Fifth Stop?

I made a full loop of the world. This all happened already? why am I not feeling the hype I thought I would feel…

5am, at host family on Vancouver Island, few more hours until Pearson.

This is a reminder to myself that all this writing I’m doing is not just to record down what I did, but most importantly how I feel. People remember an experience not by what it actually was, but by how it made one felt. That’s why when we recall a memory, usually the first thing that hits the back of our mind is an emotion, a feeling that not many realize its presence. And then we try our best, struggling to figure out the nitty-gritty of events, only to find out that they are frames of vagueness and obscurity, and it doesn’t really matter after all. It’s the feeling that matters most, as it is true in everything – do what makes you feel good, no matter the stereotypes and social preconceptions that prevent you from doing so.

This is a self introspection, an honest reflection, and a genuine emotional inquiry. People say, why do you care about emotions so much, why spend so much time recognizing them when you can have fun, just live in the moment and enjoy.  But I believe in the value of going through them, of understanding myself from a third-party perspective. I want to know the good and bad emotions I’m put into, the strengths and flaws I have, and coexist with them. I want mental clarity, to know where emotions are leading me to or straying me from, to know that I’m learning every single thing I could possibly learn from everything I do. There might not be a reason to everything, but I want to recognize the absence of things too and clarify what’s bothering me.

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Envy is a bitch in a world of distractions. Wow your life is so good with all those friends on your instagram. Wow you have so many comments and likes. Wow the piano performance you just saw on the street makes your life so good, except you decided not to truly enjoy it but film it on your phone and share to the world how good – fuck this still bothers me, especially in Hong Kong.

It’s a contract to myself – evolve yourself, out of excitement but not out of envy. We can get caught up in what other people are doing with their lives, and we feel like we have to up our game to match how good other people’s lives are. We are improving ourselves in a sense, but out of a competitive mindset, a toxic and unhealthy one.

Do things that truly excite you. Do things that make you feel fulfilled without the need to post it on social media. Know that you lose every sense of time doing them, and know that you are truly passionate about them. Stop creating a profile for yourself on instagram, stop making everything look nice about your life, just live it.

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Ok I was excited for second year for maybe the past three months, as soon as we left. Now, not so much. I am a little stressed, a good stress maybe, means that it’s challenging and stimulating. A month of quiet, low-stimulation life at home got myself together, but it takes time to adjust back to the hype of Pearson. Maybe I just want to avoid everything negative that second year entails — mainly school work. But maybe I’m also not seeing enough of the good side of it.

Occasionally looking back at who I was last year and what I did, I cringe so much. A lot of things I said and decisions I made cringe me. The way I talk cringes me. But I guess that means I grew, somehow.

Good luck I guess.

 

What’s good Kenya

19 JUL 2019 — My fourth, last and longest stop

Noon, sitting in the dining room of the Mukangu village’s chairman’s house. Just finished the morning construction work of shoveling and moving dirt. Talked to a few workers on the site – peaceful, simple, easy, life-goes-on vibe. I have two more days here in Kenya until I go back to Hong Kong, just want to take this chance to suck in all the rural village lifestyle and reflect fully on my one month spent on the motherland of Africa. Currently feeling a bit sick, exhausted in every aspect from all the travelling and action during the past two months; days feel prolonged now, I just want to end this hustle and settle back home.

NAIROBI – One week of travelling

The first thing that greeted me is the Nairobi traffic. The cars and trucks just cut lanes like it’s a war zone and there are not even any traffic lights at some intersections. Vehicles don’t slow down even when there are people crossing roads – almost seems like they will just hit and run and don’t even give a shit. Worse of all is there are people standing in the middle of the traffic. They are vendors who sell bananas, packets of chips, shirts, and anything you could imagine that can be hanged around a human body as display. They have absolutely no fear – it’s their way of living.

For the week I stayed at Ayana’s place and hung out with Kamene and Aisha, whom I have never really actually talk to before. It’s weird though that the time that we spent together turned out pretty well. I wished I had known them earlier…

We went to the giraffe center, went to the top of the convention center, watched a Swahili movie called Lusala, went to Masai market, explored town, went to the eye of Kenya, went to Kamene’s place for Nigerian food Joloffe cooked by Aisha. We didn’t do much for the week, because getting around by Matatu (public van) is rough. Tried the Boda Boda (motorcycle taxi), one of the craziest trans experience I have ever had. Went to Maleek Berry’s concert, pretty wild people and place.

Walking around city is one of the craziest experiences ever. Random people come forward to me and fist bump me. It’s like they have never seen a real yellow-skinned person in front of their eyes before, asking me questions like “do you know kungfu?” “are you jackie chan”, and trying to imitate Chinese by making noises like “Ching Chong” or “ping pong”. I loved the attention. I was on the roof of the convention centre and there was this school group of kids that kept pointing and smiling at me. I went up to them and their shyness suddenly transformed into such energy and earnest that I have never seen before from a group of kids. They kept asking me questions like my hobbies and what I’m doing in Kenya, and I enjoyed every single moment talking to them. It made my day. It gave me great hopes for what’s going to happen in the next few weeks, and reminded me the high energy and incredible curiosity that I should have but somewhat lost in the day to day pressure of life.

MURANG’A – Two weeks of KULE

Knowing that I will be leading KULE next year is a huge responsibility on my part, making me all the more serious and excited about what’s going to happen during these two weeks. I think KULE is one of the few CASes that really put the UWC mission into action. It is a service CAS that has a certain level of organization, youth impact and global significance. Being given the position is a recognition, but also a pressure, especially when my second years Omar and Tuva did such a great job in leading meetings and making sure everything is in place. On Geoffrey’s part, KULE means so much to him as it is 15 years of hard work of constantly giving back to a community that provided refuge to him in the toughest times of his life as a student political activist and newspaper journalist. The history, the significance, and Geoffrey’s hope for KULE 2020, the following year shall be a milestone, and I’m ready to give my all to make the goal realize.

My first concern is the people. 12 people from the International School of Geneva is coming with us this year. It’s by far the largest group that KULE has ever witnessed. They are rich students whose parents mainly work in the United Nations, and whether the Pearson group and Geneva group can mix well is a legitimate worry as historically, the two groups hadn’t worked out that well.

MAASAI MARA – Three days of safari, a side event

Safari was truly a once in a life time experience — sheer bliss but also immense guilt for our human disruption to this piece of land that originate all life. We couldn’t see hyenas and rhinos, whom one can spot easily 3 years ago. The flip side though: if tourist don’t spend money to come here, where would the funding for these national reserve come from? Would the situation be worse without park rangers and legal enforcement?

On the move

Toronto is THE city.

so much to connect – Asian neighborhoods, familiar and really good good Asian food, people speaking my language – keeps me feel inclusive and comfortable

so much to explore – white culture, Filipino culture, hippie culture… – keeps things fresh and exciting

Vancouver is a dead city compared to here. There are so many tourists, young people, street performers, markets, restaurants, historic place to walk, especially with the Raptors parade that happened last Monday, the pride parade today, and the Jazz festival happening this month, the city is truly vibrant, much more so than Hong Kong – there’s always something to do. Sports is great here too, Raptors, Toronto FC, blue jays, everything you want. I really think sports is something that can truly unite the city together.

Would I want to stay here?

At my third stop: Toronto

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Jetlag is shitty – I will be moving forward 15 hours and backward 30 hours in the span of three months, from Vancouver to Hong Kong back to Van but thru a different side of earth. The moment I have adjusted to the time, I have to switch my bio clock again and I know it’s screwing up my body. It’s worth it tho.

In Zurich, Switzerland – just had a 7 hr from Toronto, 7 more to go to Nairobi

 

Serene island retreat

Yusef Bushara from Warwick, Bermuda

Havard Kostamo from Oslo, Norway

Pietro Risso from Turin, Italy

Zach Zimmerman from White Horse, Yukon Canada

Christopher Fok from Hong Kong, …China?

Travelling in a group and with a host is such a different experience than solo. I don’t have to worry about transportation, food, finding places and things to do, and there’s a free tour guide who is always ready to tell you the history of this place and that building, and embodies the local island culture. But the flip sides are: group decisions, being a good company, compromises…

Bermuda is an interesting place. A small island with a 1-hour drive from one end to the other. When you go to town, you are almost guaranteed to see someone you know. It’s a tight-knit community, and your action and reputation are important. On an extreme: if you are a murderer in Bermuda, everyone knows it and your life is probably doomed, because you can’t hide it. In Hong Kong, you can probably start a new life. I’ve never seen my hk second year in my life even though we lived 3 mins away.

Beaches are pink and silky, water is clear and cool, food is diverse and unhealthy, people are kind and chill. It’s so easy to talk to someone you don’t know, Bermudians always greet “afernoon”, ask “what chu sayin”, tell you to “take it easy”, and “check you later”. It’s beautiful. In Hong Kong, people just mind their own business, if you see a Hongkonger when you travel, they be like “Don’t even dare to say hello to me.”

I was on this rock when the protests on extradition bill is happening. A chaotic time for Hong Kong, and a bit of a self-inspection on my perspective on politics and my role as a citizen. Maybe a bit of enlightenment as well.

Brother just came back from Israel, Parents just came back from South Korea, Sister in Azerbaijan now. Excited for what’s following in this summer. Feeling motivated, positive, hopeful, and excited.

On my Westjet plane to Toronto

VanCity

Solo on foot – got a hang of the vancouver vibe, the contours of my surroundings, the diversity of culture, the First Nations origin of the land, the youth and freshness of the city, and the unusually beautiful weather.

Solo is a loud and busy experience: I constantly have to think about what’s next, figure out the transportation, be wary of my spending, but above all the nitty gritty, being alone allows your mind to reflect on specific past incidents, wander in a web of messy thoughts, and imagine the future ahead. Alone doesn’t mean lonely, and it’s a great time to focus on your own interest, do whatever the fuck you want, and make sure it’s a meaningful time.

In a span of a day, sitting in the UBC library, with sun pouring through the glass panes, I now have a clear visual of what I want to achieve over the summers, no matter with my travels, my academics, my university plans, my personal goals, my service projects and extra curricular, but above all, with my dearest family. I know it’s going to be an interesting one.