I think it’s impossible to say who I am exactly because people are changing constantly. Whether it’s a new experience, a new article I find on the Internet, or a person I meet recently, all of these little things will have an impact on me one way or another. I like to think of myself as a filter. Whenever people tell me about their new experiences and what they could have done to improve them, I would learn from their mistakes. I’m also constantly filtering out flaws in the things I do, and then searching for ways to fix these flaws.

In a couple of words, I may be a perfectionist to some and a determined person to others. I always want to excel in the things I do, and picking out flaws is the first step to improving. For example, it took me many months to learn how to play “Croatian Rhapsody” by Maksim Mrvica, on the piano. I didn’t have a piano instructor at the time so I had to depend on what I learned in the past in order to play this tune. From merely figuring out the major to finding the notes to each chord, I spent hours in front of the piano every weekend. Originally, I thought I would only have to spend a weekend searching for each chord. However, one weekend turned into one month, and this was just the first step. I still had to figure out the style of the music, and perfect the transition between each chord. This is an everlasting process, just like how defining myself is. Sitting in front of a piano and practicing a piece for hours at a time can be tedious at times. Giving up always seems like the easier option. However, playing the piano has taught me that determination does pay off in the end. I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction I get when I’m able to play one piece with the correct style and notes.

I can always improve on a technique I use when I’m playing this piece, just like how I can be improving a part of my personality as society’s standards change. I’m constantly learning from my mistakes and improving. The ultimate goal is not to be a perfectionist, but rather, to be proud of what I do.

So who am I? A girl who is trying to search for an answer to this question because my answer changes constantly.

Here’s a video of “Croatian Rhapsody” performed Live by Maksim Mrvica
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Balling at night

The last time I wrote a reflection was when I was taking poetry in high school. Although embarassing, I wrote it in the form of a poem. It was a unique experience because as I stopped to think about what to write about myself, I also learned about how I viewed myself. Thinking back even further to all the past reflections I’ve ever written, they were all different. I guess that makes sense because what’s the point of reflections if we were the same person forever. The truth is that we’re not the same person from the day we’re born to the day we die. Each day that passes by can surprisingly change us or put us through a realization of who we really are and the qualities we possess. Through reflection we expose ourselves not only to the world but we also face reality in who we really are. I believe it is a learning process that is important every so often to see if we have become to people we wished to be in previous years or if we have drifted from the goals of our past. With that being said, I’d like to share an event that reveals a single yet important merit.

It was a cool August evening and as summer vacation drew to an end, I figured I’d call out Kevin and Andy to hangout at the park one last time. Now basketball wasn’t our sport to play, but it was a team sport and win or lose, as long as we had fun together, we didn’t care. We decided to play against another group of three. Their group consisted of three white males who were spoke english but opted to speak in a foreign language. They were definitely older than us by a few years.

As I had said before, basketball wasn’t our sport so we decided on a short 11-point game. Everything was going fine with both teams giving it their all. To my surprise, my friends and I were doing really well in the beginning and played a fair game. Everything went well  until the score was 7-2. Just four points away from winning, we started to lost our drive, but that wasn’t the only problem here. Throughout the whole game, the opposing team had one bad egg that was extremely frustrated that they were losing.

It wasn’t until 7-2 that that one person decided to conduct unsportsmanlike conduct and began to “cheat” his way for more points. Now I say cheat with quotations because there is no referee in street ball. In street ball, you’d normally take a slight beating to the body with a few bumps here and there and no one calls fouls unless its something like being smacked in the face or elbowed in the stomach. But this one person calls fouls on my friends for accidentally slapping his wrist ever so slightly out of the frustration that he was losing to kids. Looking back on it, I find it funny how he thought that age commands authority and skill.

I was pissed at the fouls he called and we argued like two dogs barking at each other. At one point I lost it and wanted to deck this guy in the face. But I didn’t. I shut up, stopped, and walked away. I threw the game. I felt horrible like my pride just got shitted on because I didn’t do anything.

That night I thought back to why I stopped my clenched fist from throwing a punch. I came to the conclusion that it was to protect my friends. I realized that like the guy on the opposing team, I was extremely vocal too. Except I argued for my friends and he argued for himself and his desire to win. He placed the game above his friends and yelled at them whereas I cared for the well-being of my friends. I don’t think I can stand to see my friends injured because of what I brought them into.

It’s funny because when I talked about it with Andy, he told me that in the midst of the conflict he asked himself “am I going home tonight?” because he knows how stubborn I can get and how my pride is usually at the top of my agenda from past experiences. I remember walking away thinking why I didn’t fight and why I let them step all over me. That night taught me how much I actually cared for my friends. While I may have lost the game, the pride in my friendship shines brighter than any pride won with violence.

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A Foolish Dreamer and Coward…

Ever since I immigrated to the United States, I have always dream of what I want to do with my life and what I can do now for that purpose. Questions only breed more questions. And oftentimes I find my mind wandering in an imaginary world as I sit in a classroom or on my bed, absorb in melancholic thoughts of why I exist, what I can make of my future, of myself, where I belong, and where I want to belong. I have ceaselessly pondered these questions and could only arrive at lamentable answers. Yet I believe, somewhere in my heart, that if I can decipher some meaning to those questions, I can understand myself better.

Even though I may look focus, my mind and eyes are elsewhere, in a distant land searching for answers. I have always thought and even dreamt of a certain place that I to see and feel, knowing fully that the chances of its existence is close to none. After all, it’s all in my silly imagination. That certain place, I want to believe, is somewhere on this blue planet. I envision that it would most likely be in Europe. On top of a mighty hill, a colossal tree sits silently as a serene zephyr blows. The sun shines evermore brilliantly. And beneath the lazy clouds, a sea of green can be seen across the fields. Here I lay, back against the tree trunk and shadow by the benevolent leaves. I can feel the gentle heat brushing against my body, but is quickly relief by a sweet kiss of zephyr. Here, with such serenity, is the place I seek: a place without worries, without conflicts and without a soul.

This makes me sound like a recluse; admittedly, I may well be one. I’m not a person with many friends nor do I seek many friends. As a person who always dreams to spend his time beneath a large tree amidst a sea of green, the place in which I am most at ease is when I am alone. I realize that. But because I feel this way, it makes it even harder for me to embrace a stranger, such as a classmate, in this city. I don’t belong. It takes all my courage just to say hi to someone I’ve never met before. I am a dreamer and a coward.

However, because I can dream, I want to see the end of my dream. And I have acted solely for the sake of that reason. If not, what else can I look forward to? What else can I hold on to? I have the slightest clue on why I even exist or the meaning of my existence when I know that one day, I will surely die. This fragile and fleeting life of mine is nothing more but a dot on a map, and less than a billionth percent of the world’s human population. Even if my childish dream has almost no chance of existing, I want to grab onto that thin rope of hope. Hanging in the abyss of thoughts, I can either let go and fall into despair or grab tight and climb. I choose to climb.

For such a surreal, unrealistic, and perhaps idiotic future that resides in my heart, I muster my courage and continue to climb alongside my fear and hope, constantly battling with reality and my dream. After all, to climb means to seek my dream and to do so, I must travel. For that reason, I need a source of money in which I can only attain through a proper education and occupation.

And so I am here weaving myself in preparation for the future, to find an imaginary place suitable for a foolish dreamer and coward like me.

An attempt to draw what I had envisioned, but did not turn out great. Drawn and painted on May 3rd, 2010.

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About our sweets

“You should be glad that you are not two hundred pounds overweight!” my friend always teases me.

“You are talking about yourself, right? Because who will go to all those little sweets shop with you then?” I would reply, and then we would be laughing so hard for no reason that anyone came across us would give us that stare they give to weirdoes on the street.

My friend and I love sweets, anything sweet. If you saw us going into a restaurant and did not order any desserts, then they are definitely not us. How did we know we had the same “taste”? Well…

It all started in our freshman year in high school. On the first day of school, I talked to her in Chinese to borrow her eraser, and we became friends right after that. To be honest, with only one year in middle school to figure out everything that is going on in the country, I was pretty scared to switch to a completely different environment in my second year in the United States, so I was happy enough when I found someone who spoke Chinese and could guide me through the remaining four years.

One day, we were talking during lunch time. I asked her what her favorite food was (clearly, we were not close enough to talk about anything else), and she answered, “Sweets, anything sweets.”

I was surprised how certain she sounded, so I told her that I love sweets too, but once again, she surprised me. All she said was, “Really? Ok.”

I sensed the aloofness in her voice, so I said, “YES! I LOVE THEM! And you have no idea how much I love them!”

As childish as I was there, I was ready for an argument, but all she did was starting to describe all her knowledge on different kinds of sweets. I tried to show her how much more I love the sweets by winning the “contest”, but in the end, we realized that we were incomparable. We all had different knowledge on different aspects that it was very difficult to say who actually won.

“Let’s say what, how about we go hang out for a bit after school today for a second round?” She suggested in Chinese.

At that moment, I knew that we had become closer friends than before. That afternoon, we did not start a second round. Instead, we talked about many different things. It was so funny how we just found out we had so much in common and it had already been four month into the first year. Ever since then, we got closer and closer, and before we realized, four years had pass by. Now, we can tease each other with no worry that the other would get mad or angry over something so small.

One time, I tried to describe what I love about those sweets, “I love the tingling taste of them, the lovely scent of them and…”

“Oh please! I love everything about them! What is there not to love?” she said in a “what’s wrong with you” face.

Right, what is there not to love? Everything just feels so right when I’m eating them. There is, however, a special reason for me to love them. It is not only a kind of food for us to enjoy and to relieve stress. It becomes a knot between me and my friend, without it, we can never get as close as we are today. You have no idea what it means for a girl, who has never got such a close friend because she is constantly moving, to finally have a real BFF for the first time.

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California in the Spring

I looked through a bunch of photo albums on my computer the other day. I was hoping to find a picture that would bring back a bunch of good memories and give me an idea about what kind of person I am, because honestly, I’m not so sure. Then I came across an album from my spring break trip and remembered all the little details; I remembered the thrill of going somewhere thousands of miles away without my parents, the crave for In-N-Out, and most importantly, the excitement of going to new places.

Spring break was the perfect time to get away from school. It was after college admission results were mailed out so it was a great way to relieve any stress that was built up from the anticipation or any disappointments. My two friends and I had been discussing possible cities for us to spend a week in when we all agreed on visiting a city that none of us had been to. Of course, there were many cities in the states that we had never been to but we wanted to go somewhere big and somewhere grand. We came to the conclusion that we would spend our spring break in a city where there’s tons of things to do: Los Angeles.

Planning our trip in L.A. wasn’t easy. There were many moments when we felt like forgetting about the entire trip because there were many things that limited us. We wanted to find a place to stay that was at least decent and clean yet affordable. However, that wasn’t what stumped us. Since none of us were of the age 21, we were not able to check-in to majority of the hotels in the city. After a few days of debating between possible hotel candidates, we finally settled on one in the Marina Del Rey. Soon after, we began planning each day and night of our stay, hoping to be able to fit in everything we want to do, see, or eat. We all had an epiphany when we took a final look at the list of places we wanted to go each day. How were we going to get to each place? Our destinations ranged from the Marina, Santa Monica, Third Street Promenade, Venice, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and more. In a city as large as L.A., it’d be difficult getting around without a car. None of us had our driver’s license so a car rental was never even in the picture. Then we thought, why not just take public transportation? We researched and studied the city map for days until we found an agenda that would be most efficient in terms of money and time. Everything was settled. Before we knew it, we were getting on a four-hour flight to Los Angeles.

We were three eighteen-year-old girls with a minimal budget and a map in a city we were completely unfamiliar with. Surprisingly, we didn’t run into any trouble along the way. This experience wasn’t just to forget about the colleges that had rejected me, nor is it just a memory to me now. It was a trip that showed me how much I love traveling, seeing new things, and trying different food. Now, I’m encouraged to visit other cities when the opportunity arises. But next time, maybe I’ll have better means of transportation!

At El Pueblo de Los Angeles

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Forgetting the Past.

Sometimes I look back at my childhood and wonder where all the years went. It has been four years since I started high school, and it feels like it was just yesterday. I know this is a cliché, but I never believed it. When I was young my grandparents used to tell me how fast time was flying; how they remember my baptism that occurred five years ago like it was just months ago. I always chuckled at this and never could comprehend the feeling they described. I now am able to at least partially understand what they were talking about.

Reminiscing, high school seems like an ephemeral dream that lasted only months, not four years. I think this is especially true because of the great distance I am away from home. It has only been one month since I left, but already life back home seems distant. I have mixed feelings about this. I am afraid of the independence I now have, but am obviously excited about the future simultaneously. I don’t want to forget my past, but I now have to make a conscious effort to remember and this is frightening.

When I was young, I used to love to hold lemonade stands. On a particularly hot and sunny day I decided to mix some lemonade mix and water. I brought out my table, cups, ice, chair, and pitcher filled with fresh lemonade I had just mixed. I lived in a neighborhood in the suburbs and to say I didn’t have many customers was an understatement. I think I sold three cups, but I still remember the experience vividly and how much fun I had. Success didn’t matter back then. It wasn’t about the outcome, but the experience. It didn’t matter how many cups I sold. It was all just “for fun”.
Today it is very difficult for me to just sit and think, cut off from the electronic grid. I know that growing up has made me less patient and less able to simply relax. I’m not sure if its technology or time that has changed me. I’m sure it’s a little bit of both. As a child, sitting and dreaming was fun. It was a time before the Internet; before technology changed the way we live. There were no Iphones, Ipads, high-speed Internet, or DVD’s. Life was simple and I didn’t worry about responsibility. I often wish I could go back and relive a day in my childhood.

Who am I, is a question I often ask myself, and how much am I a product of my environment? What makes me unique? I am pretty serious. I like to talk and can spend hours talking to someone I just met. I am outgoing and shy at the same time, if that’s possible. I find meeting people in groups is much harder than one on one. I am competitive and a little controlling. It’s difficult to explain who I am with adjectives because while I am competitive, I am also relaxed; while I am serious, I also like to “have fun”. I am complex and I don’t even know who I am. All that I know is that I never want to forget where I came from, a small suburb in Saint Louis. I feel I have a unique perspective because of the way I was brought up.

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Who Am I?

Who am I? Well, to be honest. I’m not entirely sure. I know what I like to do, and what happened in my past. I actually do not think that the question is answerable. It is like asking what is the meaning of life? I’m not too sure of the answer.

Some may say that college is the tool in which they will “begin to truly discover who they really are.” Not for me. College may point me in the right direction but it cannot tell me who I am. But, this is an about face, so right now I need to turn around, face my past, and do a little thinking to get an idea of who I’ve been.

I can ride a unicycle. Here I am, hopping around on it.

People ask me all the time, “Why Joe…? What could have possibly possessed you to buy a unicycle?” I give them the same answer every time. “Why not…? I saw some dude doing it on YouTube, so I bought one.” Then they ask the second question that everyone asks, “Is it hard to ride?” Yes, it’s very hard to ride. It’s one wheel, enough said. It took me a week just to learn to go straight. I just kept thinking of when I first saw that guy on the Internet riding one. I thought, ‘I am going to learn how to do that…’ So, I bought one and I did.

After I learned to ride it, I realized that I didn’t mind seeming weird. When people walk or drive past me, they do the classic ‘double take’ (which is my favorite) where they look, look back to what they were doing, and then look back at me with the most confused look on their face. I like standing out, life is too short and too boring to sit at home on the Internet all day. I personally cannot stay online for more than a few hours at a time or else I will be bored to no end. I need to be outside, or with people, doing something. It is just what I like to do. There is more to my life though. I do normal things too, like listen to music.

Music is a huge part of my life. I need it to function. I can’t go a day without listening to my iPod; my collection of music will never stop growing for as long as I live. I really started getting into music during high school, especially during freshman and sophomore year. Music helps me deal with any sort of life pressures. Artists like Blink 182, Mayday Parade, Relient K, etc. have lyrics that really make you think.

Every time I hear a song I need to read the lyrics, it helps me better understand the song and feel more of the song. I do not understand how people can listen to music without knowing the lyrics. Anyone can hear a song, but it takes more to feel it.

Here is the link to a Mayday Parade song. It’s about a dad talking to his son. If you like it, great; if you don’t, then go listen to something you do like. If you think it’s lame then that’s cool too. It’s not a big deal. I linked it because I know I’ve been talking about how much music can make someone feel something. So, I picked what I think is the most ’emotional’ song on my iPod so maybe you all can feel something from it.

Terrible Things – Mayday Parade

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Just a Kid with a Passion…

Reflection of self is often the most difficult type that exists.  This assignment seems unique because it not only allows me to evaluate who I am as a person, but it also allows me to determine what made me the way I am today.  When asked to describe myself, the first words that come to my mind are hardworking, passionate, and supportive.  One might wonder why these three words immediately stand out in my mind, and the only explanation I have for them is my high school experience.  When high school began, I had a feeling of what I wanted to invest my time in over the course of the next four years: baseball.  This dream was immediately crushed when I was cut from the team as a freshman.  After the cuts were made, my friend, who was also cut, approached me about joining the school’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams for the upcoming year.  At the time, I was not interested, but joined the sport to continue various friendships I had made during middle school.

I spent the first two years on the team as one of the worst.  The rigorous workouts took a dramatic toll on me, both physically and mentally.  I contemplated quitting various times, as many of my friends from middle school did.  Time management was a huge issue in my life, and I just was not the most interested person in the sport.  At the end of my sophomore year, I decided to switch to the “Middle Distance” training group.  Mid-Distance requires the perfect balance of speed and stamina, and this switch was when I truly realized I had a passion for running.  At the start of my junior year, everything began to change.  Through hard work during the summer, I began to see the progress I was making during my junior Cross Country season.  As I continued the year, I could not help but realize that my progress made was fueled not by my natural ability, but by my developing passion.   I continued to make huge strides in my running career all throughout my senior year.  What made me even more motivated was the group of individuals that pushed me to the next level.

Over the remainder of my high school career, my teammates and I developed a special bond that was often coined as “The Brotherhood.”  We considered ourselves brothers because of all that we persevered through, together.  From passing out after practice to our legs filling with lactic acid for days, we could always be assured of one thing: that we were in this together.  While racing, I constantly reminded myself of the unremitting pain my teammates and I experienced during the various weeks of training.  This reminder allowed me to regularly motivate myself to reach unimaginable amounts of discomfort, and then keep going. There were times when my teammates and I needed each other, and we provided nothing but consistent support and concern.  Now as my college years await me, I can always be thankful for the immense impact my “brothers” have instilled upon me.

While one might consider this high school sport as a reflection of self somewhat corny, I do not. I could have quit anytime during my freshman, or sophomore, year and that would have been the end of it.  Instead, I decided to hang with it and wound up proving that hard work does triumph over talent more often than not.  Because of track, I now understand that our purpose in life is to find something we love, and run with it.  In my case, I found running, and well, ran with it.  Lastly, I consider myself a supportive person because of the way my teammates and I valued each other’s time during high school.  I am ever grateful for their impact, and I strive to treat all people I meet with a similar mindset. Not many people know the feeling of stepping on the track and preparing to lay it all on the line.  When that gun goes off, everything stops, and suddenly nothing else matters.  When all is said and done, I can honestly say this unintentional joining of the track team as a freshman has shaped who I am today and who I will be in the future.

Final Indoor Track Race- Senior Year

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About Faces

Looking forward to reading/sharing your About Faces posts in class tomorrow. Do upload images, too. Feel free to relate an anecdote, a moment in your life that is funny, serious, moving, surprising.

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Unique Sam.

Unique New York. Unique New York. Unique. To most of us, the phrase is a tongue twister. To me on the other hand, it’s a motto and it represents my character. I live in one of the best cities in the world and everyone is unique in their own way. To succeed in such a city, I believe one must be very unique.

When I was 4 years old, my father introduced me to the game of chess. It’s a thinking game that involves strategy and logic. In addition, it’s not a game most people play and study. What I like most about it is that the game us known throughout the world. Last February, I went on an exchange trip with my school to Avellino, Italy. It is a small city south of Naples. I stayed with an Italian host. One night, my host took me to his family friend’s house for a dinner party. Everyone was drinking wine, eating delicious meats, and yelling in Italian. I had no clue what was going on, but then I saw something in the corner of my eye. It was a chessboard. I suddenly asked my host to translate if anyone in the house played chess. Next thing I know, the man who seemed like an alcoholic to me said that he did. We took out the chessboard and started playing. It was a long game, but in the end, I won. When we were playing it amazed me how two people can’t communicate through language, but can communicate through chess moves.

Table Tennis is another sport I view as unique. Most people know how to eat a ball with a racket, but to study the sport and get better, that involves skill. Table Tennis is really like chess except for the reaction time. In chess, it can take minutes to make the next move. In Table Tennis, it takes a matter of seconds. I take pride in playing the sport and it’s a very practical sport. Whenever you go on vacations, most hotels will have a table set so you can go play. Also, what I love about this unique sport is that many people confess to be godly in the sport, but after playing and destroying them, it makes me feel good to destroy his or her ego.

One last unique passion I have is for watches. Not any watches, but Swiss Made mechanical watches. Most people have a quartz watch. That means that the watch is battery powered. Mechanical watches are the ones that need daily winding. Sure it is tedious, but each time I wind the watch, I can feel all of the individual movements working together to produce harmony. One disadvantage is that the time isn’t as accurate as a quartz watch, but one good thing is that you need to change the battery because there is no battery. Once in Pennsylvania, my friend and I went to the woods. We had to be back at the home by 6pm. Out of nowhere, my friend’s watch just stopped working because the battery died. While my watch kept working and we got home just in time. A mechanical watch is practical and I like practicality.

Whether it is a mental game, a physical sport, or a love for man made inventions, I take pride in all three activities. They provide me with great skills. Guess that is what makes my character so unique.

By: ybot84

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Settling for Good

Trying to about face and reflect on myself is a hard thing to do. I can’t pinpoint the type of person I am, but I can determine the type of person that I want to be.

Ever since the 6th grade when I missed the chance to take the test for Hunter, I’ve always tried to make myself better in anything I did. I thought I was smart enough in the 6th grade and that good was good enough. But I watched as my friends got to take the test and I never got that chance. A newspaper clipping that my parents had showed me came to mind, “When being good isn’t enough.”

Not getting that opportunity really tore me apart. It all came down and it hit me that I hadn’t tried hard enough, that I never gave my best and I suffered because of it. What was worse was that I was my fault, no one else to blame but me for being lazy and overconfident. But I decided after not receiving the test date letter that something like this would never happen again. I started trying and I knew that from then on, good would never be good enough.

Through middle school I earned the grades I needed, and my chance at redemption was the Specialized High School test. Coming from an Asian family, normally this pressure comes from parents, but this time it was my pressure. I wanted it and I worked hard to get it. When the results came, I made Stuyvesant by a slim margin. I felt as if I had finally lived up to what I wanted to do. I was going to one of the best high schools in the city and got there by trying my best.

With that same mentality in high school, I moved on to succeeding in whatever I tried in, whether it was school, friends or baseball. I worked to be better then good as a scholar, friend and person. I tried hard in school, but at the same time never got to a point of cutthroat competition, which was different, coming from Stuyvesant. I picked up friends when they were down, and tried to be a moral and honest person that people would look up to.

Today I still strive for that greatness and achievement that comes with trying my best. Am I perfect? Far from it. But I can continue to learn from experience and help others along the way, so that I can get as close to it as possible.

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A Sweet Story

When I reflect on my personality and character, I see a large part of it come from my mom and her business. The intensity of her entrepreneurial spirit actually came from a soft and sugar-soaked cheese ball. A round sponge of sweet flavor, the rasgulla breaks apart into chewy morsels with a surge of refreshment bursting from the center. The rasgulla is just one of a wide variety of Indian sweets, which mark the start of any auspicious occasion; even the smallest of celebrations is incomplete without a candied palate to remember it by. Although an integral part of Indian culture, sweets have played a very different role in my personal life.

Ten years ago, my mother transformed that one rasgulla into the base for her own South Asian desserts business. I was amazed how she was simultaneously able to bring our Indian culture to New York, run a company, and raise three children. She cultivated her interest from one admired by her friends at local dinner parties to one that was catered to the White House. Along the journey, I found that as the business continued to grow, I began growing with it. Inspired by my mother’s devotion, I began to take on more responsibilities to see the business succeed. Her persistence has become a driving force in my life and her business savvy has showed me how ambition, hard work, and passion can bring a vision to reality.

Over the last few years, I have played an active role in all aspects of the business, looking for operational efficiencies and new opportunities. I took the lead on the digital media front and updated the website, designed and launched our holiday advertisement campaign, and took pictures of the newest sweets, to share with our customers. To market the company, we went to trade shows and presented the range of products we offered to clients. I was thrilled every time a person I spoke to called back to place an order. My mother’s business has taught me that with initiative and perseverance, any goal can be achieved.

Admittedly, it was often challenging to help my mom and manage my own schedule. I focused on my grades, represented my school’s Model UN program at conferences, interned at a local accounting firm, and found time to meet friends. By striving to balance several responsibilities at once, I learned a priceless lesson in time management and prioritization.

After all these years, I am still mesmerized by how a rasgulla can be filled with mango, dipped in chocolate, or infused with a cream filling. The different colors, flavors, and textures are a testament to my mother’s creativity. Today, when I see our sweets on the other side of a showroom window, I see my mother’s vision manifest in front of me but I feel proud that I had a large role in putting them there. That sweet and refreshing rasgulla set off a series of changes in my life that has, and will continue to, guide me through any future endeavors. And to think it all started with a cheese ball.

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What I do.

Judging others is human nature, but when it comes to analyzing oneself, it becomes a mission that is nearly impossible. Everyone has a crazy side, a serious side, a funny side, and a side that no one can describe. As Ambrose Bierce once said, “All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.” With every action I take, my aim is to become one of these so-called philosophers. As I lay in bed most nights, I reflect on the day that has passed, what I did, what I could have accomplished, and what I would have done differently. There are of course many moments that I would want to take back, or hit myself for saying something stupid. But isn’t that what makes us all human?


This constant self-analysis is at some points very helpful because it helps me evaluate myself, along with my interactions with different people. I know what I have done wrong, how to remedy it, and what not to do ever again. Then again, this self-analysis also drives me crazy. There are moments when I don’t understand why something I did was wrong, or why others perceived it as so.


Speaking of moments after which I want to hit myself, one of them occurred right after Baruch convocation. I was walking with my friends after the ceremony, and we were discussing what we were planning to do later that night. “I’m just going to try and get some rest,” I remember saying. My friends were all planning on going exploring that night. It didn’t seem like there would be any argument, but for some reason when they all tried to force me to go exploring with them repeatedly, I got very annoyed. Some heated words were exchanged, and we all walked away in anger. As soon as I walked back to my dorm, I realized that I had over reacted. Disappointed with myself, I decided to give my friends a surprise and met up with them near Times Square. I had to put my pride aside, but after thinking and just trying to remember where exactly the conversation had gone sour, I realized I was wrong. I should not have yelled just because they were trying to convince me to hang out, but instead maybe I could have tried a little harder to explain how tired I was. We’ve all lost our temper at one point or another, and this was one of those times it was clearly not justified. Even though I was wrong, coming to that realization and knowing how to remedy it was satisfying in an interesting way.

It’s not that what others think about me runs my life, it’s just that I cannot help but always think about was to “improve” myself as a more genuine person. Personally, I believe that people aren’t true to themselves, which in turn causes them to not be as true to others around them. This is due to the scrutiny that society places on everyone. Everyone needs to have some people who they can go to without the constant fear of being judged or gossiped about. Even more important, however, is that people need to be more true to themselves, and self evaluate in order to discover what truly makes them feel comfortable and drives them.


Without truly knowing what you stand for, it is impossible to, as the Dove commercials so wisely put it; “feel comfortable in your own skin.” This is what I strive for, to be comfortable with my own personality, my own likes, dislikes, and opinions. “Fitting in” with certain societies is difficult enough, but having self- knowledge gives you the motivation and confidence to deal with others, and gain respect.


I know this may sound like a lot of philosophical mumbo jumbo, but this mindset is truly what I try to live my life by. I strive to gather knowledge, not only of the outside world, but also of my own mind.


As I look at myself instead of the rest of the world for a moment, I see many traits, such as someone who tries to be friendly, has corny humor, and can get on peoples’ nerves rather quickly. But one trait that stands out to me in this mirror of self-evaluation is my ability to know who I am. I can proudly say I am someone who knows what he wants (loyal friends, to be a genuine person, and to understand the true meaning of a successful life), but is still in the process of figuring out how to achieve those things. When I do an about face, I don’t see anything that is perfect, but I don’t see anything that is too shabby either.



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Subway Inspiration

I don’t usually identify myself as an artist right off the bat, but trying to think of something unique to write about myself made me realize I can vaguely fit into that category. I thought about what I like to do in my free time, because what we do during those times is what really identifies us.

So in my free time, I find myself starting “projects” and they usually tend to be long term. I really enjoy hand-making things, keeping myself busy. So it all started with my love for the NYC subway system. In middle school, I made a paper maché desktop organizer with the MTA subway map, because I just loved how nicely the colors intertwined. Most teenagers have a poster of their favorite band or actor/actress on their wall. I have the subway map.

On my daily commute in sophomore year of high school, the large mosaics, so intricately pieced together, at every other NYC subway station inspired me to start a project. For this project, I began to collect MetroCards. Note that I went to a NYC public high school, and I received “Student Metros” which are white in color and provide 3 free rides daily. The MetroCards that I gathered are the regular -yellow/blue- ones. So I patiently accumulated used MetroCards, from my parents, from my weekend usage, and occasionally from my friends. I finally accumulated enough cards to start my project in senior year.

I cut up about twenty to thirty MetroCards into tiny pieces, only to glue them back together on an 8’’ by 11’’ to form a larger and to-scale MetroCard. It took me about fifteen hours of constant cutting and gluing, over the span of a little more than a week, in my senior year. My end result: I felt really accomplished. It gave me reason to continue doing art. This represents what I do.

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It’s Not Rocket Science

This story is a personal one, mentioning my thoughts about certain people I encountered who had some kind of impact on me. It’s about a design contest I entered and how a failure turned out to be an eye-opening experience.


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About Faces

What is it about a face? Though a picture may be worth a thousand words, a face’s value cannot be reduced to a convenient cliché. Here we explore portraiture and self-representations by creating our own. Meet the authors of CHC/IDC 1001H.

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