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2015 and beyond? A bit of permanence

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Not a bad spot for a quick photo

It is a little bit strange for me to realize that the last time I’d written anything for public consumption was in 2014. My time in South Korea now feels ever more like a distant memory or dream, even while so many parts of that year remain vivid and influential on my current experience (the occasional Facebook chats from former Korean students are a helpful and welcome reminder)! As I’ve been told tends to happen while in your 20s, a lot can change in a few months.

As of mid-December, I find myself residing in the Inner Richmond neighborhood of the self-proclaimed #bestcityever of San Francisco. For those that don’t know it, the Richmond district is also home to some of the best Asian fare in the city—endless options for dim sum, bahn mi, pho, and, yes, kimchi. Needless to say, I feel right at home here. Transitioning back to the lifestyle of the west coast and NorCal has been a bit of a challenge. Prior to moving, I was working on an election project on K St. in Washington, DC, and going from a campaign-style level of work-life balance to a position where everyone is out the door at 5 pm on the dot is unsettling. The bottom line is this: I love my work and my new city. My new position, as an undergraduate college admission officer, gives me the opportunity to travel around the country, meet and learn about talented students, champion education, and think creatively about how to differentiate and communicate about our institution within a sea of great colleges and universities.

San Francisco itself is a treat. I had only been to the city twice before moving here. The first time I visited was as a child with my family, and I remember being thrilled to see the standard touristy things like the cable cars going up and down the extremely steep streets of Nob Hill, but didn’t have a sense for a spirit of SF. My second visit was while in college during spring break, a particularly rainy excursion of finding cheap dumplings and exquisite coffee from a then-less well-known Blue Bottle. While I think Washington, DC will always remain my favorite American city and I hope to move back there someday, SF’s unique neighborhoods and inherent progressive spirit make it a wonderful place to live, even if the rent is too damn high. My apartment itself is just a 20-minute walk from Baker Beach and a 30-minute walk to work, so I’m enjoying not having to deal with Metrorail, even if MUNI sometimes has its own challenges.

This past week, my good friend Jordan visited from NYC and I got the chance to really explore the city anew, walking almost every major neighborhood and visiting such sights as the makers of Anchor Steam beer, the Anchor Brewing Co, and La Taqueria, the home of FiveThirtyEight’s Burrito Bracket Challenge “Best Burrito in America.” Having a friend visit is a great excuse to be a tourist in your own city.

Now, I also have a strange sense of permanence. For the first time in many years, I’m not constantly wondering and asking what’s next. There’s not an inevitable graduation or move-out date the way there was with high school, college, or even my Fulbright grant. While I still relish thinking about what’s next to come, it’s also encouraging to settle in a little bit and get to know the people and the place. And, being in admission, I still get to leave pretty often (hello San Diego and OC this weekend, NYC next month!). Instead of “what’s next” being about a new job or position or city, it’s about finding strong community—now that’s a long-term project.

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A new kind of publication: Seersucker.

Traditional media is made up of a hierarchical structure. The best publications of our time, or at least the most widely respected, cull their content from a specific contingent of “qualified” writers. To get published, you need to work your way up the traditional structure; attend J-school, do beat reporting, and, even then, you need some luck. The Internet was supposed to shake up media, but the way it has done so is more reserved to the realm of how media is consumed and disseminated. Sure, with the Internet everyone can be a creator, but the hulks of the media industry still seem to somewhat rely upon finding traditional writers.

In rare cases, such as that of NYTimes reporter Brian Stelter, younger voices break through and get hired by the old media. This was one product of the Internet. A side effect, however, was that in creating a platform for the dissemination of content, there ended up being a ton of it…and much of it not very good. Essentially, the Internet has allowed anyone to write (both good and bad) and let the older publications push their content out faster. However, there’s a gap here.

Where is the voice of the ever coveted 18 to 24 demographic in the media? It feels like so many publications seek to cater to these individuals, but don’t trust that same audience to write or create on a large scale.

Enter Seersucker.

Visually beautiful, with a clean layout for reading content, Richie Siegel’s new online publication seeks to offer a suave platform for young voices to add their say to the media. Equating it to “The New Yorker for our generation,” Seersucker looks like a publication to be taken seriously. While it’s the content that matters, perhaps this kind of effort will make the higher-up media moguls take notice of the young talent out there.

While it was just recently launched, and content is looking a bit thin, you can take a look at Seersucker by visiting http://seersuckermag.com

Disclosure: I have discussed some of the aspects and strategy of Seersucker with the site’s founder, but the views here are mine alone.  

A Second Semester Senior

Wow–it’s been quite some time since I’ve taken the time to write a post here. I feel like that’s a pretty standard problem with blogs. As much as one might have to say, consistently blogging can be pretty time consuming. A former professor of mine always added the sub-title to his blog as it being “a part of the slow-blog movement.” Perhaps I should add that tagline to mine as well…

Regardless of the speed of the blog, life hasn’t slowed down one bit. Remarkably, I’m actually a second semester senior. The day before I arrived back on campus, the facebook statuses by my peers and friends embellished the emotion of the moment. This is supposed to be IT. This is the “end”…or, conversely, the “beginning.” For me, I haven’t felt much of that. Instead, this semester just feels like a capstone; a moment where I feel like I can actually do things at the level I want them to be done at. 

Because this is already becoming a self-reflection post, I’m going to indulge in a bit more about my academic endeavors this semester. For my coursework, I’m taking a full set of classes. It’s perhaps a bad idea for the spring of senior year, but losing the opportunity to take the unique classes offered here would be a shame. The courses are: 

Politics of Journalism, a course with the ever-quoted Professor John J. Pitney of Claremont McKenna College. It’s been a great learning experience so far…did you know that LBJ never said “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the war” or any other variation of the phrase. Examining the relationship of the media with political and corporate actors in such depth is highly satisfying. 

Restoring Nature, with Professor Paul Faulstich at Pitzer, is a course dedicated to restoration ecology theory and practice, focusing on the restoration of the Outback, a coastal sage scrub ecosystem on the Pitzer College campus. I’ve never done any sort of environmental analysis course before, but I have been involved in some of the politics of the Outback (a portion of it was used to build new dorms) as a part of the college’s governance. 

My third course is Neoliberalism, a seminar taught by the popular professor and Fulbright adviser extraordinaire Nigel Boyle at Pitzer. The class is also the first ever IGLAS seminar at the College. IGLAS is the Institute for Global-Local Action and Study, a new entity at Pitzer that seeks to connect scholarship and activism both domestically and abroad. 

Finally, I am working on a Senior Thesis. Coming out of my work in my seminar in Technology and Politics last semester, the thesis will examine the emergence of transnational identity through the development and evolution of the Millenium Development Goals…or so I hope. More on that later. 

While I don’t know where my journey will take me beyond college graduation, I want to live this semester as much in the moment as possible and do it right. From class to friends to the future, it’s gonna be a great time. A year ago, I had just returned from my study abroad in China. Now, it’s time to do the rest of my time at Pitzer the right way. 

I wish you all the best for your spring. Somewhere in the depths of my computer rests a post I wrote for reflecting on the new year.

Expect more here. Maybe. 

Senior year…and a social diversion

It’s taken me some time to get to the point where I can accept that I’m actually a senior in college. This is happening. *Insert 5 or 6 more cliche lines about it being “the end” and having to enter the “real world.”*

Phew.

But quite seriously, the semester has been both fast and slow so far. While I jumped into my new roles on campus as an Admission Fellow and the Student Senate chair quickly, accepting the academic environment once again has not been so easy. For some reason, going from the 9 to 5 life to a patchwork assembly of seemingly random class times and due dates is not a smooth process. At the same time, being in academia has its wonders. Suddenly, spending multiple hours a day contemplating readings on the nature of technology and politics seems like a fair and worthwhile endeavor. Senior year also makes me want to do it all. Is that normal? I would assume so.

While I stew over my musings, you could check out an event that I would love to be at: A bunch of great organizations are currently putting on the Social Good Summit in NYC for UN Week. It has an incredible list of speakers working to improve the world, and the entire thing is available for live stream. While I contemplate, you should check it out:

http://mashable.com/sgs/

Oh, and they have a hashtag: #SGSGlobal

Now, back to that whole “homework” thing. You know, school and stuff.

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