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Longhorn Confidential

driving into the summer

So for all of next week, I will be in Burnet, TX with no internet at all as part of an engineering leadership retreat called LeaderShape. This means that I have to say goodbye to this semester of blogging and to Longhorn Confidential a week earlier than everyone else. To start, blogging was an amazing experience and something that I want to continue on even after Longhorn Confidential. I have a very busy life, and I really cherished the moments when I was able to sit down and reflect on the direction and history of my life. I wish I could have blogged more this semester, but I thank you all for reading along throughout my sophomore year as I grew and matured. Somehow, this year has given me a lot of perspective and direction, and yet has also managed to confuse the hell out of me.

I want to thank all of the people at Longhorn Confidential who made this blogging opportunity possible and for supporting me along the way. I also want to thank my great friend and Fall ‘10 roomate, Reuben, who was the person who originally told me to try out for Longhorn Confidential. He heard about the opportunity and surprisingly thought I was interesting enough to join the ranks of the bloggers. I fully endorse him to try out for next year’s Longhorn Confidential as I think his life rotates on a much more interesting axis than mine.

So I guess I need to leave one life lesson or some type of message before I sign off. Thinking about it, I guess my message would be that expectations and “the plan” are usually very different from reality. I found that out this year in a number of ways – some good, some bad. Sometimes I found myself to be too much of an idealist and wanted people to share the same dreams and vision as I had, but usually these expectations are unrealistic. Even when I believe they are realistic, I am usually missing a blind spot. So have goals, have dreams, have desires, but always have a backup plan. Life is one big crapshoot sometimes, and even when you think you got it, you really really don’t got it. Curveballs will be thrown at you, but always stay strong. Consider what you want out of life, but always be ready for change.

It’s been great blogging for all of you guys and gals, but I got a long week ahead of me and a long summer ahead. Oh, I almost forgot! For my summer, I’m going to be working for a solar energy company in Austin and then heading to China for a vacation in August. I don’t think this summer will be as strenuous as my spring work, so I’m still looking forward to relaxing and unwinding a bit. Anyways, I gotta sign off for now, but if you ever see me walking around campus, please come and say Hi! I’d love to talk!

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May 22, 2011 | | By Bill | 2 Comments

When Bill Became Boyang

My parents moved my family to the U.S. when I was four; specifically we moved into some subsidized housing in a less than updated area of downtown Atlanta a.k.a the ghetto. Not really the prettiest place, but we had each other and we had hope. We quickly became friends with some of the other Chinese immigrants in the area, and one of the common ideals or dreams that all of us had was to reach the American dream. To us this meant moving from the ghetto into a house, owning a car, having American friends, enjoying copious amounts of food during the holidays, going on vacations, and in general being one happy American family. We saw what Americans had, and I think there was a real desire to become American.

When I entered school, this American spirit carried over and I began going by the American name “Bill”. This was easier to pronounce, it was a strong and popular name at the time, and perhaps the other kids would be more friendly to me if I wasn’t seen as an Alien, in both senses of the word. I really wanted to fit in. So I’ve gone by “Bill” throughout my time in school.

But recently, I am considering and believing more and more that I should begin using my real name: Boyang.  I feel that I no longer have to try to fit in with my name. By now, I am American. I have American tastes in music, food, and hobbies, and by now most if not all of my friends consider me to be an American citizen by culture. My family has all of the vacation time, cars, and houses that we could ever need, and I am proud to have lived the American dream. Boyang is now very important to me because it is the only thing that, on the surface, ties me back to my Chinese heritage. Boyang tells me how I am different from the other Americans and uniquely identifies me (I don’t know what my parents were thinking, but the name Boyang is not common in Chinese culture either). This is quite a situation reversal from 15 years ago when I was trying to switch into an American name, now I am trying to switch out. “Bill” has done its share of work, I’ve grown up with “Bill”, but soon it will be time to move on, or rather move back.

In this new global age, uncommon names are more common in schools and, more importantly to my future, in the workplace. Where I worked this semester, I was part of a very diverse team in terms of background and names, and I think I would have no problem fitting in if I used my real name. I’ve really thought a lot about this recently. In debating with myself this name change, the main con that I see is that it will cause a lot of confusion to my classmates currently. I think the best idea at this point is to continue introducing myself as “Bill” in college, but slowly transitioning over to Boyang as I graduate and meet new people in the workplace. Maybe I am thinking too much about this. What are some of your thoughts about this idea?

I even found an interesting article about a famous person who has undergone a similar transition. Could you imagine if our President was named Barry? (http://www.newsweek.com/2008/03/22/when-barry-became-barack.html)

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May 22, 2011 | | By Bill | 1 Comment

the recap of work

First off, I sincerely apologize for not updating this blog frequently these past three weeks. I’ve really been on a tear at work since Easter as the “final stretch” kind of came down. But now it is all better and I am finally finished with my spring co-op term; I’m just sitting at home relaxing right now (I’m actually prepping to head up to Austin for a leadership retreat) and really want to take a second to look back at what has happened since Easter-time.

I managed to complete a good portion of the projects that I was given, or at least enough that my bosses seemed very satisfied with my work. To make up for the slow start that I had coming out of the gate in January, I really had to crunch down and even work nights sometime to finish these projects. I was very motivated at the end and might have gone and tossed work-life balance aside for a bit in order to finish my projects, but I really do feel like I created something of value at my time at ExxonMobil. My final presentation went very well despite only a couple of practice runs, and the final report that I had to write is acceptable… One of the main problems with working in a technology group like I did is that almost all of the things that I worked on were proprietary, so there was definitely a lot of detail left out in my final report that I know could have increased the quality of the report. For my next co-op term during Summer 2012, the current plan is to move from ExxonMobil Chemical to ExxonMobil Production. Chemical is the very end of the cycle for petroleum where portions of petroleum get turned into basic chemicals that go into plastics and fibers like polyester. Production is the division of ExxonMobil that is involved with extracting the oil out of the ground and improving the facilities that do this. I think this will be a very different experience and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

One of the key takeaways that I have from work is a newfound professionalism. I think my maturity really stepped up a couple of notches after being in a work environment that requires constant teamwork within an older demographic. College kids are very motivated individuals, but oftentimes they prioritize fun and parties and booze over common sense and respect; which is something that I find very disappointing here at UT. I was able to see what the real world was like and really confirm the skills and attitude necessary to go places. And boy, do I want to go places…

So I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and instead of paying tuition, I got paid for a change. Two thumbs up!

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May 22, 2011 | | By Bill | Comments Off

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