start to occupy, or should we just ignore it?

We need a plan B, a route 66, a rainbow road towards a better future because 
I'm tired of waking up to teachers who don't care 
I'm tired of having being stressed and depressed about my workloads 
I'm tired of having math teachers with thick accents 
And I'm tired of being tired of this poor system.