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On giving back

As a freshman international student in the United States, I had a lot to adjust to and take in. However, since I had to figure out how to get a job quickly so that I can start the much needed revenue stream to pay for subsequent semesters, there was very little time to take in the scenery. This helped me focus my energy on paying for school and not getting distracted. I was working twenty hours a week during regular semester and working 40 hours over breaks. I even had to pass up an all expenses paid trip to San Francisco for Spring Break because it meant an opportunity cost of $500 in much needed emmergency funds. It was a good lesson in bootstrapping. I remember using my academic planner to forecat my financial health into the next semester. The feeling you get seeing your bank balance deplete at a much faster rate than your revenue stream never let the focus shift beyond what was necessary: paying for school.

While there was an advantage to this in that I was focused, I quickly realized I was working towards paying for an education but not necessarily making the most of it. The amount of time spent working maximum hours allowed meant that I did not have enough time to focus as well as I would like on learning. While this was sustainable as a freshman, I quickly saw that it would be very challenging as a senior. This meant that I needed to get into a better school with a stronger financial ait program so that I did not have to worry about finances and could focus more on my education. I am not going to lie, having the option to socialize & party a little more definitely crossed my mind as well. However, another benefit that I did not realize then but quickly became clear after a semester at St. Lawrence was that by not having to worry about the finances, I could actually focus on giving back to the community for their generous gift of education in addion to learning. This time allowed me to organize international events and a fundraiser to raise money for the tsunami victims. The experience taught me a lot and one of the major takeaways for me has been the importance of giving back to people, institutions and communities who have gone out of their way to help you in some way.

The reason I am talking about giving back is because I was recently humbled by the generosity of Brandon Hays and David Brady who have assured me that I will have a place to crash in Salt Lake City for Mountain West Ruby Conference 2011. David thought starting a pledgie to help pay for the trip there was my best bet and Brandon was quick to get it set up. I am not sure how true Brandon's claim are in terms of MWRC needing me more that me needing MWRC but I am very grateful that Brandon has made a generous first contribution along with getting the campaign set up.

I have heard many great things about Mountain West Ruby Conference & David Brady was telling me last night how active the Ruby community up there is. It would be nice to meet Brandon and some other RMU alumni in person as well. However, I feel as though I have not given back to the community as of yet to demand that they help me attend a conference. So what I would like to do is to ask those who are considering to make a donation see it as a loan that they demand I repay with contributions back to the community. If the generous people in the community feel like I have not made an impact in the community by RailsConf 2011, I would like you to hold me publicly accountable and demand that I deliver. This is my only request to Brandon who has made his contribution and others who might be considering making a donation to get me to Mountain West Ruby Conference in 2011. Thank you all in advance!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it to Mountain West Ruby Conference but it's definitely on my list for next year.

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