Here is to the here and not yet.

tumblr_ly4v3z7oFd1qejys5o1_500 There's a peace in letting go of certain things when you realize they were never yours to own in the first place.

There's a peace in letting go of certain things when you realize they were never yours to own in the first place because God has something in store for you.

There's a peace in letting go of certain things when you realize they were never yours to own in the first place because God has something in store for you and it's far better than you initially dreamed.

Let go, the future is waiting for you to embrace it.

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.

Beyond My Borders: Tyler & Jordan Dardis


Jordan and I both grew up in the Portland area. We met in high school and went on to study at Oregon State University together. We both knew we wanted to be together and in 2011 we finally married. In our last year of college we began planning what we would do after graduating. As much as we loved Oregon, we knew we wanted to move somewhere new. We talked about various places we could go, and as soon as we brought up Alaska, we knew that was it. We both love the outdoors, the mountains, the snow… Alaska had everything.

It was important to us to set a date to move by because we knew we could be sitting around the rest of our lives for the perfect time, which may never have come. So on July 22nd, we packed up the car, grabbed our puppy and headed to Anchorage. When we arrived we pitched our tent and started looking for jobs. After about a month, I was offered a job by my top choice organization in Anchorage. We found a great place to live with a big yard for our dog, and soon after, Jordan was able to move into a position where she could apply her degree in design.

This year we’ve spent in Alaska has been incredible. It definitely pushed me far outside of my comfort zone, which was scary but awesome at the same time. We both were given opportunities we wouldn’t have had in Oregon. We have been able to see and do things that we wouldn’t have been able to see or do in Oregon. It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We both truly believe that everybody should travel and experience a new place in their lives. It doesn’t take a lot of money or tons of planning. It just takes willingness to get up and go. In hindsight, the month we spent living in a tent was just a small sacrifice for the amazing experience we have had here. We are not sure how long we will be here or where we will go next, but we will always have this experience for the rest of our lives.

Dear Oregon,

        Oh how I miss you. I miss you quite a greater deal than I thought I would.  I’m realizing even more about what it means when they said absence makes the heart grow fonder. Whoever “they” are, I bet they too can sympathize with the way I long to be driving down the I-5 with Mat Kearney’s vocals filling up the air; how much I would love to see Milwaukie one more time as the sun sets; to look over that small cliff behind my old house that overlooks Beaverton ; to listen to the sound of the what-used-to-be annoying raindrops as they fall against the window. Not to mention the first joys of Spring, to feel its semi-warm sun rays on my skin. Oregon, there is no other place like you. No other place that flanks me with such gorgeous trees during a bike ride down University st in the small town of Eugene as you to get to class. Those trees always did seem larger than life. Some cities, states, and countries will try but fail in comparison. Yes, they do have a beauty that I have also come to love but like the similiar-looking food carts littered all over Portland, no two things are really the same.

        Yes, it’s definitely safe to say that there is a particular organ on the left side of my chest that has a special space for you. But even more than your everlasting beauty and wonder, I miss the people that live inside your gorgeous boundaries. They are my friends, they are my family. I wish you weren’t so far away because it would mean that they were closer. But, as life is people must live it and it must go on. So take care of them until I get back, yeah?

Stay beautiful. Love you.



Movin' to the country, gon' eat me lotta peaches


If you’re like me and you have ventured out to the great unknown or are planning to, here is a compilation of a few things - some practical and some more personal - I have learned about moving to another city/country/continent (Pick one that suits you best).

Leave your baggage behind. Your future self will thank you for it. When you forgo all the things that you only think you need and hold on to items of actual importance and quality your view of everything changes for the better. And I am not simply talking about physical items either, I mean things like moments and emotions too. Travel light and go further. Not to mention, it gives you a great excuse to fully immerse yourself in that new culture and get accustomed to something else.

"If you use the same bricks from your old house to build a new home, you’re gonna get the same results." While it’s cool to say that you were given a fresh start it’s not cool have spent all your time wasting it. Use this opportune time to exceed your past expectations. Put in more work. Change your style. Be adventurous. Be an introvert. Start going on daily walks. Go ahead and put your first dollar into that savings account you’ve been planning to create for the last 5 years. Read a book. Join a plant club. Now is the best time to do anything.

Take public transportation for the first 3 months. Your future self will also thank  you for this because when you finally get that yellow Lambo you will have  a better sense of your surroundings and  actually know where you’re going.

Know that it is MORE than okay to not make friends within the first few months of your arrival. There are a lot of blogs out there that advise you to make all the besties you can but I want you to know, it’s okay if you don’t follow that path. I’m not saying you will go through the same thing, but because I expected to have great friends off the bat actually made it harder and a lot more disappointing when it didn’t happen. However, I used that time to connect with God and with myself (see 2 paragraphs below). Eventually, I did find (actually, more like they found me) a really solid group of people that I have come to call family.

Work. You may have come here to start anew, climb up the (add your preferred field of work here) ladder but things will take time. Be prepared to use your brain, hands and heart to (l)earn all that you can.

Hang out with yourself. And no  I’m not just talking about spending alone time at home and watching T.V. I mean go out, have coffee, attend an exhibition at your local - or the next town over - museum. Be open to new. Get to know yourself again. Chances are, with a change in location, you also have a few changes in personality. Find out what you don’t like anymore, or get invested in something you have now come to love. Additionally, with that said, don’t forget old “habits”. These are the things that ground you. For me, it’s spending time with God by reading the Bible, praying, and listing to praise and worship music. It helps me to remember that although I took this trip by myself I am not alone. For you, it could be talking to your sister at least once a week, finding time to cook dinner during the weekend, running in the mornings, etc.

Start a savings account like ASAP. Don’t say that you just spent all your money on food, gas, rent, internet, etc. Blah, blah, blah. All that was heard was a  long list of excuses. You can start with putting at least one dollar a day away and build on it from there.

Ask questions. Don’t be a nervous Nicholas and think asking will make you look dumb. You know what will, walking around the same intersection for more than 10 minutes because you thought you could figure it out yourself. Same goes with everything else, ask what’s in the food before you spend 20 dollars on the plate, raise your hand in class when the word “ute” gets brought up like 20 times and you have no clue what a ute is, stop someone so you can find out what time it is, etc. Just ask questions.

Call home at least once a week and keep in contact with your friends. I would say no explanation needed here but I really want to drive this point home. Don’t forget where you came from and the support system that helped you to get to where you are. It’s all too easy to go a while without reaching out but even if it’s just a little  text or email to say “I miss you”.  Also, never  ever underestimate the power of leaving a message. Just because they didn’t pick up on the first try, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love to hear you when they get the chance to check their voice mail (Call me cray but I still have a few messages saved from my siblings and parents from over a year ago just because it warms my heart to hear them when I know they can’t talk).

 I’ve said it before (#6) but I’ll repeat myself for good measure. Tread cautiously when it comes to social network pages. Don’t spend so much time on those sites and end up wishing you had a different life. Pictures and posts from other people only tell you 1/4 of the story and none of the true struggle. I can assure you that they are going through the same thing you are.

Oh yes, and lastly, stay thankful. There will be moments where you will question your reasoning and/or sanity for being here  but remember how blessed you are to be in a position that thousands of others would fight tooth and nail for. You might think you have gotten nowhere but I bet if your 6-year-old self could, he or she would PROUDLY bring you in to show you off on career day.

From Portland, Oregon to Sydney, Australia


This time last year I was a 21-year-old girl with two suitcases to her name and a head full of dreams. Today I’m still that same girl, only I’m 22, those suitcases are now unpacked with the belongings settled in my closet, and that head of mine now has bigger dreams.

These last 12 months have been such a whirlwind of emotions, thoughts, and actions. I’m finding it quite difficult to actually sum up everything I’ve been through to present to you guys in a cute little package. However, as I write this, the song Oceans by Hillsong comes to mind.

For all the countless times this song has been played and the  of hundreds of  others that it has been quoted on one blog or another, I am sure that with each one this song has held a different meaning.


"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine”


My year has been nothing like I planned or hoped but with that said, it has actually been far better and greater than I imagined. Never would I have imagined myself leading a small campus youth group while en route to becoming a campus minister (Don’t let the title scare you There are no tight white collars and lack of colors around here). I surely would not have seen myself befriending the people I have today - not because of who they are but because of who I was. Lastly, amongst many other unmentioned things, everyday I seem to fall in love with God and His grace a bit more than I think to be possible.


As easy as it was to list all those things that I have been blessed with, getting them was not. I’ve had my fair share of troubles and doubts, times where all I wanted to do was run back home, travel back in time and pretend that my problems were not my own. However, I couldn’t and the the realization that I couldn’t was painful and surprisingly tiring.

Australia is not some place where you go and the sun shines ever yday, life is  easy and full. It is not the place where your dreams come true… unless you will it to be. For a good portion of this last year, I relied solely on the fact that I had moved to AUSTRALIA! , and that living here would all of a sudden make my life cool and complete. But like any unstable foundation, that excuse started to crumble. God showed me that even the greenest of grasses can turn brown without Him. The most beautiful places on earth are mere smudges without His guiding hand to help you see.

That is one of the biggest lessons I have learned this year. I think God brought me to this exact place to help me realize that. It took a lot of hard work on my part and unreasonable amounts of patience, grace, love, and understanding on His to get me to this permanent mindset.

So whether this next year brings me back Oregon rain or keeps me under Sydney sun, I know I am going to be okay and even more grateful for any position I am put in.


Lastly, to all who were with me from the beginning or even yesterday; if you read a blog post or all of them; encouraged me; missed sleep because of the crazy Australia-America time difference just to give me an ear to talk to; dished out advice or a mouthful of prayer; if you are family, friends, or just an acquittance; whatever hand you put in or fingerprint you left upon my life I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. This journey and my life would not be the same without you. The blessings you all have been to me, I pray the same for you 100 fold. I love you guys.

18. Part of the Privileged People

Being a photographer for the Lundquist College of Business Undergrad CEO Network has made me one the most privileged people here at the University of Oregon.

In my years here at the U of O I have come to realize that some of the most important people -in my eyes - that I have met are the ones who I at first thought were the least important. Keep in mind that I am in the Advertising program but I work for the Business program. Even though they each lie on two different levels, I can say that I have learned just as much from the Business side as I have from the Ad side. With all the events that I have worked at I find myself making connections with financial advisers/planners, accountants, auditors, financial analysts, etc on such a deeper level than expected. Being differently oriented in our careers forces me to make mental venn digrams and find out what we all have in common. As for the things we do not, I can still learn from them. Just because they are different does not mean I should end all contact right after our first conversation.

Today, I shot for the Portland Leadership Experience where the students of the CEO Network participated in a site visits to many companies. We traveled to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Rubicon International, and amongst a few others the, Multnomah Athletic Club.

While taking pictures, I found myself bumping elbows with some of the most interesting people. However, it was one man that really stuck out to me the most. His name is Lou Radja.  Maybe it was the fact that he is an international speaker or maybe he has the power to see into people’s minds and is able to tell them what they really need to hear based on that, who knows?  He said:

 Remember your “why” - Why are you doing what you are currently doing in life? After you have gotten and understood that, do not forget it. That WHY will be there to comfort you when nothing else does, when the bills are becoming too much, or when you simply want to call in sick that day.

Commit to the work before the work. Do not just say I will prepare when I get there, NO! Prepare now. He compared it to that of the Olympics, Hundreds of athletes arrive at the location at least a month beforehand but that is not the first time they are practicing. Yes, you might get away with reviewing minutes before a test but try that at work and see how long they keep ya around.

Going off of that point, the real world does not start after college. THIS is real life. You are making the choices that will indeed impact tomorrow. The choices you make now are the same you will make later. It’s not as though your mind will all of a sudden morph into professional and responsible mode once you toss your cap and tassel into the air.

Doing the required makes you replaceable. Anyone else can do what is expected, what can you do that is different, that is more?

Chase passion before pension - Money tends to hide from those who search for it. Have fun, love your work and money will come soon enough.

Patients go to the doctor, the doctor does not go to the patient. In this world, if you want something you gotta go declare it and grab it. No one is going to take time out of their day to try and read your mind on what you want and then give it to you. See a job, go ask for it. They’re not hiring, say you’ll volunteer. They have a full staff, tell them you’ll just watch.

When you take the elevator to the top always remember to send it back down for someone else. Never ever keep the elevator to yourself because 1. You don’t need it once you’re up there  2. 100% without a doubt, if every person before you did that, you would still be in the basement.


Not many people can do what they love and learn about life at the same time. Even those who are blessed with that do not give way to the possibility of opening your eyes to the new. I love my job and I am definitely sad to leave in a few weeks but excited for all the open doors it has given me the chance to walk through.