• Being Asian,  Social Science

    What I Said and What I Meant

    Old habits die hard – I began preparing a few days before my lecture on the American Dream at the United States Consulate in China. Staying up past midnight for many days, I revised, re-researched, added, removed and finally submitted the Powerpoint slides for the big day.  The last time I had given a speech there was on Breaking the Glass Ceiling in America and I was so nervous that I vowed not to put myself through it again – except fear was an imagined terror because I enjoyed it so much that I decided to do it again. What better topic to talk about in another country, at the U.S.…

  • Social Science,  Thoughts on Life

    My Fifty Percent

    Summer of 2017. Beijing, China The boy sitting a couple of seats from us was staring at my friend and I. At standing height, my friend was 6’3,” sitting down, his torso was about 2 feet, lean and athletic. “Do you think our life was decided for us when we were born” I asked. “It’s fifty-fifty.” “No matter how hard I practice or swim, I would never be like Michael Phelps, I wasn’t born into his physique. So, fifty percent of your life was determined when you were born” he said. “The other fifty percent I can decide for myself.” I have finished drinking my iced Costa coffee. The plastic…

  • Serious Writing

    My Day to Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng (S-21) Prison

    I sat on the damp cushion on the couch. Reaching inside my camera bag, I re-counted the twenty-five dollars I had in USD currency: one 5, one 10, and ten 1’s. Ten minutes later, I walked out of the outdoor hotel lobby, through metal gates, and boarded the minivan that was labeled “Killing Field and S21 Tour.” It was air-conditioned to 18 degrees Celsius. The van arrived in front of S-21 Prison, which used to be a high school. Overhead water sprinklers were on. The 30 degrees Celsius water particles landed on my cheeks and the tip of my nose. “Yes, I would like an audio tour.” I handed in…

  • Work Life

    Must I Attend Networking Events…?

    As an introvert, I dislike going to networking events. Going to them is like eating parsnip, getting them stuck in my front teeth, then suffering from diarrhea and constipation. Yes, it is that bad. At my third job, I was working in the sales department of a media company. My plan was to leave after one year to then work in the producing department. The plan was working out great, I just had to swap out one year with ninety-nine years. A friend of mine lit a fire up my behind and suggested that I should be doing everything possible to leave if that is what I wanted. I decided that…

  • Social Science

    My Tiffany and Co. Necklace

    During college, I had a liking towards necklaces made by Tiffany and Co.. One year, I was taking one of the hardest courses at Carnegie Mellon University – Decision Analysis and Decision Support System (DADSS). It was taught by Paul Fischbeck, an intelligent, somewhat handsome, 6’3” (estimate), slim, professor who received his Ph.D from Stanford University and went to the military. The class taught me how to use mathematical equations and/or formulas to quantify factors, analyze outcomes of all possible decisions, and recommend the most optimal option. The goal was to analyze the consequences of decisions in an economic fashion, often in complex scenarios. Zzz. After graduating with this major, people…

  • Thoughts on Life,  Work Life

    To Succeed, Should You Step Over Others or Help Them?

    In 2013, at the end of my second job, I wrote that I didn’t believe you need to step over others to succeed. I supported that argument with a personal example, thinking that it must have persuaded millions to stop believing the statement, “nice guys finish last.” The other millions of people around me though have challenged this philosophy. They believed that you cannot climb the success ladder without hurting others, intentionally. Sometimes, I struggled to hold on to this belief because the nicest people have objected it and explained that I was wrong. I also witnessed a colleague of mine changing her belief on being nice to people to…