Updated project goals as of 29 January 2012
This project is about stories. Firstly, it’s about the stories of events and issues in the world that catch my attention. Secondly, it’s about the people who deserve to be noticed, from people I meet to people I think we should be following. Lastly, it’s about my story, of my adventures wherever I am in life and the world and what I do to continuously open my eyes, mind, and heart.
How do I do that? It’s not as complicated as you might think. I love writing, taking pictures, acting, and film. I also love life hacking. Life hacking is like hacking computers or entering cheat codes in video games; that is, doing as little as possible in order to get as much as possible. For example, if you could spend thirty seconds signing your name on a petition, writing a letter on behalf of a political prisoner in Burma, and donating money to the people trying to raise more awareness of the situation, then e-mailing it to everyone in your address book so that your friends can all do the same, would you do it? Or would you spend that same thirty seconds staring at Facebook wishing there was something you could do with your life and how to make a difference in the world?
That’s an activism hack. Now another simpler example: if you could burn the same amount of calories in five minutes as you would from running on the treadmill for half an hour, as well as getting both cardio training and building muscles, wouldn’t you rather do the former? That’s a health hack.
The point is, making a difference isn’t as hard as you would think it is. If you measure your contribution to the world at large by accomplishments that can be thrown on a resume, then hello: the project blog is a list of those insights and actions I’ve taken, as well as an example of my skills. All I’m doing is having fun doing what I love. If you realize that you measure your contribution not by how much of an impact you make when you walk into a room, but by how people notice when you’re not around, then hello again: you can make a difference just by making someone smile or stopping whatever you’re doing and helping some lost tourists who don’t speak English get to the bus stop they’re trying to find.
I don’t need to be a celebrity, have lots of money, or have a list of credentials and awards. I have friends whom I love and I know the simple truth of my life is to have an open heart before having an open mind. For that reason, my story is about what makes me want to hear others’ stories, share their stories, and how we’re all connected, which in turn makes it my story, and our story. It’s Dharma, it’s Ubuntu, it’s Providence, it’s whatever you choose.
We can all make a difference, big and small. Rock on everyone!
Updated project goals as of 11 August 2011
In pursuing quality and practicality, I’ve decided to narrow my focus down to working in one country and looking at an issue the country has and how it affects the country and the region as a whole. So it would be something like this: 1) intern with an organization in the region, 2) use my free time when not working to film sights and sounds to cover adventure portion of project, 3) film and document the global issues and how they are being addressed by the organization and similar groups if I am allowed to, 4) upon finishing the internship, go out and explore more of the region and document the issue I want to expose people to, help out in whatever way I can, and make a call for people to take action. Applying the general plan, let’s say I work with ADAPT in Vietnam, and my issue is human trafficking. The last intern to do ADAPT from UCSD worked with Cambodian refugees and human trafficking victims who were brought into Vietnam as sex slaves. Assuming I do the same, I’d work with the group and film as much as I can and am allowed to about the issue and how they and other groups are addressing the issue. When I’m not working, travel around Vietnam and explore the sights and sounds, then after the internship, explore Thailand and Cambodia, then do some independent filming on the issue of human trafficking in the region, focusing on Cambodia’s problem and how it affects its neighboring countries. Other issues to consider: China’s presence in Southeast Asia and the overseas Chinese communities.
Initial project goals from 1 August
I’ve always been a dreamer, wishing I could be a hero, wanting to travel the world, act, save the world, get the girl, and more. Some of my friends call me a renaissance man, and with all my interests, it was hard to believe I would be able to have the focus to make everything come together, or discard most of it and focus on one thing. After growing up overseas and experiencing things such as surviving a terrorist bomb blast in Manila, losing friends to events like church bombings in Pakistan or kidnappings, I had enough of turning around and pretending nothing was happening, that it would never happen to me, and things were okay as long as I stayed away from trouble. That kind of attitude can not prevail, because it is apathy and inaction that allow the world to fall apart. The only way for evil to succeed is for good people to stand by and do nothing, and I have decided I want to do something. To that end, I look at my interests, because I still want to have fun, I still want to act, but I also want to be a hero. When I was leaving Los Angeles to move to San Diego for my two-year master’s program at UCSD in human rights and sustainable development in Southeast Asia, I came up with an idea to start a production company, akin to Wong Fu Productions and other independent new media artists, that would have me traveling around the world and exploring what makes each place great fun and worth saving, what makes people around the world wonderful, and highlighting human rights issues such as landmine dangers, child soldiers, refugees, violence against minorities, slavery, human trafficking, work with other individuals and NGOs to help with these issues film it all, release my work on YouTube, and show everyone how to get involved in making a difference. Inspired by MTV’s Road Rules, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Invisible Children, and other shows of the same vein, I realized that this would be a great way to get in touch with the spirit of adventure, be a hero, and inspire others to join in on the fight to improve our world. In an age where globalization is an inescapable reality, all of our choices, from what we buy to our lack of participation in voting, affect people all over the world. The counter to that is globalism, where the old mindset of “me, me, me” is discarded in favor of “we, we, we”, where countries, continents, and cultures are not to be seen as “others” but as fellow inhabitants of the planet. As a Third Culture Kid, I grew up between Manila, Hong Kong, and the U.S., and for that reason, on top of being affected by global conflicts and issues, inspires me to make a difference, and hopefully inspire others along the way. So all of my brainstorming, defining, narrowing down, fundraising, and finalization of the project will occur between now and next summer. Thanks to encouragement from friends and my department at UCSD, who have also funded start-up NGOs for their students in this program, I have decided that the first thing to do in order to start up this organization is to try and make this my summer internship for 2012. Currently, my plan involves going to Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand and documenting an issue, such as human trafficking or refugees, traveling there, filming my adventures around the country, documenting my interaction with individuals NGOs working to combat these issues, and then putting together a short piece to be released on YouTube to show what potential my production company can come up with. There is no failure here, because if I can pull everything together to make this trip and internship happen, then everyone who is following me here can see what I’ve done and be inspired to pursue their dreams and passions, making them come true. If I don’t pull it together, then we can all at least learn from my mistakes and I have experience to draw from, for I hope to ultimately form this production company in the future, whether it is as early as summer of 2012, or a few years down the line. This blog will chronicle my findings, my mistakes, and what ultimately comes out of all of my work for the next year. In addition, I will be posting music I rock out to, because you can’t rock the planet without good music; commentaries on global issues, and featuring individuals and organizations with similar goals of philanthropy or independent spirit.