Posts Tagged ‘ranny’

Before, During and After Cambodia (in a Nutshell)

April 10, 2009

It’s been one month since I reached the last inch of the 486 kilometers of my cycling journey through Cambodia. I’ve been struggling trying to write about my experience for everyone to read. I have this fear of leaving important details out and not being able to express my experience clearly through written words. When I speak about my experience, people can see the passion in my eyes, the excitement in my voice and the transformation in my presence. As you are reading this, imagine a little girl telling you about her first time seeing Cinderella at Disneyland.

 

When people asked me if I were scared traveling alone to Cambodia, I hadn’t even thought about being scared. My mind was occupied with raising money for the foundation and preparing for my trip. So when the plane landed, it hit me – I was alone. I didn’t know how to exchange currency, use a calling card or get to the place where I needed to be. Then, like light at the end of a tunnel, I saw the only face I knew standing at the end of the walkway. As my face lit up with joy and relief, every fear I had inside disappeared.

 

I was in Cambodia for 16 days, eleven of those days I experienced the real Cambodia, raw and uncensored. We rode on mountain bikes through the quiet countryside, overpopulated cities, and (what I call) tainted and untainted villages along the Mekong River, Tonle Sap and Ankor Wat. My senses were on overload. My eyes experienced beauty that some has only seen through books, television or computer screen. I felt beyond my fingers. My skin, my eyes, my hair and my clothes were covered in layers of dirt on top of sunscreen and sweat. I had never been dirtier but never felt more liberated. I could taste the dirt as cars passed and smell the smoke coming from the little huts. My ears had an advantage over the other riders. While all they could understand were hello’s and goodbye’s, I was able to hear the encouragement along with criticism from the locals as we rode by. During the ride, every emotion was felt except one, and that was fear. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I was at the exact place and time I needed to be.

 

While my heart was soaking in the beauty of the people, the landscape and culture, my mind was processing everything else. Different themes began to fade in and out throughout the ride from education to religion, sustainability to corruption and politics to human rights. I noticed my outlook on life expanding into a global perspective. At times, I was excited to learn about the different opportunities where I can make a difference. Other times, I was discouraged by the amount of work that needed to be done. This made me reflect on the way I was living and how it was affecting the world… and how it was not affecting the world. It has been difficult for me to articulate what has been occurring inside, outside and around me for the past three to four months before, during and after my journey in Cambodia.

 

This is an excerpt from an email I sent to the women in my life. This was the first time I had shared a written experience since my return:

 

This is just an update to all of the strong, beautiful women in my life. As you know, my life has done a 360 since I committed myself to the Futures 09 Cambodia project along with participating in the Landmark Forum. I no longer live solely for my individual concerns but the concerns of humanity (and all things related to humanity). (My sisters, I know you think I’m corny. Oh well!) I have committed myself to living a life with all regards to humanity. (It is going to tough as hell but I am going to do my best.) With that said, PLEASE call me out on my bullshit. I’m still human. =P

I also wanted to update you all on a vision that I am currently working on. I have always intended to create a non-profit organization after I get established professionally. After opening my eyes to a new realm of possibilities, it would not make any sense to wait. Life is happening NOW! Not after Ranny gets her shit together but NOW. There are kids dying from starvation and disease, women being abused, raped and killed and communities suffering from genocide and climate change. There is so much crap going on that my little mind can’t even grasp! SO, I gotta do SOMETHING, anything.

 

(Please note: When I say “360”, I mean 360. I have not turned around. I am still going towards the same direction but with a different purpose.)

It’s 12:14AM and I have to work tomorrow morning. Please stay tuned. 🙂

Love & Peace,

Ranny

With a Single Intention

February 5, 2009

My Story: During a year of soul searching and behind a façade of smiles, my life was inches away from hitting rock bottom. Guided by good people in my life, I was able to wake up from a nightmare of self-pity and slap myself. Long story short, I made a commitment to myself – no matter how bad it was the day before, I would make a conscious effort to wake up every morning with positive intentions. One morning, I woke up and decided to plan a charity event for my birthday (a party with a purpose) in 2009.

 

In my search for a charity that aligned with my core values, a girlfriend mentioned the Somaly Mam Foundation. I remembered reading about Somaly Mam in Glamour Magazine and watching heart breaking documentaries on human trafficking. Immediately, I had to do more research and that was when I came across the Futures ‘09 Project. I couldn’t walk away. I had to learn more. So, I emailed Stephanie, the Futures 09 coordinator, for more information with intentions of possibly participating in 2010.

 

Stephanie replies back, “It’s not too late to register to participate in March.” My heart drops. So, I send her a bio and picture thinking to myself, “Why not? If I don’t raise the $6000, at least I’d be able to donate the amount that I do raise. It doesn’t hurt to try.” (Plus, she wasn’t going to post my info on the website until I paid my registration fee.) Most of the riders had a year to raise $6000 and if I decided to commit myself, I’d have less than two months to raise the money. The next morning after Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President, I go to the Futures 09 website and there it was right under the list of riders, “Ranny Kang.” That was when I realized that it was real – there was no turning back now.

 

That night I stayed at work until 8PM writing an email to spread the word and solicit donations. Immediately after I sent out the email, I received multiple responses. Ever since, everyone has been supportive, my family, friends and even people I’ve never met. Even with the state of our economy, people are willing to contribute their part.

 

If a single intention can inspire a community, just image the possibilities.