I LOVE HK: a spark for democracy

I LOVE HK.

My beautiful birthplace, Summer 2013.
There's a quote most often attributed to Thomas Jefferson that says: "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When governments fear the people, there is liberty."

And then, in "The Hunger Games," there's a quote that reads: "Every revolution begins with a spark."

I genuinely believe in these two profound quotes. And that's why today, my thoughts are with the brave peoples of Hong Kong, from students to working professionals, standing up for something they believe in and fighting for a universal right, namely universal suffrage, that we, as humans, should each have. I stand with you. I feel your pain and suffering. 

I say peoples, and not people, of Hong Kong because it's a diverse city comprised of so many backgrounds, beliefs, national and ethnic origins, race, religions and sexualities, all of whom are united to defend the freedom that Hong Kong has enjoyed over the past decades. It is precisely this freedom that has allowed Hong Kong to become a cultural, economic and political beacon in the East to so many.
Hong Kong today, September 28, 2014. Courtesy: CNN.
Governments like China cannot endure, at least not in their current form, especially in this new digital age. And a simple spark can lead to something revolutionary. The way governments work is a new game for this next century—people can demand their voices to be heard, more so than ever before and I believe what is right will prevail. Hong Kong has been so prosperous because of the equality and freedom—freedom of assembly, of expression, of information, of the press, of speech—that has existed over the past several decades. I don't think there is anywhere as prepared as Hong Kong to remind us that freedom is truly not free and must be defended daily.

My heart hurts and I am saddened seeing the devastating photos come out of Hong Kong, photos of streets that I have walked on and admired. But it also makes me proud of the citizens of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, just like as in American cities, these shouldn't be seen as embarrassments, but rather, a functioning civil society able to hold thoughtful conversations and stand up for what they believe in. The government is the entity that should be embarrassed for their oppressive response and for governing without the consent of the governed.

That's why I also think, for me, I find stories like "The Hunger Games" so powerful, because people are living out these scenarios each and every day. It's quite inspirational if you think about it.

Night lights in Hong Kong, Summer 2013.

"Echoing Tiananmen, 17-year-old Hong Kong student prepares for democracy battle"
CNN and CNN International
—"Fear has been deeply rooted in our genes through the past 65 years. The majority of China's 1.3 billion people are not true citizens; most of the people are simply submissive."
—"You can form political parties in Hong Kong. You can publish books that are forbidden in mainland China. The media can criticize the central government and the chief executive of Hong Kong."
—"Mainland China is a tinderbox that's been physically suppressed by the authorities, and Hong Kong is a seed of fire."
—"The Communist Party is very scared of this tiny bit of land, because if true universal suffrage can blossom in Hong Kong, it is very likely true universal suffrage will end up happening in the mainland."

Capturing life's moments exactly as they happened

A couple months ago, I shared a Google+ and Twitter photo of an absolutely gorgeous and perfect DC day. Being able to take strolls on the National Mall, right in the middle of history, is just one of the advantages of being at +The George Washington University. Several weeks later, I learned (through the Center for Student Engagement Twitter) that the photo was chosen as their winner for February, something that came as a surprise to me. 


This week, GW had a Excellence in Student Life ceremony, where the overall #OnlyAtGW photo contest winner was announced as well. People had some really cool moments showing how awesome it is here, including a group selfie with Wolf Blitzer among many others.


I didn't expect much, but here's what happened, as shown through +Google Glass.


When I first shared that photo, I honestly expected nothing more than me sharing a moment that mattered in my life -- a moment of freedom, of relaxation. I am still in awe at what it has become, especially because it all came from two apps from a device the size of my hand. On my Samsung Galaxy S4, I used the camera and Google+'s powerful +Snapseed app and the final product was available in minutes. Of that moment, right at that moment. 

From Glass to Snapseed and everything in between, I'm taken aback by how technology has empowered everyone to be able to capture the moments that matter.

And then there was this tweet, I love it.


What a fun #OnlyAtGW moment last night.

My thoughts on Glass, integrity and the free flow of information

Today, I received this e-mail from my Macroeconomics Professor at +The George Washington University: "That means that Google glass and similar devices are NOT allowed during assignments..." 



I am happy that my Professor is starting this type of conversation about +Google Glass  nd new technologies so swiftly and transparently.

Certainly, as an Explorer, these situations where Glass is singled out, are expected, just like +Cecilia Abadie fighting her traffic ticket today (http://goo.gl/UN60mo) or those told to leave restaurants (http://goo.gl/neb8zf). I agree Glass should not be used during exams. Yet, it is utterly irresponsible for those in authority to single new devices like Glass, which functions just as smartphones and tablets do, in this manner. Certainly, this period of testing is where society is educating itself and distinguishing what is real and what is exaggerated by the media, both its features and limitations. For example, having Glass rest on top your head like sunglasses indoors will not enable a student to cheat and is not a qualification of cheating, just like having a phone in your pocket. However, this type of conversation is good to start.

While I don't know if this e-mail is directed to me currently, I do feel the need to share this information clearly and openly. Your feedback, both in agreement or disagreement, is encouraged.

We should embrace technology, especially with the potentials it offers education. More importantly, we should not create hysteria and spread misinformation. Finally, integrity, including in academics, is one of my core values and I believe a society well-educated in not only knowledge but also morals and values will not have these problems.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

From this point forward, I am reaffirming my commitment to act with integrity in an ethical and moral manner that takes into account my strict moral discipline, just like I did in 8th grade when I created study guides from public class notes and let information flow freely (allowing others to collaborate, build on top and download those guides at their own discretion) even after one teacher, with a complete opposite view than all the other parents, students and teachers, labeled it as a form of cheating.

You can learn more about my mission statement, vision and values here: