Strength in Disability

The other day I went to mass at the University Catholic Center (the Catholic church next to UCLA). During the end of mass I took the communion, headed back to my seat and did a short prayer and opened my eyes. Across from me I saw a male student who was waiting in line to get the communion in a wheelchair.

While he was in line, he was steadily wheeling himself forward closer to receive the Body of Christ. When he was second in line, I saw him put his hands on top of one another–open to receive the communion. Once the person in front of him left, I saw him thrust his body forward which propelled his wheelchair close enough to the priest who was dispersing the communion. He then received it, put it into his mouth, and then wheeled himself back to his chair.

It was a moment which was so beautiful that I felt chills go up my spine. To see my fellow peer show his strength over his disability was quite an eye-opening experience. In the beginning of mass he was sitting in the row from the opposite of me, and I remember studying him more out of curiosity than impoliteness. I saw his thin legs–most likely from the fact that he had not used his legs in many years.

We are all blessed with strengths and weaknesses. It is merely a matter of what we choose to do with our life’s circumstances which show our true inner-strength.

Photography Artist Statement

So I am going to be featured in an art exhibit at UCLA titled: “Lost Angeles” in the Powell Rotunda. It is the first time that I have actually been interviewed by a curator named Tanya Yorks. Here is an amazing artist bio that she actually wrote for me… and I wanted to share it here:

Shooting with his digital single lens reflex camera, Eric Kim, a 4th year UCLA student, composes candid photos of local people immersed in the dynamic and rapid Los Angeles environment with a casual lightness that translates the vital pulse beneath the racing activity of modern society.  Appropriating the ‘decisive moment’ aesthetic originated by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eric seizes those split-second, once in a lifetime experiences that can transform a photograph into a compelling, spirited moment, vividly and timelessly framed with his lens.  Eric’s street photography, centered on ordinary citizens absorbed in the exchanges of everyday life, encapsulates the fleeting experience and focuses on the beauty in the mundane, resulting in unusual juxtapositions that inspire calming pause and contemplation in the viewer’s typically hectic life.  He likens photography to a play: the environment is a stage, and the individuals are the actors.  As a photographer, Eric’s role is to capture the unscripted interactions between the actors and the stage, opening a channel to the overlooked inherent beauty of personal exchanges.  In doing so, he reveals a unique, untold story of the Los Angeles citizen, unfolding spontaneously in his evocative black and white imagery.

After graduating this spring, Eric plans to work in public relations and online marketing, and ultimately earn his doctorate in Sociology.

Better than I could have ever wrote it.

Experiment: Assuming a False Online Identity

So for you of those who do not know, I am teaching a “Sociology of Facebook and Online Social Networks” course at UCLA. Link to my course site: http://sociologyoffacebook.com

Anyways, I assign weekly “experiments” which are to be done online which pertain to the weekly theme. So for this week, it was about the “Online Persona” and how easy it is to assume a false identity. My experiment: Pose as a Japanese Girl.

TLDR; I talk with a Sociologist who wants to travel abroad in Japan, who doesn’t like American culture and prefers the Japanese one. I convince him of my 21-year old Japanese girl identity, living in Tokyo.

(done on Omegle.com — a site that randomly connects you with strangers to chat)

You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!

You: Herro!

Stranger: Hi

You: How you? ^.^”

Stranger: Great. :D

Stranger: What about you?

You: Little tired….. T__T but o.k.

Stranger: Aw.

Stranger: Hard day?

You: Yes… very hard …

You: I had a fight with my boyfriend :(

Stranger: Working? :(

Stranger: :( Never fun.

You: How was your day?

Stranger: Usual. Did nothing. :P

You: Where you live?

Stranger: In the United States……. ehhhhhh.

You: OHHHHHHHHH

You: America????

You: ^_____^

Stranger: Yeahhh.

You: How is America??

Stranger: Living shouldn’t be just sitting around. I thikn that’s something done too often in America.

Stranger: Ehh, it’s alright if you live somewhere where you can do things often. :)

Stranger: How about you, miss?

You: Tokyo! :D

Stranger: Ahhh. I’ll be there in a few months.

You: Ohhhhhhhhh really why??

Stranger: It’s a work-study trip.

Stranger: I plan on teaching English in Japan. :)

You: Ohhhhhhh

You: How exciting!!!

You: How long?

Stranger: This summer? 2 and a half weeks

Stranger: I have a feeling that, deep down, no foreigner is really desired for much longer than that.

You: Whyyyy?

You: We love foreigners :)

You: They bring such rich culture with them

Stranger: Perhaps… but I do not really desire to bring culture

Stranger: I wish to adopt culture

Stranger: I want to throw away what makes me American

Stranger: I dislike it.

Stranger: We’re vile. Rude. INhospitable sometimes.

Stranger: The peopel you meet in Japan, who are foreigners. They are most likely running away from what I am describing…

Stranger: Did you know about the girl who was raped in Japan, by a marine from here?

Stranger: She was murdered.

Stranger: Those kinds of things cannot be overlooked.

You: Oh no…

You: I haven’t heard

You: What happened?

Stranger: I’m not sure. But she was 15 years old. Raped and killed.

Stranger: The man who did it is in prison right now…

Stranger: But they were going to let him off. WHY would you let him off.

You: Why??

Stranger: I do not know.

You: :( (((

You: But not all Americans are bad

You: !

You: You seem very nice :)

Stranger: Yeah. You’re right.

Stranger: I’m probably running for the wrong reasons.

Stranger: I could live here, I could stay.

Stranger: But I don’t want to.

Stranger: Is that okay? Am I allowed to live in Japan? Or… will it be a problem some day

You: No its fine!

You: Maybe you check visa status?

Stranger: I try hard to study and understand/read Japanese… I slowly develop, I understand culture and I am relative. I am a social scientist in college.

You: I’m not exactly sure…

You: Ohhhhhh

You: What major?

Stranger: Social Science, concentration in Sociology

You: Where is your school?

Stranger: My PURPOSE, miss, is to understand cultures all around the world.

Stranger: To live and experience them, and to know why it happens.

Stranger: Why we’re all different.

Stranger: School is in Illinois

Stranger: A state here

Stranger: the University of Illinois

You: Ohhh

You: Sociology sounds like a wonderful major!

You: It is very important to understand different cultures.

You: Sometimes we can get too comfortable with our own culture

You: The world is a big place!

Stranger: Yes. Sometimes it becomes ethnocentric.

Stranger: I feel like

Stranger: I appreciate Japanese culture more

Stranger: I know its negatives. The ups and downs, I understand that.

You: Uh huh.

Stranger: BUt the contrasts between American Society and Japanese society are very …

Stranger: “bright”

Stranger: Differences are big.

Stranger: Where there are differences. There are similarities.

Stranger: But the important things, are all fundamental to me.

Stranger: so I chose to move.

You: I see

You: I have a very good saying for you:

You: “Home is where the heart is”

Stranger: I’ve been preparing this goal for 9 years. I hope I can be good enough for your society.

You: Oh congratulations!

Stranger: Home is where the heart is. I believe that.

You: I went to vacation in Europe in summer too

You: 1 month!!

You: Backpack only trip

Stranger: Oh my goodness. that sounds fine!

You: Very life-changing experience

Stranger: Wonderful.

You: I always think Tokyo so boring

You: Same thing

You: But I always thought Europe was so wonderful

You: Paris, Rome, Venice!

You: So romantic

Stranger: Haha… is it perhaps the places we have never seen, that we are most accustomed to seeing?

You: I read many book and watch many videos

You: Haha yes!

You: But after going to Europe

You: Very beautiful

You: But, I love home more now

You: Traveling is very good for the soul :)

Stranger: You now can appreciate where you are.

You: Yes!

Stranger: You see, contrasting and comparing gives us a very clear view of reality.

Stranger: Now we know where we want to be.

Stranger: This summer, I’ll visit Ashikaga, just north of your place.

Stranger: And I’ll be an hour from Tokyo, yeah.

Stranger: We’ll see if I’m going to live in Japan permanently, this summer…

Stranger: I’ll be able to decide.

You: I will pray for you!

You: Good luck!

Stranger: Thanks. I appreciate that.

You: Anyways Stranger, I have to leave now

You: I loved talking to you!

Stranger: If all I ever know is your name, would you tell me so I can remember you?

You: Good luck on your life journey!

You: My name is Hiromi :)

You: Your name?

Stranger: Thank you, Hiromi. I’m Joe.

You: Nice to talk to you Joe!

Stranger: I’ll remember you.

You: :)

Teaching

I think that teaching is one of the most beautiful things that we have in the world. Looking at the student’s eyes–beaming at you. Eager to absorb knowledge as well as contribute their own feelings, thoughts, and aspirations. Every time I experience this from my Sunday School kids my heart just melts.

Teaching is a difficult path. Not easy by any means. You will always face students who are unwilling to participate and even rebellious. Withdraw your backhand and give them the attention that they crave.

Students don’t remember everything you may tell them, but they will always remember how you acted toward them. They don’t see you just as a teacher, but as a friend, a mentor, and even an older brother or sister. You build a bond that transcends the classroom and becomes almost spiritual in nature.

Teachers. Some of the most noble people in society. How can society run without teachers? Simple answer–we can’t. Without teachers we would all just be empty vessels and mindless in soul and spirit.

Teachers. Under-appreciated.

Let’s give our teachers some love today.

Winter Break Photos Cont..

12-30-2009 @Midnight:

Anna really wanted me to eat chili-cheese fries from Nation’s Burgers for the longest time, so out of nowhere when she headed home from work, she surprised me by bringing some home! Along with some random chocolate cake…

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Ready to grub!
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artery-clogging goodness
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me ready to grub!!
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random chocolate cake -- still delicious

12-31-2009:

Anna and I meet up my dad at Emeryville and watch Avatar together in 3-D. I swear, it was the most epic movie I have probably seen in my life. Although trying to fit those 3-D glasses over my prescription glasses was really awkward, I somehow got it to stay on for the entire movie and whole-heatedly enjoyed it.

I think after watching that movie, I truly started to feel “old”. Movies in 3-D?!?!?! When the hell did they make it so seamless and amazing? No but if you haven’t watched Avatar yet, I highly suggest you to do so.

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Eating a burger before the movie
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Me holding my burger, also with my new haircut.
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Me and pops
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pops and anna