Beyond My Borders: Hoang Pham

My name is Hoang Pham, I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. I attended Benson Polytechnic High School and graduated in June of 2007. I then attended the University of Oregon, studied Political Science, Ethnic Studies, and Business Administration. I moved to Los Angeles from Portland after college and started Teach For America. I taught, and continue to teach 1st grade at KIPP: Empower Academy. During my first two years of teaching, I got my masters in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University. Besides school, I love dancing, and have been breakdancing since I was in 8th grade. In L.A., I breakdance during quarter breaks and halftime with the Los Angeles Clippers Fast Break Crew. I also thoroughly enjoy cars, and run time attack road race events in Southern California.

            As I had mentioned, I moved because I was accepted into a program called Teach For America, where recently graduated college students are placed into a low-income community to teach for two or more years. I plan on teaching for another three to four, possibly five or more years, I honestly do not have a cap on teaching because I believe that there is so much to be learned about the teaching profession every single year that you have a new set of students. I also believe that I am nowhere near my vision for what a classroom should be like for black and brown kids in South Los Angeles, and am striving towards that every single day. However, post teaching, I’ve had many different thoughts of what to do. I might possibly take on a different role in education, whether a school administrator or curriculum specialist, maybe take the law school route and study education law, or possibly even run for an elected office one day. Who knows, but I do believe that whatever I’ll be doing, I will be striving towards creating spaces where people can be amazing, so amazing that they create other spaces that ultimately builds a better world for all people.

            If I could give anyone advice about moving, I would tell them two primary things. 1) When you do move, make sure that wherever you are moving to have a job waiting for you there. The biggest difficulty with moving is uncertainty with how you will be paying for everything, so when you move, move for the purpose of a job, or schooling, or a career promotion. This way, there is a reason that you are moving where you are going to, not just because you got bored one day and decided that you wanted to move there, that would be the thing you should not do. 2) To be honest, regardless of where you move, you’ll get a chance to experience whatever that place is known for plus a whole lot more. But after awhile, it is really the people that keep you happy and wanting to stay somewhere, not the job opportunities, not the night life, not the food, not the weather, the people. More than anything else people keep you where you are at. You can get everything else for the most part, but the one thing you cannot replace are people who deeply care about you, and are there when you need them the most. Thus, if you do plan on moving, keep in mind that either you might want to keep your friends and family nearby, but maybe that you also should establish strong networks of amazing people like yourself sooner than later wherever you choose to move.

            I could probably tell you a million other things about life, but I myself am still trying to figure out so much, and this will be always true, because we are never done learning about ourselves, or the world around us. One of my mentors last Summer asked me a pivotal question that gave me a great understanding of how to view the things in and around my life. He did not ask me what I wanted to be, as that would assume that we seek a position. Positions, in its entirety are temporary. You hold positions for duration of time, but once that duration is over something else shall come along. You must ask yourself, what do you want to change, because the answer to that question will keep you inspired and motivated for the rest of your life.