Volunteering With Fardos

I have grown incredibly attached to my Syrian friends, whom I volunteer with at Catholic Charities in Atlanta. Fardos, who had needed computer literacy help, was my first volunteer case.

She was always so gracious and thankful of my help. She had shared so many of her culture’s cuisine with me. I would have so many foods to bring home to share with my own family. She shared food with me that I would not have known about otherwise.

She is a wonderful woman, with 5 beautiful children: Hanin 10, Nemin 8, Hazem 7, Nagham 5, Reffef 3. These kids are full of energy, questions, intelligence. They love watching Youtube cooking shows and hacker channels.

Visiting her reminds me of my family when we first immigrated to the United States. Seeing her small 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment be enough for all 7 people.

I had loved her since my first visit, how she had learned so quickly. Our bond had grown over the 3 months that I have volunteered with her. We talked about our cultures and our religions. There is still so much to learn. She was a fiery ambitious, life-loving, dancer and it was exhilarating to see her around her children.

They are moving today to Nebraska, where they can make a better living. I’ll miss them all.

One Lovely Blog Award!


I would like to give the biggest, warmest hug to Avid Observer for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award. If you don’t know the Avid Observer, go check ’em out! Their blog features thought provoking life lessons, that are both humorous and inspiring! 

A Giant Thank You to you all. These bloggers posses their own unique styles of representing their thoughts. Do make sure to visit their Lovely blogs.


  • Each nominee must thank the person who nominated them and link their blog in their post.
  • They must include the rules and add the blog award badge as an image.
  • Must add 7 facts about themselves.
  • Nominate 15 people to do the award!

7 Fun / interesting facts about me:

  • I believe that success in life is defined by: Experiences, Pursuing your Passions, Family and Friends, Learning/Improving/Evolving, Food, Travel, Music. PS: money is not part of the equation.
  • My current hobbies: Blogging, Cooking, Photography, Broadway Shows, TV Shows (Series of Unfortunate Events)
  • My favorite websites to peruse when I’m bored are: Quora, Daily Flight Deals, educational and self-improvement sites and articles. I believe social media is a huge time-drainer- I unfortunately use them more than I’d like. /sigh.



  • I am Vietnamese, born in the Philippines, and live in the United States. My parents were refugees from the war and I am forever thankful of the life they gave me. I’m hoping to write a book called The Refugees’ Daughter (or The Refugee’s Child – which title is better??)
  • I have been vegetarian/vegan all my life. My mom is best chef in the world, and I’m still learning.
  • Though I’m not a great writer, I love to write. I organize my thoughts through writing, and would be lost without my journal. Most of my thoughts come out as a page full of hectic, gibberish writing, but it makes me productive. I was freaking out on the bus to NYC when I had forgotten my notebook at home (18 hours by bus away). PS: electronic journalism will never replace my physical notebooks. 

My Nominees:

Shout out to all my nominees! You guys are awesome, let’s have some fun!! <3


Spread the LOVE 🙂


Letter to a Friend Who Has Drifted Away

Dear Nad,

When my partner and I moved to this strange new city into a small apartment of five people, you were the friendliest, most honest, and easy to get along with. We went out, saw theater productions, cooked, watched movies/TV shows, and even decorated our apartment for Christmas together! We bonded on how much we hated our roommates and landlord. We had introduced you to our friend, who is now your bride-to-be! Eventually, we decided to move into another apartment together. That was when things went downhill, wasn’t it?

Looking back on our almost 9-month friendship, I really wonder what had happened to make our relationship so short-lived. I guess it could only be explained by our fundamental differences. How could I not see it before? The 15+ years of age difference between us, perhaps? Or maybe because you’re a sales manager, making the six digits income, while I work from home (which you consider “unemployed”)? You’re able to afford fancy dinners and take-out meals, while I enjoy shopping for food, cook, and eat. You have fancy suits, while we’d rather spend money on travelings and experiences. We are in every ways the opposite. I didn’t think that any of these differences were a problem. Apparently, you did. I suppose living together is a whole different ball game from being roommates.

I am thoroughly shaken up by our last fight that had ended in angry, hurtful, and cold words. I can’t just be like you, and act like it doesn’t matter. I have always been the ones who reached out to you, to hang out, to talk about our issues, to ask you how everything is going… always the first one to put out. Even to the last minute, I had tried to reach out to you, tell you that I’m feeling hurt that you cared less about our friendship than we did, telling us that none of this mattered.

Friendships takes work, and if you’re the one has expectations, you probably won’t get very far. Still, I should thank you. In the end, I have learned a lot from our unfortunate relationship.

Good luck to you.


Dearest Nerual,

It’s not you, it’s me. I have a quick temper and a self-righteous mind. I rarely apologize or meet halfway when I think I have been wronged. I recognize that as my flaw, and am trying to repair it. I don’t connect with people as well as I’d like to- socially challenged you might say. You know that about me. We used to be best friends, making terrible jokes, sneaking off to check out another city, spending time at each others houses, watching movies together, talking about boys, and harmless gossip. I’ve learned so much from you. You taught me what “punch buggy,” meant and took advantage of my lack of knowledge to beat me at the game, which it incredibly unfair. I’ll have you know I’ve learned to get much better at it.

There are no years quite like the high school years. It was before I had the freedom to do anything, and you had showed me the joys in life. Your life was incredibly different from mine. We each had our own family problems. I loved your family like my own. I was upset when you were upset, and happy when you were happy.

I’m not exactly sure what went wrong, but if it’s what I think it is, then I can’t believe I let some small fight and bad temper get in between our years of friendship. Over the years, I’ve made several attempts to reconnect with you, but was gently shut down.  We have both moved on since. You’ve relocated and had made a career out of your dreams. I’m only sad that I am not in the picture. I miss you a lot. I just need to realize that some things need to be fixed right away, or you can’t turn back time. I wish you all the best.


A Blog Response to Daily Prompt: Bitter

Couchsurfing in Yokohama

Couchsurfing is a traveler’s best friend. For those who don’t know, it is a community of traveler-friendly enthusiast who host people as well as “surf” couches. A CouchSurf host is a friend in a who is also eager to foster cultural exchange; it’s the best way to experience local culture. To learn more about this awesome community, see this post for my little guide to Couchsurfing.

Our best Couchsurfing friend in Japan is good guy Keisuke. Our relationship with him as a little different as he did not host us in his house (which is typically the norm). I had just finished studying a semester abroad in Singapore, and he had helped us by holding on to my luggage while we were traveling in Japan.

We had met him at the Yokohama train station, which was daunting for several reasons. We chose to not buy a sim card, therefore we did not have data to text him. From two of his profile pictures, we might not have recognized him in a sea of Japanese people. The station was bustling with activity, so we weren’t sure if we would miss him. As we paced around, fretting, it turned out we didn’t need to look for him. Two people standing around, looking lost, with 2 luggages, and two backpacks tend to stand out. He found us pretty quickly. We liked him at first sight. He was so friendly, polite, and considerate. He offered to help me carry my luggage to his car. He had a car! Awesome! In the 6 months that I spent in Southeast Asia, I have only walked, taken the bus, or used the metro station. Keisuke had a car! I felt really spoiled.  As we kept thanking him over and over for how awesome he is, he was very humble and said it was his pleasure. He drove us around for a long time, taking us to different places. He didn’t mind, that he “loves to drive!!” I’ve never met anyone who is so excited over driving. ^_^ After walking and taking the metro everywhere in Japan, it was an amazing change to ride on a car. He explained that he only recently received his driver’s license, and that he should thank us. Where could we find a Keisuke in the US, please???

He took us to a mall where we had our first Japanese food court meal. We both had Yakisoba, which were delicious. Keisuke kept insisting on paying for us, as we are guests in this country. He spoke limited English (which is much more fluent than our non-existent Japanese), and occasionally we needed to use a translator app to get our thoughts across. It was a really interesting experience.

He then drove us to his work place “Trattoria Pesce D’oro”! We tried a delicious dessert sampler platter, courtesy of Keisuke, as he had employee discount.

The restaurant has delicious dessert!
Our dessert sampler!
My favorite photo with all of us together!

Keisuke welcomed us warmly and was incredibly helpful in recommending things for us to do in Yokohama. One of his best recommendations was to go to the Cup Noodles Museum, which I never knew existed! I love noodles. I’ve been a fan of ramen since I was born (a little exaggeration). I would eat if everyday, if my family didn’t stop me.

Does anyone else see that this is a logo of a girl falling? That’s the first thing I noticed about it, and apparently only I was able to see it…
 Thanks to our fantastic host, we were able to take a photo with the famous Yokohama Ferris Wheel. We will always remember him as the best host in Japan. <3