Serendipity and Obama

Phuong Nguyen - Ecuador


December 7, 2017

This blog post is a little about two things I already knew intersecting to create a new lesson.

 

Serendipity and Obama.

 

Serendipity is a fortunate happenstance. I like to think of it as when you find a dollar on the street. Something good happens to you by chance, without you putting the effort in to achieve it or without you hoping for it.

 

You may know the notorious Fired Up? Ready to Go? story that Obama told. He retells a story about his time campaigning in 2008, a story to empower the people.

 

“It just goes to show you, how one voice can change a room.  And if it can change a room, it can change a city.  And if it can change a city, it can change a state.  And if it can change a state, it can change a nation. And if it can change a nation, it can change the world.”

 

I know people tell you everyday, everywhere that your voice matters, but Obama really handed it to me that day I saw this video.

 

And now Ecuador has finalized it.

 

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My longest conversations happen in taxis. After the where are you from’s and why are you here’s, and they get a grasp on my language ability, they deem me worthy and continue.

 

Are you here alone? Are you lonely? Do you miss anything? You’re so young! Be careful at night. Do you want to get a cup of coffee?

 

The last question is asked more frequently than I would like it to, but no hard feelings have surfaced whenever I’ve refused (so far).

 

Those sun beaten, stained back seats are also where I employ my most refined and grammatically correct Spanish. I answer questions proudly and even shamelessly ask some back. Sentences form and I hurdle words like “desafortunadamente” naturally.

 

(Other times, while introducing myself to new friends or just speaking to my Spanish teacher, I fumble with the language in a barely audible voice).When talking doesn’t work, I write.

I align with my “best self” in my writing. My ideas, values, and feelings are most honest here.

 

At first, I didn’t want anyone to read the things I wrote. It would jade the content, rub the authenticity off.

 

So I wrote just for myself for some time. But a handful of times, I was given a platform to publish my pieces.

 

One of these times include a space on the Where There Be Dragons Yak Board. In the summer of 2016, on a kind of life excursion, I wrote a piece called “Yellow (Not the Coldplay Song).”

 

More than a year later, this piece is being published/distributed to an audience (I’ve been told) of about 10,000 people online.

 

“What the hell?”me when I found out

 

These two instances of me speaking out succeeded. Why is that?

 

That is because we enable ourselves, we flick that self-assurance switch ON, when there are no stakes. I will never see that taxi driver again. No one will ever read the things I’m writing. I’m just speaking into a void. When we’re convinced that nobody will hear us, that nobody will criticize us or judge us, we have more confidence in our values, opinions and overall self. Isn’t that natural?

 

But what’s more rare and difficult is being able to put yourself out there knowing you may make mistakes, knowing you may be criticized.

 

Ecuador has put me onto a path that has given me the confidence to share my experiences with an attitude of “Hell yeah, this is what I think” instead of “It doesn’t matter what I have to say.” Because surprisingly, I’ve only been met with good reactions and support when I put in the effort to share my experiences.

 

I won’t speak into a void anymore, I will speak deliberately. I know the value of one voice.

 

Shoutout to Serendipity, Obama (ILY), Ecuadorian taxi drivers, WTBD, and GCY.

Phuong Nguyen