Saturday, October 19, 2013

Taipei, Taiwan - My Home

As I finish my eighth week, here in Occidental College, I just started to feel the need to express something.  Also, the photos below, are all mine that I have taken over my years back home.

When people ask where I'm from, I respond:
"Taiwan, you know, the best non-country country in the world!"
Then they proceed to ask me, "well, what do you miss?"
I pause, and, that's a tough question.

I miss the food.
You know, the abundance of white rice, the different flavors, the "interesting parts" like 豬腸.
Or, the unhealthy stuff like fried chicken and stinky tofu and 滷肉飯.

I miss the weather.
You know, the fact that it can change instantly, the sunny humid days, the 颱風's.
Or, the cool dry winters that make you forgot for that one instant that it is humid in like 3 months.

I miss Taipei.
You know, the taxi drivers who don't give a *#&@ about pedestrians, the non-effective police, the 夜市's.
Or, the fact that Taipei is really small and not spread out like freaking LA is.

I miss 711.
You know, the convenience of having everything, the snacks, the "歡迎光臨" and "謝謝光臨".
Or, the fact that I can go anywhere and find one instantly without having to walk forever.

I miss the trash collector songs, effective public transportation, safe neighborhoods.

But most importantly, I miss my family, my friends, my past.  Coming to this new place was and still is, a bit difficult.  Chinese food here (for the most part) is Panda Express.  珍珠奶茶 is called Boba?!

The thing is, it will take time.  While this place will probably not replace Taiwan for me, it will be my home for a couple more years.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Host Book/Movie

Originally, I was going to do a review on the movie The Host, but I realized that not many people have read the book, The Host, so I decided to review the book as well even though I have not read it in a long time.

*Spoiler Alert

The Host is a book by Stefanie Meyer, one very different from her Twilight series.  It's a romance/science-fiction story set in a post-apocalyptic world in which an alien species known for invading and then living in the host species.  They're described as kind and benevolent, having no need for deception or violence.  They are implanted into the species and control them as if the bodies were their own.  It is necessary to note that even during their invasion, violence was not used as all was needed was to capture, implant and then let go.

The story is about Melanie who is the host human, whose presence/consciousness never left (or suppressed for that matter) when Wanda entered.  Wanda or Wanderer is the alien who is known for having lived on many planets prior to Earth, (it is necessary to note that these aliens are immortal unless subject to physical harm).

The book follows the journey of Melanie/Wanda as they try to escape the confines of the altered society to Melanie's old family who have become rebels in the midst of the occupation.  Her family has hidden themselves in a network of tunnels and caves which has allowed them to survive without any problems of being discovered.  There, she is initially regarded as person non grata, as she is a member of the alien race, however due to the kindness of Uncle Jeb (her actual Uncle), she is spared and slowly assimilates to the society.  However, the situation does get worse, as they begin to assimilate, Wanda begins to develop relationships with the other rebels, namely Ian (who becomes Wanda's love interest), Melanie/Wanda's brother, Jamie and Jared (Melanie's love interest).  As she assimilates in the caves, she begins to educate the rebels about her past, about her various lives before in the different planets.

When I first read this book, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it seeing as it came from Stefanie Meyer.  While I did read the Twilight novels, this book pales in comparison in terms of the plot, character development as well as the different diction used.  Now, diction may not seem that important, but The Host was written for adults as opposed to her Twilight series who were written for teenagers. This book is a very complicated story with many nuances and small details that are very important as the story progresses. However, unlike this marvelous book that I truly enjoyed, the movie that was made was terrible. 

Now before I proceed and destroy the movie, I would like to say that in the director's and producers' defense, the book was immensely long (656 pages), and that it would be impossible for them to incorporate all the information and story that was presented in the book. Nonetheless, it was terrible. Not surprised. 

I would like to break this critique into a few parts, in that I will discuss different aspects of the film in which I will conclude (not surprisingly) with my deep dissatisfaction with the movie. 

Firstly, while I don't really care about the actors portraying the characters (actually I do, but if I say I didn't like them, then I am expected to come up with different suggestions, which at the moment, I could care less about, however, the actor who played Uncle Jeb, spot on.), I found it very annoying at times when the producers decided to kill of some characters or not even other to explain the characters fully. For example, the hatred Jared was supposed to have with Wanda/Melanie, in the beginning of the movie was not really that dramatic, in fact it almost felt like it was a slight annoyance. Also, the fact that Melanie gave up so easily in the beginning was very disconcerting. The whole point of the story was to portray two dominant identities, this was clearly not shown. 

Secondly, there were many aspects of the book, that was expected but completely ignored in the movie, an example would be the lack of mention of Walter, who played a integral role in the story as determining the ending in the book. However, the lack of him made the movie felt empty or rushed even. Another example would be the lack of elaboration of the life in the caves such as the soccer matches mentioned in the story, or the tribunals. In fact, one thing I was looking forward to in the movie was perhaps, a visual interpretation of the worlds that Wanda described in the book; sadly, that wasn't the case. 

Finally, I was very very annoyed when the movie decided to spoil a crucial plot point right in the middle of the movie: the Seeker's motivations in her fervent search for Wanda/Melanie. When I watched the scene when that occurred, I was so upset and angry that I had to voice my opinions (softly of course) to the person who was watching the movie with me. 

So, just as I stated above, this movie was atrocious. The only other adaptation movie that sucked as well would be M. Night Shamalyan's utterly disgusting adaptation of this hit tv series Avatar: The Last Airbender. But, and a big resounding but at that, please read the book, it is definitely one of my favorites. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Stepping Stones into O-MUN

I know this is maybe a little bit irrelevant,  but I felt like I needed to talk about my previous MUN experience before I jumped straight into O-MUN.  :)
I first started Model United Nations in Eighth Grade, a brand new middle school program.  I joined because I thought it would be something interesting to do as I really enjoyed reading and learning about current events.  The other students, along with myself, were the guinea pigs.  We practiced debating while also observing some of the high school practices.  After a whole year of practice, we were recommended to join the high school program the next year.

Our high school Model United Nations program at the time was growing slowly as our school only participated in the IASAS MUN (a conference which consisted of six international schools in the South East Asia region as well as other smaller schools) and TAIMUN (a conference which consisted of schools all across Taiwan).
My first speech at a Model United Nations Conference!

My first conference was in my freshmen year, where I went to TAIMUN and was in the Human Rights committee.  I represented the delegate of India and wrote a resolution on the Question of Human Trafficking.  I also wrote some clauses for the Question on Honor Crimes.  I attempted to main submit that year, but was still inexperienced and decided to co-submit and support the other delegates as best as I could.  I distinctly remember once when I was at the podium when someone asked me a Point of Information that I had never experienced before:

“Does the delegate wholeheartedly  agree that without this solution, this resolution will be ineffective?”
I personally had no idea on how to answer, but I saw the delegate who asked me nod slowly, so I tentatively replied, “Yes, this delegate wholeheartedly agrees.”  Later when I wrote a note to her, she replied explaining what she had done, and the effect of my answer.
Untitled picture
The Website I designed for the Middle School Conference!

That same year, because of the success of the middle school MUN program, the school decided to host a conference for middle schoolers.  As a high school delegate, I not only mentored the middle schoolers but  I also helped prepare the conference.  I was part of the first leadership team, as Head of Tech where I created the website ( and troubleshooted any technical issues.  This was the beginning of a series of leadership positions I would take in MUN.

The next year, I once again went to TAIMUN and was in the Human Rights committee again.  However, this time, I represented France and main submitted a resolution on the Prevention of Unethical Human Trials. Sadly, to my dismay, the resolution did not pass.  That year, I once again mentored middle schoolers while being on the leadership team for the conference.  I was the Environment Chair that year and the Head of Tech again.  Running the website while fulfilling my chairing duties as well.
My only picture of me at MY-MUNOFS

In junior year, I not only went to TAIMUN again, but I traveled to Singapore with a middle school team to participate at MY-MUNOFS where I was the Environment Chair.  I remember asking the conference’s Secretary General many questions on Skype because I was unfamiliar with the THIMUN rules as a chair.  My trip to Singapore with the middle school delegates was very special because I became very close with the delegates, so much that I keep track of their involvement and growth in MUN today.  It was also very special to me because I was given opportunities to be more than just a student officer, but also an unofficial chaperon for the students.

When I went to TAIMUN that year, I switched committees and represented China in the Security Council.  I had a lot of fun at that conference because as a P5 nation any disagreement between the five of us had to be resolved through a P5 caucus.  Tensions were high as both Russia and I adamantly stated our positions in the debate on the Question of Cote D’ivoire   I personally prepared more for the other topic, The Question on the Arab Peninsula, but in the middle of debate, I was chosen to represent China during the crisis.

Finally, at the end of the year, I was the Deputy Secretary General for the middle school conference while also running the website.  That conference was special as the director wanted to find a way to make the conference paperless.  After many weeks, I adapted a system that was used at MY-MUNOFS and made the conference paperless.  (This system would be tweaked and then used at IASAS MUN 2012.)

Needless to say, that school year of MUN was very exciting.  I wasn’t prepared however, for the MUN program that I found during the summer.

My first step into Online MUN was during  the summer of 2012, when I saw an old friend from Singapore in this MUN program, even though I knew she wasn’t interested in MUN at all.  I asked her about it and she told me that it was her friend, Dinah Liu (Asia’s Deputy Secretary General), that signed her up (though she wasn’t interested at all).

As a result in July 2012, I Facebooked Ms. Martin, in order to learn more about the program.  I began asking her tons and tons of questions, even went as far as to watch a couple of the online debates on Youtube.  While I was asking her questions, I also e-mailed my MUN Directors: Ms. Sinclair and Ms. Rowe, letting them know about this program and what their thoughts on it were.  They replied saying that I should investigate and find out more about the program before anything else happened.

As the days went by, I became extremely interested in the program because I realized how much fun O-MUN would be as well as the fact that TAS could become a part of this program.  After hundreds of e-mails, I was hooked.  I was really interested to see how I could become a part of the program, as well as how my school, TAS could become a part of the program as well.  After countless e-mails and Facebook messages, I was hooked.  I constantly e-mailed my directors during the summer, hoping to drum up their support as well.  By the end of the summer, I was the new Executive Administrative Officer for Taiwan, and thus began my O-MUN journey.  As time went on, I participated in my first debate, a Security Council debate where I represented China on the topic of Syria.

I’m really glad that I joined O-MUN because not only do I get to go to THIMUN as a result, but I have met so many new people.  The great thing about O-MUN is that, it allows students to network across the world.  At conferences, students usually become friends with students from other schools within the region, but at O-MUN, with delegates logging in from everywhere, its quite easy to meet and talk to people from different parts of the world.


So, in reality, everyone doesn’t hate me, but in my committee, which focus is on Sustainable Energy, just doesn’t like OPEC, because of the Oil.  Like seriously, it took so much work to find 15 people to sign my resolution because everyone wanted to be helping the globe with sustainable energy, but nonetheless, it’s done and I am main submitting a resolution!!! It however will be a resolution that everyone will probably just kill.
So moral of the story, don’t be the hated guy in the conference, makes life sooo much harder.
In other news, I ate herring with stroopwaffels (Sweet and Savory, great combo) which was pretty awesome.  It’s like sardines with caramel soft cookies.  But yeah.
I was so hungry at dinner (cause our food was forgotten), I ate herring with stroopwaffel.

Remembering THIMUN 2013

So, my journey to THIMUN began from long debates and meetings on my 4-5 year old Lenovo laptop.  Now two weeks later of break (basically break, I mean we had a normal school week plus Spirit Week, but after THIMUN I didn’t work as hard as I did before, and we had CNY) I really really want to go back.  I miss every single bit of that trip: the conference, the cultural experience and the team that I got to meet and hang out with face to face.

Looking back, the conference was a lot of fun.  To be honest, I did not know I was going to have that much fun representing an NGO, especially one such as OPEC.  Every face to face conference that I have been to, I have represented a nation and I had allies that were already made for me, policies that have been established since day 1.  While OPEC does have its 12 nations, what was surprising was the some of the delegates had no idea what OPEC was and didn’t even know that they were part of the organization.   Yet, representing OPEC, in a committee whose sole theme was Sustainable Development, was very interesting to say the least.  Basically, on day 1 of the conference during lobbying and caucusing, I realized that I was the thorn in almost everyone’s backside, and that nobody wanted to work with someone who was promoting the use of oil.  However, after a long and grueling battle, I was a main submitter for a purposeful controversial resolution that supported the use of oil in providing energy to LEDC countries with rapidly expanding cities.

During the debates, however, I transformed from being a thorn to a resolution terminator.  The thing is, regardless of how much solar and hydro and all those various sustainable energy resources are used, oil is still the primary component for hundreds of thousands of products.  It is impossible to completely change from oil to sustainable energy, at least not until sustainable energy is fully researched.  As a result, I became known for being a hard delegate to challenge and one of the most outspoken delegates of our committee.  I remember three instances where I was called up as the last speaker and completely trashed the resolution to which it then failed (once again, to any THIMUN delegates in my committee, I am soo deeply sorry for destroying resolutions and perhaps hurting your dreams, aspirations, and grades if affected).

While the debates were a lot of fun, I really enjoyed meeting the different people and making friends as a result.  All you people who I met, I want you to know, you guys were a lot of fun to hang around with for 9 hoursish each day.  One thing that was going to be memorable was that I wanted to play “Another Bites the Dust” by Queen on Friday as I walked in just for fun, but the chairs wouldn’t allow it (this song I chose because I killed resolutions the day before, and I knew mine wasn’t going to pass).  Also, doing the outreach was an interesting experience to say the least (I had no idea, I was that good at selling and just talking to random people).  I felt accomplished when we were successful in our outreach in O-MUN as well as my random outreach for TAS at the dance.

The cultural experience of just going to Amsterdam and The Hague was amazing (and yes this includes the food).  When we visited Amsterdam on Wednesday, I felt that I learned a lot more than I expected.  I had a lot of fun just by riding around the city for 2 hours, walking around, taking pictures and even trying real raw herring (YES JOLANDA IF YOU’RE READING THIS, I HAD REAL RAW HERRING WITH PICKLES AND ONIONS!!! IT WAS AWESOME!!!).  One of the most sobering moments was visiting the Anne Frank House.  That place, gave me the same eerie and somber feeling that I felt when I visited the Tuol Sleng Prison S-21 in Cambodia and the Killing Fields.

Finally, I truly miss out of everything was meeting and hanging out with my O-MUN Team.  One of the funniest moments was getting into the hotel on Sunday morningish, putting down my bags, and immediately singing Les Miserables with Omar and Chris.  That was hilarious and a lot of fun.  Hanging out with all of you, was just indescribable.

Ms. Martin: I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to go to The Hague, and while I was probably the newest member of the O-MUN Executive Leadership Team, I’m glad that I was chosen to go.  Working with you for the past 6 months has been one of the most fun and exciting MUN experiences that I have been a part of.  I look forward to working with you in the future.
Thasbeeh: You are amazing, I have no idea how you put up with all the craziness we bring.  Its really funny how many facial expressions you have.  Thank you for leading our team through thick and thin and ensuring that none of us died on the trip.
Audrey:  I find it amazing that you put up with my craziness for all week.  I thought you would break or snap but no, you kept going.  It was a lot of fun meeting you and yes, annoying you was a lot of fun too!  When we meet again someday, in the future, I will once again retell my eating escapades and try to freak you out again!  Thank you for putting up with my annoying-ness and for being my “shameless marketing” partner with the pens.
McKenna:  Our fearless leader, you were amazing to work with and I learned quite a bit from you.  You are one of the most vibrant people I’ve met, and I think that you will do great things in your future.  Thanks for being the coolest (and prettiest) SG that I’ve worked with and I do hope we meet again someday.
Omar: You’re one of the funniest people I know.  Thanks for just making each day interesting with your weird and less than accurate accents.  We have to sing together sometime in the future again!  ONE DAY MORE!!!! Haha!
Hasan: Thanks so much for the interesting and deep conversations we had over dinner and breaks about religion and just teaching me some cool/interesting stuff about Islam.  You are a funny person though to be honest, I don’t think you look like Mr. Bean, did not see it at all.  Btw, I’m keeping that photo.
Nadine: You’re one of the most straightforward people I know, and that’s what I like about you.  You are an amazing person and yes, thanks for calling me the ultimate tourist.  It’s something that I’ve been told many many times before.  Also, hope you enjoyed that raw herring.  I thought it was awesome.
Chris: Hey Bish!  We make a great singing team, you, me and Omar.  We should definitely do it again sometime.  Thanks for writing the funniest song that I know and allowing me to perform it with you.   I cannot wait to meet with you again and I don’t know, record a CD or something together.  If they have CDs still in the future.
Salam: You were a great person to work with during the debates.  I’m so glad we got to work together during the conference and while I didn’t get to hear your opening speech, I can tell that you are a crazy debater like I am.
Rameez: You are the Energizer Bunny, always full of energy, never stopping to rest.  I hope you never change because someone always needs to be there to keep the energy going.  Your work with the O-MUN website is amazing, and I am just in awe with how much you have done with the site.  Keep up the amazing work and I enjoyed our time together at The Hague.
Russel: HEY SCUMBAG!! It was great finally meeting for the first time in The Hague.  You are an amazing debater, and I see a crazy MUN delegate in you.  I can’t wait to work with you in the future in O-MUN.
Khaled: Thanks for making my day when we took that photo.  Our interesting conversations about Islam is something that I will use to help me learn more about it.  Also for the record, if the situation called for it, I would not hesitate in eating you.  Just saying.
THIMUN: Thanks so much for an amazing experience and I wish this wasn’t my last year.
Jolanda and Albert: Thanks for picking me up at the airport and giving me an insight to the Dutch culture!  I tried real RAW HERRING!! WOOO!
Family: Thanks for supporting me on this trip!  Would not have made it without you guys
Ms. Sinclair and Ms. Rowe: Thanks for supporting me with O-MUN as well as my growth as an MUN delegate and leader.  It has been great working with you these last few years and I wish I had more time to do more.  Thank you so much for teaching me so much about MUN and about becoming a better leader.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fiddler on the Roof, Snow and IASAS MUN

Wow, this first semester was pretty intense.  Even though I am a senior and should have been focusing on my college applications, I participated in my usual, drama production as well as added the dance production and MUN to the list.  It was a really fun semester because it was my last year in participating in either of the events so I truly felt I worked hard and enjoyed my experiences during those times.

I will begin with IASAS because I knew I was going to be working on IASAS MUN since junior year.  I knew I would not have time to be a delegate at IASAS MUN even though it would be at our school, instead, I knew the best way I could help was helping as Head of Tech.  However, back in junior year, I did not realize how much work it would've been.  When the school year began, and I had the first meeting with Emily Sun (who was helping me) and Ms. Sinclair, Ms. Sohn and Ms. Cutler, I realized that it would be a long three months.

My first job was to redesigned the website; when Mr. Gray copied everything from the ISM site to a new one that we had, my first thought was, goodness, this is atrocious.  The colors, while they were our school colors, were visually jarring and was painful to my eyes.  The sidebar looked complicated and unappealing.  While I initially tried to plead the teachers for the ability to change the site, the first reaction was no.  I realized then, that the easiest way was to work with Emily and together we would create a new site and present it to them hoping that it would change their minds.  So, we went through the old site, picking and choosing what was necessary for the new site, and what should be ignored.  After that, we created a new site, with better colors, added a banner on the top, and had dropdown menus.  In my opinion, it looked cleaner and a lot more slick.  This process took about 2.5 months, as there was quite a bit of last minute information that still needed to go up sometimes.

My other task was to create a system that would make our conference virtually paperless.  I immediately knew that the system I used for MSTAIMUN that previous year would work.  However, because IASAS MUN was more prestigious in a sense, I had to adjust the system to make it even more streamline, as well as document every single step to ensure that the next school hosting could use the same system.  In the end, the system was a success because of the previous testing through MSTAIMUN, but also because the system itself was quite intuitive.  The only thing that wasn't paperless was the note system, but that was kept because  many believed that the skype system from the previous year didn't work.

Finally, as Head of Tech, I knew I would have to be at the conference as onsite Technical Support.  Thus, on the day, as well as the day before, I was helping delegates connect to the internet while also solving minor technical issues in both audio and visual.  The experience was quite relaxing and fun because there were points in time where there wasn't much to do, and then the next moment, a flood of issues.  It was fun because I was given a walkie-talkie with a headset that I thought, was really cool to use.  While some felt it was unnecessary or intrusive, I just thought it was cool and made me feel more important.  In the end, it was tiring, but still something I was glad to be a part of. While, I wasn't a delegate, I still made some really cool friends working, and got to know some other people better.

Drama Production
This year's drama production was the Broadway Musical, Fiddler on the Roof, an amazing musical that I saw as a movie.  We began work for the musical right away, inside the small dressing rooms in the back of the theatre.  We  had envisioned working in the extra science room across the auditorium, however we were told by Mr. P that we couldn't.  Then I decided to personally ask him for the room, and right after that, we got the room.  That was exciting, now we could easily build props and tons of other stuff inside the bigger room.  This year, working on the tech crew, were myself, Tasha, Emma, Jasmine, Sandra, Hansen, Nicole and Eric.  While there were others, they weren't always around and did not directly work with me during the process.  I was the Master Carpenter (only because I know how to use the tools), Running Crew Head (only because I'm strong) and an extra (they ran out of people).  The show heavily relied on props, so most of us spent our time building large stage props or smaller hand props.  Things I helped build this year, included the benches, kitchen table, stools, cabinet, bed, tombstones and many other props.

As the Running Crew Head, I was in charge of the Running Crew, making sure they knew what was expected of them as part of the running crew.  Last year, the running crew did  not have the same group of people each time and therefore felt very unorganized.  This year, I stressed the need for the running crew being present for all the rehearsals unless there were exigent circumstances.  The show this year had many elaborate scene changes and special features.  One of the features was Frumah Sarah's levitation which was executed through the use of a harness and a rising batten.  As a member of the running crew we were given costumes similar to the other peasants in the show.

As an extra, I had to walk across the stage dressed as a Russian Orthodox priest.  I had a robe, a hat that had a beard attached and a staff.  Later, I had to dress up as a Russian soldier and destroy a wedding.  One of the coolest things that I had to do was rip a pillow case open that was stuffed with feathers.  It's a pretty cool moment because it's right at the beginning of the scene where the soldiers destroy the wedding.  While the feathers float down, myself and another soldier throw down the table, and I attack groom.  Sadly, the scene is followed with intermission, in which I, changed back into a Russian peasant, cleans up the feathers by vacuuming the stage.

In my opinion, this year's show was very grand in a sense that it was the most complicated show I personally have done as a backstage manager.  I initially was disappointed to be backstage manager because I had envisioned myself as the Stage Manager for once, however, I still worked as hard as I could and did the best as always.  There were times when I was very annoyed, especially at some of the teachers because they didn't understand that I had more experience as a techie than they did and that everything I did was for the benefit of the show.  In the end, I was pleased with the final outcome and was glad that I participated in it.

Dance Production
This year, would mark the second time I would have tech for dance production.  This year's dance production was called Snow, a production that took Snow White and changed the story and replacing the seven dwarfs for the seven deadly sins.  Unlike the year before, we only had three days to prepare the theatre for a dance production.  That included striking the set from Fiddler and setting up the light trees.

Because I was the backstage manager for drama, I knew there wouldn't be a chance to be stage manager because Tasha would be given that role, I really wanted to be lightboard operator.  I haven't had a chance to  be officially on the lightboard since last year during the dance production.  However, because I was told that the scene changes would be elaborate, I became the backstage manager again.

In reality, the most difficult aspect about the show was the actual snow.  The snow was basically two battens with a special drop system using ropes.  Initially, we were told that it was only going to snow once or twice in the show.  However, by the time the show came around, we ended up having to snow four to five times.  As a result, because we didn't have that much snow, and we ended up having to recycle the snow after rehearsals and shows.  Basically, we had to go sweep up all the snow and pick through the plastic removing hair, scabs, threads and other random things that was in there.  It was disgusting.

The show itself was pretty easy to do.  There weren't exactly that many hard things to do, just the snow.  I personally was a bit disappointed when I wasn't chosen to do lightboard operator but, I knew that regardless of what I did, I would put in my best work and I did.  It was officially my last show, and I was glad that I had participated.

Anyways, so there you have it, a long and stressful semester.  It was the only semester that I actually participated in all three events at the same time.  What made it very tiring was, IASAS MUN and Dance Production were on the same day.  So I would do IASAS MUN during the day, and then run the Dance Production Tech at night.  I had a lot of fun with both so it was quite worth it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Positive, Encouraging (Summer 2012)

Wow. That was a long and eventful summer.  11 weeks.  Now that look back at my summer, I would say that this year's summer was all about discovery and rediscovery.  My summer was broken up in about 3 sections.  Tennis, Church and Colleges.  Each of these sections played a key part in my summer.

During my 11 weeks of summer, I spent a lot of time playing and coaching tennis as well as working at a tennis tournament.  As a full time coach this year, I earned approximately 12 $/hr working about 14 hours a week.  I learned a lot from my from coaching tennis, mainly how to interact with kids, how to motivate them to play or to work.  I really enjoyed working with my fellow coaches as well as Barbara, Claire and Alita.  Not only did I coach, I also played tennis as well.  I was part of the High School Clinic that went on Mondays and Thursdays from 4:30 to 6. I learned a lot this summer from Jerry, Claire and Mark.  (Side note, I was glad that I met Jerry this year)  I also made some really good friends during the clinic.  I played some matches, except all of them were against kids that were 13-15 years old, which was extremely sad.  On top of coaching and playing, on the first week of August, I worked with a group of people to help run our annual tennis tournament at MCC.  I was the de facto leader of the group, and we accomplished a lot of things during the 13 hours a day work for a week.

In the mornings, we would arrive at MCC at around 8:30-8:45 to begin set up.  We would first wipe down the cars, put up scorecards and singles sticks.  After which we would just wait and hang out until people started playing matches.  Before matches, we would help the players by bringing their balls and name cards down to the court. Then during the day, we would clean up courts, clear courts, help set-up things, do miscellaneous jobs. At the end, we would clean up and return home at around 8-9.  That went on for about 4 days, until the finale on Sunday.

Sunday was the big finale with all the finals matching.  Most of the helpers as well as a separate group of  ballkids would ballkid the matches.  This year's team was trained by myself, and Barbara.  This year, our group was really good, and the kids worked really hard.  I was so proud of them after the whole tournament.

During the summer, I also had the chance to go the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford.  We were lucky enough to watch players such as Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, Marion Bartoli, and a few others.  I took plenty of pictures which was fun.

This summer, I decided to go back to the Contra Costa Gospel Church, in Walnut Creek to check out the Youth.  To my surprise, I had a lot of fun and met a lot of fun people.  These people would become my really good friends over the summer.  When I first went back to the church, I was immediately invited to a bonding event where we went to Great America.  Realizing that I would have tons of fun at this church and with this youth group, I began to attend the church as well as their youth fellowships on Saturday nights.  Some of the things they did such as the games, became additions to Paradyme's games and such.  Some of the people I met that would be really good friends were Chris Wang, Joby Zhang, Rachel Hua, Bob Zhou, Everett Tsang, Matt and Melvin Lai, and so many others.  For some reason, that church reminded me of Paradyme back at home.

This summer, in preparation for my college applications, we visited Santa Clara University, Claremont McKenna College and Occidental College.  I really enjoyed my visits their because I learned a lot more about there school than I did online.  While we visited Occidental and Claremont, I had the chance to have an interview at Occidental which I believed help solidify my decision to apply there.

Yeah, I know this is really late which is why I didn't write as much for the latter two paragraphs.  Sigh, Senior year is stressful.