Cultivating joy & connection
A deeply curious person who loves to learn, I have lived or worked on four continents and traveled to six. My interactions with diverse people in unfamiliar environments have offered wonderful opportunities to learn about myself and the world.
Back home, I live with a very dapper cat named Steve, work with Mission Driven Finance, volunteer with the San Diego Asian Film Festival, and am getting certified as a teacher in mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, through the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness.
My love of languages and curiosity about Deaf culture have recently led me to learn American Sign Language from Deaf teachers at local community colleges. Over my lifetime, I have also formally studied—though do not or no longer speak fluently—Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, German, and Tshivenda, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. While prepping for a solo trip, I picked up enough Duolingo Turkish to successfully order my coffee with one sugar and comment on the weather. ☕️
Where I spend significant time is absorbing storytelling, essays, and the human experience in various forms—conversations, observations, narrative films, documentaries, short series, visual art, photography, nonfiction, novels, and poetry.
I am also rediscovering writing for myself. I used to write poetry and intend to reconnect with the practice. More recently, I became a published author when the San Diego Decameron Project accepted my pandemic-themed essay about my relationship with the food my grandmother used to make.
I'm just over here trying to do more of what brings me joy and less of what doesn't! As often reminded by Michael Bell, a facilitator with Rockwood Leadership Institute: "Don't postpone joy."
I came to the U.S. when I was 10, leaving behind my beloved grandmother, who died from a long-term illness less than a month later. Aside from this loss that took me years to process, moving from dense metropolitan Hong Kong to sprawling suburban San Diego was quite a shock to the system!
Studying film as a first-gen college student in Paris, France, was my first time living overseas since immigrating to the U.S., and one of the most transformative experiences of my life. Paris wasn't all lights and magic—a rude awakening that also whetted my appetite for diving into more unfamiliar surroundings.
Volunteering in Cambodia (with an Italian NGO) and South Africa (with the Peace Corps) opened my eyes in so many ways. For one, I realized that if I wanted to make a positive difference in the world, I could start at home in my own community.
Once I got intentional about staying in San Diego, I’ve been able to reconnect with my family and spend quality time with them during occasions big and small. I feel so fortunate to be an auntie to my growing nephews.
Nearly 40 countries—I wouldn't be who I am if I hadn't cultivated my curiosity about the world through my travels. I love wandering neighborhoods where people live and work (maybe to see if I could live there!) and take selfies with street cats. My favorite places include Montréal, Naoshima (Japan), Phú Quốc (Vietnam) circa 2007, Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon, Taipei, Istanbul, Selçuk (Turkey), Urubamba (Peru), Asilah (Morocco), Amsterdam, and Berlin. What are yours?
One of the great privileges I have is volunteering for the San Diego Asian Film Festival with a fabulous group of fun and smart programmers. I joke it's the only "job" I've had where I get to use my film degree—and by far the longest one I've ever held. The truth is, these folks challenge me to think critically about art and social issues.
My career specializing in sharing stories for various causes across the nonprofit, government, and private sectors has allowed me to meet people with huge hearts. I have loved learning from diverse industries including education, the arts, reproductive health care, workforce development, and impact investing.
Programs like the San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute and Rockwood Leadership Institute's Building Power Fellowship have allowed me to learn powerful as well as uncomfortable truths about myself, not to mention meet passionate change-makers who inspire me.
An unexpected pathway for me, I began training as a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) teacher through the UCSD Center for Mindfulness. The cohort I am in is an incredible group of majority Black and Brown mindfulness practitioners and teachers calling ourselves the Wildflower Mindfulness Collective. I am deeply grateful to them for my own practice and growth.