In my family, there was always a strong emphasis to become something great. My parents had left everything behind to give my sister and I a better life — so in translation… becoming something great meant: doctor, lawyer, engineer. Although they didn’t pressure us too much, the subtle messages there were — I was supposed to be the doctor, and my sister was supposed to be the lawyer. Unfortunately for my parents, I was drawn to other things: piano, guitar, singing, and finally Japanese.
When I first discovered Youtube I was 9 years old. The platform had already so many dubbed, subbed Japanese dramas. After a couple of years of watching I started to realize that I didn’t need the subtitles anymore. (Woah.) Most kids of immigrants speak two languages, English, and their native tongue. My parents came from two different countries, and the only overlap was English — so a second language was never an opportunity in my household (it was also a disadvantage because my parents could speak to all my teachers – for the good, and for the bad…mostly the bad).
So now I had all this knowledge, and no one to share it with, no one to practice and no one to hone my craft with. So I decided on a very aggressive routine, to learn as much as I could, and when the time comes, practice as much as I possibly can. I’d do all my school work/homework at school and then would go straight home and watch anime/drama for 4-5 hours. This vicious cycle went on for two years. I was really hoping to become a translator for people who got hurt in Japan and needed assistance in medical or policy translating.
Continuing on this cycle, I stumbled upon a show called One Liter of Tears. For those who are aware of Aya’s story — you already understand why I turned to science and research. The dramatization of a 15-year-old girl that has a neuro-degenerative disease moved my heart, body, and soul (you could say it ripped my heart out). This intense rollercoaster of emotions showed me just how I was to how our quickly and swiftly our body could betray us. The 13 year – old couldn’t comprehend how someone who was seemingly healthy, with no signs of any illness, could live such a difficult lifestyle — all because the body decided to spontaneously degrade.
The influence this show had on me led me to do more research on different degenerative diseases, treatments, preventions, etc. But I wasn’t convinced that this is all there was. There had to be more methods, more innovative techniques … there had to be something more! That’s when I decided, at the dining room table — eyes full of tears — that I was going to go into research and try to prevent this from happening to another person.
Three words to describe that moment: Ambitious, Young, and well.. Ambitious. I didn’t know it then, but this pivot in my life has led me to have exceptional experiences, learn new skills, travel around the world, and meet the most amazing people.