A Piece of Life

Sitting in the classroom, bored, you look at the clock after some doodles. Suddenly, an unsettling feeling crawls up under every thick of your skin. You realize a mundane, horrible fact: you’re in college. Now what? To Sarah, “growing old” should always accompany “growing up”- the one thing school never teaches us.

I got to know Sarah through a course at UIC. She has a sweet and lively personality that one can immediately feel the warmth just by interacting with her. Three third of the semester passed by, I finally got a chance to hang out with her. As spring is lurking around the corner, we decided to get ice cream at Scoops on a sunny afternoon after class. She seemed excited for a cup of coffee to chat about school and healthy lifestyle.

“I want to get my bachelor’s degree as soon as possible so I can progress on higher education in the far future. I’m running out of time,” Sarah told me about her plan in the near future, “Still got 2 more years to go though. I will be thirty years old by the time I graduate college”

Sarah just transferred to UIC from a community college this spring semester where she majors in Criminology. For scholars like Sarah, there is not much sand left on the other side of the hourglass.

“When I was in high school, I was so motivated. I wanted to get ahead of my game, graduate college early, get a degree, build my career, earn some ‘monee’, you know. But life is never as expected.”

I noticed a slight change in her tone. She tilted her head and free her sight through the window.

“As a six-teen year-old, I never knew that my life could fall apart before my eyes so easily.”

Sarah’s mom was an addict since Sarah was born. Her grandparents raised and supported her through out her life, until they passed away when she was in high school. Knowing the situation, Sarah started working early. She got a job under the table at an Italian restaurant at the age of fourteen. Her high school education was disrupted with financial issues and family problems.

“It was quite an experience, actually. Instead of tasting every ice cream flavor there is in an ice cream store, I tasted the flavor of life,” Sarah busted out laughing talking about her grade school time, “To be honest, it was nowhere sweet, but it sure did open my eyes a lot. I got to learn things that kids my age would never have been able to understand. Things that could take people a lifetime to figure out.”

For Sarah, she must try harder than an average person to be able to build up a comfortable or, at least, sustainable life when she grows up. She was forced to be independent at a very young age. She must learn the hard truth that no one is going to look after her, but herself. While in grade school, most of us were busy complaining about how dinner does not have chicken nuggets, Sarah had to take care for not only herself, but also her grandparents.

“In the cafeteria I worked at, there are middle-aged women still setting goals of getting a Master’s Degree and living a better life. I feel empowered and motivated by those people around me. If they are still capable of doing it at their age, then why couldn’t I be?”

Everyone has their own pace in life. There is no need to worry about what is to come or what has passed. What we need to care for is the present and what to do in the near present. Things are as easy as getting down to do it.

Now that’s life.

That’s Why I’m Always Late

5/10/19

In Vietnam, I always find myself racing the clock with my scooter on its highest speed just to make it to school before they close the gate.

Here in Chicago, I always find myself constantly in misery on a random public transportation hoping the operator would somehow magically finish the route 5 minutes faster, so I can get to class just 2 minutes late.

Don’t judge me just yet. I, too, questioned myself about this problem so many times that I lost counts. The conversation would start like this: “Am I a bad person?” – “No”. “Am I disrespectful to people?” – “No”. “Do I want to be though?” – “No”. “Then why am I always late?”. And the conversation ends right before I even think about the possibility that I am responsible for this that and should be charged guilty of not arriving on time for everything.

As an international student, I went straight from being taken care for by my parents to moving out and living on my own. This means that I have to adapt to the responsibilities of an adult: from the simplest tasks like taking out the trash to the most complicated tasks like learning how to file tax return. And this was a bit of a “throw-off” for me to be honest. Who knows taking out the trash takes a ton of willpower to really do it, and who knows you have tax to file when no one, even your Hiring Manager, gives you an official notification about your tax bracket. My point is, people talk about big things like getting married, buying a house, and climbing the career ladder as remarks of adulthood, but simply being on time for events is a big obstacle to many of us.

Technology grows, and it indeed serves people with a more convenient lifestyle. Younger people are more likely to lose focus on their real life as they are afraid of missing out on other people’s life. FOMO, which stands for “Fear of Missing Out”, is a mental state that people tend to experience while having interaction with social media. Technology advancement brings people together and shrinks the world into the size of their palms. For our generation, it is not about the face-to-face communication anymore as mostly everything is via emails, text messages, and video call. We do not care about the “real time”, but rather we care about whether the job is done or the quality of it. Then, in this 21st century, why on earth would punctuality still be a matter when people can work remotely from home and get things done before the deadline just fine?

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“Millennials have a 24/7 always-on approach to work so coming in late at 9:45am isn’t a big deal,” Ryan Jenkins, Millennial and Generation Z speaker and generations expert, wrote,” since they were sending emails since they woke up at 7:00am and plan to work until 11:00pm.”

Millennials consider chronological time secondary comparing to “event time”, and it is not all their fault to blame. When it comes to perception of time, M-time cultures tend to take chronological time seriously as they prefer to make clear plans and manage their time precisely, while P-time cultures are more laid back as they adapt to “event time” and like to multi-task for convenience. Although this difference in behavior represents regions and countries, it may represent an abrupt shift from Generation X work pace to Millennials work pace. As us Millennials are the generation that has the most exposure to technology and social media, they have a significant impact on how we work and perceive our world. For instance, Generation X gets their work done mostly through face-to-face interaction as technology was not sufficiently effective to allow them to work remotely from home. For Millennials, we also have the same goal, which is “get the work done”, but we have better convenience and are allowed flexibility to prioritize which ever task needs to be done as we are always available even when we are not in office. My point is that technology may have had an impact on us in a way that we did not expect, like shifting from time-oriented to work-oriented.

For some of us, we are still young it feels like we have all the time in the world. We don’t really cry over a couple of spilled minutes and we count the completion of the job more important than time. However, for some, it might not be the same. Thus, understanding this difference can help us become more flexible with our business partners. To me, it is okay to sometimes show up late to work, as long as there is no task that is involved other people on that day or there are no planned appointments and events for the day. Other than that, I am all about the productivity and “getting the job done” with the best quality possible.

Referred source: https://www.inc.com/ryan-jenkins/how-to-have-millennials-show-up-to-work-on-time.html

I do not own the image in this post.

“I was born with a beating heart. I might as well compose a song about my life on that beat.”

Many people spend a lifetime chasing an arbitrary symbol of a well-lived life called “success”. Yet, many have failed to define such term. In Samantha’s world, living everyday of your life to its full potential is as important as searching for success at the end of the tunnel.

I met Samantha on a cold winter day at the Writing Center. At the time, she struck me with the impression of a very quiet, yet clever woman. Only until last week, we had the chance to grab lunch together. With a soft and warm voice, Samantha traced back to every single piece of her memories of the past decisions that eventually led her to this exact moment: “I have always been passionate about journalism, yet, for most of my adolescent life, I had my feet firmly planted in the undecided section.”

Samantha is a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is majoring in Political Science and minoring in English with a focus on Professional Writing. During the fall semester of 2018, she started working at a local newspaper department as an intern. At the beginning of Spring 2019, she started working there as an editor aid. From 2018 until now, Samantha has been working as a staff tutor at the Writing Center.

Her story began in the spring semester of 2018, when Samantha started tutoring in the Writing Center. At the time, she was a sophomore with no distinct goals for her upcoming years of college.

“At first, I was energetic for this, but it quickly falls apart as the semester goes on,” Samantha confessed. “Don’t get me wrong. The Writing Center is an energetic playground for scholars who seek guidance, and I really enjoy working there with other tutors to help students. It was not about the course contents or the workload. It’s that something is still missing, and I could not find it just yet.”

Everyone goes to college for a different reason. For people who already knew what they wanted to do, college is when they acquire and refine skills for their future career paths. For some, it may be an extra chance to discover themselves a little more. Whatever the reason is, college is believed to be every student’s last chance to discover their life purposes and scratch out their own paths. For Samantha, she enjoyed the honor of working as a tutor and at the time. However, in the long run, she still found herself wanting more than just… “this”.

“It’s like a beat was missing from the song, you know?”

In the fall semester of 2018, Samantha started working as an editorial intern for her local newspaper. It was a life-changing event for her. She was very excited as she had finally gotten to do what she wanted most: to be involved in journalism. I saw a spark in her eyes as she spoke about the experience.

“I really enjoy talking to people from all walks of life,” Samantha explained, “I think everyone has a story to tell, and my writing skills help me give a voice to people who often go unnoticed by society at large”.

I noticed Samantha’s expression as if there was something else she wanted to share with me. I asked her as if she was comfortable with the interview. She hesitated for a while and decided to open up to me about what was on her mind. “After I have worked for more than a semester, I don’t really think it’s something I would consider a career. It’s more like this form of expression that will stay with me in whatever line of work I go into,” Samantha said, “But, now, I don’t know what I want to do after graduation anymore.”

For most of whom are lucky enough to have proper parental guidance, our lives have been planned ahead since we set foot into kindergarten. One big step of the plan includes “getting into college”. This step is so popular in every household’s plan that banks are providing long-term saving plans for parents to save up money for their children’s college education. For years, we have always been told that college was the answer. That college was the key to success. That college could prepare us for adulthood. That we would be assured a place in society after college. However, when we come to think of it, we can see that we are all following the same formula for a guaranteed stable life, and, yet, a sense of uncertainty still creeps up on us occasionally. We ran on a competition for college. After a long run, we finally settled down our seats in a college. We went to class. We did all the work we were told to do. Now what?

This question is still a mystery to most of college students, and Samantha is not an exception. She did all the steps that were thought to be perfect for her resume: get into college, get a job on-campus, get an internship, create connections. However, those tasks do not seem to give her the answer she was looking for.

“It’s like I was lost in the woods without a torch. I just kept on running towards the dark, praying that I was on the right direction.”

Us millennials often find ourselves lost in the middle of our journeys seeking “success”. We encounter obstacles along our ways and we immediately doubt our potential. We rush into finding the answer and we often forget to be patient. We crave for the outcome so badly that we forget to enjoy the process. We are all caught up in the rat race society put us in that we forget to step aside and walk our own paths. We make impulsive decisions and spend days crying over it. We feel miserable, tired, and confused, but aren’t those moment that make youth wild and memorable?

“I never let the past interfere with the present. Everything happened for a reason. I could have never known what I really wanted if I never made decisions that I did not like.”

College education has become an enormous industry that produces qualified work force on a massive scale. College graduates are products being placed upon the shelves in the market, where employers are the customers hunting for a good deal. To compete for a “customer”, these “products” must meet up with certain social expectations, must have certain required skills, and must come from a popular school “brand”. This turns the market into an intergenerational competition as every parent wants their children to get into the most prestigious universities for the best education. As a result, college admissions bribery becomes short-cuts for people who want a guaranteed place in society without putting forth the effort. These people fail to see the true meaning of college: to support and provide students with knowledge so that they can become a better version of themselves. It does not matter which college you go to. It is what you make out of college that matters most.

“Schools often do not serve to disrupt what is happening in society. They are often designed to replicate systems and structures of our society.”

Samantha represents the part of millennials who are clever, smart, and on top of their games, yet, are still struggling with their life purposes. Although college may give us knowledge and prepare us better for the “market”, it is not a one size fits all kind of shirt for everyone. We still have to rely on ourselves to draw our distinct paths, and some of them might not include the obstacle called “college”. The most important thing a pilgrim can do is to work hard and embrace all the simple beauty of life along the journey.

“That’s ‘success’ to me.”

Fake News vs. America

On Dec. 20th, 2016, Forbes magazine published an online article stating that Americans could not detect fake news as well as they thought. As a matter of fact, 21st century news consumers are getting worse at detecting fake news to an extent that it brings about real consequences to real people.

To be considered as “news literate,” one should understand the genuine definition of fake news or at least have their own several definitions. Generally, fake news articles consist entirely of intentionally fabricated stories that are misleading for readers. However, from a political point of view, fake news can sometimes be considered as news that does not mesh with one’s own political biases or leaning.

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“To me, fake news is just opinions. There can always be subjectivity and bias in legit news articles because they are all written by people,” said Melissa Martinez, a Research Associate in Institute of Health Research and Policy at UIC,“And people have different beliefs and opinions.”

Fake news articles are undoubtedly toxic when it comes to political campaigns. One of the highlights of the year 2016 was the story of Edgar Welch, who believed that Hillary Clinton was running a satanic child sex-ring in a restaurant’s basement. He came to the restaurant armed with guns and a view to rescue the children, only to realize the restaurant does not even have a basement. Several media outlets then quickly found out that the claim started at a Facebook post and went viral through Twitter. It took researchers of approximately 7 months to finalize that the identities behind this post were mostly associates of the Trump campaign. Welch failed to prove there was any captive child, but he did prove that fake news can have real consequences when it comes to blind news consumers.

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“Comparing ‘real’ news articles to ‘fake’ news articles is like comparing a $5000 pair of Gucci shoes to a $50 pair of off-brand one,” said Brittany Thompson, a freshman majoring in Communications at UIC, “Sometimes, they are basically the same thing, but one of them has legit branding,” she said.

One of the most dominant social media platforms that serve as an unofficial news source is Twitter. The perks of being able to grab convenient, fast, and instant news have gained Twitter a good standing in the competition against other platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. However, a drawback of Twitter is that such instant news flashes can become fake news as things will change through time. Instant pieces of news on Twitter are usually provided by citizens, who happen to witness the situation going on without knowing the context behind it. Thus, news on Twitter might be inaccurate in some occasions. Thus, this fact makes Twitter an unsafe news source.

For instance, on January 17th, 2019, there was an incident between a group of students from Covington Catholic high school and the Black Hebrew Israelite people. Being put in the spotlight was Nicholas Sandmann, who was believed to have been mocking a Native American activist – Nathan Phillips. The video of this encounter went viral at the moment it was uploaded on Twitter. The students were then accused of racism and hatred against the four Black Hebrew Israelites. After several hours, more detailed footage was released. In the video, the students were initially verbally harassed by the Black Hebrew Israelites religious organization. Phillips was the person to stand in-between the students and the Black Hebrew Israelites and sing the song of unity as he faced Sandmann. Although the incident was officially settled by mainstream news articles, it still put Sandmann, a 16-year-old boy, in an unpleasant position when the public’s criticism was still pointing against him and his gesture towards Phillips in the video.

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This situation portrays the fact that there might be a bigger picture being missed behind a piece of video on Twitter that happens to go viral. In this case, specifically, Twitter users and the news consumers immediately jumped right to conclusion after seeing the first release of the video without doing fact check. This problem, in the long run, can be used to manipulate crowds and cause more conflict between communities

“People have judged me based off one expression” – Sandmann told Savannah Guthrie, the NBC’s “Today” co-host, in an interview three days after the incident, “They’ve gone from there to titling me and labeling me as a racist person, someone that’s disrespectful to adults—which, they’ve had to assume so many things to get there without consulting anyone that can give them the opposite story.

Detecting fake news has never been an easy task, even to knowledgeable scholars. Try as they might, the mainstream news producers could not fully stop the spread of fake news. Thus, it heavily depends on news consumers to protect themselves from the consequences lurking behind fake news articles.

BTS WORLD TOUR “LOVE YOURELF” IN SEOUL WILL RE-ENTER THEATRES THIS FEBRUARY.

CHICAGO, Feb. 5, 2019 – BTS’s World Tour “Love Yourself” documentary is coming back to theaters across the U.S. as a response to popular demand worldwide. The tour was filmed at the Seoul Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea in August 2018. The documentary is planned to return to the big screen on Febuary 9 and 10 in selected countries, including the U.S.

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“BTS,” an acronym of “Bangtan Sonyeondan” or “Bangtan Boys,” is a South Korean boyband that has gained international recognition for their authentic and ground-breaking music style. They are the first Korean group to attend the Billboard Music Award and the Grammy. In September 2018, BTS made a great leap in their career when they had the honor to be UNICEF’s ambassador and gave a speech at the United Nations. They were later featured on the cover of Time magazine’s international edition as “The Next Generation Leaders”. With millions of fans all over the world and their achievements so far, BTS has made its name a phenomenon.

On January 26th, 2019, “BTS World Tour: Love Yourself,” an exclusive screening of the band’s most sellout concert of 2018 globally, initially hit movie theaters for a one-day event in 102 selected countries around the world. However, due to a wide demand from the audience, Fathom Events and Pathé Live have decided to bring the experience closer to the audience by re-entering the documentary in cinemas across the U.S. and other listed countries around the globe.

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BTS World Tour: Love Yourself

The documentary is expected to be available at theaters on Saturday, February 9th and 10th, with various time frames. The event will also be available for viewing in eight ScreenX equipped movie theaters across the country.

Tickets for “BTS World Tour: Love Yourselfcan be purchased online at www.FathomEvents.com or LoveYourselfinSeoul.Film or at selected theater box offices from Monday, January 18. Check with your local ticket box for local listings and further information.