My friends at Barcode Vietnam asked me to describe an ideal university education for part of their latest issue. What they picked out to include in the issue was something like “You can strike a balance between your own interests and meeting your parents’ expectations” but that quite sanitised from what I intended to say (see below).
My photo appears just two pages after that of Tim Ferriss, so that’s pretty cool
I think my idea about the value of University must be very far from the idea of most Vietnamese.
For me the value was in living far away from my parents, and having the freedom to explore my own interests, learn how to do things like laundry and cooking, make new friends, do drugs with other intelligent kids, and of course take some interesting classes too. It was about striking a balance between meeting my parents’ expectations (graduating, not failing my classes) and having fun.
I attended a liberal arts school, which means you must take a wide variety of subjects. So even though my major was film, I took classes in classical Chinese poetry, anthropology, engineering, philosophy, performance art, and Japanese language too.
During the opening day orientation the department chair even said: “This is a list of your required classes, take two of these per semester — and two other classes that look interesting to you — and you’ll probably meet your graduation requirements.”
So university for me wasn’t about developing one particular technical skill that I could use to land my first job. It was more about self discovery and forging myself into an interesting person who is able to enjoy life. After graduation I discovered what I really wanted to do for a career. I then enrolled in a technical school to learn some specific skills that I needed to get my first job.
Don’t pick a career to make your family happy, pick a career that you are actually interested in.
Don’t live with your family, you must become a mature adult and you can’t do that if mom or grandma keep over protecting you. You must be free to learn from your own mistakes.
Experiment: this is your time to discover what your interests are — try different classes, clubs, and social activities.
Surround yourself with people who are talented and passionate and use them to motivate you.
You get out of it what you put into it. Make efforts in whatever you do.
I’ve been consulting (as dxSaigon) for a project called Gamelab. It’s a medical research themed game jam where we’ve paired Vietnamese research scientists from OUCRU (Oxford University Clinical Research Unity) with Vietnamese game developers into seven teams which are competing, at this very moment, in a 48 hour game jam. The production crew primarily behind the project has been producing a lot of videos. Here are some of me talking about the project, game design, and game jams.
I’m back in Saigon after a three week trip that I’d rather describe as a pilgrimage than as a vacation. It was pretty transformative. I am feeling really confident about 2015 — and I’m really excited to build dxSaigon‘s new products, and just excited to be alive really. It’s been a while…
Some of the highlights included:
Getting to see my son (and of course the rest of my family but seeing my son is especially important to me)
Having some conversations with my 94 year old grandmother
Skiing for the first time in 4 or 5 years — I’ve still got it and I might even be better than ever before! I just had some really nice confidence; I was able to point my skis straight down double black diamonds, launch off rocks, do jumps in the middle of mogul fields, and generally just carve gracefully. This is all stuff I could do as a kid but it was qualitatively different now; all with a sense of calm and ease. The revelation I had was one of trust — just trusting that I’d be able to react to the unexpected and stay relatively in control despite unforeseen conditions. Once you feel this trust, or accept the situation, you can let go of worry and be free to experience the innate rhythm of the circumstances.
Getting inspired by my friends who are up to really cool stuff and getting words of encouragement from them. They are all fighting so hard to make their dreams come true and I’m really lucky to have their respect and friendship. They were able to see good things about me and my situation that I had lost sight of, and they reminded me of ways of doing business that I had long forgotten.
All that being said, it’s great to be back. Saigon feels like home again for the first time in a long time.
Let’s do this! Ganbatte! Co Len! All the best to everyone!
Sketched while riding on a bus back to Saigon from Dalat. Is the primary genre Electro or IDM? The “44” in the name is because the original time signature that I wrote it in was something really weird like 6/6 but I later reformatted it to 4/4.
I was asked by a friend to host an episode of Living Vietnam in a Day, a show where they take a foreigner and have them experience a job that will probably be unusual for them. For me it meant working as a porter at BÌNH ĐIỀN MARKET in District 8.
In celebration of May 4th (may the “fourth/force” be with you) I present you with a documentary that I made 15 years ago with one of my closest friends while a student in film school.
On the surface it is a story about fans who are prepared to wait in line for four days to score tickets to the Chicago premier of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. But underlying this context are precious childhood memories of the original Star Wars film and family.