Dahyana Barraza, Iota Class | Humans of Psi | November 26, 2017
“A friend in high school once asked me, ‘Dahyana, do you think you belong here?’ It’s definitely not the friendliest or lightest thing that somebody can ask you. My relationship with this friend has since ended, but the question still plagues my mind because I’m always uncertain on how to answer it. Whether it’s within my family, my friends, or just the world around me, I ask myself if I belong. My initial instinct is to tell myself yes, but then I think of the person I am, and I start doubting myself to the point where I feel alone and disconnected. Then there are the people who don’t help. I feel that when I start to get comfortable in a group, I get asked a new form of the same question or told an opinion on why I don’t fit in. It puts me back to square one, and self-doubt rolls back in. But I’ve found a place in my line where I’m content. I used to think that my relationships with people were only temporary, but my line feels different. With them, I don’t need to fake a smile or force myself to feel comfortable. I don’t even think about the question. I let myself be myself. What speaks volumes is that they are always willing to look out for me no matter what trouble I get into. So even though I struggle with answering if I belong, I’ll always have the people who truly care to remind me that I do.”
Mark Wada, Zeta Class | Humans of Psi | November 16, 2017
“I’m a triplet. My brother studies in New York, my sister studies in LA, and I’m in SB. Since we all left for college at the same time, it never occurred to me how hard it would be for my parents not to have us home until last year. My dad went through some serious health issues. My dad was hospitalized multiple times, but thankfully he went through successful procedures. Although my mom is a very strong person, my dad would tell me she had a tough time without the three of us being there while all of this happened. It was hard for my brother in New York because he can only visit during the holidays. I also found out that my sister broke down because she felt that she had not been there enough for my parents despite living at home. If anything, I feel as though I should have taken the initiative to be there more for my dad, my mom, and my sister. But my parents understand that all three of us have our own responsibilities. My dad is recovering well now, and, despite our distances, I feel that all of this has brought us closer together.”
Jing Lan, Lambda Class | Humans of Psi | November 7, 2017
“Several of my friends and I volunteered in a rural community in China during the summer. It was in a village that’s isolated in the mountains. We volunteered to teach at their school. The principal was their only teacher. The school relies on new volunteers, like us, to teach their students. It was the only school in the entire village. I remember even the walls were falling apart. There was only one classroom which held 35 students. The youngest student was six, and the eldest was sixteen. What stood out to me the most was that there were only four girls. I remember talking to one of the parents. I told them that I would be willing to teach their daughters for free if they couldn’t afford to send them to school. But they told me no. They said that they would rather keep their daughters at home doing housework. Another man, around 80 years old, told me that if their daughters were educated they would be more aware and not obey the rules. I couldn’t believe that. It made me upset because I felt that I couldn’t do anything then. When we left, our group donated many books for those kids to read while they didn’t have volunteers. I feel so lucky now. There are some girls in China who can’t even go to school, but here I am getting an education at one of the most beautiful campuses. After volunteering there, I care a lot about education. I want to help not only the kids in those villages, but any kids who are disadvantaged in the education system.”
Lusa Yang, Iota Class | Humans of Psi | October 29, 2017
“Last year, I took a quarter off school. People would ask why, but I’ve only told a few people. Until recently, I wasn’t ready to share to everyone that I was a victim of attempted sexual assault. It was a challenging time for me. I remember having panic attacks when I walked in public. Even after a few months when I came back, I was still uncomfortable with the idea. It was hard for me to accept that it wasn’t my fault when all you hear about sexual assault is that it’s the victims to blame. Nobody deserves to feel this way. It’s taken time to come to terms with all of this, but I’ve become stronger. For the people who have gone through this experience, don’t be afraid, and never blame yourself. It’s never our fault - it certainly wasn’t mine.”
Li Miao Wang, Eta Class | Humans of Psi | October 23, 2017
“I have two best friends from back home. Our spontaneous adventures are always a good time. During my freshman year, while I was pledging, we decided one weekend to drive up to SLO. Come Sunday afternoon, we weren’t interested in going home just yet. I said to them, ‘You’re both not down to drive up to San Francisco.’ And that’s how we ended up driving up to San Francisco the same day. We didn’t really know what to do, but we went to some pretty interesting places. We were there until 12, and we got back to SB around 5 in the morning. I had two midterms the same day. I completely bombed one and salvaged a decent grade on the other. It was definitely worth it because that was one of the most memorable things we’ve done. We’ve been friends since high school, and I remember we cried the day we said goodbye for college. But we’ve made it work in the end, and our adventures still persist to this day.”
Vincent Liao, Lambda Class | Humans of Psi | October 13, 2017
“My aunt immigrated here as a single mother. She virtually had no support in raising my cousin. To put things into perspective, she didn’t even have an apartment to herself. She subleased a single room for her and her son. As he grew up, my cousin got involved with gangs. He loaned money to a guy who couldn’t pay him back. Instead of being apologetic over it, this guy came and threatened my aunt at point-blank. My cousin stood up to him, telling the guy that nobody points a gun at his mom. And just like that, my aunt watched her 21 year old son get shot down. Seeing her devastated, the eight year old me told her not to cry because I could be her son. Now, I treat my aunt like she’s my second mom, just as she treats me as her second son. My aunt and my cousin are part of the reason why no matter how sad I get, I never think of hurting myself. I wouldn’t want to put her through the same heartbreak of losing a son twice.”
Kimberly Tang, Eta Class | Humans of Psi | October 8, 2017
“We had three tennis coaches. One of them was a retired sheriff, Coach Gregg. On the weekends, he would host free lessons for those who could actually wake up at 7 AM. He would throw balls at us instead of using machines. One time I hit a ball back straight to his stomach. Everyone reacted except for him. I guess he was used to it. He was a very intense person, but he did so much for us because he wanted us to improve. There were private schools that paid their coaches to privately teach their students. He did it for free. I became dedicated to improve as a tennis player because of how much he wanted for us. During times where I was hard on myself during a match, he would always come up to me and say, ‘Just smile, it relaxes you.’”
Cheryl Hsiao, Iota Class | Humans of Psi | September 27, 2017
“My mom used to think I was bullied in the first grade because I told her I didn’t really have friends. That’s because there was this girl in my class who used to tell the other girls, ‘Okay, today we are not going to hang out with this girl, and if you do then we are not going to hang out with you.’ All the other girls would follow, but I felt bad for the girls that they didn’t want to hang out with. I always ended up hanging out with the girls they tried to exclude, so the other girls excluded me too. I guess I knew what was going to happen, but I didn’t feel bad about being inclusive.”
Jane Moon, Lambda Class | Humans of Psi | July 19, 2017
“From the time when I was very young until near the end of high school, I moved about 10 times, maybe more, to a variety of places across California, and even out of state to Florida and Texas. There came a point where I wouldn’t unbox anything because I knew I was going to move again. I tell people, 'Oh, you know, we just moved,' but there’s more reason to it than that. For my mom, those are the reasons I think at this point it would be best for her to move to Korea. There, she would at least have family to help her out. My mom tells me she wouldn’t want to be that far away from me, but in my perspective, I think I’ll be fine. If she moved out there, I know things would be way easier than it is for her now. After all the moving we did together, she deserves better.”
Andrew Kim, Lambda Class | Humans of Psi | June 19, 2017
“Throughout the quarter, people always asked me why I wanted to join APO despite the fact that I’m a senior. If you asked me two months ago if I knew I would be where I am today, I wouldn’t believe it. Before APO, I wasn’t very social, and I kept myself restricted within my own bubble. It’s so much easier to talk to strangers now, to strike a conversation with people like, ‘Hey wassup’ or ‘Lesss goo eat some food.’ At the end of the day, I feel that being able to say you’ve crossed into this fraternity is a rare thing. I have the pride to say that I did it, and I’ve done it with some of the greatest people who I can call my brothers and friends.”
Victor Tang, Epsilon Class |Humans of Psi | May 30, 2017
"Growing up as a twin is nice because you always have someone to talk to whenever you need to, but at the same time it’s tough to go out of his shadow. My brother was often better, smarter, and more athletic than me so I always fell second to him. It was hard for me to make my own place, and one of the reasons why I chose SB is because it was a new start for me."
Evan Lee, Iota Class | Humans of Psi | May 23, 2017
"There were a few situations in high school that made me have extreme low self-esteem issues. I feel like I wasn’t as vocal about my feelings and emotions compared to now. However, I came to learn to be very optimistic when life gives you a crappy situation, because everything does eventually get better. Some people may think that it's just a way to be in denial or cope with hardships, but for me it's something I truly believe in with all my heart."
Christian Veloira, Epsilon Class | Humans of Psi | May 17, 2017
"I was a lot more self-conscious when I was younger. In 7th grade, my dad had a heart attack and passed away. My mom couldn’t pay the mortgage of our house on her own so we had to move in with relatives in the south bay. I had to take on more responsibility and just grow up. I kind of realized that from the kids who I met at the new middle school; they were from wealthy families and lived laid-back lives compared to mine. I didn’t want people to judge me, so I spent the money I had on clothes and shoes just to look cool and hide my personal life. I never let anyone come in to my house. In high school, I met friends from similar backgrounds who understood the hardships I went through. I opened up and realized that I didn’t need to hide myself anymore, and that everyone has personal things that they want to hide. So now whenever I meet people, I try to understand them before all else."
Ashley Lee, Zeta Class | Humans of Psi | May 7, 2017
"I'm three-fourths Japanese and one-fourth Chinese. Although a lot of people assume that I'm Chinese because of my last name, I actually feel more culturally connected to my Japanese side. I owe this to my ba-chan (grandma) because she basically helped raise me and my siblings. My ba-chan and I are close, yet separated by a language barrier. She only speaks Japanese, and I only speak English. Our conversations either consist of broken English and Japanese words or are translated by my mom. Growing up, I took this for granted and never actually tried to learn Japanese. Today, I wish I did learn the language so we could have deeper conversations."
Steven Tragarz, Delta Class | Humans of Psi | May 2, 2017
"At boy scout camp during my freshman year of college, a camper, Timmy came up to me and said 'Mr. Steven, I don’t know how to complete my worksheets, I don’t know anything, and the other counselor is mean.' I told him that I am teaching right now, but to come back in two hours and I’ll be here to help him. Timmy came back in a few hours, and I looked at his book and saw that he needed help identifying leaves, so I took him to collect leaves. Every day after that, I would help him with his work for 20 minutes. After a week as he was leaving, he came up to me, gave me a big hug and said 'You are the best teacher I ever had.' 'Ever?' I asked. 'Ever.'"
Shari Azama, Kappa Class | Humans of Psi | April 24, 2017
"A lot of my resentment towards my dad stems from when I was heavier in middle school. The way he would teach me to be healthy was very passive aggressive. If I were to go for seconds, he would be like “Are you sure you want to eat that?” There was this one time I was eating by myself. He came towards me, looked at me and said “Shari, do you know you are getting a double chin there?” It’s just a bunch of things like that, him criticizing the things I did and the way I looked that made me feel very insecure about myself."
Edras Galvez, Kappa Class | Humans of Psi | April 16, 2017
"Jesse and I were just holding hands in the neighborhood when this lady was driving past us down the street. When she saw us, she stopped, reversed, and stepped out of her car. She walked up to us and said “Find Jesus please, this isn’t right!” She gave us a flyer and prayed for us before she drove away."
Daniel Zeng, Iota Class | Humans of Psi | April 10, 2017
"Pre-puberty me was pathetic. In grade school, I was known as the nerd. I was tiny, so I was really easy to get bullied. There was one kid in particular who physically bullied me like giving me wedgies, noogies, and wet willies. I told my teachers and parents but he still bullied me after that. I didn’t know what he had against me. I eventually was enrolled in a Tae Kwon Doe dojo, and I earned theself- confidence to stand up to him, threatening him with the authority of my yellow belt (Obviously, it wasn’t the belt that helped me but young me attributed everything to that belt until later on). In the later years of grade school, I wanted to get back at him. Roles were reversed, I ended up bullying him. I didn’t physically abuse him but my friends and I would call him stupid and fat, we even tried to get him expelled by framing him for something he didn’t do. I knew it had gone too far when he tried to jump off a building at the school. That was when I realized that my actions had consequences, and that even though I felt like he owed me in a sense, it didn’t justify me treating his life as some sort of joke at his expense and that no one should have to be on the receiving end of that pain."
Bryant Pahl, Iota Class | Humans of Psi | March 19, 2017
"There were several instances growing up when I was called gay. The idea of another man liking another man wasn’t a huge deal to me, but there were people around me who made it out to be. I was questioned so much about my sexuality that I felt forced to question it myself. But I know that I’m not, so when I would hear rumors where people thought that I was, I couldn’t understand how my feelings for someone could be determined by the way I looked or acted. No matter who I liked, I knew it was wrong for people to make others feel bad for their sexuality. So, in high school, I helped with an LGBTQ event that sought to rid stereotypes on sexuality. One part of the event had people read anonymously submitted phrases and guess if they were gay or straight. One of the phrases was, “Can I braid your hair?” I remember seeing like six people say, “yeah that guy is definitely gay.” But I came out to everyone and said, “Nah that’s me. I’m straight.” Being in college now, I understand that people can’t help if they assume another’s sexuality based on the social scripts they take. People who ask me now at least ask me because they’re genuinely curious. As long as people aren’t being disrespectful to LGBTQ+ community, I don’t care what they think of me because I know who I am. If anything, occasionally wearing pink and braiding hair has brought me closer to my girlfriend."
Tiffany Shieh, Theta Class | Humans of Psi | March 12, 2017
"When I was younger, I was really quiet and never wanted to draw attention to myself. I would usually keep to myself because I was scared of what people would think of me. But in high school something just clicked for me, I told myself not to care about what people think. I can only take what people say into consideration. That shouldn’t stop me from being me. Ultimately, that's up to me."
"I was always asked why I was so quiet, but if anything it just made me more quiet. I went through a lot when I was younger. My parents first started their separation in elementary school, which was a very emotional time for me. I felt it was best to close myself off from everyone because I didn’t feel like I needed to talk to anyone."
Mariah Tanaka, Iota Class | Humans of Psi | March 5, 2017
Annika Yip, Zeta Class | Humans of Psi | February 26, 2017
“A fellow CSO posted on our Facebook group asking if anyone could speak Chinese and translate for the police. I know Chinese, so of course I volunteered. I was needed ASAP, and within 15 minutes the police picked me up to meet up with a student's parents who flew in from China. The police told me I had to translate word for word that their daughter was found dead in her bed. They had found a professional translator the next day and for the duration for the parents' stay, but I'll never forget the feeling of having to hear her parent's words first - to hear them ask to see their daughter."
Shawn Wu, Zeta Class | Humans of Psi | February 20, 2017
"People say that Asian families don’t show emotions as much. I would say that's pretty accurate, at least from experience. Growing up, hugs weren't that common, nor were there many 'I love yous'. And that was totally fine for me, I still knew that my parents loved me, and that was enough. Recently, I read an article that showed a statistic, something about how 93% of the time you will ever spend with your parents is before your high school graduation. EVER spend. That really hit me. Not so much for me, but for my dad. He started working in Australia when I was in seventh grade and did not come back until last spring. I mean, he would visit two to three times a year and we would Skype once a week, but I can't imagine the struggle he still had to go through, living alone halfway around the world from his family. I did the math, that’s around 6 years, more than 30% of the time he would ever spend with me, but he chose to give that up. He did it for me, for me to continue my life in the U.S. and not have to worry about moving away from my friends. He sacrificed a third of all our possible time together so that I may get a better education to lead to hopefully a better life. So yeah, looking back, although we were never about hugs and kisses, we were about so much more. My family may not show our emotions quite as much, but we love each other just as much."
Jennifer Do, Zeta Class |Humans of Psi | February 12, 2017
"In my junior year of high school at a confirmation retreat, I wrote my mom an apology letter explaining that I was sorry for being an ungrateful daughter (and brat) and for pushing her away for all those years before. When my parents split up, I was blind-sighted by being angry at her for things that weren’t her fault and never realized that she tried to be close to me in little ways that I couldnot understand. Of course, she did not want to split up with my dad, but she had to do what she had to do. And despite all of my neglect, she took care of my sister and I all this time while my dad was not around. After my retreat and doing a meditation activity about my mother, I realized, “Wow, I was so ungrateful and so unappreciative of my mom.” The core of my family has always been just my mother, my sister, and myself—almost like the three of us against the world. After writing the letter, it was still hard for me to show my mom that I loved her. For example, when it was late one night, I asked my mom when she would be home but instead she took it as I was up to something and did not want her home when actually, I was worried why she hasn’t come home yet. So instead, I started to show my love for my mom (and everyone else) through my actions. Like cleaning around the house or visiting her during school. From then, I can now say that I am not afraid to openly tell my mom that I love her."
Andrew Wang, Eta Class | Humans of Psi | November 13, 2016
"People wonder why I call myself Chef. So here it is.
It’s actually a self given name. I found I had a knack for cooking when I was younger. I’d come home after school and used to watch all those cooking competition shows like Hell’s Kitchen. My go to snack those days was Chef Boyardee, I guess that’s where I got the name from. Cooking triggers a part of the mind I don’t usually engage. It allows me the freedom of expression and creativity."
"All I wanted was to be a Michelle or a Jennifer.
Growing up, I was always singled out and teased because of my name. There aren’t many Cocos around, especially during the early 2000s in the heart of Chinatown. In this day and age, celebrities name their kids all kinds of weird shit, but back then, my name was rare. Kids at my elementary school called me Coconut, Coco Puffs, Cuckoo, the list goes on. It might not sound like much, but to a second grader, it hurt a lot. It doesn’t help that my last name rhymes with my first. My name was a joke to my classmates. I hated the first week of every school year because that’s when the teacher would take attendance and call my name out loud. Everyone would stare and I would put my head down and curse my mom in my head for giving me this ridiculous name. As a result of all this, I picked up new hobbies and tried extra hard in everything I did in order to fit in. I learned how to play Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon so I could fit in with the guys, and I watched My Little Pony and Hannah Montana so I wouldn’t be left out of conversations with other girls. I developed a loud and forward personality to cover the fact that the jokes and nicknames affected me. I practiced and played every playground sport until I was good enough to beat my classmates and earn their respect. Over time, my peers grew used to my name and the teasing stopped. I learned to embrace the perks that came with my unusual name. Teachers always learned my name first, and it wasn’t long until everyone at school knew my name and face. If I forgot to put my name on my homework, I’d be punished and forced to write my name a hundred times before I could leave for lunch. That was a joke, because my full name is six letters long and it took me all of 5 minutes before I joined my friends in the lunch line. Nowadays, I couldn’t care less who calls me what. Michael Jackson has a son named Blanket, so yeah, I guess my name isn’t so bad after all.”
Coco So, Theta Class | Humans of Psi | October 12, 2016
Jeffrey Wong, Delta Class | Humans of Psi | May 17, 2016
My dad is one of the reasons I smile so often. He is a very funny and mostly carefree guy which I love and take after. However, I do not smile just because he makes me happy. There are times he disappoints me and my family because of his financial irresponsibility and I would be ashamed of him. As a kid I would smile for myself to cope as well as for my family to seem strong to them. I would like to think I was one of the more mature and realistic kids my age because the value of taking care of the people I love was instilled in me.
It was not until the interviews with my pledge brothers and active brothers during my freshman year that I opened up more about my dad. I thought I had a difficult childhood, but hearing their stories gave me a new perspective -- My childhood was not that bad. Of course I should not compare them, but how could I help myself when I try to empathize. The most important thing I learned through my Alpha Phi Omega brothers was not my childhood in comparison to theirs, but it was that I let it define my worth.
Now, I know to look forward while embracing my past. Now, I know I will be able to provide for my current and future family with my career already lined up if I keep pressuring myself. Now, I know my life goal is to be a father greater than my dad.
Martin Rodriguez, Delta Class | Humans of Psi | April 19, 2016
I don’t know what to say, though that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything on my mind. The issue is that I am not sure on what people are willing to listen to. I believe people don’t really care about what you have to say, but are simply waiting for their turn to speak. That is one of many factors as to why I choose to be reserved. Additionally, my thoughts, personality, and ideologies don’t necessarily abide by the social norm. I don’t believe the environment I am currently in, the college environment, is very accepting of unpopular opinions. As much as people advocate to be yourself and to be tolerant of people’s differences, in practice those ideals are flawed. I don’t believe people are really open-minded, I feel that is something people tell themselves to justify their stance on certain opinions. My beliefs are unorthodox, but through perspective I believe people would understand my cause. That’s not to say my beliefs are negative, though, they are thought provoking. That being said, I don’t believe people are very open to having discussions to view people’s perspective. I feel that discussions are up scaled into arguments due to the emotional response of the parties participating. I believe emotions cloud judgment and prevent people from progressing forward. I choose to be quiet, not because I am ‘shy’ or ‘afraid’ of what people might think of me, but because I have come to the realization that I may inherit disadvantages by showing the world who I really am….
To an extent I feel have been swayed to have a double life. The one everyone can see, and the one within. Not necessarily a completely different person, but simply omitting the characteristics I feel aren’t necessary for people to be aware of. I choose not to get involved in people’s lives and tend to push people away, not because I don’t like them as a person but because I don’t see a reason for it. I’ve lost the connections with every important person in my life. Why should I add on to the list? When it comes to family the connection was never really there, they’re just people I shared a house with for eighteen years. I know I am ungrateful for what I have, but I don’t know how to start a relationship, nearly 22 years too late, with a father who was an alcoholic, a mother who isn’t home, and a brother who doesn’t share any similarities. I don’t celebrate holidays of any kind, I don’t want to be recognized on my birthday, I don’t partake in graduation ceremonies or parties. I don’t care. That doesn’t mean I don’t like anyone or anything, I just don’t see the need for those activities in my life. I don’t find them entertaining and as much as I have tried I can’t see the fun in such activities. I do a lot of things on my own; I don’t like the idea of depending on someone else. I feel my life, and the path I want to take would be better off without close relationships. This way I won’t have anyone waiting on me…
As a child I wanted to be a police officer, but not for the right reasons. Instead of wanting to help people I just wanted to ‘catch bad guys’. Now that I am older I still have Law Enforcement on my mind. The environment I grew up in molded me in a particular direction. Back in my city I’ve been assaulted, I’ve had my life threated, I’ve been preyed on, I’ve seen people at gun point, I’ve seen things people shouldn’t ever have to see. I feel that it is everyone’s duty to make the world a better place before they pass on. I feel that I have to mold my environment, just like it did to me. We all hope to live in a world without violence, where people can truly be accepted for who they are, and are willing to make reasonable decisions to move forward. Will I see it in my lifetime? Probably not. The world is changing drastically; it almost feels hopeless to try and stop it. I live for those that don’t exist. I live to build a better future, that’s what we must leave as our legacy. In the end, I choose to be quiet, but that does not make me the absence of words.
Lanna Tau, Theta Class | Humans of Psi | April 15, 2016
“When I got to college I was super excited about everything. After my first year, my friend Christina who goes to SLO told me about APO. That’s why i decided to rush Fall Quarter. And that was probably one of the funnest quarters I’ve ever had even though I was super busy and crippled for half the quarter. It’s really funny looking back and thinking about it. Even though APO does get busy sometimes, it’s really fun. It made my college experience a lot better, it’s like a community here and it makes me feel like I have a home here. Pledge Retreat was super fun. I still remember, because that was one of the first times I talked to Amanda or Wicaksa, and they carried me to the beach like arm over over, and they barely knew me then. I just get a sense that everyone wants you to be there and everyone cares that you’re there.”
Courtney Simpson, Zeta Class | Humans of Psi | April 5, 2016
“I was always someone who was involved, I love meeting people and I love being a leader. It’s something I want to pursue in the future. That’s why I’m doing what I do now--being a leader in this awesome leadership based fraternity that leads through community service. I love helping make differences, I love helping people change, and l love helping people make whatever they need. When I was growing up as a child, my mom had bipolar disorder so she couldn’t really raise me and so I grew pretty independent--taking care of myself and my siblings. Even though it was a sucky childhood, I don’t think I would switch it because it made me who I am today. I’m helping others learn from my own mistakes by trying to get them to not make those same mistakes and to do better. Honestly, if my mistakes help people have better lives, then give me all the mistake you can because helping others is what I love to do.”