As I recruit a team of educators for The New York Public Librarys rapidly expanding Education Department, I consistently hear from candidates about how formative the public library was in their childhoods. Most of us remember after-school and weekend trips to the library to check out books, a…
"I didn’t move to get away, to get known, or to love another place more than I love being here; I moved to watch myself struggle. Leaving home has a magical way of making all the frivolous things fall away. I haven’t got much money, none to waste. My time is shorter, so I spend less of it in front of the mirror and more of it with the real friends that want it. I’m more selfish now, but not in the sense that I don’t care about others. I care more about others now than I did before, but I refuse to be taken advantage of. I know what I want, and how to get it. I’m not embarrassed or apologetic about my emotions, but I will admit when I am wrong."
So for some reason, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from my friends lately about traveling. I am truly an advocate for traveling (within your means) but also traveling OUTSIDE of the United States.
Don’t get me wrong. I think there’s a lot to see and a lot you can learn from traveling within the United States. As a country, we have made leaps and bounds. Yet, racism and sexism is just as prevalent; we’ve just gotten better at hiding it. We face our own issues with a social welfare system that lacks any sense of being able to support and assist families into moving up and out of poverty. I’m not saying the we as a country don’t have problems. We most certainly do.
But traveling outside of the US? That puts things into perspective. We are a privileged nation, no matter where you currently stand on the socio-economic ladder. And our definition of poverty? It is nothing compared to what you will witness in a second- or third-world country. It’s what’s not shown in the movies or the travel books that will put things into perspective for ANY person. I am a true believer and witness to that.
I’m not saying that I am completely experienced in traveling. No, I am most certainly not. I have yet to make it to Australia or Europe or Africa or even South America. But I can say that I have seen a lot of Asia. And it was definitely an experience I am glad to have had.
I have traveled to and toured some of the more well-off Asian countries such as Taiwan and Japan and Hong Kong. But traveling to Thailand, Malaysia and rural China? Those are a few of the countries where I think every person should travel to. You will see those who make a good living and can enjoy small luxuries in life. But visiting my mom’s old hometown and seeing families still living off the land in a one room hut or seeing kids try to sell you soda in bags on their beaten down bikes in Thailand? Those experiences can change a person. And even if it doesn’t push you into a career where you will fight to the death for equal rights or advocate for an actual social welfare reform that helps social welfare recipients, it forces you to begin to see the inequalities and struggles that others face. You will learn empathy and compassion. You will feel a tug in your heart when you see a child turning tricks on the street for a few measly coins thrown into a bowl by a random passerby. And if you didn’t before, you will begin to see how privileged you really are, the immense amount of opportunities that are thrown at you and the luxury you have of being able to complain about it.
But not everyone will see this. Some will see and completely ignore the existence of inequality, probably chalking it up to bad government or something of the sort. Others will just think about it for a day and move on as if nothing has happened. Maybe it was the experiences I had as a child or the stories told to me by my parents or the classes that I have taken in college that forced me to have a much more critical eye. Regardless of what it was, it has taught me, shaped me and helped me grow as an individual. And the travels I had throughout Asia, in the more well-off countries and to the ones that are poverty-ridden, gave me perspective, gave me context and helped me truly appreciate the life I have. I hope that any friend of mine will be able to see this as well. Because although ignorance is bliss, understanding will lend you compassion and wisdom.
I’m not claiming that I have made all the right choices in life or that due to my traveling experiences, I have become an active member in an organization that constantly fights for those who are less privileged. I make smaller contributions, whether it’s volunteering on the weekends or donating (albeit small donations. I am currently a grad school student) to an organization whose goals I truly believe in.
All in all, regardless of what your reason will be, TRAVEL. Travel to Paris and see the Eiffel tower. Or travel to Italy and enjoy amazing wine. But also travel to a third-world country, tour Asia. Be open-minded and see the world just a little differently. Gain some perspective. It will change your life.
Do not judge me for who I am today.
Right now, all I want to be is selfish, to chase my dreams, to chase the adventure and to fall in love with life. I know that it’s not the most logical decision and it may not be the best decision I’ve made financially or otherwise but it is currently what I want.
For now, it doesn’t matter if you do not believe in my dreams but as my friend, I ask that you support me. I ask that you blindly believe that I will be okay.
If you think that’s scary, imagine being the one who’s actually chasing the dream.
Despite not being home for new years, I shouldn’t complain. I have a new internship, a new job, a new semester of school with interesting classes and a chance to make new friends. So here’s to the New Year (makes it even more fun that it’s my zodiac year)!
I hope everyone is eating yummy foods! :)
First off, it’s the year of the Snake! :) Yay!
Now, although I’m not superstitious and I’m not really religious in any way, I do find that I follow/do a lot of things according to Chinese tradition and culture. I guess I can’t quite avoid it since I was raised in a family that still followed these traditions. But being here in the city, it’s been a struggle.
Back at home, I had the insistence of my parents, my relatives and of course working in the library in the middle of Chinatown helped me maintain my (albeit lackluster) Chinese. I still spoke Cantonese with a certain level of fluency even if I couldn’t read or write much of anything. Here, in New York City though, I’ve found that things I used to be able to say in Cantonese are now a struggle for me to pronounce or to find the right word for what I’m trying to say. It’s a little sad that I’ve only really been in NYC for about 6 months that the level of spoken Cantonese that I know has diminished so much.
What makes it worse? Today my sister called me. She had told me that she was heading to the Chinatown street fest back at home to purchase a red bracelet and wanted to know if I wanted her to get me one as well. I asked why because why would I want a red bracelet? She informed me that because it was the year of the snake (my zodiac year), it was tradition that I needed to own and wear a red bracelet. Now who would know? The last time this happened, I was 12 (who really remembers what they did on their 12th birthday? Certainly not me). I guess I’m just a little disappointed in myself and letting all the culture I was brought up with slowly fade away. I’m not saying that I am the most cultured person out there but I’d like to believe that I can still maintain a little bit of the culture I’ve been brought up with.
With Chinese New Year just around the corner, I’m a little curious as to what I’m going to do all by myself here in the big city.
Guess we’re gonna find out in a week!
First off, WHOA! how long have I not been on Tumblr? This new way of posting is incredibly cool. Definitely liking the upgrades Tumblr. Fun stuff.
Anyways. On to my update. It has most certainly been a while. A lot of things have happened and a lot haven’t. So since my new year’s post, I have actually acquired a certification for bartending. I know. That is possibly the weirdest combination ever: aspiring children’s librarian, working with event planners as well as a possible bartender? huh?????
To be honest, it was all sort of a spur of the moment decision. I was incredibly bored over the holidays here in NY (yes, i know, that sentence should never be uttered but there wasn’t anyone around for me to hang out with). My floormate and I were discussing how fun it would be just to do bartending so I looked it up. It was a one-week 40-hr program and so I was like…Why not? i’m not doing anything productive with my time anyways. So that was how the bartending certificate came to be.
Other than that exciting adventure, school has resumed for me. It has actually resumed for 2 weeks already and I’m starting the 3rd week. It’s a little hectic already with the work and the readings. I’ve made several runs to the public library and i don’t foresee that changing. I’ll probably be there every week to get books for class and etc. I’m trying to go back to my money-saving ways of undergrad and finding every possible way not to pay for any books. Which isn’t entirely possible since there are some textbooks the library will not have but NYPL does have an amazing collection.
Another on my list of things to do for this semester is to acquire a part-time job. I was hoping to get some bartending job or waitressing job close to where I live but who knew that NO ONE in Manhattan wants to hire you unless you have at least 2+ years of experience. What is this non-sense?! I’m pretty sure that I could do the job just as well but no one will even give this girl a chance. Ridic. But I guess they’re just trying to look out for themselves since it gets really busy especially with all this superbowl business. I’m still looking for possible places that might just give me the start I need but I’m not limiting myself. I’ve already applied to 2 library positions and possibly more this weekend when I have more time.
What else….i’ve started tweeting. lol. it’s crazy. its like all my random thoughts in a day can just constantly be updated. hahaha. I don’t actually have very many followers (less than 10. bwahahaha) but its nice just to be able to place my random thoughts somewhere. Of course, I also know that the library of congress is cataloging every tweet since 2006 so I’m still a little careful with what I post in the off-chance something goes awry.
My friends also want me to start my own youtube channel. Claiming that i say so much random shit that would be hilarious on youtube. lol. Not sure if I’m going to do this since I don’t even update my tumblr often enough….
well until the next time (which hopefully won’t be incredibly long)….
…will come soon. I hope.
Obviously the obligatory end-of-year post.
2012 has definitely been an interesting year. Exciting and completely frightening all at the same time. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about my friends, about those who I choose to keep close to my heart and about what it means to really pursue my dreams without hesitation.
Ups and Downs. Things that are always a part of our lives. I’ve had a lot of good things happen to me in the past year. I’ve had the opportunity to work with children who are seriously the most darnest cutest things I’ve ever seen. I’ve had the opportunity to reconnect with a lot of old friends. I’ve had the opportunity to see so many of my friends walk the stage and become college graduates. And of course, I’ve been the opportunity to move to New York City, attend graduate school, given 3 scholarships and also meet some very amazing people from all different parts of the country. There have been quite a few things that have dampened my mood in the past year as well. I never quite verbalize most of them simply because I’ve always been quite private about my personal life. However, my personal resolution last year was to be more open. This resolution, I am proud to say, was at least accomplished somewhat. I’ve trusted people more and am much more straightforward with how I’m feeling. So even though I’ve had a few downs, I have certainly had a lot more ups.
I guess that’s the lesson I’ve learned from 2012. That no matter what bad situations or obstacles come my way, I should always try to stay positive and think about the good things I have going for me.
So despite some of the poor decisions I’ve made in the past year, all I can do is to reflect and do better next year! :)
It’s cliche and whether or not people give me crap for it, I still think it’s important to make resolutions and goals to try and accomplish every year. I hope that at the end of every year, I can say that I’ve accomplished something, that I never live life scared and that I will always be ready for an adventure.
So here’s to another year full of adventures, travels, unforgettable moments, fresh starts and 2nd chances. To all my dear friends, I hope that all of you chase your dreams and let 2013 change your lives.