Monday, November 23, 2009
Its been 6 years since I graduated college. I've lost a step or two of brain power. But what I've got left + maturity + wisdom = a great LSAT score (hopefully). And that's all I can count on or wish for. With all the work in front of me + Dream Act Activism + my parents store + landlord + etc, it feels overwhelming. (And it really is.) But, I can't tell you how much it would mean to me to be able to do ALL this things in the next year or so. It really is indescribable. If I could only study and succeed at everything, then I wouldn't worry. However, you're never guaranteed anything, even with the best game plan. And all these things will keep me worried late at night, as it should, for the next year. So I guess that's life. You just never know how things will turn out, even with your greatest efforts. I think you have to do the best you can, when you can. And I think that those who are determined to succeed are the ones that "we" look up to. I just hope to be that guy, one of those days. I would even say its a goal of mine to do "remarkable" stuff. To be a great person, you have to great things, I would say.
I've got much studying to do. There's something I've mentioned before called the LSAT that's just another 4 hour exam. Likewise, there goes my "freedom". Oh LSAC, (the Law School Admission Council, the ones who make potential law students lives miserable), you also know how to "control" our lives as well. And the fact that we pay you, makes it more sad. (I actually laughed at all this, but then, didn't understand why this was funny. Oh well.)
(Back to room, studying...)
Friday, October 9, 2009
How a Malawian teenager harnessed the power of the wind
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
So, the main thing I noticed about these machines, were how they vastly upgraded the interface and structure of the lottery terminal. Gone are the bulky, heavy, and paper driven mess that all agents had to deal with. Now, its just a monitor and small printer. Even, the new paper roll is smaller and now, glossy. It seems that the Lottery people have had plenty of input from Dell and Company.
But, the thing that I was most concerned with was how the older retailers would adjust to these new machines. Frankly, most of these retailers are in their 50's and older, just like my parents, and they too never had a lot of experience with computers. How would they adjust from pressing tickets from a keyboard to a new system with a touch screen and a gajillion different options?
"It's just TOO much!", a fellow store owner would say. He continued, "For young people, like you, its ok. But for us, we've never had any real experience with computers."
"You're right," I replied. And I couldn't help but think that with all these new technological advances and gadgets, WE (me, you, society, businesses, etc.,) have somewhat created or intended to leave the older folks behind. I mean, did Apple really create the iPhone for my parents? Of course not. And as I thought about "them" - the older folks - I questioned myself, "Are we going to push them out of jobs, and into retirement, as they struggle to keep up?" Probably, I answered. And I think they too are coming to the realization that their time is limited, that they are becoming "expired" and this is just a gradual way for them to become obsolete. Very sadly, I might add this last point.
So, back to my mom, she also had trouble using the machine. And she's typed her resume, sent emails, and downloaded audio files from her mini MP3 player onto our home computer. Therefore, she's somewhat computer literate. And I have full confidence in her that she can adjust to this machine. But what about my father? I can't even imagine how my father would ever get used to a machine. He barely knows how to turn on a computer!
And I'm sure when the new lottery terminal comes to our store, I'll have to be there day and night, teaching him ALL the new features. But, I do wonder from what I observed today, if we're advancing technology (and even society through these advances), but at the same time, "pushing" these older folks out of their way of life. Not to mention, gradually erasing their self-worth, their values and their collective souls out of our own lives.
Update 10/8 - I just read this article. I thought it validated what I wrote above. But there seems to be solutions!
Technology, economy proves a barrier for older, less-educated applicants
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Pacific Citizen Dream Act Article
Sunday, August 23, 2009
So, the other night, at the grocery store, my father had told me of a customer who told him (my father) that he (the customer) was thankful for my help. He was a middle aged guy who needed help at the computer lab at the library this past week. I helped him log in and search web urls. Also, I helped him type his address and telephone number in a website that was sending him a security device for his house. Anyway, it wasn't a big deal and I thank God I was able to help him. But the funny thing was, when I was helping him, he actually reminded me of my computer illiterate father! lol! That's too funny, how this came full circle.
Also, I had helped another middle aged guy, who sat next to me at the computer lab on a different day. He kept leaning over to ask for advice on photoshop, spam mail, and about the Microsoft company. So I listened as he described his problems. Even when it was closing time, he kept talking and I kept listening. And finally, I advised him to get help at Brooklyn College, where they do have courses and people (ie., young students) who might help him better understand the computer know-how.
But the thing that made my week was having this great conversation at the store today (actually yesterday.) A lady who comes by regularly, and buys scratch off tickets, stood and talked with me for about 20 minutes today. So what did we talk about? The aging and caring of our parents.
The conversation began when I asked her, "How's your mom doing?" But first, here's some background - the lady/customer is 54 and takes care of her mom, who I believe is in her 80's. She's been doing that for about the last 15 years or so. She told me how difficult it was and how it eventually led her to become sick. Currently, she struggles with diabetes, and heart disease through this ordeal. And imagine, she told me, when you're parents will have to go through this. (I nodded. In fact, I wonder how I'm dealing with them right now, getting older right in front of my eyes.) She told me to look into Medicaid, Medicare and to get an attorney and an accountant to prepare for their future. Imagine, she said, if your father dies, what then would your mom do? And she told me about the options for "life insurance" mortgage, where one partner dies, then the mortgage is paid off or covered for the other. Not to mention, how she found out a lot of stuff through the disability office, where she currently is receiving some support. Also, she told me about a free air conditioner program for the elderly. Plus, on the issue of being (somewhat) financially supported by the government, she told me that they (my parents) had better be able to document or show sizable income in the previous years before retirement, to be eligible for a greater Social Security benefit, if and when they'd retire at the age of 65. And most importantly, she told me about the need to do this NOW!
Right now, my parents are 55, so in about 10 years, I would need to (or help them) figure all this out. "But God forbids, something happened tomorrow," she then asks me, "What, then would you do?" I had no answer, but she's RIGHT. I need to look into all this stuff. And honestly, all this came in like a tidal wave. Here I was looking after them and cleaning up after them. But then you forget about the nitty gritty stuff like a "power of an attorney" and live-in nursing. And what about a will?? Because some people will say that 55 is not old, but here I am telling you, it is. It really is. You never know when your health be lost, when you'll get sick or be in an accident. And don't think for a second, that you can snap your fingers and win the lottery and everything will be taken care of.
So, WOW! I need to think about all this. And not just this - my law school admission process, Dream Act, my own financial future, getting married, becoming a federal judge, maintaining a small business and a house, my relationship with the LORD, and anything else that comes my way. And to do all this in the next 10 years will be challenging. But hey, who said, "life was easy?"
So I'm off. I really need to pray. Wish me luck. And best of luck to those who take of their parents. Really, they/we desperately need it!@ And it's really nice to know that being older and wiser (like her) could lead one to imparting wisdom for those that are younger (like me.) It wasn't about all these barriers and being private with your problems. I think as we get older, we're able to discuss things more openly, honestly and with the idea that we should be helping one another. I like that. Maybe its why I've always like talking to older folks. Maybe its because they want to help you understand how life really is. And why wouldn't you want to learn from those who've experienced it the most? I think for all of those people above, we've become friends too. And that's something you can't always buy, manufacture, or sell in this day and age.
As the lady left the store, she told me, "Any questions, any problems, you let me know and we'll talk."
How about that!? That is one genuine caring person, talking to another human being. This you can't buy at a grocery store. :-)
Monday, August 17, 2009
Boo-pa: Hi, Davey. (David is my father's name, but he confuses me with my father. Even though, he sees me more often and we play/chat/run around together.)
Me: Hey! (Arms open, signaling for a hug.)
Boo-pa: (moves closer, then suddenly kisses me on the neck! I think he missed my cheek, lol!)
Me: (stunned) Thank you?! (and I continue to hug him. Then he tells me about his day, walking around. Which is generally the extent of our conversation.)
And of course, we have our interactions in front of his parents. They often tell me what he really does and what he learns in daycare. So its all good. I think its just cute, that kids like Boo-pa can give hugs and kisses to people they like. Of course, I'm not saying they should do that with everyone. But there's something to be said, when you do get hugs and kisses from little children. Also, when they want to run up to you, talk and sing and dance right in front of you, it does say a lot about how they "see" you. :-)
And I end with this bible verse, it reminded me of Boo-pa and other children I've met and interacted with over the years...
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
And I hope to have a Boo-pa, one day too!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Its interesting, we've known each other for about 2 years. And I would never think of sharing such information previously. But ever since I went to Brown University for an Education Forum last March, in which I spoke about my life and on the Dream Act, I've been open and honest with such things. I mean, how many times do you have to lie to people about why you don't have a better job, why you don't study abroad, and why you don't pursue higher degrees? Esp when you have a college degree! And when its from 6 years ago and all you've done is work at a grocery store!@
So what was his reaction? He understood my prison sentence and why I was doing the same thing - working at the grocery store - year after year. Also, he advised me that you should be careful of who you say this to, which I know. But at the same time, it's liberating to open up about your status and know (or think you know?) of people that you can say this to, without the fear of deportation. But he's a guy that would lose my business, if I was deported, so I don't worry about such a thing, lol!
And ever since Brown, I've done a lot of things these past 5 months - 3 Video projects, including one that came out today for NYSYLC, WNYC radio (The Leonard Lopate Show), picture in the Korean and Spanish newspaper on the Dream Act, Ykasec interview, and my name being mentioned in an Educational (Mary Ann Zehr's) blog and in the College Board's "Young Lives on Hold" Dream Act paper. And to think, at one time, I thought I had my one (and only) shot to advocate for the Dream Act, which was at Brown. (Which was amazing, just by itself. And I think if you go out and have one chance, then I hope they remember you for hitting a home run in your at-bat. ;) But I was blessed to do much more than that. And I've been sooo grateful, and appreciative for the extra opportunities. Plus, being a part of this so-called student movement has lead me to be fearless and tireless. I mean, I was always underground researching, but now I can speak out openly without hesitation. And being outspoken has lead me to be more aware of the "responsibility" of being a Dreamer. (For there are an estimated 1.8 to 2.5 Million Dreamers currently in the US. and that number is growing every year!) And when you're out there, speaking about it, you hope that they - Dream students and supporters - are watching you and rooting for you. And that they will join you in the fight for the Dream Act. But, on the other hand, obviously due to the hot-button and divisive issue of immigration, there are those (who oppose the Dream Act) and wish to see you go. But my thinking is, if they (ICE, the gov't) want to catch me, they know where I am. And if I ever go, I can be always be proud of my education and involvement for the Dream Act.
So until then or when the Dream Act passes, I'm going to be everywhere and anywhere that could/would/should help pass the Dream Act - at Immigration Rallies, Education Forums, Video Projects, and at Ykasec and at the NYSYLC. Not to mention, even blogging about :-) I'd like to think, I can and should live up to my favorite article/blog quote, "For this, I'd do anything," in reference to getting the DREAM Act passed.
And this has been my favorite chant while fighting for our "Dreams" -
Leader/MC: What do we want?
Chorus: Dream Act!
Leader/MC: When do we want it?
See everybody at the signing, next year :-)
Friday, July 17, 2009
Also, when I recently did a WNYC Public radio program, I heard from the members of the fellowship group about my "talk". They were very supportive and took me aside for nearly 2 hours to discuss my life. How could you not be appreciative of that gesture? And when it came time for prayer requests yesterday, I opened up about my parents and yet, again was pulled aside to discuss my life. The host, Jerome, told me that I had this higher journey, fighting for so many people, and that I needed to really think about what God wanted me to do. I responded that I knew I had to represent them - the fellowship group - as well, because they were always watching me. :) And in a year, or 2, or 3, when its all said and done, maybe it was this group - and not the other one - which enabled me to reach my highest potential. They were always so supportive, and understanding. They weren't the most connected, well-educated, and "famous", but at least they always believed in the good in people, especially and including the "goodness" in me. :D
Now that I think of it, does anyone remember the movie Invincible? It came out in 2006. Well, it was about a bartender, teacher, and an average fan who tried out for the Philadelphia Eagles squad in the 70's. Dick Vermeil had become the new HC and wanted to shake things up for the team. They were a hapless bunch and he had this novel idea of open tryouts. So Vince Papale, against all odds, made the team. He overcame the obstacles of his wife leaving him, RIGHT AFTER he was fired from his part-time teaching job. Also his wife, took everything (furniture, etc) when she left him, leaving him a cold note saying "Vince, you're never going to make any money, you're never be successful and you're never going to do anything in life." Actually, this note serves as motivation to Vince Papale until the beginning of the regular NFL season, which then he rips up. But its what happens in training camp, when he's trying to make the team, that I'll always remember.
As he trains and practices with the Eagles veterans during the summer, he's often alone and isolated. Nobody likes him and he's often cheap shotted, and hit harder than the other players. No one seems to care about this "guy" who comes from the streets. And all he wants to do is make the team. (But if he makes it, then someone has to go, which is the constant source of friction and hatred/jealously among his teammates.) So can he make the team? He's 30. He has no college football experience. He isn't even the best Wide Receiver on the team. But he's out there everyday, chugging along. And as he continues to play football, others on the team sneak into his locker and try to dig up dirt. They eventually find the note that his ex-wife left him. Then, one day in practice the linebacker brings it up.
Scene: After he picks up and tackles Papale, the LB says: She was right old man. You ain't going nowhere!
Papale: (gets up, and fights him)
Assistant HC: Break it up. (looks at Papale in disgust. He doesn't like Vince either. The team then runs to the end of the field. Vince is standing, exhausted.)
Then, another player comes over and gives a mocking gesture to Vince. He continues to stand there. The crowd who saw the whole thing, stands up and cheers for him.
And thats one of my favorite scenes from the movie. Do you know how appreciative Vince was of that crowd who stood up and cheered for him? That right there, probably kept him going. And its the same feeling I get when my fellowship group does the same for me. Even when the rest of my "teammates" can't stand me.
Eventually, Vermeil chooses Vince over the veteran WR, citing "character". There's that word again!? And maybe its character, and not just talent which helps one succeed in life. But it helps, I believe, when you have a great support group and fans who cheer you on...
Thursday, July 9, 2009
However, as I think about what I do and why I do it. I'm always reminded by a conversation I had recently. Its a conversation that always gives me hope and joy. And you wouldn't guess who it came from. So let me explain - last month I had traveled to Washington, DC for a Dream Act Graduation Ceremony. At the end of the trip, I stopped by the Supreme Court building, which was a pleasant surprise considering ALL that we had to do. So I had taken some pictures of the building and of my favorite justice - Thurgood Marshall. As I left, a nice Indian couple (in their 50's) who saw me take pictures in my black graduation gown (which I hope to trade in for the real black robe, one day), asked me a couple of questions. We were right in front of the elevator, when they asked, "What are you studying? What do you want to be?"
I replied, "I want to study law, and I hope to be here, one day."
Their response, "I hope you can make it here one day too. It would be nice to see someone like you here."
Me: "Yeah, really? (A brief pause) Maybe I can be the first Asian-American on the bench. And I hope God can make it happen for me, one day."
Them: "Yeah, I hope that it happens for you. You can be that great judge, who does good work. You can do a lot here. Good luck!"
Then we went our separate ways, and I just thought, "Wow, they had all this support and they didn't even know me." For them to have the belief that I could do it, was just amazing. And I knew if I could ever do it, I would like to personally thank them. That was one of those random conversations you never forget. So supportive, and so hopeful. And honestly, it was a breath of fresh air to what I had been hearing - Jong-Min, you're too old, you're not educated enough, the schools you want to go to are highly competitive, you don't have enough at stake (loosely translated: you don't have a book deal or something like that, which makes you stand out.) With thoughts like that, why would I ever think I could be something great? And it just made me furious to even hear those thoughts from a "friend". But, I knew how hard I worked for my parents, and the sacrifices and commitment I've made to running their family business and their 2 private apartments. Not to mention, "watching" over them and making sure they were "Ok". And when it came to studying, I've worked to get back into that as well. Its been tough, after 6 years of not studying, but its something I had to do. That's why I worked so hard - not to prove those people wrong - but to have that same work ethic, which I NEEDED, if I ever wanted to be on the High Bench.
And my last response to the couple was "Thank you. I hope to do great work here too."
Saturday, July 4, 2009
So as I called him today, I asked about his son (my best friend). And of course, we talked for about 5 minutes. He had a gathering with his very large extended family this 4th of July. Then, he asked me, "How come you didn't come by?" I replied, "Well, I thought your son wasn't coming home from Afghanistan. I think he didn't tell me, what exactly what he was doing." But its all good though, he knows the work I do for my parents and understands the responsibilities that my "job" demands. Although, I might add, he thinks I can do much more than that. But who doesn't think that!? However, more importantly, as I've thought about our friendship over the years, I'm hoping that he too thinks I am a person (or student) of high character and that's why we've become good, maybe even great friends.
Side note: (The blurb/article below was actually the inspiration for this blog. With the Lakers on the verge of their 17th NBA Championship, more than a month ago, Phil Jackson talked about his thoughts on Derek Fisher.)
Coaching His Way, and It Works - NY Times.
June 12, 2009, after the NBA Finals, Game 4
In the moments after what looked like a Lakers miracle, someone asked Coach Phil Jackson to describe what has kept Derek Fisher gainfully employed as his starting guard, despite flaws that for so many others would forever be fatal.
Too old, at 34. Too small, at 6-foot-1. Too slow and stumpy at 200 pounds.
Jackson nodded slightly, an eyebrow rising, his mouth forming his trademark half-grin.
“Well, it’s character,” Jackson said. “We’ve always said that character has got to be in players if they’re going to be great players. You can’t just draft it. It’s not just about talent, it’s about character, and he’s a person of high character.”
Friday, July 3, 2009
But as I was having ALL these conversations, I realized that my goal to be a judge was for them too. What does that mean? I wanted to help and inspire them as well. I knew how supportive they were of my goals and dreams. How else could I ever repay them? I think the only way I could ever do that was to be My Dream. And when I achieve that, then maybe I can give back to others (and to society). So as they were giving me their supportive thoughts and opinions, I just thought I now have a "responsibility" to go out and repay them back for their support, by being this great Justice - one day.