Today is a bitter sweet day. I bid farewell to Los Angeles, the city I have called home for the last six years. So much has happened in the last six years, and at a time like this, it is worth remembering all the wonderful turns that I never thought my life would take that led up to this moment.
I first came here to do an engineering internship. If you had told me back then that I’d be in L.A. for the next six years, I would’ve told you, “you have no idea who I am. I don’t stay in the same place for that long.” But here I am, six years later. My time here has been filled with wonderful memories, but my proudest accomplishment has got to be the time I spent teaching in the classrooms. In hindsight, I am so glad that I jumped, without much thought at the time, at an opportunity to start a charter high school’s engineering program. Some people thought that I was making a stupid decision, and I’m sure that they had good intentions, but to me, nothing is more stupid than not trying to do the things that your heart tells you is the right thing. We only get to live once.
I also picked up the piano a little more seriously during my time in Los Angeles. Back in college, it was very hard to dedicate enough time to music as an engineering student, and I knew on the inside that I really missed music. So after graduating from college, I started to practice more and more, and one day, I finally found the courage to quit my jobs altogether and take a sabbatical year to focus on my music and personal growth.
A significant chunk of my sabbatical was spent playing and writing music, but I also had the time to study whatever I found interesting at the time. I studied various topics, such as fluid dynamics, orbital mechanics, and computer algorithms. It was a very relaxed and happy time of my life.
Naturally because I was not working much, my savings started to go down, and my happiness started to turn into worry. It was at that time I came across some students, by chance, who wanted to learn programming from me. It started with just two girls, but pretty soon they brought their friends to learn, and it grew into a group of six. Their attitude and their desire to learn inspired me, and I wanted the same for myself. As much as I hope that they learned some valuable lessons from me, here’s a big secret: I learned much more from them. Teaching this group of girls turned from the little thing I did on the side, to the highlight of my week. I kept teaching them even after I went back to the workforce full-time. It was absolute joy.
Yesterday was my last lesson with them, and we said our good-byes. I know that this is not the end though, because I know that they will take whatever they have learned, and apply it to their lives. As disappointed as I have been at the recent turn of political events and the outright display of racism and sexism in this country, I remain hopeful because I know many amazing young people. They are quite literally the future, and I am optimistic.
Although I am leaving Los Angeles today, I will forever consider this city my home. Special shoutouts to the following people:
-The crew at Coffee Times Donuts on Main. Your smiles always helped start my day on a positive note.
-The fellow engineers at Virgin Galactic. Even though I am leaving, my passion for aerospace has not wavered, and I will always be cheering for your successful launch.
-The campus assistants of Synergy Academies. I don’t know how I would have done my job without your help. Thanks for being the real difference makers behind the scenes.
-My neighbors in Crenshaw. Although I was a bit surprised when you assumed, without much thought, that I was Chinese when I first moved in (there are different kinds of Asian people you know!), you were always so nice. Sorry if my piano playing ever kept you up at night.
-My students. You inspired me more than you know. I am so excited to see what the future will hold for each one of you. Life won’t be easy, but it will be beautiful.
Until next time,