I often wonder what led me to the path of purpose that I’ve been walking on. I’ve tried doing many different things, but in the end I realized it’s all responding to the same call.
When I was in high school, I volunteered for 2 years at the hospital that my dad worked at. Every Saturday, my job was to sit at the information desk from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and answer all sorts of questions, from where a patient could borrow a wheelchair to different physicians’ appointment schedules. I also briefly helped out at the medical records department where I sorted through everyone’s medical record and took out the ones whose owners had been diseased.
When I was in college, I went to the Philippines with 5 other classmates, led by our Professor of Bible class. We volunteered in impoverished neighborhoods in rural Philippines, helping kids learn more about Taiwanese culture and language. I remember being welcomed into a church where each of us was served a bowl of white rice porridge covered with flies. I’ve been a germophobe my whole life, but refusing to eat the food would be rejecting the kindness of the people who offered us their best. I shooed the flies away with my hand and ate the porridge.
When I was getting my Masters in Translation and Interpretation in Monterey, California, I got the chance to intern at Stanford Hospital as a medical interpreter. After my internship, I stayed and worked part-time, helping patients who didn’t speak English communicate with physicians. Usually those were elderly patients whose children brought them to America, but were too busy to go to the hospital with them. I could only imagine their fear and insecurity, so I tried my best to reassure them everything’s going to be okay. It was a tough time for me personally. Everyday I woke up at 6:30 am, drove 16 miles to work, and after work, drove 16 miles back, and studied medical vocabulary for another 2 – 3 hours before going to sleep. When I was the only person in the examine room who understood both parties and a single mistake in my interpretation could lead to serious consequences, the pressure and responsibility were sometimes too much to bear.
Then I discovered something I would later dedicate my whole heart to – animal rights. I worked at an animal rights organization for nearly 5 years, speaking up for those whose voices aren’t heard. I worked with celebrities, media outlets, activists around China, did research, campaigns, and marketing. I went from knowing nothing about China to being able to work as our PR person and write articles in Simplified Chinese on Chinese social media sites. We’ve achieved so much by changing minds and attitudes.
A few months ago, I shifted my career again. I’ve been involved with a creative business school Knowmads Hanoi, to help individuals discover who they are and what positive change they want to make in the world. I’ve also been learning more about Art of Hosting, and how to hold space for conversations to happen. I left the animal rights circle not because I don’t want to speak up for animals anymore – in fact, Knowmads has helped me create my own Instagram, Facebook and website to share about a happy and healthy vegan lifestyle. I began taking interest in personal transformations because I realized just because someone doesn’t eat or use animals doesn’t mean they’re connected, peaceful, or nonviolent. It could be quite the opposite from what I’ve witnessed, and from my personal experience.
From volunteering at hospitals, impoverished areas, to speaking up for animals, and then working at an alternative business school – these may seem completely unrelated fields. But in retrospect, I realized that all this time my call is to create a new world, where all lives are equal, empowered, respected, and where there’s peace, compassion, and freedom for everyone.
In each phase of my life, I tried to do something that I thought could help create that world, but each time there seemed to be something missing. I only realized now, after living in 6 different countries doing the work I love, that the world I’ve been trying to create is like a puzzle, and every time I made an attempt to explore a new area, a piece of the puzzle was put to place. And throughout the process, I see transformations and hope for myself, and for the world.
I’m not going to sugarcoat anything and say the world we’re living in is only a peaceful, beautiful place. There’re daunting challenges we’re facing today, which, if left unaddressed, will eventually lead to our demise. From human overpopulation, hunger, poverty, terrorism, sexism, speciesism to environmental destruction, to say this world is f*ked up is an understatement. But how can we shift our focus from the negative to the positive? How can we, instead of propping up the old paradigm and trying to fix it, create a new one?
I don’t have answers. With each passing day, I’m discovering my new unique contributions to myself and to the world. The only thing I know for sure is that I’m committed to walking the path of purpose, even though it means to get out of my comfort zone and challenge my ego most of the time. I’m not the kind of person to be stuck with a job I don’t like, a marriage or relationship that doesn’t help me grow or evolve, or an environment that doesn’t excite me. I’m a changemaker who’s open to the flow of life, and you can be, too, if you choose to. Are you ready to embark on a journey of uncertainty and creativity, to live a life worth living?