Belated Blog Post


Thank you for the birthday wishes last week.

This past month while I have been silent in terms of the blog, I have been actively gaining life experiences. A couple of individuals have put me in positions to challenge existing schools of thought, which I thank them for. For those that understand my personality type (ENTP in the myers-briggs), I respect and welcome those who challenge me. Just know, I may challenge back :)

As I reflect on whether in my 25th year that I would be in the position I am now, I can't say that being here in Finland was a lifelong plan. I have organically built my life by taking the situations of today to influence the life of tomorrow. My life is not one big plan, but rather a series of small plans.

One of my favorite characters in literature is Chauncey "Chance" Gardener of Jerzy KoziƄski's "Being There". Chance does not force his beliefs onto others. Rather, to use a basketball analogy, he lets "the game come to him." He makes his way through life by being his authentic self.

I often contemplate whether the 21st century, as life becomes more automated and developed, whether what it means to be human will be redefined. Are we supposed to emulate technology, as we begin to adopt technology in more facets of our life? Will human emotion transform into machine efficiency? Will Mark Cuban's prediction that in 10-20 years a liberal arts degree will be more valuable than certain STEM degrees come true?

Three updates: Return to Turku, Public Speaking Club in Lappeenranta, and "Birthday" Celebration

Return to Turku
One highlight of my past month has been my visit back to Turku for the Fulbright American Voices Seminar at the University of Turku. There, Thinh and I gave a presentation on immigration in the United States. We shared our personal immigration journeys. It was well received by the audience members. I was asked by a youth reporter at the Turun Sanomat (Turku newspaper) to do an interview later that weekend and I happily obliged. Will share that article once it is out.

Presenting with Thinh at the American Voices Seminar

I enjoyed listening to a lot of other interesting presentations. Some but not all topics include: parallels of American music from 1960s to today (shout out to Dr. Dan Cobb with the musical performances!), liberal arts college system (which I knew very little about), and 3d toy making (cool futuristic presentation).

Public Speaking Club in Lappeenranta
This will be of particular interest to my Alameda Tongue Twister Toastmasters club readers. Depending on the perspective, this part of the post may be viewed positively or negatively, but I encourage Toastmasters (and everybody else) to keep reading.

As part of my quest to start a club in Lappeenranta, I set up a booth at my university club fair.

View of my booth, with me missing

Over the course of three hours, I spoke with those interested in improving their communication skills. Sixteen people even filled out a survey which I created.

I asked students the following questions:
1. What skills would you like to develop from a communications club?
2. How often would you like to meet, assuming a meeting time of 1.5 hours?
3. Would you pay 45 euros for a 6 month membership to make our club a Toastmasters International club ?                                                                                                        The primary benefits of being part of a Toastmaster club include, but are not limited to,                              1. participate in an internationally accredited speaker program and earn certificates which can be sent to employers
      2. obtain recognition by participating in international Toastmaster speaking contests and participating in Toastmasters leadership training             

After much deliberation over the survey results and the conversations I had, I decided at this time that creating an independent public speaking club with elements of debate mixed in would be more beneficial to the Lappeenranta student body than creating a Toastmasters club.  A) I do not believe that students should have to pay 90 euros to participate in a program that will only be in session 9 months in a year. I recommend Toastmasters looks at its policy regarding university clubs because, in my opinion, the current membership model does not fit the needs of students.

B) Creating an independent public speaking club also allows for some creativity in terms of structure. It is going to contain elements of what you normally see in a Toastmasters meeting (speeches), but there will also be a debate component in which an important issue will be discussed and debated from both perspectives. It is this emphasis on debating which is why I decided on the name Lappeenranta Forum. I believe that perspective is gained only when people argue over both sides of an issue. Being young adults in university, it is important that we are able to understand issues as a whole as opposed to being confined to a biased viewpoint. If this club is successful, I think we all will develop useful skills to take with us for our future endeavors.

I have already scripted out the mission, vision, and concept of the club. I am working with another student on the establishment of the club and we will finalize the concept tomorrow. Once we agree on the concept, I can share it publicly in a future post.

"Birthday" Celebration

I postponed the initial celebration of my birthday from the 4th because I was not feeling well to the 13th, the Friday after I arrived back from Turku. But to be honest, birthday celebration is a bit overhyped. It is just one of the 365 days on the calendar. I personally feel weird nowadays whenever people sing happy birthday, and I requested that no one sing it. I just used my birthday as an excuse to get friends together to my apartment and have a good time :) I will continue to keep it that way moving forward.

Group selfie at my "birthday" gathering

Cake courtesy of my friend Ali

A second cake courtesy of my Finnish friend Paula