Last week, I was being a bad person.
- A girl living in my house wasn’t very nice to me and my friend. She wanted to talk later to explain herself, but I just walked out on her mid-conversation. I wasn’t even that mad at her. I didn’t like people who aren’t nice to my friends so I decided to be not nice to her in retaliation.
- There’s that one American English teacher in Vietnam whose story has been upsetting me for a long time. First, he made a condescending video showing how his parents react to the way Vietnamese people speaking English to prove that Vietnamese English teachers can’t teach English, together with another video instructing Vietnamese people on how to dine with westerners. Dude, if you make your living in Vietnam, you’d better learn to dine with us, not the other way around. Second, he made a joke about American soldiers bombing and raping Vietnamese daughters – he must have meant it to be satire, but it wasn’t funny. Third, he made another joke, comparing the head of a deceased Vietnamese war hero to a testicle. What upsets me isn’t him — you can find assholes everywhere — but the fact that many Vietnamese people idolize him. A long history of being dominated power has taught us to look up to foreigners, no matter how offensive they are.
Continue reading “[Day 636] Instant karma”
I’ve recently had a talk with professor Mykel Kochenderfer about possible career paths for me after graduation. I told him that I want to stay in academia — I love doing research — but I also want to pursue writing seriously. He smiled and said: “Why not both?”
Continue reading “[Day 630] Updates about my upcoming books and projects”
I think I’ve either had a pretty good year, or repeated life misadventures have really lowered my standards. I ended 2017 on a happy note, watching fireworks by the river, eating street food, and screaming at random strangers while Dani was silently judging. I found myself working hard, building stronger relationships with people I care about, and having a lot of fun. Here are some of the things I was happy about in 2017:
Continue reading “[Day 604] New year, old me”
I was enjoying a hot spring in Utah when a red-haired lady came to join me. Small talks ensued. I told her I was a creative writing student and I wanted to become a writer. She seemed confused.
“Do they teach Vietnamese writing here?”
“No, I’m studying English writing.”
“You want to write in English?”
Now she was really confused. I had an accent, I still do, and she was probably wondering how a person who didn’t even speak English could even dream of making a living out of it. Continue reading “[Day 473] Being a non-native English speaker writing in English”
It’s summer! The feeling of having no homework is amazing. I can finally do all the things that I’ve been doing throughout the year, but with much less guilt.
I still can’t decide if I had a good year or not. On the one hand, I suffered. A LOT. I overloaded myself with too many things: projects, teaching, writing, rocky relationships, and in the end half-assed everything. In hindsight, I believe I could have learned a lot more if I had tried to learn less.
On the other hand, it was a year of personal growth with amazing experiences. It was the year when I published my third book in Vietnamese. I finished my 2016’s reading challenge: read 50 books. I taught a course at Stanford, which was endorsed by Google, Kaggle, DeepLearning4J and was featured on front page of HackerNews, AI Weekly, and GitHub. A professor invited me to Hungary to help his team with a machine learning project — I accepted and had the time of my life. I started working at one of the world’s most interesting companies. I also fell in love.
Continue reading “[Day 406] It’s the end of junior year as I know it”
Some of the cool things that happened today:
- Jeff Dean high-fived me! I was having a drink with Brennan Saeta at the TensorFlow after party when I looked up and realized that standing right next to me was Jeff Dean. “OMG that’s Jeff Dean,” I said, slightly freaking out. “I’m just going to act casual. No big deal.” Brennan laughed: “Would you like to say hi to him?” “Maaaybe.” SoBrennan introduced me to Jeff and Jeff thought that teaching a TensorFlow class was cool.
- I guess my *new* best friend just got on the cover of Nature. Brett Kuprel was featured on the cover of Nature before he turned 25. PhD students these days (shaking head).
Continue reading “[Day 282] The pressure of impressing new people”
I just finished reading “I am Malala” and I realized that I’m not patriotic. I never talk about Vietnam the way Malala talks about Swat valley, how she yearns for the mountains, the trees, the people of the valley. If she is traumatized that she is displaced from her homeland, my whole life I’ve been working to be able to be away. If she talks to her friends in Pakistan every day when she’s in England, I talk to my family probably once a month and my friends back home around once a year.
I don’t miss home. I don’t have that overwhelming sense of pride when I tell people that I’m Vietnamese. It doesn’t matter to me if I was born in Vietnam or in England or in Malawi. I took no part in deciding where I was born, therefore I deserve no pride in my nationality.
Continue reading “[Day 232] Patriotism for sale”