What it takes…
I was recently talking to a very old friend I connected with, and I was telling him about what I’m doing, where I’m going, what I’m thinking. And indeed he repeated the same phrase he told me when we were younger.
“Daniel, sometimes, I think no one ever knows what your planning”
So, he asked what I’m willing to do to accomplish my goals. And I responded “I will do more than what it takes.” So, based on his suggestion, this article will contain some questions I’ve been faced with and what I am willing to do to achieve my dreams. Questions will be in a random order.
“Voyagetoasia.com is something that started as a small personal account of your experiences being African American in China. You mostly discussed your experiences in Asia so, how did it turn into West – East cultural exchange? What happened to the black in Asia theme that was your blog?” (from a fellow college student)
The thing is, my blog was merely a small journal for the students in Lincoln’s Chinese program. Around 7 of them are going to China this summer, and instead of trying to meet with them constantly, to talk about haircuts, and food, racism and pictures, and everything in between, I wanted to make a small humorous blog that they can view, from my shoes. And the humor was for some comic relief so that they wouldn’t be worried or anxious as the day was approaching for their trip. But overtime, the blog was growing and people from all over the world began to view my blog, (I don’t know why haha, but view more!) and I started to grow along with it. For instance, many people say “east – west culture exchange” but I prefer to say “west – east cultural exchange.” Because things are changing, it’s not only Asians who are curious about us, we’re becoming much more curious about them too.
And we’re discovering that the youth around Asia, and the youth here in the west…well, we’re not so different after all. Despite the different language, we talk in the same way, the same slangs, music styles are similar, perceptions of beauty are becoming the same, fashion, movies, books, and even tastes are all becoming quite similar.
In fact, when I went to China, I had a sense of familiarity. It’s not hard to connect with someone, even when we grew up on opposite sides of the world, we share many things in common.
“When you first applied to get into the hospitality and hotel systems, you were rejected because of a lack of experience. How many hotels did you apply to, how long did you apply, and why didn’t you give up? I’m curious bro.” (from an old co-worker)
I, as an individual welcome challenges, because anything worth having is worth fighting for.
I must have applied to work in a hotel over 500 times. I’ve applied for every position in so many different chains. And not only here, I’ve applied to work in hotels in a China, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, around Europe, and from New York down to Georgia, California etc. I’ve applied for every hotel I could find, applying for everything, and I’ve done it since I was 16 years old.
I knew for a longtime hospitality was for me, it was something I had always dreamed of doing, and I was determined to do it no matter what. Now that I finally got it, I, for the first time, am happy to work, even for someone else. I have had over 14 different past jobs, I worked every summer, in fact, in our household, it’s unheard of to not have a summer job. The hotel I work at is a great place to be, I get to speak a lot of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean daily, and the time goes by almost too fast. But overall, it was worth that massive persistence.
“Why do you want to go to South Korea now? Why not go back to China? And what are you planning to do there?” (From an old co-worker)
When it comes to Asian culture, there’s many similarities. Such as family traditions, dating, eating methods (chopsticks) and similarities in language. But there’s also great differences, like…language, family traditions, dating, and eating methods, etc.
I believe that South Korea has one of the most traditional cultures in Asia. But it also has one of the most popular cultures, and it has been attracting people from around the world. I personally feel that South Korea is the United States of the east, when it comes to cost of living, education, regulations etc. but, if I went straight to Korea instead of China, I would have been overwhelmed.
To me, China was my gateway into Asian culture. It was because of the Korean and Japanese students I met there, that I can further understand their culture, China gave me a lot of exposure, and I learned more about their culture, so I can feel better prepared when I go. When I do go, I will be studying hotel management, and of course working on Voyage to Asia, by this time, it will have already passed from being just a blog. But I will seek to connect students from around the world to this purpose.
~Final question for this article~
“What are you willing to do? What obstacles have you faced, and are you worried?” (From one of my best friends)
I’m willing to do way more than whatever it takes. My mom once told me a quote she heard from Steve Harvey, who is an inspiration to me, he said “the only difference between ordinary and extraordinary is the word extra.” You see, speaking an Asian language is ordinary, I must speak 3 in order to spread this ideal on a bigger scale. Going abroad once during college years is ordinary, I went abroad twice in one year, and I’m going abroad for my MBA. I need to do that, “extra” as much as possible, because this goal I have is extraordinary.
However that extra comes at a heavy cost. One of the obstacles I faced was money. To keep going abroad isn’t cheap, or economical, but I knew I had to do it, I had to convince my parents. That is always the first obstacle, my mom is my biggest supporter, my father is a gradual and practical man. He didn’t see at first what going abroad would do for me. All I could do was tell him about an incomplete dream, and explain what my passion was. Even now, I am still trying to get him to see my way, and it will always be an obstacle, but it’s like he said. He is preparing me for the worlds obstacles, and before anyone can be my biggest critic, he will already have been my worst enemy, so anyone who comes later, won’t be tougher than he was.
Another obstacle is fear. Everyone fears the unknown, and I’m no exception. I don’t know how this path will lead me, if it is profitable, because dreams and goals are nice, but as my father always says there’s no point in being a “starving artist.” Another fear is overwhelming recognition, unless you’re a natural-born “social butterfly” like my sister is, putting yourself all the way out there is, well, a bit intimidating. When you think of how many people you will be leading, how many people will be watching and waiting to see your results, even when I was on radio, I was intimidated. It’s easy to think “I can easily be a radio host, or an actor, but when your right there, your gut drops.” This obstacle reminds me of a quote “they will remember me for the 3 battles I lost, not the 300 battles I won.”
Overall, I’m not worried. I might have some fear, but it won’t shake my resolve, my determination is everlasting. And I’m “the comeback king,” (more words from my father).
It took me 7 years to go China, 5 years to get into the hotel system, and 10 years before my father ever even replied to a Chinese text message I sent to him. Although he clearly used google translate haha. I feel that slowly but surely, everyone I’ve come into contact with, is starting to look at me differently and not like I’m crazy anymore. No one ever knew my thoughts, and what I was planning. I was always questioned as to why I was so unorthodox and weird, so different, and why I did the things I did. Like create a Chinese program on a school with no one speaking Chinese, no interest in Chinese, and no Chinese students, why did I go to China with low money, and then, why go to China again when it would cause me to do an extra year in school. Why work in a hotel, why not pursue a job in the US, or in translation, why turn down a higher paying job for this hotel? Why would you go to Korea instead of going to a local school, why go after girls who are international when the risk of returning to their country is high, instead of going for a local girl? The questions never stop, but I always give the same response;
“It’s in preparation”
Preparation for my dream, my goal, which is becoming clear like the pieces of a puzzle coming together to form a magnificent picture. It’s in preparation for what I feel was my path to take, and for my own happiness. To do what I love, and to break out of the norm, because I can not, and will not do something that makes me unhappy. Life is short, and hard, and I don’t want to, or feel like I have to give that to someone else to control. I will enjoy my life, and accomplish my dreams, for me, my family, and my passions, and I will do more than whatever it takes, so that, it’s not only for myself to enjoy, but for generations to come.