Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hidden but Seen

Gorgeous. Refreshing. Wonderfully liberating. These adjectives dominated my thoughts as we took a short drive to volunteer at KIPP. The week had just concluded with another great seminar, this time on food and drug reward, and my spirits were high in anticipation of non-academically intensive activities.
            Our duties thus far have been in preparation for the upcoming school year, from helping with bus schedule assignments to organizing the administrative offices. As these tasks were not particularly challenging, I was taken aback by the enthusiasm with which our efforts were met. This then prompted me to wonder at the background workings of a school, and on a grander scale, our daily lives. What other types of backstage activities do we take for granted?
            Whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, we are all products of a complex support system. Our interests were promoted through encouragements, intellect nurtured by healthy competition, confidence instilled with trust. Different threads in a myriad of colors creating distinctive tapestries, the uniqueness of our paths finds commonality in their countless weavers. By recognizing this truth, we can then appropriately express our appreciation and gratitude for the works of their hands.
            Folding shirts, cataloguing them by color and size and observing the establishment of order emphasized that there is no job too minor to perform, no recognition too insignificant to express. For we are simultaneously weaving and being weaved, jointly contributing to the greatest tapestry of all.

August community service hours: 4

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fortuitous Encounter

            The splash of cold liquid accompanied by melodic clinking of glass catapulted me out of my reverie. To my left, a lady was wiping up her spilled drink while apologizing repeatedly and to my right, a friend rescued my phone. We had just completed our second block exam hours earlier. Though there remains room for improvement, I was much more satisfied with my performance this go around. A couple of friends wanted to grab a quick bite and decompress whereas I just needed to be out of the four walls that had become much too confining. After a week of downpour combined with endless studying, walking somewhere—anywhere—was a real luxury.
            Seeing that she was alone, I started a light conversation with the sole intention of being neighborly. Surprisingly, we quickly veered from the banalities of conventional greetings towards more substantial topics, specifically self-actualization. It is the pinnacle of psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, simply stated as the fulfillment of one’s potential. I immediately marveled at the timeliness of this discussion.
            As this year advances, many forces will play a role in molding me, positively or negatively is at my discretion. Would I stay true to my beliefs and values, or bend like a dandelion under the weakest of winds? I am relying on my own experiences and judgment, not societal dictates, when making decisions. A prerequisite to accomplishing this is possession of accurate self-perception and self-acceptance. At the same time, however, I want to be malleable enough to expand my comfort zone, to experience the uniqueness and eccentricities of NOLA with continual appreciation. The combination of history, spontaneous performances and extraordinary cuisine are a few aspects that I hope I never become desensitized to. I want to experience the peak experiences that Maslow spoke of. This year, I want each adventure, each exploration, each unexpected event to be filled with childlike wonder.
            As I mature academically, mentally and experientially, I want to discover where I derive pleasure from. How can I apply my talents such that they benefit those in my vicinity while fulfilling me simultaneously? This lady, who remains nameless in my mind as we never formally introduced ourselves, inadvertently challenged me to be more conscientious of each step of my journey and to live in the moment rather than being overly goal-oriented. Most significantly, she reminded me of the imminent changes and the importance of selective malleability. The counter was dried, my phone escaped unscathed, and I? I was left with a renewed desire for personal growth.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

So It Begins!

            Moving to New Orleans from a suburban area of southern California has surpassed my every expectation. Upon arrival, a stranger kindly helped with my luggage that, in their entirety, weighed more than me! Thus far, his friendly mannerisms appear to be reflected in the majority of the locals here, which is foreign yet awesome. I love that I can walk down a street and be greeted multiple times, or strike up conversations at checkout lines. Prior to moving here, I had been prepared to be overwhelmed by this large metropolitan city, ready to be lost amongst the hordes. However, the mingling of undeniable city vibes with the warmth and familiarity of a small town is just one of the many reasons that NOLA has me in its thrall.
            Attending school in this vibrant city is such a privilege, but I definitely underwent a transitional period. As expected, the lecture material is denser than I am accustomed to, and the sheer quantity of information we must master is just short of inundating. For the first block exams, I devoted myself to pre-class readings and post-lecture reviews. However, I was disappointed that my score did not accurately reflect my understanding. Thus, I am learning to study more efficiently, to focus on the overall implications rather than succumbing to impedance by minute details. This is now the driving force behind my pursuit of betterment.
            I have yet to begin community service, but I can hardly wait! As an immigrant, community service was the venue through which I established my place in California. Now I would like to do the same here in New Orleans. Given my passion for education and the desire to perpetuate a love of learning, I have decided to spend time with SciHigh this year, hopefully tutoring a science-related subject.
            Though this year has just begun, it promises to be filled with all sorts of adventures that I am really looking forward to! I am so glad to be living in Deming Pavilion, not only for its convenience but for the friendships I have already formed with fellow residents. Maybe our bonds were reinforced by our proximity, but I already cannot envision this year without them. Our different backgrounds, habits and preferences are well balanced, our strengths and weaknesses complementary. I feel unbelievably fortunate for the opportunity to learn from this incredible group of individuals and to explore this unique city with them!