Another wonderful week of Woodsey magic

One of the first organizations I joined at UCLA was UCLA’s official student charity: UniCamp. UniCamp gives children from low-income communities around the Los Angeles area the chance to attend an outdoor summer camp for a week at a reduced rate. At camp the kids get to try things many of them have ever done before, like rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, or simply seeing the stars at night. Children that attend UniCamp are encouraged to aim for a bright future through various character-building activities and the bonds they create with their counselors. UniCamp counselors are all UCLA students or previous UniCamp campers who fundraise and train throughout the school year to send the kids up to camp. At 80 years old, UniCamp is also one of UCLA’s oldest charities which fosters so many traditions and has changed countless lives.

Since I joined as a freshman back in Spring 2012, UniCamp is easily my favorite thing about at UCLA. For two years I was a counselor where I worked with a group of about 10 girls throughout the week and connected with them and formed irreplaceable bonds. This year, I decided to take on a leadership position as Head Counselor Assistant, where I helped to train a group of about 80 student volunteers and helped to plan a week of camp!

Throughout the year, I admit the position took up a vast amount of my time and energy and sometimes I couldn’t wait for the week of camp to be over so I could stop being so tired. However, once the week of camp came, I knew all the efforts of our leadership team were worth it. The kids were adorable and they loved camp. The volunteers and the kids got along so well and so many of our campers talked about how much they wanted to go to UCLA when they graduated high school. Countless amounts of games were played, songs were sang, and kids and counselors got to be kids for a week. Tons of “Woodsey marriages” happened, “prison ball” games between counselors and kids got heated, and so many “shout outs” were read. We hiked in the morning and at night (and one group of older campers and counselors called WALL hiked for multiple days), we swam during the day and once at 6:00 AM for the traditional “polar bear swim” (the water is warmer than the air!), we danced, we laughed, we enjoyed nature, and on the last day we cried saying our goodbyes.

Being back down the mountain makes me miss camp so much, but also feel so proud that we all did it and we got to meet so many amazing children. I can only hope that the kids we played with for a week will one day become UCLA student volunteers, too!

Here’s a few pictures from the week: 

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

Some of the girls and counselors from “Unit 4,” our youngest girls unit.

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

Campers “Pi” and “Butterfingers” showing off a painting.

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

Archery rotation!

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

More campers and counselors!

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

Me and the rest of the session’s leadership team in front of the mural we put together at the end of the week. The mural incorporates all of the children’s artwork throughout the week and encompasses our mission statement unique to our session’s week of camp.

“Look around before you take flight.
All that surrounds you can impact your life.
Be confident, take chances, believe in your dreams.
Soar toward your future no matter how far it may seem.
This is your journey, there are no limits to who you can be.”

An Alternative Summer

While most students spend their summers studying abroad or going home or taking extra classes, I spent the last 5 weeks of sunshine inside a classroom, tutoring high school students on SAT prep. At first I thought I was making a sacrifice, but I quickly discovered these students were actually making much more of a sacrifice– their summer breaks were much shorter than mine (I still have over a month left of break and they’re going back to school next week!), and they still dedicated their precious time off to the SAT. My students were all low-income and they got to take this course for free. Statistically, low-income students usually score lower on the SAT, which could partly be because they do not have the money to afford SAT prep classes much like this one. Although the material on the SAT was not very fun or very interesting, I absolutely loved getting to know each of the students. They were all college-bound and each one had their own specific goal or dream they were already working toward. Many of them even hoped to apply to UCLA and loved hearing about my experiences as a current student. I loved giving them a look into how it was to be a college student, and I hope to help many of them apply to UCLA in the Fall. While these past 5 weeks would have been fun if I were abroad or watching Netflix, meeting these kids was just as enriching and fun than those things,  and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.

Here’s a picture of my students and I!

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

 

Bruin in London

Piccadily Circus at Night— Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

Four weeks into my study abroad experience via UC EAP at the London School of Economics, I have barely had time to write— London is constantly buzzing with things to do! I can’t even believe that I have midterms next week and finals the week after… this has definitely been one of the most exhilarating experiences thus far in college.

So first off, I’d like to chronicle my experiences in the fantastic city by location, rather than time. More to come later!

 

The London School of Economics

This school is one of the leading institutes in the world for economics and the social sciences. I’ve chosen to take two electives here: MG101 (Marketing) and MG133 (Management). These two courses have offered me a chance to get a glimpse of the theories behind strategic marketing and management tactics in the business world. Each course is structured with daily three hour lectures and one hour seminars (much like discussions at UCLA). I’ve had plenty of opportunities to interact with my classmates from all over the world and grow in the process. The fact that approximately a third of my classmates have real world experience working in major companies has further created opportunities to hear about what the adult life is like! These courses have definitely been intensive but definitely manageable, as I have had plenty of time to explore London in my time off! The school itself has a very different vibe from UCLA as it is not so much a college with a town but rather a big city that has a school planted right in the heart of the city. This has allowed me to fully integrate myself into the life here and experience “the true London”.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace—-Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

Buckingham Palace is magnificent. It’s located near Victoria Station, only a short bus ride from the school. On our day off, a fellow Bruin and I traveled over to watch the changing of the guards, unfortunately, we picked the wrong spot to stake out and thus only saw the entry and exit of the guards. Yet it was still quite a sight to see as guards dressed in royal red and black outfits marched by and policemen galloped by on magnificent stallions. We also paid a couple of pounds to get an in depth tour of the state rooms, which were displaying the Royal Childhood Exhibition at the time. The splendor of the palace cannot be described… unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures inside the palace so I have attached a photo of the statue outside just to give you all a taste of the grandeur!

Musicals: Wicked and Mamma Mia

London has a vibrant arts culture. Every corner of each major street probably has a ticket stand selling tickets to various musicals in London, which run six to seven days a week. I was fortunate enough to see Wicked and Mamma Mia here! I was quite impressed with Wicked. The vocals were incredibly powerful and the storyline contained all the components of humor, romance, and friendship. It was definitely worth it! The stage itself was also a magnificent work of art: a dragon leered over the top of the stage and large stage props were automated so that they rolled in by themselves during transitions. I liked the twist the story put on the original story of the Wizard of Oz. For those who haven’t seen the musical yet, I definitely encourage you all to try it!

Covent Garden, Piccadily Circus & Oxford Street

Bruins in London!— Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

These three places are probably London’s premier shopping destinations. Granted, London does have fashionable shops everywhere, but these three attract large crowds on a daily basis! Piccadily Circus even had a “Street Musician Month” where they completely closed off the length of the road from Piccadily to Oxford Circus and invited artists to perform and sing. It was quite a sight!

London Eye, Big Ben

Thames River at night— Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

Of course my visit to London wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the most popular attractions here! I didn’t get to actually go on the London Eye, but even from afar the ferris wheel was majestic. Big Ben was quite on time. You can hear the chimes at the top of each hour from afar (even from my building!). One night, two other fellow bruins and I decided to climb the bridge looking over the Thames River in the dead of the night and the sight was so beautiful.

Oxford University

A friend and I took a 1.5 hr bus to take a tour of this top institution on a random weekend! Though we didn’t actually get to set foot in many of the colleges, the architecture from outside was still amazing. (Think Royce Hall meets Powell times infinity).

 

Well that’s a quick summary of a couple of the places I’ve been thus far in London! I’m so incredibly grateful to my parents and UCEAP for providing an opportunity for me to study in one of the greatest city in the world. I’m enjoying my time here and am quite sad that I only have two weeks left. London, you have truly taken my breath away with your fantabulous architecture and fast-paced lifestyle and men in suits. Now for midterms and finals…

Shoutouts to any Bruins abroad/ from abroad right now! Let me know where you’re from in the comments below. :)

 

A Cappella

Bruin Harmony--- Photo Credit: UCLA Image Library

UCLA has a vibrant music scene, boasting of over a dozen a cappella groups. I thought I’d give a quick breakdown of the groups here at UCLA for all ye acapeople :)

  • Single-sex A Cappella Groups:
    • All Male:
      • Bruin Harmony
    • All Female:
      • Random Voices
      • Signature A Cappella
      • Cadenza A Cappella
    • Co-Ed:
      • Awechords A Cappella
      • Resonance A Cappella
      • Awaken A Cappella
      • Scattertones A Cappella
      • Deviant Voices
      • Medleys A Cappella
      • Road to Damascus A Cappella (Christian A Cappella Group)
      • Youthphonics A Cappella (Service A Cappella Group)
      • TAU A Cappella (Mandarin Song A Cappella Group)
      • Naya Zamaana A Cappella (South Asian A Cappella Group)
      • SouLA A Cappella (Chinese A Cappella)
    • And more! There are a couple of unregistered-groups (or so I’ve heard) who are just starting out.

Each fall, (and also select groups during the winter and spring) these A Cappella groups on campus hold auditions to welcome new aca-talent into their ranks. Most of the a cappella groups have sign-ups available via acaspot.com, an inter-collegiate a cappella website. The audition process usually consists of an initial audition (where you show off your individual talent), and callbacks, where you will sing with the group to see how well you mesh with the group.

The audition process is generally quite laid back and can be a lot of fun. It vaguely resembles a rush process since most a cappella groups hold auditions all through the first week of fall quarter and it is common for auditionees to schedule auditions back-to-back. The first audition generally consists of vocal warmups (scales whatnot) to warm up your vocal chords and test your range, a verse or two from a song you choose yourself, tonal memory and/or sight reading and perhaps a couple of questions for fun.

After auditions, a group of auditionees will be invited back to callbacks. Callbacks are a mock-practice of sorts: auditionees are asked to learn music and sing with the group. Usually it is structured in a similar manner to the regular practices that each group has.

Why join A Cappella?

Regardless of the singing experience you have, I encourage anyone who is interested at singing at a collegiate level to audition! Whether you have a decade of professional singing under your belt or just a decade of belting out your favorite tunes in the shower, a cappella is a lot of fun, and you get to meet a bunch of people who share similar interests. It’s a great way to make friends and grow as a musician! I’ve had a blast singing with Awechords this year. In addition to creating lasting friendships (you see each other up to five hours or more each week), you’ll have the opportunity to perform at an assortment of gigs both on and off campus. For musicians looking for a more-portable instrument (I sure had to make a lot of sacrifices instrument-wise when I came to college), singing is definitely the way to go!

 

Good luck, choose a killer audition song that showcases all your aca-talent, and most importantly, have fun! I can’t wait to hear all of you during fall.

Bucket List: Freshman Year

Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

As the school year draws to a close, seniors in flowing graduation gowns can be seen all over campus, posing for graduation pictures. I can’t believe that my first year at UCLA is almost over (except for finals, bleh). As UCLA prepares to send off a fourth of its population off into the real world, it’s time to welcome the freshman class.

It’s hard to believe that a little less than a year ago, I was the bright-eyed freshman who stepped foot on this campus for the first time. The quarter system does move at a super fast pace, and it seems as though this year has just been a blur. Now it’s time to take a look back at a fraction of the bucket list I composed right after freshman orientation and see what items I’ve crossed off. I was inspired by a youtube clip I had watched shortly before I moved here :)

  1. Take part in the Color Run 2014(I ended up participating in Run or Dye with some good friends this May).
  2. Study abroad for one quarter + (I’m studying abroad in LSE this summer! I’ve never been to Europe before, and I’m counting down the days till I’m there!)
  3. Join an a cappella group  <3 (Awechords A Cappella, you have given me the experience of a lifetime. I’m so glad I get to sing with you all for the rest of my college career!)
  4. Volunteer for an educational cause (Project WILD, Unicamp, I am so incredibly lucky to be able to volunteer with you)
  5. University Chorus, UCLA Chorale, Chamber (Performing in Royce was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had during my undergraduate career. As Dr.Neuen’s last choral class, getting to perform the Beethoven Mass inside UCLA’s best venue was incredible.)
  6. Tour Guide ( I served as a tour guide for Bruin Day! Despite getting stranded outside the elevator from my tour group and having to scour the building for them, it was an exhilarating experience)
  7. Experience Spring Sing (Best show ever!!! More to come on this later)
  8. Figure out what major I want to be (This actually turned out to be not that difficult once I was able to figure out what I was really passionate about!)
  9. Thanksgiving in Beverly Hills ( I had the fortune of dining with an alumni for Thanksgiving since I couldn’t go back home, thanks to the Dashew Center!
  10. Road Trip (LOL my friends from my floor dragged me to San Diego during Winter Quarter amid midterm craziness. I am so grateful they persuaded me, that was definitely an fun-filled adventure!)
  11. Learn something completely random  (Wow. I’ve taken a couple of classes purely for the sake of learning outside my academic career and they were some of the best courses I’ve taken thus far.)

So these were a couple of the things I’ve managed to cross off my list. The rest are little goals or checkpoints I will work towards during the future, and I’ll definitely keep on expanding the list! So for anyone looking to create a bucket list: be as deep, as insightful, or as crazy as you’d like: college is what you make out of it! Set a goal to take a random class, do something you never thought you’d do (like leap off a pole on the top of a mountain), meet some incredible people, and get ready for the ride of your life!

A Bittersweet Time of Year

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

 

Just last week I watched so many of my best friends graduate at commencement. This time of the year is so bittersweet because it reminds you of the great times you’ve had with those friends who are graduating and you know that they will do wonderful things in the future, but it’s so sad because you don’t want them to leave! Many people are going all over the country and all over the world upon graduation which I think is really awesome, but of course for selfish reasons I get a little bit more happy when others tell me they’ll be staying around the LA area for some time. Seeing my close friends going off into the real world causes me to reflect on the fact that I only have one more year here. I cannot believe that this time has passed SO fast and I can’t wait to make this next, last year of mine the best one yet!

 

Literati Cafe

 

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

 

During 10th week and Finals week, campus can get a little depressing with students living in the libraries, forgoing showers, and replacing their meals with caffeine. However, some places in LA make for great less-depressing and more colorful study spots, such as Literati Cafe. I went here for the first time last weekend and had a delicious Spanish latte and enjoyed sitting outside in the sunlight and seeing the artwork inside. The best part was running into so many other friends from UCLA! While it can get a little crowded at times, I thought it was  a great experience.

Leadershape

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Photo Credit: Student Alumni Association/ UCLA Leadershape

This past spring break, I had the fortune of attending the Leadershape Institute in Malibu. This week has definitely been one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had so far in my undergrad career at UCLA!

The Leadershape Institute is a national program that is dedicated to developing new leaders in an intense six-day camp setting. At UCLA, this program is generously funded by the Alumni Association, and each year sixty student leaders are bundled off to the Glinding Hilltop Camp for an experience like never before! This year, as a freshman, I was fortunate enough to be able to have this experience!

Through various team building exercises, simulations, and careful discussions in smaller family clusters, we were introduced to concepts that we had not been probed to think about before. Not only were we encouraged to find our passion and develop our vision, but we were also challenged to push our boundaries while recognizing our strengths and GAGs (going against the grain), also known as room for improvement. One of the most incredible activities I got to experience was the challenge course, a three-story-tall series of poles designed to encourage us to step out of our comfort zones. I personally am terrified of heights, yet up at camp, with all the encouragement from my peers, I was able to scale a three story high pole, perch on a ledge with no safety railing, and swing off the edge, soaring high above the ocean. This was no doubt a breakthrough for me, and I found that I somehow had the strength and the determination to climb up to that height and swing off!

This whole experience has been incredibly amazing. The positive feedback I received on my vision for bringing affordable technology and education to impoverished areas was overwhelmingly supportive. The diverse group of individuals I’ve met— many of whom I would not have been able to meet simply because UCLA is such a big campus— has changed my perspective on life. I’ve not only gained a deeper insight of my leadership style but also a family that I know will be there to support me in my pursuit of my vision. These six days were intensely packed with carefully designed activities to stretch and push me, and I am forever grateful for the love and community this experience has bestowed upon me!

 

 

World In-Sight

Registration Booth— Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

 

One of the things I love most about UCLA is the diversity. There are so many students with unique cultural backgrounds and different stories to tell!

This past Wednesday, I had the honor of putting on an inaugural mini world exposition for the UCLA community. As part of the “mastermind” team, I was able to see the process of bringing this concept into reality. World In-Sight was a campus fair dedicated to showcasing the diverse UCLA student body. By partnering with over twenty-five student groups, this fair featured nearly thirty different countries/cultures through interactive games, booths, and performances! After months of hard work preparing, it was such a great feeling to see the whole idea coming into being.

Thailand Booth—Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

I think part of the reason why I wanted to join the WIS team was because of my background. Since I come from Taiwan, a small island off the coast of Taiwan, I’ve encountered many people who (albeit well-meaning) still have various misconceptions about my culture. This fair was a small step in the direction of introducing people to different cultures and creating a platform that would hopefully introduce cross-cultural dialogue! When I took a break from the registration booth to “tour the world” and snap a couple of photos, I was amazed by all the hard work that the student groups had put into their booths. At the Malaysian booth, my friend was performing ridiculous pouring feats while making Teh Tarik (pulled tea) and another friend was drawing intricate henna tattoos; at the English booth they had a live DJ and amazing artwork; at the French booth the delicious smell of crepes wafted out, Thailand and Cambodia had students in beautiful traditional clothing…

Malaysian Booth Teh Tarik (Pulled Tea)—-Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

Yukai Daiko (Japanese Drums) Performance—Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

 

After coming to UCLA, I’ve truly come to appreciate the world a lot more. I’ve come to learn that everybody has a story to tell, and that there is so much out there for me to learn. World In-Sight definitely gave me some insight into different cultures, and I was truly honored to have been able to serve as the marketing director for this event. I can’t wait until we reprise the event next year, hopefully with an even more diverse representation!

 

FUNdraisers

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

One of my favorite fundraising strategies that UCLA student organizations use to raise money is club events. This is where the organization usually rents out a venue for the night and sells tickets for entrance to students and friends. Basically, you get to go to a club and have a great time while also helping raise money for a good cause Whether it be to fight Pediatric AIDS with Pediatric AIDS Coalition or to help send underprivileged kids to camp with UniCamp, or supporting another organization that gives back- what could be better than that? Each time I go to an event I see so many people I know- from the organization, from class, from a friend of a friend, or whatever random way- and I also get the chance to meet knew people. Not to mention, LA has some of the coolest club locations, from students ‘ local favorite, “Fu’s Palace” near Century City, to the place we went last week, “Busby’s East” near Hollywood, partying with UCLA students for a good cause is always a good time.

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