I never know how to write these things. I could tell you very logistical things about my life—I grew up in Bellevue, WA and Pasadena, CA. I started photography in 2009. I graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017, where I studied human-centered design (within the department of mechanical engineering) and anthropology.
I think this is where I’m supposed to talk about my career experiences and life aspirations. Perhaps it’s where I’m supposed to convince you that my opinion matters and that my work is valuable. Unfortunately, I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I can’t even formulate career goals for myself, let alone articulate them to the judgmental void of the internet…but I think I rather be judged for who I am, rather than who I pretend to be. So at the risk of being judged even more, I’ll tell you a bit about myself. No facade, no air of professionalism.
There are two things that have enthralled me intellectually for as long as I can remember. I love to tell stories and I love to learn. Photography equipped me with a visual language to tell my own unspoken stories. It provided an interface in which I could engage new places and capture fleeting moments. Studying product design and anthropology provided me with tools to turn an understanding of people’s personal narratives and unique problems into tangible solutions. I’ve learned that there is nothing more satisfying for me than constantly trying to understand the unique experiences, needs, and characteristics of individuals, societies, and humankind.
That’s really broad, isn’t it? I’ll try to be more specific.
As a selfish individual, I’m fascinated by my family story. I spent the last two months of 2018 traveling through Northern Ireland, London, Hong Kong, and Xiamen; I spoke to relatives, wandered through locations of importance, delved through historical literature, and did my best to unearth what I could about how my family got to where we are today. How did our place in society, historical events, political climate, and personal decisions affect us? Experiences abroad have led me to reconnect with certain aspects of my identity—notably, language.
As someone with a fairly atypical childhood, I’m fascinated by the experience of loss and the mechanics of memory. I use photography to confront my fear of losing—photography has the capacity to preserve invaluable moments and it forces me to engage in the present. I remember in moments, in light, in songs. Losing my father to colon cancer instilled in me an unshakable awareness of the connections between our food, human health, and environmental health. I spent the last year and a half learning about food systems through books by Paul Greenberg, Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, Sylvia Earle, Timothy Pachirat, and many more. I took a graduate summer course—Edible Environments—at Concordia University (Montreal) in 2018 to examine ecological, political, cultural, and economic dimensions of urban food provisioning.
As a fidgety person, I’m fascinated by machines and by making. I’ve disassembled and reassembled a wide variety of objects—bikes, fans, cameras, Gameboys, lenses—just to see how they work. I’ve attempted to make my own clothes, bind my own books, and design a camera. The keyword there is “attempted”.
As a naturally curious human born to loving, hard-working parents in a developed nation, I have been afforded many life-changing opportunities to immerse myself in the world amongst a wide variety of different people. Through various projects the last few years, I’ve been able to learn from dialysis nurses, airplane maintenance engineers, members of the US military, Peruvian villagers in the Andes Mountains, and house painters in Boston.
The curse of curiosity is that I never feel like I’m learning enough. I am a voracious reader, consuming books of all genres to gather information, understand unique experiences, analyze and appreciate different storytelling mechanics, revel in the beauty of words, and seek pieces of emotional resonance. I read a lot, but I don’t know what to do with it after. The curse of curiosity and the blessing of privilege is that I have no idea where to take my boundless desire to learn.
I wish I could end this little ramble with a more concrete conclusion—a life goal or concise sentence that might convey exactly who I am or who I want to be, but to do so would be disingenuous. For now, I am honing my qualitative research abilities and thinking of ways of building meaningful human connections. I constantly reflect on the past and consider the future, but beyond all, I am trying to make the most of my time on this marvelous and mysterious planet with the people I love.