Reflections on Mu: More than a Cow Sound (Week 7)

What is “mu”?

Spelled like a Greek letter found in calculus equations and often heard on Old McDonald’s farm, mu – like Transformers – is much more than meets the eye (and ears). More accurately, it is much less too! In Japanese, mu means “no” or “nothing” but even this explanation falls far short of what mu really is.

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A Mountain Sunrise Hike a Day Keeps the Doctor Away (Week 6)

That’s how the saying goes, right? It’s certainly true for me and luckily none of my photoshoot antics at various summits have backfired. Friday evening, my friend and I planned to go hiking the next day in Rodriguez, Rizal, the province to the east of Metro Manila. We figured that if we could make it to the mountains, we’d be able to find a local guide. That was the tricky part: getting to the mountains. We foolishly placed our bets on booking a Grab car at 2:00 AM to drive us to a random mountain, while in the back of our minds’ probably recognizing that it would not work. Well, as expected the Grab car plan A fell through and plan B was not fleshed out enough for us to feel comfortable. We decided to hold off until Sunday, plan a real travel itinerary, and contact a local guide beforehand. Day 2 was much more successful, and we invited another friend too.

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The Asian-American Paradox: Simultaneously Both and Neither (Week 5)

Going into this experience, I expected to have a difficult time navigating my Asian-American identity being back in Asia for the first time in over a decade. Being half Japanese, my Asianness has always made up an unfair percentage of others’ perceptions of me – explicitly and implicitly. Being constantly misidentified and discriminated against (especially by people and in places which were important to me) on the basis of my heritage and appearance has kept me doubtful of my place in America despite spending almost my entire life as an American. Being Asian-American carries a unique brand of insecurity in that, regardless of the truth, some people (mostly non-Asians) will always see me as a fob and others (mostly Asians) see me as whitewashed. Many of my fellow Americans would sooner pin a random non-American White guy who just disembarked from the plane as their countryman than me, solely because Asian-Americans are constantly perceived as being foreign. And many of my fellow Asians quickly pick me apart from the rest, recognizing my weak connection to my Japanese heritage and inability to speak in my mother tongue. In the past, I found little security between these two communities, both of which actively push me away. I am either too White or not White enough.

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Back to Back from Bangkok to Bali (Week 4)

My family did not go on vacation often. It is expensive and scheduling off work is difficult. I’m very thankful to the Freeman Foundation for funding my weekend travels and experiences this summer. I’m also thankful to be working with an organization that has flexible hours on tasks that can be handled remotely.

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A Tale of Two Summers. But first, Shakira and KBBQ (Week 3)

This past weekend was full of ~unique~ experiences. On Friday, a few other W&M students and I spent the night out on the town in Makati. What started with a subpar dinner soon transitioned to watching midget boxing (a recommendable one-time experience) and then clubbing. At the fight ring, the boxers were treated respectfully as fighters/actors/professionals, for which I am glad. We got to the club a little too early, so someone had to break in the dancefloor – that person was me. Shakira came on and that was that. After a couple hours of dancing and making sure everyone else got back to their residences in Makati and BGC safely, I took a Grab back to my hotel in Quezon City. I spent Saturday working overtime on some data analytics in R for CheckMySchool and weightlifting at Gold’s Gym down the street. On Sunday, we regrouped in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) to explore some malls and swim. The highlight of the day, though, was Korean barbeque for dinner. Tell me I have 57 minutes left at a buffet and you will witness 57 minutes of me trying to meet my macros for the entire week.

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