On Distances

“If you are coming down the narrows of the river Kiang
let me know beforehand and I will come out to meet you
as far as Cho-Fu-Sa.”

-Li Po, translated by Ezra Pound

What I am, ever, is this: composure of stone.
Spare weather visiting the garden, small as the hours
I keep watch by. Beyond this wall

Must be better weathers. This claw of stars
Must constellate somewhere into a bear.
Else names would lie.

Since winter’s thaws, no script from you
Save this: “I travel the river and follow
The white gulls —”

Husband. See me walking the dusty pass
Where loom our prior lives?
Here the years pass that I enshrine

Within these walls, sparing nothing
From the ardors of my stare. Blue plums,
Paired butterflies repeat you

In a walled world. I tell myself
To clear the moss, mend the gate
So long unswayed and caked with dirt,

But nothing moves. Somewhere
You are actual. Happen to me there.

As Far As Cho-Fu-Sa, Mookie Katigbak


One of my favorite poems since my undergrad days as a Creative Writing major.

Lots of things have happened the past few months for me: I happened to find love after coming back from the Philippines; to say it’s “true love” is still next to uncertain: he talks way more than I do, laughs way more than I do, knows things way more than I do, insists that we see each other once again as soon as we part ways, meets my family, introduces me to his, loves it when I smile out of embarrassment, loves it when my brown eyes meet his blue ones, gets engrossed with romantic gestures, and then, what else, what else–hmmm, I don’t know anymore. But everyday I wake up and tell myself I’m choosing him, over the small mistakes and the huge uncertainty of our future (“I don’t know where I’ll be in six months,” I tell him while he holds my hand), I’m choosing him, through the good and the bad things that happened in our past, and yes, I’m choosing him, even when he’ll be gone for a while, because he has promised me one thing: he’ll be back before I know it and when he does, he’ll come back home, which is, in this case, back to me.

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Hope in Hack-for-Humanity

When Professor Mike Grandinetti first realized that students need to be more aware of the business realities happening throughout the world, he decided to have a Hack-for-Humanity Hackathon. According to him, to hack is to “create a quick solution to a problem.” The other word, he mentions, is marathon, which he defines as “a fast-paced demo.” With this coinage, hackathons accelerate innovations, lending humanity the ability to propose groundbreaking solutions with the right guidance and motivation. Having supervised several Hackathons for many years, Prof. Grandinetti believes that solutions come from intense brainstorming breakthroughs with optimistic collaborations.

Given the four tracks that correspond to a certain challenge proposed by a chosen NGO, the Hack-for-Humanity Hackathon invites students to participate in the day-long event filled with adrenaline rush and inspiring lessons to learn. Representatives from RecycleHealth, Rethink Relief, Rosie’s Place, and Green Hope Schools presented their goals and needs for their institutions. From providing schools in Tanzania and shelters to homeless women, as well as from recycling fitness trackers to bridging humanitarian disaster response and recovery, the Hackathon can collate ideas generated from bright young minds.

 

A New Wave of Mentorship

Mike Grandinetti is persistent when it comes to change. He hopes to see his students motivated to provide solutions to real-life problems. A global professor of innovation, entrepreneurship, and marketing from Hult, Prof. Grandinetti dares to disrupt the familiar. However, he is not only into the seriousness of things. From wine-and-beer tasting with former students to Lego plays with Hackathon participants, Prof. Grandinetti understands that work and fun can go together.

“I believe that there is no effective way to teach entrepreneurship and marketing in a purely academic fashion—it requires ongoing, practical application for the skills to truly be learned,” says Grandinetti in an earlier Hult article. When asked what being a mentor means to him, he makes no hesitations to his answer. “It’s a role I cherish,” he says. Having served as a trusted advisor for students, he also creates events that complement and reinforce Hult’s practical curriculum.

During the orientation on the day of the Hackathon, Grandinetti paces around the Fenway Bleachers. His booming voice demands authority, attention. “It takes a village to make a Hackathon happen,” he explains. Aside from the students who signed up to take on the challenge, Grandinetti also meant the mentors.

Briefing the mentors—most of them his former students—is something he is used to. Grandinetti reminds them of their roles: to strike the balance between independence and mentorship, between letting the students think for themselves and giving them as much information on the NGOs as possible. Aside from trying to drive sustainability, he wants the mentors to  “leave them [the students] at a focal point, give them plenty of space to get to a solution.”

 

Generating Ideas for a Change

Perhaps it is not the grand prize that is the priority of the Hackathon: free tickets and accommodation to the world’s first Conscious Tech Summit in Egypt. “Conscious Tech is any kind of tech that tries to save the world,” explains Prof. Grandinetti. Behind the allure of an exclusive trip, opportunities for a better tomorrow are at the forefront for the students.

Rethink Relief winners Nitin Sethi, Renata Grande, Saul Robinson, Duje Suric, Gaurab Subba, Kenzo Vezina—all from the MBA program—know this all too well: with their two-fold strategy in providing design workshops and consultations to various institutions and to focus on providing skills to refugees in creating products to be sold in the urban markets, they hope to help Rethink Relief in empowering its constituents. Knowing that their chosen NGO bridges together initial humanitarian disaster response and the resettlement and recovery that follow, the team advised Rethink Relief to work on fundraising solutions to make their strategy possible.

Students Diane Tran (MIB), Tzu Ning Chan (MIB), Charity Maddox (MIB), Precious Nwachukwu (MIB), and Michelle Maestre (MFin) won for RecycleHealth, an NGO that takes old fitbits and trackers and provide them to individuals with health problems who need to increase their exercise. “[We] created a roadmap that aligned to the vision of the organization to bring feasible solutions. . . . [and] an implementation plan that would help RecycleHealth’s organizational structure and improve sustainable funding,” says Nwachukwu of the winning team, “The strategy was to listen to each team member, mentor, and co-founder, dig deep into the root of the organization and establish short and long-term solutions that align with the vision and mission of RecycleHealth.”

Winners of Rosie’s Place—Angelica Ferrao (MIB), Franziska Schlemmer (MIB), Sanjit Advani (MIB), Ayelet Norkin (MBA), and Titilola Shawana (MBA)—offered solutions that are targeted towards a broader group of women—”and not just the women with those specific need,” adds Schlemmer.  The first ever homeless shelter for women in the US, Rosie’s Place faces the stigma attached to people who are afraid to reach out in servicing the poor and homeless women. With first-aid kits to be distributed to students through their schools, the winning team hopes to provide awareness to people—mothers and children alike—about the advocacy of Rosie’s Place.

Green Hope Schools winners Anna Lundberg (MIM), Anne-Cathérine Verellen (MIM), Bernardo Pennacchio (MIB), Elise Teves (MIM), Melissa Behrens (MIM), and Vidhi Vekariya (MIM) had to focus primarily on maximizing the use of the resources that Green Hope has in order to develop a self-sustainable growth strategy. Knowing that their NGO hopes to have big school with experienced teachers and kids of all ages, Behrens elaborates on their idea. “The new business model for the short-, medium- and long-term includes the social and organizational embedding of the pre-primary school into its local area in Tanzania as well as the expansion of trained staff and the curriculum for the children.”

  

BETTER DAYS AHEAD

His students are ever so thankful for the privilege of working with him. Allison Ziehr, a dual degree student in MIB and MIM, and part of the dedicated team of organizers, admits that organizing the hackathon was “a great learning experience for all of us.” Should Prof. Grandinetti have another one the following year, she would not hesitate signing up all over again.

Dylan Andrew Lurvey, a representative of GreenHope, is very impressed. “Looks like you’re so well-liked on LinkedIn that my only option is to follow!” He tells Prof. Grandinetti through text, “Ami [also a representative] and I had an absolutely fantastic time, and we really felt as though we connected with people in your organization both on the student side, and the mentor-judge side as well.” Lurvey has left Prof. Grandinetti speechless and awed.

It was not only Lurvey who appreciates Prof. Grandinetti’s first-class attitude and the enery he carries. His former students know that working with him was as much enlightening as it was fun, and they are all looking forward to the opportunity of working with him again in the future.

“Dream Team—” Grandinetti calls them, “While there were many others involved along the way, you were the nucleus, always available and ready to do whatever it took to make this Hackathon the success that it was.” He muses. “I consider myself fortunate to have you as my students and mentees and friends. I could not have done any of this without each one of you there in support.” Gratitude from Mike Grandinetti goes a long way.

Whether seeing the participants having fun, giving elaborate speeches to a huge crowd, or even just getting together with his former students, Mike Grandinetti himself has learned hope from the Hackathon: the global generation, in its youthful endeavors, will not fail him.


All my thanks to Vanessa Rosenthal for copyediting and to Melissa Behrens for featuring this article in The Hultian.

It’s been a year, Boston

What a year it has been. I keep on telling myself a year can go by very fast, but I suppose I don’t actually realize how many things can occur within a span of a year. Boston has been very kind to me, despite the certain obstacles along the way–I happened to make some good friends, get an internship at a company I like, see a lot of sights in and out of the city, and think about all these in retrospect while walking along the Charles River or sitting on the grass at the Commons.

My only hope now is I get a chance to stay here once I finish school in May; I love Boston and I hope it will love me back. There’s too much uncertainty where I’ll be a few months from now. I just wish I’d be happy wherever life may take me.

 

From Olivia Laing

“Cities can be lonely places, and in admitting this we see that loneliness doesn’t necessarily require physical solitude, but rather an absence or paucity of connection, closeness, kinship: an inability to find as much intimacy as is desired.

[. . . .]

So much of the pain of loneliness is to do with concealment, with being compelled to hide vulnerability, to tuck ugliness away, to cover up wounds as if they are literally repulsive. But why hide? What’s so shameful about wanting, about desire, about having failed to achieve satisfaction, about experiencing unhappiness? Why this need constantly to inhabit peak states, or to be comfortably sealed inside a unit of two, turned inward from the world at large?

I have been lonely, and no doubt I will be lonely again. There isn’t any shame in that. Loneliness is a special place, I’m certain of it: adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.”

– The Lonely City (read the excerpt here)

Just Once

Just once I knew what life was for.

In Boston, quite suddenly, I understood;
walked there along the Charles River,
watched the lights copying themselves,
all neoned and strobe-hearted, opening
their mouths as wide as opera singers;
counted the stars, my little campaigners,
my scar daisies, and knew that I walked my love
on the night green side of it and cried
my heart to the eastbound cars and cried
my heart to the westbound cars and took
my truth across a small humped bridge
and hurried my truth, the charm of it, home
and hoarded these constants into morning
only to find them gone.

– Anne Sexton

 

// Missing Boston, but for now, I’m just glad I’m home.

 

The Privilege of the Global Generation

On average, the millennial generation will travel up to 250 cities in their lifetime. According to statistics, only 47% of them will own a yacht, and less than 20% will own a private plane. I won’t ask who’s halfway through the 250 cities or who has a yacht or a plane—the truth that graduation is almost nearing is supposed to make us hope for the best. Even if the best is something we cannot see as of now. But another truth is, even with our diplomas, not everyone can see 250 cities, and not everyone can own a yacht or a plane.

I came here to the States from the Philippines with no background in business. I came here not expecting to travel the world or own a yacht or a plane. Sometimes I hope I do. But even if I don’t, I think my time at Hult has still served its purpose and I can say that I’m glad to be part of this community.

We students have been called the global generation too many times. I think it’s both an honour and a responsibility to be called as such. However, we are not the global generation simply because we can afford to travel or pay to study in an international school. It is way more than our capability to have luxuries. The global generation is made up of privileged people from all over the world. We got here mostly by hard work, some by connections, and some may say by luck, but it is our privilege that gave us enough motivation to try in the first place.

There are two things I’ve realized at Hult. First, opportunities to those with enough talent are not equally distributed around the world. Second, as the global generation, we are way more privileged than we think we are. Being part of the global generation can be demanding as much as it is exciting. What happens when we think we deserve a little bit more of what we have each day? We spend so much time counting how many places we’ve been to or how many sights we’ve seen, but nobody pays attention to little things. Nobody knows how many floors a janitor can clean in a day or how many trash bags a garbage collector can get within a block. We are smart enough to realize that despite the rapid growth there are people being left behind.

Do not say that you achieved all these things on your own, that you made it through the difficulties all by yourself. There is so much more than we are letting on. If you think your hard work solely brought you here, then you are not giving credit to the people who helped you become the person you are. You are also misconstruing all the hardworking ones who do not have enough resources to bring themselves to where you are.

I’m not sure what the global generation would like to hear apart from the congratulatory remarks or the well-wishes to the future. But I do have an inkling of what everyone needs to hear. I think it’s about time we redefine what a global generation looks like. To be part of the global generation, we must learn to acknowledge our privilege.

Some people equate privilege with self-entitlement, but that’s not it. I know it’s frustrating when the world isn’t as we know it or how we expect it to be. Especially when we apply for 50 LinkedIn applications but only receive five interviews and one job offer. But the world does not owe us anything. Rather, we owe the world our talents and skills that we would not have otherwise honed had we not been given enough opportunities in the first place, but we are given skills to navigate our way through it, and to navigate others through.

I don’t think I am in any position to instruct you on what to do with your degree after we leave Hult and see what’s in store for the future. I myself am not sure of what to do after, the very same way that I did not know what to do before coming to the States. But I ask that we all pass on the privilege of the global generation. We couldn’t have made it through if nobody passed on the privilege to us in the first place. Acknowledging that we made it here through others allows us to do something better in the future. We can’t all buy a yacht or private jet for ourselves but that’s fine. We entered Hult because the world mattered to us, so now let us do something that will one day matter to the world.

My name is Reina and I’m part of the global generation. I do not own a yacht or a plane. I’m neither the brightest nor the richest person, but I have been given enough. I know that my privilege isn’t only meant to help myself; it’s also meant to help the world.

Let’s be the global generation they expect us to be.


Probably my last submission as a Global Ambassador for the schoolyear. It’s been a good year collaborating with my fellow ambassadors as well as to the Hult Marketing Team. All my thanks to (boss!) Debbie Gacutan, Katie Reynolds, and Selam “Lami” Ibrahim–I’ve learned lots from you guys.

Read the version from the Hult Blog website here.

The Unfamiliars of Las Vegas

Here’s something I’ve learned while traveling: we delight ourselves in the unfamiliar so much so that we tend to believe that the familiar cannot find us in our state of indulgence at all.

It was in December 2017 when my uncle and his family tagged me along to their week-long Las Vegas trip. His wife and son stayed with him in the other room, but he paid for a separate suite for me despite my protests.

Treat yourself, said my uncle, handing me the key.

You deserve it.

So I did. Not wanting to waste the moment, I had Jacuzzi every night in the tub inside my room. I requested for lavender oils and rose petals from the housekeeper. In the mornings, I sunbathed in the outdoor pool with my shades on. On the 7th floor landing, I pulled back the window curtains and watched people grill barbecue down below for hours. When I felt like sleeping, I fought the urge and instead streamed a Filipino-Norwegian film about a distraught mail-order bride (played by no other than Mercedes Cabral, my favorite actress). When I couldn’t sleep, I wrote about things I miss back home. To avoid boredom, I wrote some more.

I got bored way faster even.

Believing I could act carelessly in the absence of familiar faces, I started sneaking out in the evenings. There was nothing I knew about casino slot machines or of the different streets that map out the entirety of Las Vegas. Walking around, I saw women in jumpsuits and high heels and men ogling at these women, hooting and whistling, not bothering to look at where they were going. I saw women (who I think were not women but men with huge wigs and red lips) dressed in mini skirts and fishnet stockings. More tourists came around, taking photos of them before the bouncer could tell them off.

The sights I saw made me wonder what it would be like to be the center of attention. I  also wondered what it would be like to stay for long in Las Vegas, to live like a local in a city made for the getaways. But watching the fountains of Bellagio or staring at the aquarium at Silverton seemed pointless. I looked at the waterfalls at Wynn and thought about how superficial things can be in the moment of satisfaction. Nothing taught me what to say about the unfamiliar as much as sitting down on a bench and writing about my experiences did.

Even in the presence of a large Filipino community, I learned that I am easily disillusioned by reality. I spent Christmas morning at a family friend whose husband happened to be American. He loved Filipino-American dishes that were half-familiar, half-unfamiliar to me, but I had no time to be disrespectful to comment on fusion cuisines. In the evenings, I saw Filipino food stops while walking around. My uncle brought me to Chow King, to Seafood Island, to Goldilocks, even to the famous Jollibee—all in hopes that I would appease myself of the loneliness away from home. I heard the tone of Tagalog way too often on the streets and when I turned my head, I realized I did not know who these people are. I caught the eye of several strangers, believing they knew me in and out.

In the end, all I knew was that I felt very lonely in Vegas on a chilly Christmas day.

I read more of Joan Didion’s essays on Sacramento, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York, and told myself I’d have seen enough to decide where to live. I wouldn’t choose to stay in New York (too much chaos for me) or in California (too many highways), but I would never want to come back to Las Vegas; it had the very temptation to indulge myself in the superficial that made me want to visit once more. This was an unprescribed cure to my homesickness, I told myself. At least I could say that 2017 was painful and yet liberating, full of first times as well as goodbyes. Perhaps in five, ten years’ time, I’d tell myself I had fun memories in Vegas and then forget all about it and move on with life, wherever that may be.