Serendipity or an ordinary story about an unconventionally inspiring dot

July 15, 2014 § 5 Comments

8 serendipity

I received a message from a friend of mine on a random weekend in July 2014. “I am about to take a graduate degree in Finland for the next two years. Let’s have a hang-out!”

I have known her for more than two years since our very first meeting for Ychallenge 2012. (No more to say about Ychallenge. Besides YVS, Ychallenge should be a very important event in my life, during which I have chances to meet lots of surprising people. The appearance of these people in my life has made a certain impact on my own perspective on life, making me believe in the life that made up by the people we met, the stories we shared.) My first impression about her is a small girl coming from the Southern Vietnam, who has just received an offer from McKinsey – my dream at that time (I’m not sure about now).

I have not had lots of chances working with her during 2012 except for couples of time we held conference via Skype. It was not until 2013 when we started kicking off some other projects that I have much more chances interacting with her as well as other team members. Her working style did not leave much impression on me, and sometimes, I really feel kind of awkward when we started conversations as I was not so confident that people paying attention to my own story. Or perhaps it was due to my Northern accent :)), which makes me feel kind of awkward while speaking with the people speaking with Southern accent.

Despite her seemingly disorganized working style, her little bit introvert personality, I find her sharing lots of ideas/ thoughts in common with me, which, of course, are better articulated in her writing/ presenting. I admired the way she wrote about her old schools in her hometown, about the long long ago stories about the little girl discovering the big cities, which made me curious about the sunny Southern land in my country, instilling my desire of living in these faraway lands. I find her ideas of learning for learning’s sake or wisdom itself a form of happiness striking a chord with mine. I have a clearer understanding about the idea of “creating impact” by working with her and other Yplatform members. I used to have vague ideas about this term, and even I can reiterate exactly what I read from books, I know the underlying idea was something that I hardly catch without having time working with her and other members.

Coming back to the Sunday afternoon, where we have a quick meet-up in the favorite coffee shop (the one I have spent lots of time last summer), the conversation, fragmented a lot with few awkward moments or few incomprehensible breaks though, was totally a meaningful one to me. Hardly could I believe that I spent an afternoon to talk about the idea of pure learning or right way of book reading or kind of education or anything related to youth development. The conversation once again persuaded me that she was a very nice person I have ever had the chance to work with for her surprisingly consistent and constant stream of thoughts/ideas that conveyed through disruptive way of talking (as usual). The topics got beyond the ones I have ever had before with my friends, i.e. career, love, or marriage. Or even it is something about career-related, we were forced to perceive it in another way. I was taken aback for sometimes at huge amount of knowledge she acquired. How come does she spare lots of time for reading books besides her busy workloads? How come does she synthesize her findings from books and make the findings her own belongings, building up her own ideologies towards life? I suddenly feel ashamed for my limited knowledge, for my criticism on the uselessness of some seemingly boring course at undergraduate level, i.e. Public Economics or Development Economics when I was still a student (I started regretting about this 1 year ago). If only…if only… these words echoed in my mind yesterday evening and today for many times when I feel helpless when trying to get the subliminal messages conveyed in some articles or writings.

She was also a very nice sister who kept asking us about our next steps, our next plans (she was also among the ones who helped me in finding a job placement after graduating, the effort did not result in a direct job placement but the kindness I received during this hard time would be invaluable) and wondered if my favorite field is research. I remember few times she talked with me about how to have a boyfriend :)) but few few times and maybe the only time I find her a little bit like other people or find our conversation a little bit more like ones shared between ordinary friends.

When we said goodbye to each other, I wanted to give her a hug for being an unconventionally inspiring dot of mine during the last 2 years and wished her all the best for her journey ahead to Finland (But it did not happen :))). I have jotted down with “source” in the first place but it sounds a little bit pompous so I decided to move on with “dot” for its better description of her appearance. A chain of strange happenstances results from a moment of impulsiveness in March 2012.A line of surprising “dots” has been drawn since that point of time. And I know people called it “Serendipity”.

 

To the guy who dropped by the town this afternoon!!!

July 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

late-summer-rain-from-the-forest-floor-bob-orsillo

A guy came back to the town from which he left few years ago. He walked around, looking concerned about everyone else, shaking hands with some and asking some about what is going on in their life. After such formal etiquette, on his way leaving the town, he happened to meet some younger guys, who have just been to the town for some couples of month and already demotivated recently for realizing the fact that the town they are living is not as dazzling as they expected. They have heard from the old men in the town about the fabulous cities in the faraway land this guy is about to head for in few days, asking him about tips on getting to these cities as he is about to do. When you expect the guy to make some pieces of advice like “there is a will, there is a way”, you are struck by his short answers: “Don’t care about the stuff you are doing day by day at this town. You may get scolded for neglecting the job, however, it is your personal goal that counts.”

This piece of advice turned me down immediately.

As a young guy in this town, who has long dreamed about the cities that guy is about to head for, I was totally disappointed.

You know what I hate the most when some people left the town. They left a message that sounds glorious, expressing their regrets for being unable to live in this wonderful town (as worded by them) in such a long time, the happy memories they had while in town. Such message, sounding sentimental though, was actually an announcement bragging that ” Hey guys, look at what I’m going to do next, which I am sure is far better than the stuff you are facing on a daily basis. I’m going to run the world, leaving all of you stuck with all the bullshit.” (*) (This idea was borrowed from an answer on Quora. Click here for more details.) To make it more glorious, they “throw hefty name-dropping to associate their names with important guys in the town” (Thanks Quora again for it)

———————————————————-

I come from a town, where many young people (at a younger age than mine) are dreaming about getting in. Lots of them succeeded. They proudly wrote on their outbound walls of their houses to have their acquaintances informed about the green card for entry into the town. They expected a lot from the tinseling name of the town and then got demotivated soon when things turn out not be as imagined in the first place. They looked at their friends, seeming to enjoy their lives at another town in the city while paying a lower price. They then keep complaining about the nuisances they have while in the town without finding the roots of all the troubles.

Sometimes when hearing such complaints, I just want to shout at people: “What’s the point of complaining? If you cannot accept it, change it! If you cannot change, so accept! If you can neither change nor accept , quit it! If you find the town uncomfortable, try changing. When changing is impossible, leaving. The choice is totally yours, why do you have to be that demotivated and take other people’s moods down with you?” They admire the ones escaping and perceived that the ones who stay are losers. To make it worse, they refuse to accomplish the tasks and try burdening others with their supposed-to-be tasks. They may succeed in landing somewhere after leaving the town, eventually, and feeling sorry for the ones living in the town.

To the guy who dropped by the town this afternoon.

Personally, I appreciate that people having a lifelong goal to head for. Instead of earning the instant gratification by trying to accomplish all the minimal tasks, it is important to balance with your own lifelong or ultimate goals that you want to reach for your life. Easier said than done. There is always a fine line existing here and sometimes keeping things at a balanced state is a task that beyond possibilities. Though it is hard in the first place to living your own life without badly affecting the others’ ones, it is not of that difficulty in the long run when you think about ways of aligning your own life with the stream you are walking with.

To the younger guys who keep complaining.

Simply, one sentence: When the town do not suit you, it doesn’t mean the town sucks. It is still your choice. Take it or leave it. Think of  the ultimate goals you are seeking for in the whole life. Even the town or the big cities in the faraway land are only the stops in the journey to your ultimate goals. Expect nothing and appreciate everything, you soon find your answer.

 

Dear Julie

July 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

fragriver:

Not so long ago…

Originally posted on thaoha:

Dear Julie

Dear Julie I just don’t know how to start

We met each other when we studied at FTU

My first impression about you was your high heels

Which did not perfectly go with the childish clothes you dressed

We spent time together and things went on like this

I don’t know from which moment you became one of my best friends

We could talk with each other about topics that seem to never end

We ignore other girls’ rambling on about hairstyles and lipstick

But sometimes we fight because of something really stupid

Do you still remember the washing-dishes case?

Honestly I was so mean back to those days

Just because, well, I was envious of you, what a shame to accept

I didn’t understand why your study results were so good

Why you were also easy-going and all our classmates loved you

But the more I know…

View original 143 more words

2014.06.24.Random thoughts

June 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

I made my mind eventually. I decided to stay in my comfort zone. I decided to build up capacity in the field I am working on and I refused to step away.

I have made lots of people disappointed. Seriously, I do not mean to. My mind has been squeezed tightly for the last few days and I even cannot sleep at the D-Day – the day of decision making.

The decision, which may not as romantic as the YOLO idealism, satisfies me and that is the most important.

More important, I understand my risk appetite and I start having an idea of my own ideal life. I start having a vague idea of things that make me happy. Such idea may change, however, at least it helps me get out of all the troubles that may happen.

I will try to avoid disappointing people next time but sometimes I understand I have to prioritize my heart and my mind.

I start finding the happiness in the simplest things surrounding me and create my own big dream from these simple yet beautiful thing.

And I know whatever decision I made, all is well.autumn4

 

Roller coaster of life

June 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

Have you ever been to an amusement park and had yourself challenged with games on the rides like a roller coaster? Imagine you go to an amusement park which charged you on the pay-one-price policy. At first, you feel scared and refuse to join with your friends on the roller coaster for fear of any risks taking place during the ride. Then, when your friends start to leave you alone and get on the roller coaster, you feel kind of curious. You feel it would be such a waste of money for not enjoying the game. You look at people who just have come down from the roller coaster and find them thrilled with the game. You feel it would be such a waste of money if you do not try it once for the fee of roller coaster may be included in the entrance fee into the amusement park. Then you will be reassured that your friends will come along with you in this adventurous journey. You hold your breath and enjoy the game to the fullest. You leave the roller coaster and satisfactorily say: “Wow, I have just made it!”

Spare a few minutes rethinking about the situation. Imagine that you go to an amusement park alone (though it rarely happens), this park charged you upon the policy of “Pay-as-you-go”. Worse still, no one played the game before. Will you be eager to join the game?

If you see your life like a pay-one-price amusement park, you will try playing as much as you can for your fear of wasting time.

If you see your life like a pay-as-you-go amusement park, you will be more rational in deciding which game you should play, which game you shouldn’t.

As life is too broad while we are still young, and future is a vague concept, we wish we could know what kind of amusement park our life is like.

Roller-coaster

 

Traveling I only stop at exits

June 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

tanya

 

“Traveling I only stop at exits
Wondering if I’ll stay
Young and restless
Living this way I stress less
I want to pull away when the dream dies
The pain sets in and I don’t cry
I only feel gravity and I wonder why…”

(“All good things come to an end” – Nelly Furtado)

I allowed myself to be not original this post. How come does decision making usually that difficult?

Learning for learning’s sake

June 14, 2014 § 5 Comments

DSC_0043

I remember long time ago when I first entered into primary school, my teacher raised a question to her students: “Who do you learn for?” I was little bit surprised and confused to figure out the answer at so young the age while my friends unanimously shouted out loud: “Learn for ourselves.” Our teacher, satisfied at the answer, explained more: “Good answer. We do not learn for our father, our mother or anyone else but we learn for ourselves’ own goodness.” Hardly could I remember if anyone asked us “Why do you learn?” as the answer is quite obvious. We learn hard to get into a good high school, which leads us to a good university, which in turn helps us find a good job, which may guarantee a happy life. We were driven constantly by this chain of purposes during our 16 years at school and then suddenly feel abandoned after graduating from university as this chain of purposes get ceased day by day. Some of us may not feel this way as they might think about the opportunity to shift from a good job to a better job brought about by acquiring further degree or qualification like MBA, MSc, or ACCA, CFA. Lots of girls, at the same time, are warned by their families that learning is over now and it’s about time they have to find a husband to accomplish the remaining of their lives.

Coming back to the question, why do you learn?

After leaving university, I get into a big accounting firm where I meet lots of fresh graduates who have different education backgrounds. Some of them were specifically trained about accounting at university, which make them quite confident at coping with the accounting terms at first hand while I feel like falling from heaven for not having any ideas relating to the numbered ledger accounts in Vietnamese styles. I remember my first time on the job when I asked a seemingly stupid question like what the ledger account beginning with number 6 stands for or the difference between a value-added tax invoice and a retailing invoice. Time flies and fortunately I start getting accustomed to them and felt better and more confident after each fieldwork at clients. I actually realize that we can learn all these things sooner or later but at the same time wonder what the heck I have learnt at university.

So if we can learn all these things sooner or later, why do we learn?

This question made me relate to a recent concern that lingers in my mind recently. One year after graduating, I still have the habit of reading the confessions of the younger students in my university, which are mainly their concerns over their future after graduation. Lots of students criticized the program of our university for not being practical, or technical-oriented, which made them confused at the stage of job application.

I used to be among these students who keep wondering about our places after graduating. However, I feel grateful for this all-round education that I was entitled at university. (I mean “all-round”, not “well-round”). Such broad education puts us at a disadvantage place at our first start but somehow brings us with lots of benefits in our future. It makes me feel uncertain for a few times but it then makes me feel more confident when I know that “the only certain thing remaining is that there is no certainty” (Descartes). As life is full of doubt and uncertain, I feel grateful that we have been taught to discover everything by ourselves, learn how to stand on our own feet to make decisions and cope with lots of uncertainty at such young age. I feel grateful that we are not forced to determine our special major right at the beginning of university but free to pursue what we like. Many of my friends do not have a job that strongly related to what we have learnt at university, which makes lots of friends of mine coming from other universities surprise and they wonder if this situation could imply a failure of Foreign Trade University’s program. I, however, feel that such situation implies a success of the university as the job diversity that the alumni are entitled to is a very huge asset which may prove its huge benefit in the long term.

Why do I learn?

Fortunately, I have a liking for learning since I was young and I usually feel happy when I have the chances to have my mind challenged with knowledge. Like what stated in my favorite magazine “The Economist”, I have an uncommon interest in being well and broadly informed, and therefore, have an uncommon interest in being a well-rounded person. People often criticizes Vietnamese education for its lack of innovation or creativity and my friends of the same age often got disappointed when they have to learn History or Geography or Music for they thought these pieces of knowledge were kind of useless and not worth learning in comparison with Math or English that effectively served for their preparation for entrance exam to university. The pressure of the family and society on students for getting in a reputed university somehow has distorted the idea of real learning in the young people. They do not learn because of their appetite for knowledge but just for getting into good schools and then big firms. I myself, however, love the idea of learning for the learning’s sake, to have my mind enlightened, to understand how the world runs and to find that wisdom itself is a kind of happiness. This idea, beautiful and simple though, still left me with few concerns. Wisdom, say, is a kind of happiness, should it be a kind of happiness that exclusive to the rich and the middle class only. For the disadvantaged ones in the society, education may be the shortest way for them to get advanced in this society. May children coming from underprivileged family have the choices to pursue the majors that deemed for the rich ones like Philosophy or Music? For people coming from disadvantaged group in the society, defining learning a form of happiness, they will not question why they learn at the first time as learning is something that may lead them to a bright future. Learning, at this sense, would be somewhat like an escape for them to get access to a much brighter life. Defining learning a form of need, such need will be surely set at lower priority in the much more basic needs like the needs for foods, clothes, or sheltering. Even when they have chances to learn, they will choose to learn something that they do not necessarily like but something that may help them financially better off.

To sum up, the main questions set out in my post is “Why do we learn?”; “What’s wrong with the idea of learning for learning’s sake? (if any)” and “Should learning for learning’s sake be a privilege of the rich ones?” Should you get interested in this topic and have any ideas that may help me get out of such mind chaos, feel free to raise your voice.

Some articles I happened to read and I think you may find lots of insightful ideas to weigh and consider.

(1) Why university students need a well-rounded education?

(2) The graduate: What’s wrong with learning for learning’s sake?

(3) Of studies (a classic masterpiece written by Francis Bacon)

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