The Beijing Rule: Bullying Its Way to Unity

Flag Of China

Six months ago I had a dream about Hong Kong. The city of my birth appeared in great disorder. A dust blanket covered the cityscape as people shuffled through war-torn streets in panic, searching for family, or planning an escape. From above, vivid aerial views of Hong Kong showed indomitable skyscrapers, scattered among them, armies of people drowning in disarray. Six months later, I worry if I had predicted the future.


Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong – endearingly dubbed the Umbrella Revolution for protestors’ pragmatic use of umbrellas as a defense against police violence – hit home tremendously. Free, democratic governance is a value that runs deep in Hong Kong society, and the threat of removing it is not taken lightly, as demonstrated by the ongoing civil disobedience in the dense city of 7 million.

HONG KONG, CHINA - APR 23: Street view with traffic and shops on

Bustling street in Hong Kong

As the number of protesters thins and the reality of stalemate nears, “business as usual” brings no relief to the ever-increasing threat of Beijing control since Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997. Like a broken record, Beijing’s blatant and brutal practices to maintain “control” of its people and eliminate “threats” to its values play over and over again. It occurred to me that Beijing reminded me a great deal of a documentary I recently watched.

The documentary Bully portrays powerful stories illustrating the often-permanent damage of bullying on children. My childhood memories of being bullied, though difficult, made me particularly curious to understand bullies, and undoubtedly make October’s National Stop Bullying Month personally relevant.

By definition, bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. Bullies use their power to control or harm others, and their harmful behaviors are often repeated. Bullying comes in many forms, certainly among children, but also between children and adults, among adults, and in Beijing’s case, between a government and the people it seeks to control.

Here are 5 ways Beijing bullies its people:

Taiwan.

Beijing’s ambiguous authority over Taiwan poses a great threat to the Communist Party of China (CPC), in particular because of Taiwan’s repeated interest to declare independence. As the quiet rebellion continues with no clear move from either party, Chinese politicians are beginning to worry. To strongly discourage Taiwanese independence, Chinese officials planted and aimed 1,600 missiles directly at Taiwan, in a loud, unspoken declaration of threat and power.

Tibet.

For more than 60 years of Chinese control, the once-independent kingdom of Tibet suffers palpable tensions with Beijing. Tibet’s declaration of independence in 1912 was ignored when the CPC planted troops in the region in 1950 and in effect arranged for Tibet to cede sovereignty to China, against their wishes. Tibetans’ wish for independence motivates further insecurity in Beijing, where the government repeatedly denies Tibet’s desire for autonomy. Instead, the Chinese government intentionally encourages Han Chinese businesses and people to live in Tibet, resulting in multiple accusations of “cultural genocide” and religious repression. Justifications for the exploitation of Tibetan land and people is the hope “to even out inequality and tap into natural resources to support growth back east in the Han Chinese heartland.”

Falun Gong.

A discipline born out of the qigong practice of slow movements, meditation and a peaceful moral philosophy, Falun Gong suffers unimaginable acts of torture and abuse in China. A group with no history of violence or terrorist activities, Falun Gong is listed as the number one most active cult in China. In reality, it has become one of the biggest critics of the CPC. In attempts to quiet the growing Falun Gong supporters, the CPC effectively arrest, detain, and coerce Falun Gong members into labor camps. Worse, members have been reported to be tortured through organ harvesting, electrical burns, and beatings. Falun Gong practitioners join many other groups of artists, intellectuals, and reformists as ideological threats to Beijing control.

Uighur Muslim Minority.

A lesser known conflict between the largest minority group in the Xinjiang province and the CPC continues to boil – with nearly 92% of the Chinese population belonging to the Han ethnic group, it’s not surprising that we don’t hear much of the Uighur Muslim minority of China. Similar to Tibet, the autonomous region of Xinjiang frequently sees imprisonment as a means to suppress the Uighur community’s vocal resistance against religious and cultural suppression by Beijing. Recently, a Chinese court sentenced an Uighur academic to life in prison after the CPC accused Ilham Tohti of promoting separatism for his effort to gain respect for Uighur and Xinjiang’s regional autonomy laws.

Hong Kong.

In a familiar attempt to gradually move Hong Kong toward its socialistic ideals, the CPC introduced the highly controversial “national education” to “teach” patriotism. Since 1997, Hong Kong has been operating as a “Special Administrative Region” (SAR) under China. The democratic city’s freedom to vocalize resentment toward Beijing influence in their education system successfully deterred implementation. Two years later, protests erupted this month in the busiest Hong Kong neighborhoods in direct opposition of Beijing’s attempt to eliminate universal suffrage. During the protests, Beijing was accused of hiring thugs who violently harassed peaceful protesters and sexually harassed.

Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China

Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China

Not soon after the Hong Kong protests gained global attention and support, Beijing warned Hong Kong of “unimaginable consequences” should protests continue. Just 25 years after the painful Tiananmen Square Massacre, we are again reminded of who we are up against – a forceful bully, threatened by ideological deviation, driven toward a “unified China,” by any means necessary.

Getting Involved

During the writing of this piece, I met a young man, a student at University of Maryland, College Park, who is leading the Ride to Freedom effort in the Washington, DC area. Ride to Freedom is a global effort to save children who are persecuted for practicing Falun Gong in China. On July 1, 2015, young people will gather in Los Angeles and commit to a cross-country bike ride to Washington, DC. Those who are not able to participate in the ride are encouraged to log their personal bike time in solidarity with and in support of Ride to Freedom riders.

#UmbrellaRevolution in DC

A student-led demonstration in support of Hong Kong democracy at the Washington, DC Chinese Embassy. October 3, 2014.

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Helplessly sifting through videos and articles on Facebook wasn’t going to do it for me. I was looking forward to attending an actual demonstration in DC where I’ll get to commiserate with others over the fight for democracy in Hong Kong. By now, most everyone has heard about the impressively peaceful and organized protests in various neighborhoods of Hong Kong, conducted in opposition of Beijing’s attempt to remove universal suffrage, and effectively eliminate free elections.

On Friday evening I joined a small group of demonstrators in front of the Chinese Embassy to show our support. At 7pm, I trekked up a quiet, tucked away street to find the embassy with no one in sight. I was the first to arrive. I surveyed the area nearby, being cautious not to walk on embassy property, always bearing in mind what the Chinese government is capable of doing to eliminate threat. Sure, this wasn’t Beijing, and I was only one person, but my apprehension of Beijing’s reckless and brutal history remained unmoved.

photo 5I was keenly aware that behind the one-sided glass, guards were watching me survey the area, take photos of the embassy. A Chinese family, perhaps that of an ambassador, entered the premise to return home. Soon, others arrived to join in solidarity with yellow shirts and umbrellas. Coincidentally, it rained pretty good that evening.

Mostly from American University and George Washington University, student demonstrators shared unique perspectives of their connection to the demonstration. A Russian-American student compared Beijing to Moscow. A Chinese-American demonstrator explained that the young people in Beijing support democracy much like we do. A Chinese-American photojournalist, native to Hong Kong, documented the night’s event. A student blogger interviewed me about the protests in Hong Kong. And an Egyptian-American student described her first-hand experience with violent protests in Cairo during the uprising in 2011. She was only 15 years old.

 10257283_10102866306805043_3142542190306980367_oThe Secret Service decided to make an appearance. To be honest – I was quite flattered. There were in total maybe 30 of us, casually chatting with our umbrellas opened. An agent approached us to ask some questions. She was friendly enough. She wanted to know what we were doing, who we were representing, how long we planned on being there. When she asked us if we planned on having any civil disobedience, we looked at each other and shrugged. Is that usually planned? They decided that they’d park on of their agents there and sit with us until we dispersed. I joked perhaps we’d ask them to take our group picture.

Except for the occasional peek out of a glass window, or a small child momentarily playing in the front lawn, no one from the Chinese Embassy engaged with us.

 
Photo credits: Tuan Trung Pham

Malaysia – Hit or Miss? More Like Hit or Stay

My personal account of the elaborate “blackjack scam” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. December 2010.

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Petronas Towers located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

By everyone else’s measure, the fantastic food, warm people, impressive temples, and lush wild places are reasons enough to warrant a top spot on their “must visit” list. From my experience in Kuala Lumpur (KL), I would add “psychologically disturbing scam artists” to the mix.

Traveling alone isn’t unusual for me. I’d done it a number of times before, in various parts of the world, and had certainly become keenly aware of places not to visit, situations not to engage in. KL was no different as I began my stroll from my hostel to visit the Petronas Towers.

It was a hot and sunny December day. As I strolled along a main road toward the Towers, a family jogged up to me asking for me to take their photo. The husband, wife, and their daughter got close for a sweet photo. Malaysians always seemed curious about foreigners. Fitting to this stereotype, they asked me where I was from. After learning that I was from California, the man informed me that his sister would be moving to San Jose soon to work as a nurse. We warmly related to my home and I did not for a second hesitate to agree to meet his sister back at their house. After all, he was with his wife and child. I didn’t even think twice.

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Curious Malaysian man asked for a photo. (Not the man featured in this story.)

I joined them at their house where there were more women and children hanging out. I was enjoying my ice cold Coke when out came an elderly gentleman named Uncle Roger. Uncle Roger was friendly, forceful, and in charge. He was curious about me and my home country. He was familiar with many American cities, including Las Vegas, where he loved to gamble. In fact, he was a dealer at a casino not far from KL. After learning that I was familiar with the game of blackjack, Uncle Roger offered to teach me the single foolproof trick of winning the game. Hah, how quirky, I thought. Sure, why not.

Uncle Roger, the man who brought me to the house, and I walked into a small, empty room filled with nothing but a table, four chairs, a filing cabinet, and a set of chips. Uncle Roger shuffled his cards as he explained to me that the foolproof way of winning blackjack was that he, as the dealer, would do two things: 1) Using hand signals on the table, he would signal to me what the opponent’s hidden card was, and 2) he would slyly reveal to me what the next card in the deck was. He can’t be serious, I thought. This is hilarious, HAH! What a goofball. I was thinking this would make a great story when I got home.

He then began to tell me about the mahjong game he hosted the night before. He was not pleased with the Bruneian businessman who won $30,000 because he didn’t fairly tip the host. Uncle Roger would attempt to win some money back by hosting a blackjack night. I wished him luck.

As if completely on cue, a Bruneian businessman walked into the room. If I never knew what a Bruneian businessman looked like before, I did now. Thick, black-framed glasses sat on his sweaty face. Hair slicked back with too much gel. His silk dragon shirt had way too many colors, mostly blue. His hands, covered in heavy rings, clutched a worn leather briefcase. What the what. Huh?

Time flowed in a funny way, and suddenly we were all playing blackjack. Uncle Roger was dealing, I was playing against the Bruneian businessman, and the man who brought me to the house was pretending to be my boyfriend while giving me blackjack tips. It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to register how strange this was, to be playing blackjack with three strange men.

I won a couple of hands to start. Uncle Roger’s hand signals were so blatantly overt I nearly laughed out loud. We arrived at our last hand. As I mulled over how to move, the Bruneian businessman pulled out of his briefcase a stack of $100s, summing $30,000. He went all in.

My jaw dropped. Eyes grew large. No words came. I looked back and forth, between Uncle Roger and the Bruneian businessman, my hand, and back at them. What? No. No way. Wait, what was happening? The only thing I could utter was, “no.” Having repeated it a number of times, Uncle Roger took the hint and relieved me. “It doesn’t seem like Fiona’s ready to proceed. Why don’t we take a 1-hour break and come back to finish the game.” I dumbfoundedly obeyed.

In order to take a break, we each sealed our hands in an envelope. Uncle Roger was doing this for the Bruneian businessman. Just before slipping his cards into an envelope, he gleamed at me with encouragement as he flashed me my opponent’s cards. He had a losing hand, which meant I would win the game. My mind was finally beginning to catch up with time and registering the ridiculous reality I was in. He wanted me to play a hand of blackjack for $30,000.

We signed the envelopes and placed them in the filing cabinet. I shook hands with the Bruneian businessman before he departed the room. Quite pleased, Uncle Roger readily took out his notebook and began to do the math for how we would win this game. He would loan me $30,000 to keep playing, and naturally, I would win. We would split the winnings among the three of us.

In this instant, my dumbfounded, awestruck naivete spun into a force of fuming anger. I was livid. “Is this what you do?? You go around, looking for vulnerable foreigners, to scam them!?” I yelled at Uncle Roger for taking advantage of my innocence and openness to connect with locals when I travel. I yelled at myself for being taken advantage of. I threw my arms up, yelled some more, and Uncle Roger wasn’t going to have it. “Well, it seems you’re not interested in playing further. You can go, then.”

That was it. They brought me back to downtown KL, gave me hug, and wished me a nice trip in Malaysia.

What. The. F***.

I stumbled back to my hostel, barely discerning the day’s hot sun from the dreamy cloud from which I just emerged. I caught the hostel manager’s attention and had to share. “I think I just got scammed.” Wait for it – here was the best part.

The manager repeated, play-by-play, what happened. As if rehearsing a script, he started with the invitation to the family’s home, the blackjack games, and the offer to loan a large sum of money to “win” the game. He told me that many others had returned from their days’ touring with a similar story. “The German guy last week took many photos with the family. The Finnish guy last month actually went to the ATM and fetched $500 to pay back the money he borrowed.”

I was flabbergasted. Was this some joke? Did he know the people who did this? How often did this happen?

That evening I caught up with a British fellow who was also staying at the hostel. I shared with him what happened to me and he echoed a similar story. I couldn’t believe it. He was also traveling alone and a gentleman caught his attention and asked where he was from. They related to his hometown and the stranger claimed that his sister was attending university in a nearby city; that they should certainly catch up over tea. The British fellow was caught off guard by the strange man’s claim because he seemed too old to have a sister who would be attending university. Otherwise, he probably would have joined for tea.

I felt personally offended and disturbed that my genuine desire to connect with locals was received in this terribly foul way. Why did the family spend hours and hours engulfing me in this scam, just to send me on my way with soft smiles and gentle hugs? So. Confusing. Perhaps Malaysia has strict laws against anything that could jeopardize the tourism industry, which may explain the discreet and covert nature of these missions. Apparently these types of scams are not uncommon in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia, and most recently internet dating scams have arisen in Malaysia.

I managed to visit the beautiful Batu Caves just outside of Kuala Lumpur (below) before continuing my SE Asian adventures in India.

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If you’re planning a trip – be smart, and enjoy Malaysia.

 

 

 

 

 

A Huffington Post tribute.

800 words.

For Dad, on Father’s Day.

Lots of love, wherever you are.

With a convincing mirage of confidence, a charming dose of wit, and a dash of overpowering cologne, my dad welcomes (more like demands) me for a scratchy moustache-kiss on the lips. My memory of Dad is like my memory of my motherland Hong Kong – a narrow, child’s view, forever stuck at age ten – the year when my family and I migrated to California without him.

Etched in my ten-year old memory is my dad as the family philosopher with teachings and lessons suitable for all scenarios. He stayed out late for work just about every night and often missed dinner with the family. We would save him a plate many times just to find the plate untouched the next morning. Sometimes he’d join us for weekend adventures, but most times he wouldn’t. I quickly grew out of a childish admiration for dad and into a confusing mix of intimidation, longing, and distance from this strange man.

After we moved to California and he stayed behind, I dreaded even more those prickly kisses when he visited or those long-distance chats when he called. I had nothing to say to this stranger. Visits turned into phone calls, phone calls turned into emails. Then, my parents’ divorce became finalized and soon after he formally announced his abandonment of the family. We have not heard from him since. None of the momentary shock or emptiness could have prepared me for what would later come – the sense of unworthiness that would rear its ugly head in future romances that indelibly marks the day my dad departed.

The history of my romantic relationships mirrored a common pattern. An infatuation that often started with curiosity and lightness inevitably became engulfed in a murky and confusing web of complexities woven into my past. Sooner or later, deep-rooted and inexplicable insecurities surfaced and unapologetically vanquished the realities of my otherwise happy relationships. Underneath petty fights, these insecurities were derived from a common place – a belief that my romantic partner would abandon me because I am not worthy of his love. Underneath what felt like absolute, visceral truths, the emphatic side of me intuited a profound need for exploration and introspection.

I can’t quite recall the exact ah-ha moment when I realized I wasn’t “crazy” in my relationships. That there was a logically-sound explanation behind the recurring fears of being abandoned and periodic defeat from unworthiness. The reason, as it turned out, eluded me for a decade of confusing relationships and countless journal pages.

Jonetta Rose Barras writes in her book Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little girl? about her experience and research with a condition dubbed the Fatherless Woman Syndrome. She practically opens the book with what I would consider the summary of my own revelation, “A girl abandoned by the first man in her life forever entertains powerful feelings of being unworthy or incapable of receiving any man’s love.” Slippery to grasp at first, the concept gradually took form as I began to understand the powerful yet simple human tendency to project – As a child, I learned my unworthiness when my dad left; as an adult, I projected the same belief that romantic partners would leave just the same. The most dangerous thing about feeling unworthy is that I deprived myself of the most important love of all – self-love.

Fatherlessness can impact daughters differently depending on its nature. Barras explains that a voluntary departure (i.e. divorce or abandonment) versus an involuntary departure (i.e. death) impact a daughter’s psyche differently, where voluntary departures often result in the daughter’s self-blame and feelings of unworthiness. From a macro perspective, fatherlessness on girls can have a detrimental impact on society as fatherless daughters have higher rates of teen pregnancy, greater sensitivity to stimulant drugs than fatherless boys, and in turn become mothers with low self-esteem.

How could I unpack such destructive and deep-rooted beliefs in myself? I recall confessing after a break up that “the best thing I can do now is learn to love myself.” In a process much like a baby learning to walk for the first time, I defined what it means to give myself love:

  • The integrity to choose those who make me happy rather than settle for those who show me love.
  • The right to request for my feelings to be acknowledged and needs to be fulfilled.
  • The freedom of knowing that my fear of abandonment holds no power.

This story of conscious awakening from fatherlessness, though painful, was the only way to beget healing.If anyone skirts away from fear or shame of exploring their childhood, I would posit this: The long-term dividends of a healthier you and subsequent relationships far outweigh the momentary difficulties of unpacking one’s childhood. I owe it to the people that I love – and to myself – to bring my truest self to the table (childhood scars and all).

Father’s Day is particularly moving for me as I celebrate with those who get to brunch with their dads. Personally, the day is a reminder of the deep gratitude I hold for my dad’s presence in my life. I’m sure his lessons in soccer and wisdom in dating would have been plenty, but his teaching in self-love? I’ll never grow out of that.

Preaching Forgiveness

“Now the reason I feel there should be student loan debt forgiveness is that I think it would be the best economic stimulus we could have. Millions of students can’t graduate, or can’t marry, or can’t buy a home. Students are more likely to go home to their parents and work instead of getting an education — these are the negatives of the current system.” – Reverend Jesse Jackson

Read more on Rev. Jackson’s position on student loan debt in The Need for a Mass Movement and Indenturing Our Young People.

The Borrowed Burden

The rewards of a college degree today are unlike those of generations before. If you want to propel yourself professionally in just about any field, a college degree is your foundation. In some fields, a college degree isn’t even enough; pursuing a graduate or law degree becomes a necessity for professional elevation. I don’t have anything against that if the playing field to pursue said opportunities is fair – but it’s not. There is a gap between the fantastically educated and degree-happy society we aspire towards and the reality of how we can achieve it, and it’s about $1.2 trillion wide.

On May 14, 2014, the US Senate held a press conference to introduce a piece of legislation that would level the playing field for student loan borrowers – it would allow refinancing of student loan interest rates much like for mortgages or small businesses. US Senators Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, Richard Blumenthal, Al Franken, and Jack Reed proposed legislation that would allow student debt holders to refinance their loans to match lower market rates. This law, if passed, would apply to public and private loans, where I’ve heard interest rates as high as 9.2%.

Click the photo to watch the 30-minute press conference (my bit starts at 13:00).

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Daring as it may be, this legislation is just the tip of the iceberg. The more I explore the system and talk to student loan holders, the more puzzled I become by the complexities of the questions that arise.

Why do we keep paying for college if it’s so expensive? 

Four-year colleges and universities are expensive in the US. To be exact, they have experienced a tuition increase of 1120% since 1978 while managing to hand out more degrees than ever. Based on simple economics, the increase in the price of a good generally reduces the quantity or rate at which it will be consumed. Paying for our college education, however, is more complex than that because both the assigned value and presumed return on investment (ROI) fluctuate over time.

Maybe that’s the problem. How often are we considering a college education as an investment by which we receive some return that justifies the high price tag, and keeps us financially afloat while paying back our loans? It’s a question of supply and demand, and one I believe every student needs to be able to reasonably answer before making student loan decisions. Borrowers could review information on occupation-specific salaries, university job placement statistics, regional earnings, and occupational growth potential before making a decision. By integrating relevant data into our decision-making process, thus treating it like a financial investment, we could more closely align the costs we pay and the market demands for our degrees.

Will we ever have free higher education? 

All things considered, this is a distant goal, but one important to consider. No doubt the math is more complex than simply moving the $69 billion spent on student aid each year to the estimated $62.6 billion necessary to offer free education at public universities and colleges. It would be prudent to understand how countries like Germany, Mexico, and Greece are currently offering no-cost higher education. Similarly, we can learn a thing or two from Sweden’s model as their free education comes with a high price. Forbes contributor, Josh Freeman, writes a comprehensive review of the pros and cons of free higher education in the US.

Is college the only way? 

At the end of the day, college provides an education by which students benefit from social mobility, meaningful job placement, and increase in earnings. College undoubtedly also provides a novel and exciting environment for personal development in equally important areas such as emotional intelligence, sociability, networking, and leadership. Innovative education solutions have sprung up that provide the benefits of college without the high price tag. Small yet powerful initiatives like the Experience Institute , The Leap Year Project, and The Open Master’s introduce new ways of educating by combining the importance of cohort learning and shared networks with immersive real world experience, at little to no cost. The idea is that we don’t have to pay for expensive degrees if we could simply re-create the environments in which students learn and thrive.

If we did borrow, why are we often so blinded by our student loans? 

There is a certain responsibility for a borrowing student to understand what she is signing the dotted line for, but there is absolutely no doubt that the system’s predatory practices on this often financially vulnerable population are founded on lack of transparency. Many students often have no idea how much they owe, when payments are supposed to begin, whom / how to pay, or what options they have for affordable payments. It could neither be the University’s nor the bank’s priority to ensure the borrowing student understands all the fine print of her loans because her resultant smarter decisions could conflict with their interests. Therein lies the problem – the  current student loan process is administered entirely by stakeholders that gain from the borrowers’ ignorance and lack of insight.  Fast forward four years, our borrowing student nears graduation and only now begins to communicate with her loan servicer to discuss repayment. She is not offered repayment plan options unless she knows to ask about it, and her loan servicer has a track record of poor customer service, causing added anxiety to the already complex process.

If you received bad service at a restaurant, you might leave a smaller tip. If you don’t like your doctor, you go elsewhere for a second opinion. With student loan servicers, there are no such consumer-driven consequences because loan servicers are assigned, not chosen. Student loans also cannot be refinanced nor will they be discharged in the case of bankruptcy, so while you’re stuck with your servicer, they have little incentive to improve. Borrower choice could drive a competitive market for better customer service and experience (think Yelp reviews for loan servicers).

What can be done to improve the borrower experience?

The solution for greater transparency is easy to imagine – require every borrowing student to undergo an in-depth review with a counselor to understand the loan terms, review salary trends in select fields and regions, and calculate the impact and affordability of loan payments after graduation. Regular reviews of loan progress should be expected if the end goal is to properly inform our borrowers from start to finish. The point is to help students envision the very real, daily financial decisions of balancing – dollar for dollar – expenses like rent, groceries, bills, transportation, and understanding how their loan payments would fit into them. The short-term temptations of  student loan checks must be met with realistic juxtaposition of long-term loan commitment for a complete lifcycle assessment.

The forthcoming site ourdebtstory.is will be live and running in the next few months. My hope is that it’ll serve as a social forum to provide a realistic perspective of the student loan lifecycle. New borrowers could search and review stories from past borrowers based on relevant personal and professional factors, effectively leveraging an online network of experiences to make informed loan decisions. By offering a safe space for past borrowers to share their stories, I hope to break down the shame and embarrassment around our debt (because we’re not alone in this), and offer our lessons learned to the next generation of borrowers.

Have a student loan story to share?

Learn more about how you can get involved. Everyone’s story is so unique and offers a new perspective to learn from. Let’s speak up and make some moves.

long-distance mother’s day

dang, mother’s days makes me extra miss my family, and of course, my mama, back home. in my fine neighborhood of columbia heights in washington, DC, families milled around all day in the sun, strolling and laughing between church, lunch, the park, and family BBQ’s. i didn’t invite myself to a BBQ at the park in order to fill my void for familial bonding, though i feel like it might have worked out. (that’s how great my neighborhood is.)

however far away i am, i find ways to thank and love mom on this day. this year, i decided to submit an entry to the Daddy Doin’ Work (DDW) blog to see if it might be featured on the week’s dedication to mamas everywhere. and it was!

so here you are, mom. i’m sorry that i’m 2,800 miles away on this mother’s day, but here are two paragraphs i wrote for you to make up for it :D so much love and gratitude to you, mama!!!!

see all 10 chosen entries at http://daddydoinwork.com/mdwweek/

or catch my awesome mama right here:Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 12.38.05 AM