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Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s my first post in 2013. I graduate in less than 5 months! I’m currently at home relaxing for a week before I head back to campus. I just returned to the States from South Korea on Thursday. I was in Seoul promoting the documentary I’ve been a part of for the past 9 months. You can read more about it in a post I wrote back in June, but to get you all up to speed, here’s a quick recap: “Homo Academicus” is a new documentary series that I’ve been hosting in between school and other commitments since the beginning of summer in 2012. Along with 3 other Harvard students (Brian ’14, Jenny ’13, and Lilli ’11), I traveled to various countries around the world to observe how cultural differences, privileges, and inequities affect education and styles of learning. Between the 4 of us, we’ve traveled to China, Japan, India, Israel, South Korea, and Uganda, visiting schools, interviewing students, and immersing ourselves in the rich culture of each of the countries. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for which we’re all incredibly grateful. It won’t be released until March 2013 on the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and possibly BBC, but I thought I’d share a sneak peak of it with you all. I’ll have to try to find some online videos on YouTube or something, but in the meantime, check out the video below.

The trip to Korea was over a span of 5 days, including travel. The flight itself is about 14 hours, so we weren’t there for too long. The morning after we landed, we had a publicity blitz consisting of a morning talk show, as well as interviews and photoshoots with 3 different magazines and a newspaper. Some of the footage in the YouTube video above is from this week. Many of the interviews included questions about each of our upbringings and our road to Harvard. It’s fascinating how different all of our experiences were while growing up, and I learned new things about Brian, Jenny, and Lilli as we answered each interviewers’ questions. Many of the magazines also asked us our thoughts on the education systems of the countries to which we traveled. We mentioned some key takeaways we realized from traveling. I think one of the things we all agreed on is that we’ve been quite fortunate here in the United States, not just at Harvard, but in the education system in general. We’ve been able to study what we’re passionate about, which isn’t always the case in some other countries due to family expectations or boundaries that are set upon children at birth. We also agreed that we learned a lot more than we expected. Education isn’t the first thing you think about when considering cultural differences; it’s usually the language, food, social structure, etc. that come to mind. However, we all learned firsthand that the approach and attitude towards education vary from country to country and region to region.

This is one of the best examples of a neat opportunity I’ve had just by virtue of being a Harvard student. This project definitely would not have presented itself if it weren’t for Harvard, and all 4 of us agree that we’ll never forget this experience.

What am I doing this week? Well, I’m currently transferring files from my old laptop to my new one. My first computer was on its last leg during the fall semester, so I purchased a new one, but didn’t have the time to migrate photos, music, and important documents. Therefore, I’m doing it now–what I consider a great use of my January break. Unfortunately, I forgot my external hard drive at school in my dorm room so I’m currently using a 16 GB flash drive. It’s quite a slow process, and I’m driving myself nuts. It’s such a mindless process, though, that I really don’t mind it all too much. I just get nervous that I’ll end up missing a file that I really need.

I’ve also been working remotely from home with tons and tons of emails and Google Hangouts regarding things pertaining to the senior class. I’m a Marshal for the Class of 2013, which is probably best explained through the Harvard Alumni Association‘s website:

“Each senior class will elect eight class marshals. The first marshal is the Harvard College equivalent of class president and the second marshal is analogous to vice president, with the remaining six marshals serving as Class-wide representatives. Class marshals are elected by all senior class members eligible to vote, with the top two vote-getters earning the designation of first and second marshal, respectively.”

The Class Marshals make up 8 positions on the larger Senior Class Committee, which is a group of 29 seniors who work together to make senior year and beyond awesome and memorable. You could think of us as The Party Planning Committee if you’ve seen The Office. I’m pretty sure I’ve used that analogy when talking about House Committees in a previous post, but we do a lot of similar things–just on a larger scale! We’re currently working on a merchandise order, as well as planning parties, innings (around campus), outings (in Cambridge or Boston), service trips, and Senior Week in May. We actually just launched our official website––so be sure to check that out!

I’m off to migrate more files. Take a look at our new Twitter layout for 2013. I’m no pro, but I try. We received some new followers after early admit decisions came out last month, so I’m trying to use my time productively and make it stick!

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So apologies to begin with for missing out last week on posting: it was a busy week trying to get packed up from California and move back to campus in Boston. But I’m back now and will be making a particularly detailed post to make-up for it because it’s been a particularly busy (but fun!) week.


This week we saw our first two snow falls since Halloween, luckily nothing too heavy but gives a nice winter-feel to the barren trees. Trudging through the windy days, Harvard campus finally saw the return of many students to campus for the week long Wintersession.


Wintersession is a great, recently invented opportunity for students to come back to campus a week early to participate in a number of activities, some free or quite discounted. Everything from a one-day ski trip to a TV script writing class (taught by Carlton Cuse, Harvard Alum and scriptwriter of Lost, aka. Greatest drama show ever). I was lucky enough to participate in some great events that I know will be extremely useful as I move forward towards graduating and living on my own.

The first was a weeklong(-ish) afternoon Personal Finance Program set-up by the Harvard University Employees Credit Union. The subjects covered each of the four weekdays were Financial Budgeting and Planning, Personal Credit, Personal Insurance and Taxes, and Investing.


After a continental breakfast (much needed coffee and bagels at 9:30am), we received lectures from experts on personal finance as well as practice making our own budgets, choosing insurance plans, and credit cards among others. The information on personal credit was of particular interest as I’m currently looking into starting to build my credit now, as was the investing day for potential use in the future.


One more of the career oriented side, I participated in three different events put on by the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) and the Office of Career Services (OCS) oriented towards understanding jobs in food and wine. These events were led by Harvard alum Cathy Huyghe, wine-writer and contributor to WGBH—part of NPR and the Public Broadcasting for Boston.

The first event was an evening on wine writing where we learned to understand all the sensory aspects to wine (including sight, texture, taste, small) and history to allow us to write about wine more creatively. After my experience on the wine tasting tour in Santa Barbara, this was a great way to integrate the skills I learned in sensory description of wine into creative writing. Of all the wines tasted that night I found my favorite to be this Argentinean Malbec that elicited a strongly smoky smell and brought forth an interesting history of how foodways changes with cultural adaptation (Malbec being originally a French grape).


The next day was an amazing experience. For the first time I took the commuter rail from Harvard Square to Concord, MA where we were led on a tour of recently opened restaurant by HBS alum (Ian Calhoun) and his partner, 80 Thoreau. Carolyn Johnson (former Chef-de-Cuisine at Rialto) is the head chef for this quaint upscale restaurant on the second story of the station, overlooking small shops and quite streets. Calhoun and his partner Vincent Vela were incredible informative and friendly in telling all of us about how to open a restaurant and what its like running a business. My own future endeavors I hope one day will lead me towards opening a restaurant/bar and the information I learned was enlightening.


After that we proceed back to Harvard Office of Career Services for the Harvard Food and Wine Internship and Job fair. There were a number of interesting opportunities I look forward to applying to in the next few weeks both during school and after. I’ll keep you updated as the career moves proceed. For now, I’ll enjoy the first days of snow with the last free weekend before classes start.



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Hello everyone! I’m writing from the comfort of my dorm room right now…it’s definitely cozier in here than it is outdoors. Finally it snowed, but it’s melted since then, leaving the ground bare. Not all hope is lost, though–it should snow on Saturday! Another amazing event that is happening that day is the final performance of my Wintersession spoken word workshop. We’ve been working from 10-3 everyday this week, producing a lot of writing of which we should be proud. The Speak Out Loud club is hosting this program, and we’ve had a lot of amazing guests come in to work with us. Yesterday, we made this crazy web to connect all of these different ideas and created poems about them, and afterwards we talked about the Hunger Games (which was great, because I’m obsessed with that series).

Crazy Web

Spoken word is a really fantastic way of self-expression, and on the sixth of February, we’ll be performing a piece in Memorial Church for a belated-MLK celebration. I’ll be doing a group piece with my friend, which will be fun, because it’s my first time collaborating on any spoken word. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I got back from LA on Saturday night, and came to Harvard just in time to watch the Giants-Packers game with my dad at Tory Row, a café/bar right in the square. Luckily, the Giants whooped the Packers (really, the defense was fantastic), so my dad could drive home happily that night. I also met my older sister at South Station, and after we’d watched the game, we went back to my room and packed her bags for Zanzibar. She’s doing a semester abroad there, and is currently in Tanzania, crossing the ocean in a little while to the island where she’ll spend her next few months. Eloise (my sister) could only take one large backpack and a carry-on, so we had to pack everything tightly. We rolled all of her clothes and crammed them into her bag, densely packing it so that she could fit everything. Lo and behold, there was room to spare after we’d finished! On Monday, we had lunch with our grandparents at Henrietta’s Kitchen in the Charles Hotel, and after my workshop, I took her to the airport. We got there pretty early, checked her bag (11 kilos), bought some candy, and called our mom. Then, we parted ways as she went through security. Today, she called me from Tanzania on Skype–a lovely surprise. It made me think about all the places I’d like to go for Study Abroad, which prompted my transition back into my grant applications for the Summer Study Abroad in Paris. There’s a very good study abroad program here, which can be found at these two links, one for summer and the other for the academic year. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I’ll be accepted this year!

It’s lovely being back on campus. Nothing has changed much–the same food (though I’m eating less of it), the same buildings (obviously), the same yard (except for the lack of Occupiers). However, there is one new exciting addition to campus: a skating rink! It’s free, with skate rentals being only $5. I’ll have to check it out sometime. Later today, I’ll be heading to a warmer sporting event, covering the men’s swimming and diving competition against Brown, as I’m now a Junior Editor for the Photo board of The Crimson. (Yay!) So, that’s all, folks, but I’m ready for a new exciting year of work and play!

Happy Winter!


The lovely snow, from my window!

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Hello, everyone! I am back on campus for Wintersession, writing to you all from the comfort of my dorm room! Wintersession (formerly called “Optional Winter Activities Week” or “OWAW” — I actually like this better than what they renamed it to, just because I liked to pronounce it as “Oh, wow!”) is the week before spring classes start, filled with College and student-led programming everyday, all funded by the University. It’s supposed to be a time for fun and exploration, to do things that you can’t really do during the normal semester just because there’s such a focus on academics and other extracurriculars. For example, many students are going on a ski and tubing trip, as well as a Boston Celtics basketball game. There are also some cool classes that are being offered, including a music workshop, a DJ-ing class, among many others. Last year, I was on campus recording a charity song I wrote with two friends in a local recording studio. The song, called “Going Up”, was written in response to the tragic earthquake that hit Haiti in January of 2010. We wanted to raise relief funds and awareness through our project. With Harvard’s help, we ended up recording, releasing, and performing the song at the end of the week, and it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had here. Check it out below:


Starting tomorrow, I’m participating in a special engineering course called “Sustainable Materials as Biomedical Materials” where we’ll be exploring different paths in biochemical and biomedical engineering, including industry and research. Here’s a glimpse at our schedule:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012:  International Symposium on Bio-Inspired Engineering
Wednesday, January 18, 2012: Introduction to Biomedical Engineering, Biomaterials, and Drug Delivery; Biocompatibility Testing of Biomaterials
Thursday, January 19, 2012: Introduction to Biochemical Engineering and Metabolic Engineering
Friday, January 20, 2012: Biochemical Engineering meets Biomedical Engineering – Polysaccharide-Based Tissue Glues; Biochemical Engineering meets Biomedical Engineering – Clinical Trials

Today, I went to a book talk, jointly sponsored by the Undergraduate Council and Harvard Alumni Association. These two groups have come together to bring alumni and faculty authors to campus all week to speak about their books, experiences, etc. The awesome part about these book talk events is that not only do you hear from some interesting people, there’s a raffle that gives away 50 copies of the author’s book.

This afternoon’s guest was Joanne Chang ’91, a pastry chef who owns both Boston’s Flour bakery and Myers + Chang Asian cuisine restaurant. She was an Applied Mathematics/Economics concentrator (our word for major) here, but left a career in management consulting after two years to follow her passion of baking. She told us the entire story of how she got to where she is today. Her talk was very inspiring because she was super real and candid with us, and she’s found both success and happiness after following a very untraditional path. Joanne has even been on The Food Network’s Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. We had the opportunity to talk to her briefly afterwards, and she was extremely down to earth. She signed my book, and we even got a picture with her!

Us with pastry chef and Harvard alum, Joanne Chang!

Us with pastry chef and Harvard alum, Joanne Chang! Her book got cut off at the bottom there…

Joanne's recipe book, "Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe"

Joanne's recipe book, "Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe"

This evening, there was an ice skating event at the Bright Hockey Center, home to the Men’s and Women’s Varsity Hockey teams. Now, I’m not the best skater, and was a bit hesitant to go, but my friends convinced me and I’m really glad I did. It was definitely a lot of fun, and there were so many more people than I was expecting. I didn’t fall, either! Wintersession has been great thus far, and I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the week!


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