The Yarn: My Story

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At Sloan, we have something called the Yarn. Once a month, 5-6 speakers from the community are chosen to share a story of deep importance to them. Some are funny, some make others cry, but either way they allow us to connected by sharing deeper parts of ourselves. Here is a link to some previous talks if you are interested.

Being someone who enjoys talking about herself, I’ve been throwing my hat in the ring every month since school started. This last go-around, I was chosen to tell my story. What I didn’t realize until the night of was that it was an all ladies night. I especially appreciated that (it just so happened to work out that way).

For some reason, I wanted to take the easy way out. I wanted to read a few excerpts from my book to give a glimpse into my childhood. Luckily, I met with one of the organizers to do a dry-run when she asked “why read something you’ve written rather than just telling the stories from your heart?” I realized I had become a little too fond of the work I had put into developing them and didn’t want to change it. But, the truth is, I’m good in situations like those and stories are so much better when told rather than read. Ultimately, I decided to tell the same stories, which also gave me more ability to read the room and adjust on the fly.

I requested to be the first to speak because I get pretty nervous if I have to sit in anticipation. I got up, told my story, and the entire time my arms got beet red from the nerves. Or maybe it was the bright lights. Yes, we’ll go with the bright lights.

Afterwards, a lot of people came up to me and thanked me for telling my story. It was really nice to get the feedback and everyone mentioned they are excited to read the book. At least 10 people told me they’d buy it, which means I only need to lock in about 999,990 more to have a chance at a book deal, right?

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These are the excerpts I was going to read. The first is the opening of the book, and the second describes a situation that occurred during 3rd grade.

“Katie, it’s all over. Everything. It’s done. The shit is hitting the fan here, it’s all over.” This was all Pat could say before his phone was taken away. I was sitting on the second floor in the Campus Center at school. It was my sophomore year of college and I was meeting with a tutor I had hired for help with my multivariable calculus class.

It’s strange, getting a call like that in a place that feels so safe. It was dinnertime and there was a lot of commotion on the floor below. I always preferred to sit near the balcony because it is so easy for me to daze out when I watched everyone else. I practically lived in that building my four years at Macalester. It was the center of life on campus, and because the student government offices also resided there, the center of my life.

My tutor was a fellow calculus student. She was extremely smart and really nice, if not a bit of an outcast, so one day after class I bashfully approached her and asked her to help me study. I quickly offered to pay her for her time, knowing that succeeding in this class would be more valuable to me than any money I could throw at her. I also think I felt comfortable approaching her because of the fact that she was a little over weight. As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t have the highest self esteem at times and approaching someone who was “below me” made me more comfortable.

Tonight wasn’t about that though. I was no longer concerned about getting all of my calculus homework done or even doing well on the quiz the next day. I had to, once again, step in to worry about, and take care of, my mother.

Yet, I had nothing to go off of. I knew nothing really, other than shit was “over.” What did that even mean? I packed up all of my belongings and rushed out of the building. I had no idea where to go- where does one go in situations like this? I couldn’t go “home,” if home even existed anymore. After a brisk walk across the campus on what had been, and I guess still was, a beautiful autumn day, I ultimately found myself outside my best friends’ dorm room.

I first met Devin and Mollie the week before classes started during orientation. It was a simmering late August day and without air conditioning, I was melting. Their dorm room door was open and on the inside, there was a fan. I hesitated for a moment, but then walked in and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Katie and I’m melting – can I sit in front of your fan?” I pressed ahead before Mollie even had time to respond. By the chuckle she let out, I knew it was going to be fine. “I’m Mollie,” she replied, “it is nice to meet you.”

Mollie reminds me of a character I would read about in a children’s book. She has beautiful, brown curly hair, a kind smile, and a style that would make you feel comfortable leaving your kids with her for the evening. In fact, I instantly trusted her as I walked in her room that hot summer day.

After a few minutes of small talk and sitting spread eagle on the floor in front of a whizzing fan, Mollie’s roommate walked in and gave me a look that conveyed “what the hell are you doing spread eagle on my floor?” Mollie, seeing that I was at a loss for words, chimed in “This is Katie, she lives across the hall.” Devin let out an exasperated breath and I skedaddled out of there without much more than a “goodbye!” Let’s just say, this was the better of my first impressions that introductory week of college. The next interaction we had went a lot better. As a petite, blonde jewish girl from Wisconsin, Devin surprised me with her love of The Simpsons, a mutual obsession.

By the time I got to their room, tears were pouring from my eyes and I was in a deep state of panic. I couldn’t make out any words and I couldn’t decide how, or if, I wanted to tell them. Yes, something bad was going on at home, but home and school don’t mix. My life at college was in no way connected to my life at home and bridging that gap could have disastrous effects. But, what could be worse than what I was already facing?

I don’t know how long I sat on their futon hyperventilating. Mollie was sitting next to me trying to console me while Devin was handing me a continuous supply of Kleenex. I had spent just as much time in their room as I had in my own, so I definitely felt comfortable there. I knew I couldn’t be alone, but at the same time I hated ruining their evening. They were both good kids, working hard on homework, and here I was messing it all up.

I eventually began to talk.

“For as long as I can remember… my mom has sold drugs,” I said. They listened intently, with supportive and encouraging demeanors. “I just got a call from Pat and I have no idea what it means or what even happened, but he was crying. He said it was all over and the cops were there.” From what I could discern, my house was being raided. I knew it wasn’t a joke because I had heard the cops voice, but other than that I had no more information to go off. I did not know who specifically was there, why it happened (rather, what specifically set it off), or where all my closest family was.

Suddenly, as quickly as I had entered their room, I now needed to leave. I felt cloister phobic and I needed to yell. I needed to run and scream and cry. What I wanted was for someone to understand. Mollie and Devin were my best friends, but they came from such different families. They had perfect upbringings, parents who loved each other, enforced boundaries, and above all else, stability and security. How could they possibly understand what I was going through? How I felt like everything had been pulled from underneath me?

I thought talking to Alice might help. Alice was another close friend of mine, but unlike others, she had seen things in life. I knew that her father had struggled with alcoholism and that her family had their own faults. Mollie didn’t want me to leave alone, so her and Devin walked me over to Alice’s room.

I managed to stop crying as we walked through the buildings and underground tunnels. Often a blessing, Macalester is a small campus in St. Paul, MN. Tunnels and skyways connect a majority of the building to protect us in harsh winters. Today though, the smallness was suffocating and I didn’t want everyone to see me crying.

Once outside Alice’s room, we knocked a few times but got no answer. Eventually I just tried the knob and luckily it was unlocked. Alice was actually just sleeping on her bed. It was still relatively early, seven pm or so, so we tried to wake her up. She was groggy but was able to look up and recognize that we were in the room.

“What…? Huh? What do you guys want? I’m sleeping,” she said, clearly not happy to see us there.

“My mom has been arrested and I don’t know where to go or what to do,” I pleaded with her, hoping she would know the right thing to say.

“That sucks…” was all she managed to grumble before she passed out again. We learned later that she had taken a few pills and really had no recollection of us even coming in.

So there I was. 19 years old, just trying to make something of myself. My mom had just been arrested for drug dealing (I presumed) and I had no one to turn to. Alice was right, it did suck.


Before long, I realized something was going on downstairs. A combination of others talking in hushed voices and me always being asked where I was going if I went into the basement, clued me in. I started hanging out downstairs more, hoping to pick up on what was happening. Mark basically lived down there, playing video games or watching wrestling. Him and I became close during that time, and I developed a crush on Lara Croft.

My ploy worked like a charm. Every few hours, someone would come downstairs and enter the closet underneath the stairs. Sometimes there was a light glowing from inside and other times there was not. Once I saw inside, I realized what a dipshit I had been; weeks before, I found a roll of super awesome metallic wrapping paper that I wasn’t even allowed to touch. I thought they were just being selfish with the wrapping paper (something I understood) until I finally saw inside the closet. The walls were lined with it!

Let’s be honest; I wasn’t an idiot. The instant I looked in the closet, saw the lamps and the soil, I knew what was going on. Even though I was never explicitly told, I knew I was never to talk about what I saw in there.

So, a few months later when social services pulled me out of class, I knew what to say. The woman was really nice. She told me who she was, said she had received concerns about things going on, and just wanted to check in on me. As warm as she was towards me though, I knew she was the enemy. I knew that if anything happened to my mom or if anyone found out about certain stuff, she would take me away from my home.

The initial questions were harmless on the surface “does your mom have friends over a lot?” But I knew what she was digging for, and even though I knew how I had to answer, I was scared as shit that she would be able to see through it.

“I know she recently moved in with a man,” she began, “did you know Mark long before he moved in?” Of course I didn’t know him long, we had only lived in Minneapolis a few months “yeah,” I answered, “I’ve known Mark for a while now and I’m really happy he moved in with us.”

“How are things going living with another person now?” was her next question. “Well, even though it has basically been my mom and I forever, I’m used to having people live with us, like my cousins and stuff. So, it wasn’t weird for me.”

Soon her questions became more direct, “do you ever have bad dreams about Mark?” Instantly I got a knot in the pit of my stomach. Yes, in fact, I had been having really bad dreams lately, scary things about Mark. How did she know that? Was I being that obvious with my lies? “No, of course not, I like Mark a lot,” was all I could muster.

Next she went back to my mom. “Does your mom work at all?” Crap. This one through me for a curve ball. She didn’t work, but employment is more verifiable. Plus, it is illegal to work and not report it, so, even if she was working under the table she would get into trouble. “No, Mark has been really great and helps my mom out when she can’t find work.” Seemed… reasonable… no?

If you knew my mom, it most definitely did not. But I was banking on this woman being a stranger and not really knowing the ins and outs of who my family was.

“Does your mom like to garden?” was her next angle. “No, she hates plants. Once I got her an aloe vera plant for mother’s day and she managed to kill that thing in months!” I thought that by adding more context it would help sell my story. “Have you ever seen plants growing inside?” was the last of her questions. “No, I’ve never seen any plants.”

At the end, she gave me her business card and told me I could call her anytime if I ever needed something. I knew damn well I didn’t need that card though. So, the second I was brought back to the classroom, I took the card and flipped it into the trash. I remember thinking how bad ass I was doing that, like, I was protecting the family and no one could break me.

That evening, when I got home, my mom and Mark were already fighting about it. After visiting me at school, the social worker went to my home. Mark was the only one there at the time because he had weird work hours. This time, they didn’t even worry that I was listening. Turns out, one of my mom’s friends got upset with her because she had cut her off. So, in order to get back at my mom, she called social services. My mom vowed to never deal with the woman again, she was hysterical. She was never really concerned about herself, but as soon as anything affected me, her precious baby, she couldn’t hold back.

The Zoo in China

I’ve been to zoos in the United States before, and I have never seen anything like what I saw at Yunnan Safari Park. I don’t know if I’m being hyper critical because something in my own beliefs has changed, or if the conditions were truly much worse, but I have never left a zoo feeling so terrible.

First, they had these small tigers in an enclosed space that had extremely short sides. If I were a cat, I could totally jump out of it. Unless, of course, my hamstrings (or something) were cut. Which is what could have happened to these poor babies.

IMG_0781Next, they had these beautiful peacocks, including an albino(!!!) tethered to benches for people to sit on to take their pictures with. It made me sad to see this, but all in all isn’t the worst that I saw.

IMG_0791I believe the worst part was how I don’t think they are feeding the animals enough. The lions and tigers were so thin, I can’t believe they are being fed adequately. A friend I was with suggested maybe they just have been refusing to eat. However, because they allow people to purchase meat to “dangle” to feed to these cats, and seeing the way they fought over it, I have a hard time believing they are just choosing not to eat. I should not be able to see their ribs like this!

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The last straw for me was in the kitty hut. They had baby tigers that they allowed children to pet. These animals were larger than small dogs though, and nothing I would even get close to. Soon after we arrived, the kitties got hungry and started rebelling a little. In return, the “trainers” pulled them back from the gates by their tails, repetitively. Isn’t that super mean?

What do you guys think? Am I being over critical or is this terrible treatment of animals?

Travel from hell –> Pretty good week

 

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What started as the worst week ever turned fantastic pretty quick.

Traveling back from China was the worst 26 hours of my life. Physically. I’m sure I had worse emotionally, especially when I was an emo-teenager. Something I ate on Saturday, most likely the dinner of dumplings, made me sick. I didn’t realize this until 5am the next day when Victor showed up at my door to take me to the airport. I was still sleeping and hadn’t yet packed, but he was an hour early so I fully believe I would have gotten ready on time had he not been early.

Once in the car, I took out the barf bag I had been carrying around with me all week “just-in-case,” at Victor’s request. It was the mix of the driving around (which was obviously terrifying) and being up so early, and my upset stomach could barely handle it. I did make it to the airport, but the second I was through the door I had to run to a bathroom. Luckily I actually stumbled into one with an actual toilet rather than a hole in the ground.

I cleaned up and went back out to meet Victor and Anya who were seeing me off. Victor wanted to grab breakfast but I was like “omg I will just throw up again” and decided not to eat anything. We said our goodbyes and I made it through security. I wanted to buy a bottle of water because I was pretty thirsty, but apparently it is impossible to buy bottled water at the airport in Kunming. They did, however, have little water machines with paper cups every now and again so I tried to use one of those. I couldn’t make the water come out. I ended up texting Victor and he gave me instructions. It shouldn’t have been that hard.

Having something in my stomach again made me feel ill, so I went to the bathroom. But BAM! there were 15 women in line. So, I left the bathroom and used the garbage can sitting outside, right on the main walkway of the entire airport. After successfully throwing up into recycling (oops!) I made my way to my gate and painfully waited over an hour because it was delayed.

Once on the flight, still thirsty and dehydrated, I got apple juice from the flight attendant when she came around. That didn’t work either so within 5 minutes I was throwing up in the bathroom of the plane. I sat back down again. By now, you’d think I had it all out of my system. I realized this was false when I felt ill again and went to the bathroom, again. There was a line, however, and stupid me didn’t bring my barf bag with me. As I stood there waiting I was carefully evaluating whether or not I could hold it. I eyed the seat pockets of those around me just in case, when all of a sudden I knew I had to reach for one. A seven year old boy had his sticking out a bit, and even though he was at the window seat I leaned in and swiped it. And voilà, there I went again.

The flight attendant saw me this time and brought extra bags for me as well as a small cup of water. Hot water, obviously, because this was still China. I didn’t drink much more than a sip because of my inability to keep it down. I eventually went back to my seat and tried to nap. I wasn’t able to do so, but soon we started landing anyway (it was about a two hour flight). About as soon as the “remain in your seats we are landing now” announcement was made, I needed to throw up again. I felt really bad for the man sitting next to me, no one should have to experience stranger-vomit. Thankfully it was mostly liquid at this point though and therefore wasn’t overwhelmingly stinky. Yay!

He only spoke Chinese but tried to show me some hand pressure points that would help make me feel better. It was hard to hold my barf bag and really do what he was showing me, but at least I tried.

Once in Shanghai, I had to get my new ticket printed and make it to the next terminal. I found my way to the singular Delta counter in the airport and attempted to get my ticket. However, they said I needed to grab my checked luggage first, even though the woman in Kunming explicitly told me I wouldn’t need to. Okay, so I sickly walk to baggage claim 7, where she told me, only to find she meant 1. Once I get to 1, most of the baggage had come out and it was clear mine wasn’t there. This is when I began to cry. I called Joe at $1/minute because I just felt alone without any ability to communicate and sick ans arrggg.

After making sure my luggage wasn’t indeed anywhere, I went back to the counter to tell them so. While listening to them decide what to do, I throw up again. Luckily I had the extra bags from the flight. They had to check for the luggage themselves, obvi, so there was more walking around. Eventually they said “it isn’t here” and finally just printed my tickets. Because I didn’t think I would be going through security again, I bought a water which they actually sell in Shanghai. I knew I would throw it up but I was just so parched.

Once I was in line for security, whoops, I saw some classmates of mine who were stationed in Shanghai for their project. I was just so so so excited to see people I knew and was able to communicate with. I just felt bad they had to watch me vomit while standing in line, but they handed me tissues and were really helpful.

You know how they always have garbages right before the x-ray machines for all the things you forgot you had? Yeah, they don’t do that in Shanghai. So when I get up to the front of the line I find I have nowhere to place said barf bag. I had to carefully hand over a warm bag of vomit to a very nice looking security woman who only spoke Chinese. She then passed it to a coworker and so forth – it finally found a garbage.

For some reason I thought that a skittle would be a good idea. Well, maybe I didn’t even think it would be a good idea but I needed something to get the taste of vomit out of my mouth. While it didn’t get the taste out because it came back up pretty quickly, it was sort of like one of those pills that makes your poop smell good. I still had to go through it but it didn’t taste as bad.

At this point, I was only 6 hours into the 26 hours of travel.

The next leg was a 14 hour flight. Once I made it on board, I warned my seat mate of my “motion sickness” just so I didn’t catch her off guard. I was on the aisle though, so at least she wouldn’t need to get up every time I needed to throw up. Surprisingly I only had to get up 3 times during that long flight, and towards the end was even able to eat some bread and managed to hold that down. Winning!

This flight was incredibly turbulent though. I really thought I knew I was going to die. And, at that moment, there was nothing I could do so I kind of just tried to stay focused and think of happy things. I ended up feeling very calm knowing that I would die, and I convinced myself that I didn’t want my last moments to be in pain so I somehow willed myself to numb away my stomach ache.

I couldn’t concentrate on any movies and I couldn’t read or play cell phone games, so I just sat there and reflected and maybe drifted to sleep once or twice. 13 hours later I’m finally in Detroit and I felt a lot more calm and not as freaked out. I didn’t even care that my luggage wasn’t there either, I just told the agents and they let me through customs anyway.

Only 3 hours of waiting and a 2 hour flight stood between me and Joe. I could handle that. I finally had real internet access again, so I watched some Criminal Minds on Netflix while waiting and then slept for the whole flight. Joe picked me up at the airport and we went to file the claim for my missing luggage together. It was actually kind of nice to not have to drag it around. Instead, it was going to be delivered!

Once home at midnight Monday morning, I slept solidly until 4pm the next afternoon. I missed class, but that’s okay in situations like this. I stayed up for a few hours and was able to fall asleep with Joe that night. Jet lag is a crazy thing.

The next day, everything in life was just so much better. My first class of the day was a new class called “Managing in Adversity.” Every class a different CEO or leader come in to share stories of how they, get this, managed through an adversity. First up? Ed Davis, former police commissioner of Boston, who was in office when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred.

It gave me goosebumps listening to the story through his point of view. All the people he had to interact with, all the things he saw and decisions he had to make. It made me want to join the law enforcement it was so powerful.

That night, I had a networking event for Netflix at the Lenox hotel. This hotel was right near one of the blast sites and was mentioned in the case we read in preparation for Ed’s talk. Even though I’ve been by there tons of times since moving to Boston, after hearing from Ed I definitely experienced it differently.

The Netflix event was awesome. I’m so in love with their focus on analytics and how they use data, I just want to work for them forever. They even had more women at the event than men, which adding this to their recent addition of Anne Sweeney to their Board of Directors, it is clear they value women in business more than most other tech companies. It is seriously such a dream company for me, I’m going to really try to pursue an internship with them even though they typically don’t bring us on.

10,000 Women Program

I knew that participating in China Lab would be a fantastic learning experience from the start. I didn’t, however, expect to be working on something so impactful.

The 10,000 women program, sponsored in part by Goldman Sachs, is an incredibly inspiring program. They take women from all over the world and supply them with the skills necessary to create and build their own companies.

All of the teams in Kunming are partnered with graduates from this program. Our CEO for Hanhung Folk Art went through the program after launching her company in 2003 and is just one example of the effect this program has. Because of my strong passion for female empowerment, I would have chosen a Kunming project instantly had I known about this partnership. Being a part of this makes me feel like what I’m working on is truly making an impact on something important.

Working with women from China and seeing first hand the changes this type of program can create it just another one of the many reasons I’ve loved this experience. I can’t wait to continue to support the 10,000 women program and women who are starting their own companies in other ways.

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Read this post at its original location here.

Saturday in China

Holy crap is this really my life? Saturday was a free day from work, so my hosts said we could do what ever we wanted to. Thanks to Pinterest, I knew of a local tourist destination called Stone Forest, and suggested we go there. It was only about an hour outside of the city and we got there around 11am. It was absolutely stunning and amazing and holy crap how is that even natural? It was an incredible experience and makes me excited to one day see the grand canyon too…

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Afterwards, we went to lunch at a place that was clearly very upscale.

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But we had beer too so it was all good. Next, we went go get massages at the most crazy place I’ve ever seen. I seriously thought it would just be a normal massage joint, but we got there and it was just breathtaking. There were large velvet couches, huge chandeliers, and a staff that could only tell me how beautiful I am. Then, we went to go shower where they had new toothbrushes and all these other amenities for us. We then put on robes and got led to bedrooms and were brought blueberry juice. My masseuse came in sporting a Maserati t-shirt and I knew I was in heaven. After an 80-minute massage and a foot shaving – seriously – I went to the buffet. Thankfully they had corn and cauliflower and watermelon so I got filled up on that. Here we all are in our robes:

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After eating and dominating (aka, losing my ass) in ping-pong, we took a cab to the local KTV spot. I was under the impression that this karaoke place would be similar to karaoke in the US: tons of people, one stage, lots of drinking, etc. However, we arrived at this luxurious place with huge chandeliers and men in suits everywhere. They brought us to our private room, which would be ours for singing for the night. I had never seen anything so cool ever.

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There we drank a lot and they delivered food, such as chicken tenders and French fries, to our room. I sang Sara Barielles (for Joe) and Hanson and Adele and Taylor Swift and Steven Tyler (because I love him) for the whole night. If we had something like this, at a similar price, in the US, I’m not sure I could ever be torn away. Pretty sure I’ll need to have one in my house some day. Best. Day. Ever.

Editor’s note: Kate is in China and unable to post herself, so I’ll be uploading her submissions as they make their way to me.

Hanhung Folk Art – Week 1

Our team has made a lot of progress this first week in China. On Monday, we went to the Folk Art factory and were finally able to meet the CEO. After seeing the bags in person, we were impressed with the great quality of the handbags and the wide assortment of styles and designs. After a tour, we had the opportunity to dig deeper into what the current problems are and started forming our strategies.

On Tuesday we went to both of the local specialty stores that sell Folk Art handbags. The first one was located in a huge mall targeted at tourists called Flower City. The visit began with a walk through the most beautiful flower garden ever.

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Once in the shop, we did some customer surveys to understand more about why they chose to buy (or in some cases, not buy) Ms. Camellia handbags. Thankfully our Yunnan University teammates were with us to translate because we got a lot of great information.

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Since then we have just been putting together our recommendations in the PowerPoint for Monday. Between now and Monday we hope to practice at least 5 or so times, and then we’ll present our current findings to Ms. Ren and the faculty for the projects.

This weekend our hosts are taking us to the Stone Forest and I could not be more excited! They have been so wonderful, showing us around and just generally taking care of us. It has been an amazing experience so far!

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Read this blog again at its original location here.

China Is Amazing

I’ve only been in China now for just over a day and I already know I love it. The flight here was extremely long and taxing, made worse by my cold, but now that I’m here I’m glad I’m staying awhile before having to go back.

The first thing that caught my attention was the cars. There was a pink Bentley at the airport and it was beautiful and amazing. All of the other cars are really nice too – the man that picked me up from the airport, Victor, was driving a pretty nice BMW. Within the first 10 miles I also spotted a Maserati and the rest are really modern too. Up until this point my experience in other countries, Egypt, Costa Rica, Mexico, even Italy, has been that their cars are pretty old and not as nice. I asked Victor about it and it turns out that they have to pay 100% import tax on cars too. So, they are hella expensive.

This doesn’t make it any less scary when they are whizzing at you on the highway though. The traffic laws seem to be lacking, or, potentially the only one they enforce is no running red lights. Otherwise people don’t stick to their lanes or use turn signals either. That part feels pretty standard for outside the US.

I’m also treated like a princess here. We went to the zoo and I got all dressed up in fancy Chinese dress, and they lightened up my face more because light is beautiful, they say.

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But on top of that, I feel very comfortable here. Everyone wears colorful outfits and has bright pink luggage too. I’m seriously in love with their style here, I feel like I fit in. AND! They wear fanny packs. It is beautiful. The only reason I didn’t bring mine was that I didn’t want to look weird… now I’ll know for next time :)

I’ve had trouble eating with the chop-sticks, maybe I should have practiced first. I’m not going hungry though, and even if I do a little that’s okay because I was still carrying around Christmas weight. Anyway, I now know to ask for a fork if I think I need one. Last night we went out to dinner and I tried pig skin, bamboo, tofu, and some really spicy soups. The pig skin was a little tough for my taste, and some of the soup really spicy, but I’m happy to be eating authentic food rather than just McDonalds (which I can get literally everywhere).

Another potential reason I’m not going hungry is that I’ve discovered Oreos. And not just any Oreos, Chinese Oreos, which surprisingly are different from American Oreos. There are just a lot more flavors. So last night Victor took me to a store and we bought every flavor they had. Strawberry, Green Tea, Blueberry/Raspberry, Mandarin Orange, Grape/Peach, and Vanilla Ice Cream. I also got these amazing chocolate covered Oreo wafers, which were better than they have any right to be.

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Re: Water. They have to boil water to drink it from the tap here, and so with dinner, they served hot lemon water. I then asked if I could get a bottle of water too because the food was so spicy, and they apologized that it was cold but I said that’s how I like it. Even the beer I had was room temperature, it is interesting that they don’t drink cold things much, especially when it is so hot here! In Kunming, it has been and will continue to be a consistent 80 degrees every day. Which could be another reason why I love it so much.

Editor’s note: Kate is in China and unable to post herself, so I’ll be uploading her submissions as they make their way to me.

Kunming Folk Art, here I come!

Tomorrow I depart for China in my first ever trip to Asia. Having traveled so little prior to Sloan, I made it a priority to start seeing the world. Participating in China Lab allows me to both gain exposure to a new country while also learning about business abroad. China plays such an important role in business that I’m excited for my first experience with it.

I’m working with a small company called Folk Art, which makes and distributes handbags and dolls both domestically in China and abroad. Along with my team, I been evaluating potential opportunities to increase profit margins and improve sales overseas. This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to truly evaluate a marketing strategy and it has been a great learning experience.

While I’ve been spending so much time preparing for the project though, I’ve let some preparations for travel fall to the wayside. I still haven’t packed, (my flight leaves at 7am tomorrow!) I haven’t researched places nearby my hotel, nor have I learned even one word of Chinese. I don’t have a power adapter and I’m not sure what websites I’ll be able to access while there. Good thing I am an expert at “winging” it.

– Read this again here: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/student-blogs/china-india-lab-2015/kunming-folk-art-here-i-come/#sthash.dNMIbMx2.dpuf

Power/Rangers for class

For my Social Media class today we had to complete a case analysis on a person, company, or issue. I ultimately chose to go with the Power/Rangers video launch for two reasons. First, it stars Katee Sackhoff and I think she’s the coolest woman ever. Second, it is super relevant and just happened within the last two weeks so it was compact yet fresh.

In addition to a short write-up (2 pages), we had to give a 2-3 minute presentation on the content. My visual aid was just a screenshot of the YouTube page because unfortunately I didn’t have time to play any of the video. When I first started I asked “how many of you have seen the Power/Rangers reboot?” No one had. Well, actually someone raised their hand halfway and said they didn’t watch the whole thing. For the rest of it, people listened respectfully and I said my part, but I couldn’t help but feel sadness in that I was the only one out of my entire social media class that had seen or was even aware of this video. If I’m not going to find other fankids in my classes at MIT, where am I going to find them?

All sadness was completely overshadowed by the fact that I was tweeted to by Katee herself though. If a badass like her is proud of me, then I’m proud of myself.

 

Zoombinis, a lonely obsession

Growing up I was all about computer games. I think the obsession started at school, where we would play things like Oregon Trail and Kid Pix. Zoombinis is quite potentially one of my favorites. I believe I started playing it in either 2nd or 3rd grade…

About 5 years ago I actually bought a CD-ROM version of the game from eBay. It was just as magical as I remembered it. So, when I saw online that the original company plans to revamp the game, I was obviously beyond ecstatic. A kickstarter was just launched for TERC to develop the game for both tablets and PCs. (I’ll be able to play it on my iPad!!!)

In addition to instantly backing this project, I started telling everyone else about it. At school, while in a group of 4 people or so, I brought up the fact they are re-making it. No one knew what I was talking about. No one had played it. The next time I was a little safer about it. I asked the group if they had ever played it instead of blurting out “omg did you hear they are re-launching Zoombinis isn’t that so exciting?!” but none of them had. How is it that I am at MIT and none* of my peers have played this educational video game?

One guy did bring up the Dinosaur Zoo game though, which I had forgotten about but am excited to have rediscovered. I also really liked 5th Grade Adventures which, although I didn’t realize it until now, had a lead female character and that may be why I like it so much.

I do find comfort that over 2100 people have backed Zoombinis though. So, while I might be alone at MIT Sloan, I am not alone in the world.

*Sample size of 14