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 to movies and music. During the summer, my mom would take me to check out a stack of movies as tall as me from the library. We’d watch them all in a week, then go back to the library, check new ones out - wash, rinse, and repeat.
My parents were always eager to share their own love for their favorite films and music. As I grew older, I eventually learned to locate and develop my own. It was only a matter of time before I found my voice through this pattern of constant watching and listening: observing the big screen and turning a small singing habit into a 7-year choir career.
The more I dove into 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. So, I started reading biographies about people I liked to learn more about where they came from. Learning about people made movies and music so much more fascinating and drove me to try to make my own stuff. From writing songs, to making short films with my sister, to engaging in musical performances, I realized I felt the most unafraid and sure of myself when I could contribute creatively.
Ultimately, family reunions gave me the chance to be Photo-Taker and Video-Maker. When I read my late grandfather’s autobiography 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 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, 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.