Date: January 19th
Location: @Supergirl’s (although, she’s in Asia)
Every now and then, I browse through old blogs looking for some entry that I’m sure I’ve written. All the blog ‘tags’ that we now have though didn’t always exist, and I think that the majority of my best blogging was done prior to those dates when I was was a lot more emotional and a lot more sleep deprived. As is usually the case, in looking for something I usually end up not finding it. I was looking for some article on Street Fighter (the video games) as a reply to something Supergirl sent me ( http://shoryuken.com/content.php?r=66-Street-Fighter-Aneurysm ), and how they played such an influential role in my youth, and instead found some other things. For example this tidbit:
Taken from Tatsuya Ishida’s manifesto for Dec 27:
On legacy. There comes a time when a man seriously contemplates his place in the cosmos, his life, his work, his legacy. Did I do anything at all worth remembering? Did I live up to my potential? Did I wrestle alligators and kill the six-fingered man who murdered my father? One might think that being a webcartoonist, charged with the awesome responsibility of bringing shits and giggles to dozens of people worldwide, would erase such anxieties. Not so. Doubts and worries abound. Why do I do what I do? Do I make a difference at all? Maybe there’s a kid out there at the end of his rope, on the verge of doing something terrible, whose tragic path could be averted with a well-timed pimp joke. Like Schindler, I wonder: How many lives could I have saved with one more punchline about bitches and hoes? How many lost souls, how many broken hearts, desperate for a laugh, could I reach with a shake of Monique’s ass? What more could I have done? And for the love of Zeus where in the world is the six-fingered man???
What is, really, our legacy? What is it that survives us after we die?
I called my mom up earlier today. It was basically to say that I’d be dropping by my hometown tomorrow, most probably, because I wanted to visit my grandparents. What had been intended to be a 5 minute conversation turned into an hour long one. For the first time, my mom described to me what would happen if she and my dad ever died.
That’s not a subject I ever really thought of in any seriousness. And to hear my mom talking about it? It leads me to believe that me having moved out since Korea has affected her and my dad more than I thought.
I’d always noticed it, but never really thought about the consequences of it. As a human being, there are a number of ways of defining oneself. Our sense of satisfaction is derived by our self-decided conditions for victory– failure, similarly, can only affect us if we accept particular conventions for defeat.
I think my parents are getting to that age where they’re starting to realize that most of the things that they’ve gone for, they’ve either already succeeded or failed– the one remaining thing for them to work on now is their legacy, and I’m a part of that.
Date: January 20th, 2010
So, I finished my application letter to the university recently. With the help of some of my friends, I got some ideas as to how to edit it and work it into something final. Here it is for your viewing pleasure:
Dear Athabasca University Admissions Officer,
My name is [Jinryu], and I am applying to Athabasca University’s Master’s Program in Integrated Studies. This application will involve me repeating the word “community” a lot, because if there is a word that is relevant to my philosophy of life, and thus this application, that is it.
I grew up in a majority Italian town called LaSalle. My mother’s side of the family, Chinese from the Philipines, spoke the Fukkien and Hakka dialects, while my father’s side spoke a mix of Cantonese and Toysanese. Everywhere I turned my ears, I heard a different language, and as a result, I had a fair amount of difficulty mastering English and French. When my elementary school principal suggested that, as a solution to my language acquisition difficulties, I no longer be taught Chinese at home, my grandfather almost got into a fistfight with him. As a former headmaster in a private school in China, he took direct offense at the suggestion that he should be told how to teach his grandchild. My principal had meant no insult, but it highlighted an important conflict that I had to grow up with; I was being raised in a very traditional Asian family, and this would be constantly at odds with the Western values taught at school.
I choose this as a starting point because I believe that my multilingual and multicultural upbringing ties in well with the philosophy of the Master’s Program in Integrated Studies as I see it. It would allow me to leverage the appreciation for the synergy of skills and spirit that I have developed over the years as a result of that segregated, secluded vantage from which I began.
Growing up in the Montreal suburb of LaSalle, with its poorly rated public education system and deep racial divides, came with challenges. This would eventually evolve into LaSalle as it is known today– a mishmash of various traditions, cuisines and entertainment that is open to all. It has developed its educational infrastructure significantly with numerous community colleges and outreach problems for its increasingly multicultural population.
It didn’t happen overnight though. My parents raised me to respect hard work and dependability, and these values kept me on track in a rough neighborhood. I was fortunate to attend a high school in nearby Montreal West – one with a strict student code that required extracurricular activity and community service. Ranging from fundraising campaigns and volleyball tournaments to putting on annual plays, these activities helped make education and community synonymous in my mind.
I was highly active in the Montreal West community in sports and arts, but my forte was music. I was accepted into the high school band and my competition distinctions eventually gained some notice from local musicians, who enlisted me into the RCMP’s Montreal 306th Wing Concert band. There, while juggling all my other extra curricular activities and full time studies, I was the youngest among a band of middle aged musicians, and played at several benefit concerts across Canada and the United States. It was during these years that I had my first opportunity to travel, and to see how little things make each community unique and important.
When my father was laid off in the 1990s, I was forced to give up music and take on my first part time job to help support my family. Still, the jobs I took were always community-oriented. At the LaSalle public library, in the heart of my old neighborhood, I started as a librarian’s assistant and eventually pioneered the library’s previously nonexistent IT department. The library catered to mostly a lower economic demographic. Computers and the internet were regarded as a magical bullet, shadowed closely by simultaneously metaphorical and actual fears of guns. I gave free computer courses to community members – normally people who couldn’t afford computers of their own—developed the library’s first website, and drew up plans for a cost-effective wireless internet infrastructure. This was at a time when Internet access at home was highly uncommon, and more than once, people twice my age approached me with requests to use the Internet to turn their haphazard biographies, scrawled on loose sheets of paper, into polished CVs.
I did all this and more for just over minimum wage – because I believed in my work. It was rewarding to be a part of a great team of public servants, especially because it was hometown, and to be involved and appreciated where previously I had always felt marginalized. Throughout my education, which led me through Dawson College and Concordia University, I’d continue to work. Oftentimes, my grades suffered as a result of my heavy work commitments, but I persisted to work for my BA and for the financial stability of my family. Despite constant financial setbacks, I felt that I needed to complete my degree to justify it all.
The interpersonal skills, problem solving tools, and work ethic that the library gave me would be invaluable for all my future endeavours. These including working as: a nursing resources manager with the McGill University Health Centre; a federally recognized NRCAN Energy Ambassador to Montreal; a head teacher in a South Korean language institute; and an R&D projects manager developing educational textbooks. I currently work as the overnight coordinator of the Emergency Department at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, a challenge-rich environment that relies heavily on my ability multitask the complications of unpredictable critical care situations.
You have likely noticed how up I spent the majority of this letter thus far describing things aside from my academic life. The truth is, I scraped my way through university because I was working full time while studying; there isn’t much to say about my university years, except that I achieved the BA that I sought so hard to earn, but not always with the grades I wanted. At the time, I would have liked to have given my studies more attention, but circumstances didn’t allow it.
This is, I believe, where Athabasca comes in. Now that my family and I are financially secure, and that I have the backing of a solid personal and professional network, I can finally take the time to concentrate on pursuing the studies wholeheartedly and without distraction. I believe that my strength of character and willingness to get involved hands-on with my beliefs are the primary assets of my candidacy. My educational goals have changed somewhat since my college beginnings in English Literature, and I now wish to pursue a broader scope of studies that complements my interests in public service, which the MAIS program appears to offer.
My hope is that this short biography gives you some idea of my scattered beginnings, and if you review my attached resume, you’ll see my experiences are far-ranging and speak of my character. The MAIS program is ideal for me both because of its focus on cross-disciplinary synergy, and because its flexibility so well suits my professional commitments. I reviewed several universities prior to my decision to apply. My mother, [Mom], earned her Bachelor in Nursing from Athabasca in 2007, and continually praised the quality of education that she received there. Now an assistant head nurse at the Montreal General Hospital, my family owes a debt of gratitude to the Athabasca community of both educators and students, because for so many years now, that education has brought bread to our table and hope to our family. I would very dearly like to be a part of that fellowship as well.
I believe that the “big picture” is ironically self-inclusive. That is to say, for our success as a community, we have to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals involved, and at the same time remember that the ultimate goal is the betterment of the abilities and conditions of these same people. That is my primary interest in the Master’s of Arts in Integrated Studies: its promise to deliver a wide-spectrum learning experience, and to further develop tools which I can use further benefit those around me. I implore you for your consideration of my candidacy so that I might empower myself, and in turn, those around me through what the MAIS program has to offer.
Writing things like that is always really difficult for me, because I don’t like really having to summarize myself. The whole process of it hurts me from the inside out– I guess it’s a pride of mine that, as a person, you’d have to get to know me to get to know me. I’ve been writing online for over ten years, and longer than that if you could paper diaries– you could read all that and still not know who I am. Truthfully, I write things down so that I might have chance at finding out myself, though it hasn’t happened conclusively yet.
So ask me to summarize myself? It seems an exercise in futility.
Regardless, when the situation does arise, usually for a job application or something similar, it’s an interesting practice to basically decide what it is that you think is important to the people around you.
The way we look at ourselves is very important– but our success in society isn’t just defined by the confidence we have, but our awareness of what those around us expect. You have to “know how to sell yourself” or “how to play to game.” The ultimate result is a result not just of our substance as individuals, but our ability to interface that substance into society in such a way that our methods, intentions and results are understood.
I mentioned earlier that I was contemplating a switch from the Emergency department to the Operating Room. So, it’s finally rolling. I went and checked out the OR unit earlier this morning, and everything seems on the level. So, I decided that I’m going to make the switch.
A bunch of interdepartmental politicking is going on though so the whole process is getting really complicated really fast. Among other things, my current boss from ER apparently called up my contact in OR and told her off for recruiting me behind her back. This all went on without my knowing until my contact told me to watch my back because she suspects that my ER boss is going to make it verrrry difficult for me to leave the department…
It’s a big headache right now but hopefully, all this back and forthing between OR, Human Ressources, and ER will be done by noon tomorrow. I’m sick of my boss right now and her actions as of late have only driven the point home that there’s not a redeemable leadership bone in her body.
It bothers me to no end because I care very much about the jobs I work at. Not just for the pay– I believe in the ’cause’ of them, and I feel that asshattery really really ruins it. I don’t feel that it’s the place.