They say every movie is a way to escape, but I think every story gives us a reason to stay.
I've always thought of storytelling as archaeology. It’s the study of human history, a look back at culture, and an analysis of artifacts - but it’s also about looking forward. Stories help us figure the world and each other out, and they push us to question the artifacts we make.
As a shy Asian American kid, I've always been a watcher and a listener. Growing up with parents from different cultural backgrounds was often confusing - but the world made the most sense to me when I was watching and listening. Because of this, I harvested different skills from both sides of my family.
From Grandma Sing: how to scrapbook, the importance of making and taking photos of memories at family reunions, how to latch hook rugs, and how to enjoy licking cookie dough off the spoon during cookie-baking. From Po Po and Gong Gong: the importance of a close-knit family, connecting with others over homemade food, and carrying forward Chinese culture.
From Dad (a creative director; my favorite drawer): how to draw pictures of my favorite animals by watching him draw them first, retracing his steps, then turning those pictures into illustrated short stories. From Mom (a business analyst; my favorite film aficionado): how to take advantages of my summer by checking out stacks of movies as tall as me from the library, watching them all in a week, then going back to the library to check new ones out...Wash, rinse, and repeat.
My family has always been eager to share their love for forms of self-expression. As I've grown older, I've learned to locate and develop my own. It was only a matter of time before I began to define my voice through this pattern of constant watching and listening - observing the big screen, exploring music by era, and even turning a small singing habit into a 7-year choir career.
The more I dove into stories, movies, and music, the more inspired I became. But being inspired was never enough. I had to know about the people behind the work that they did and why they did it. This desire made me a curious person, particularly about reading biographies of people I looked up to. Learning about people, where they come from, and where they've been has made everything artistic - and basically, life - so much more interesting to traverse. From writing and covering songs, to making short films with my sister, to engaging in musical performances, I've realized I feel the most alive when I can contribute creatively.
Inspired by Grandma Sing's well-crafted scrapbooks, along with any camera device I've had throughout the years, I've leapt at every chance - every family reunion, every vacation trip, every outing - that I've had to be Photo-Taker and Video-Maker.
Especially when my late grandfather's autobiography fell into my hands after he passed away, I couldn't help but become Archaeologist. The idea that my grandfather was driven by a lifelong idea to document his story (and that my family was so eager to help him) catalyzed me to start digging up his and embracing my own. Stories were no longer just entertainment to me - they were essential. Knowing more about where I’ve come from has allowed me to know where I’m going.
Today, I still crave creative and challenging environments like I crave my favorite movie scene or line in a book. Watching, listening, creating, and sharing through: managing projects in a student-run agency; interning at a creative agency in Shanghai; and growing a travel tech startup has taught me how to dig up, analyze, and creatively communicate solutions to problems that impact how the world sees businesses and how we see the world. I continue to expand my understanding of this impact through visual communication, content creation, analytical writing, collaborative projects, and creative-problem solving.
You’ve reached the end of the page, but this isn’t the end of my story. I’m still looking for the next artifact to dig up, the next story to tell, and the next moment to create.