Tuesday, March 25, 2014

San Jose: Digital Divide

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.