USF Fall 2011 Week of Welcome (WOW)

Week of Welcome or WOW occurs each semester at the University of South Florida and is meant to welcome new students and returning students to campus. There are fun activities around campus organized by student organizations and USF as well. My favorite part is all the free food you can have during a time when you’re stressing about add/drop week and fighting the rest of campus for a parking spot it is just the relief needed. I’ll post about the events (make sure you checkout the Japanese Club’s “I Survived a J-Club Game Show”). The fun begins August 17th. You can view a full calendar here: http://ctr.usf.edu/wow/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72&Itemid=79

 

WOW website: http://ctr.usf.edu/wow/

WOW on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/newstudentconnections

WOW on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/NSC_USF

Reflecting on three years as a USF Bull

This blog has to be one of my oldest surviving blogs. I think it would be a shame to let it go to waste so I think I will start writing here again. I have plenty of advice I can share for incoming college freshman or high school students researching university life and my home university, the University of South Florida as a campus leader. I finished my third year at USF about two months ago. It is hard to believe that three years have gone by so quickly, although I have certainly been busy…

My freshman year was spent getting used to college life and becoming a commuter student. I joined a ton student organizations, such as the Association of Filipino Students, Asian Students in America, Latin American Student Association, and Vietnamese Student Association…just to name a few. I found that most people were friendly and in college most people were more open to friends outside their social circles than high school. I was able to make many new friends and learn about many different cultures. I also learned that brand names were irrelevant to college students and many students wore USF shirts (later I would find out college students LOVE free t-shirts haha). The Bulls Business Network helped me get acquainted with the College of Business. In terms of class difficulty, freshman year was the easiest as I finished my general education requirements. I learned what it meant to be a poor college student and how to hunt down free food. I took full advantage of my benefits of my university status and used USF student discounts around town and made sure to attend Movies on the Lawn for free movie nights. I made sure to attend USF Bulls football games and various other USF sports as well. My freshman year was mostly spent getting involved for the first time and adjusting. I couldn’t be happier to be a college student and living it up.

During my first summer being a college student, the summer of 2009, I signed up to take Japanese classes in the Fall at USF with Nozu-sensei. Taking a foreign language is a requirement for USF International Business and having 2-year background in Japanese from Tampa Bay Technical High School with Mrs. Carroll prepared me well for my first university-level foreign class. I always wanted to travel to Japan since I was a child and used to visit Japantown with my father in San Francisco, my hometown. I started looking for other students taking Japanese and found out there was no Japanese cultural student organization at USF. I found this to be odd since Japanese culture is so popular and there were so many classes being offered at USF.

After some research I decided I would start the Japanese Club at USF or “J-Club” for short. My Japanese teacher agreed to become my club advisor and I made a Facebook Group, inviting all my friends.  I was voted the President and the real work began. Word spread and in a few months I had recruited an entire executive board of officers, a little over 100 members, and began having road-trips, socials, and events. It took lots of time and work, but I had made some kind of impact at my university. No doubt I was busier than ever and my Sophomore Year was mostly dominated by the J-Club. Weekly meetings and tons of socials and events, while searching for sponsors and trying to build membership were real lessons and it honestly felt like I was running a company, with members as my clients or customers.

I still made sure to make things fun, while maintaining a mission of spreading Japanese culture on the USF campus. I learned it was actually really difficult to run a student organization on a university level and learned tons about management and leadership, mostly through tough lessons. By the end of my Sophomore Year, I was ready to try other things and begin focusing more on my career aspirations. I ran and won the position of Vice-President for the Japanese Club, switching roles with my former VP. Around this time I set up my first complete food blog, Carlos Eats as an avid foodie, influenced by weekly weekend dining outings with my family and interest in writing food reviews for Yelp since 2006.

I spent the summer of 2010 in a new job with INTO USF, an international student English school within USF. I heard about the opportunity to interact with students around the world and was immediately interested. It was great meeting students from countries as far away as China, Japan, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The bravery of these students was quite admirable, they ventured so far away from home to Tampa, Florida in hopes of learning English so they could achieve their academic and career goals. They all had stories to tell and I was lucky enough to get to know these friendly peers of mine who had seen the world. I also spent the summer digging up lots of restaurants and finding out that Tampa had a surprising number of tasty restaurants hidden away by tons of chains. Sharing these hidden gems with my food blog readers was a great feeling and knowing I made a small effort to help local businesses in their fight for survival during tough economic times. I also began writing for Creative Loafing on their Daily Loaf blog.

During my third year I became more active in professional organizations at USF, such as the International Business Board and was chosen to become a member of the Corporate Mentor Program (CMP): an organization meant to help select business students make connections with successful businessman and learn about the real world. I was really excited for the CMP, but unfortunately with my hectic schedule I was unable to maintain contact with my mentor. I really did appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it though and the one time I did meet my mentor we had a great conversation about how corporations really think and I was given a company tour as well. I continued working with INTO USF up through the end of the Fall semester. I continued writing food blogs and had my first published work in Creative Loafing, a Dining guide to the University area surrounding USF.

The Japanese Club at USF celebrated it’s first birthday and the organization began to become self-sufficient, only requiring my advice and contribution on meetings and socials. With a reach of over 500 people on a Facebook group, 800 friends on Facebook, and over 250 registered official members on Blackboard, it had reached a new status. It joined other multicultural Asian organizations at USF in the annual Journey to the East, week-long showcase of Asian culture at USF. Many half-Japanese and Japanese students began joining the organization and the club had its first signature event “A Night in Tokyo”, funded in part by Student Government. With a martial arts demonstrations, a kimono fashion show, koto classical music, anime cosplay show, maid costume servers, and more, the show was a huge hit. A Night in Tokyo attracted over 300 students to its audience and filled to max capacity. I thought up the concept when brainstorming new ways we could display Japanese culture to the USF community. Organizational issues still persisted and I learned many new lessons about leadership and how to overcome new challenges.

The first student organization I joined, the Association of Filipino Students, saw a rebirth in membership and I had many great nights with their AFS Dance Team that competed around the state with other Filipino organizations. I became interested in the 2010 Florida Governor’s Mansion Race after reading about current Governor Rick Scott in the paper and becoming an Alex Sink supporter. After a visit to the College Democrats, I joined the Campaign for Accountability, an initiative by the Florida Democratic Party to engage college students to become a part of helping the Democratic ticket reach Tallahassee. I learned things I never knew before about the election process and learned about the basis behind what makes our nation’s political system run. The campaign taught me many things and ultimately I decided being involved in the daily political makeup of our nation wasn’t for me, although still supporting Alex Sink for Governor.

Japanese classes became increasingly frustrating during my third year at USF and I began to lose some interest as I began to feel my classes were losing their effectiveness. I met many Japanese exchange students, but had a hard time making good friendships with them. During the Fall of 2010, I met a few exchange students from South Korea from Yonsei University. We became very good friends and they told me all about their home in Seoul, that I had been interested in for quite a few years.

The year passed by and I was contemplating whether I should apply to study abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan or Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. I decided on South Korea for a number of reasons: the cost of living being lower, the school being located in the capital of a nation, and fond memories of my the friends I made from there. Mere weeks later the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami struck Japan and amid nuclear meltdowns, USF students were re-called to Tampa and any future study abroad visits to Japan became tentative.

Feeling for the people of Japan, The Japanese Club at USF came together with over ten other organizations to fundraise for victims in an event called Hope for Japan. We fundraised over $500 for victims and the J-Club also sponsored and promoted at least six other events. We partnered with Save Japan Now, an effort of a former Japanese Club officer named Francis Maraj, to raise money online for victims through t-shirt sales. The sales raised thousands of dollars for victims.

The end of the school year saw the rise of a new executive board for the Japanese Club and I have become their Senior Advisor: providing them with advice from my years of running an organization. My study abroad trip to Yonsei University has been confirmed and I have a new travel blog that will document my travels called Carlos Abroad. Most of my summer has been applying for scholarships and spending time with family and friends before my trip. My fourth year of being a college student is approaching, but there is still many experiences ahead.

Be Responsi-Bull: Don’t Text and Drive

[1]

Reckless and distracted driving is an important thing for people to be aware of. Accidents happen all the time when people are using their mobile phones in their vehicles and this tends to be a common offense made by students. Students are text messaging, updating facebooks, tweeting, and even checking-in as they travel today. Distracted driving killed nearly 6,000 Americans in 2008 and over 16,000 Americans overall. As our technology becomes more advances, it is important that we take a moment to reflect on our responsibility as drivers to pay attention to the road. Despite these statistics, Florida continues to be unsuccessful in passing laws regarding reckless driving regarding to texting and talking on cell phones and is one of 12 states to not place a ban. For now that means it is in your hands to make sure you do not cause an accident with your mobile phone.

[2]

Think about the last time you saw someone talking on a cell phone when you were driving or text messaging? Did you notice that they were driving slower than others and not as responsive at the wheel. Any driver knows that even a minute off the wheel can lead to fatal accidents. Disney has taken the initiative and banned texting while driving among employees. At the end of 2009, President Barack Obama banned federal employees from text messaging while behind the wheel of government vehicles and from texting in their own cars if they use government-issued phones or are on official business.

Take action: make a pledge not to text and drive. Don’t become a statistic. Think about your peers. Be Responsi-Bull

[1] Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/570770
[2] Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1088345

Natsu Matsuri (Tampa Japanese Summer Festival) 2011

The Florida Jet Alumni Association (JETAA) and Consulate General of Japan are hosting their annual Japanese summer festival called Natsu (Summer) Matsuri (Festival) on Saturday July 23, 2011 from 9am to 12pm. They will have all kinds of booths with games, prizes, and fun. The Japanese Club at USF is promoting the event, will have a booth there, and would love to see you there! Here’s some of the things you will find there:

Performances:
Koto classical music player
Japanese Swordsmanship
Okinawan performers

Activities:
Shodo
Nageru Sumo (投げるすも)
Shooting Range (銃射撃場)
Kingyo Sukui (金魚掬い / goldfish fishing)
Daruma Beanbag Toss
Yoyo sukui (ヨーヨー掬い/waterballon fishing)
Omocha sukui (おもちゃ掬い/toy)
Tanabata wishes
Origami

Food for sale:
Yummy bake-sale table!
Yakitori
Okonomiyaki
Hibachi

&more!

Natsu Matsuri (Japanese Summer Festival)

The Florida Jet Alumni Association (JETAA) and Consulate General of Japan are hosting their annual Japanese summer festival called Natsu (Summer) Matsuri (Festival) on June 19, 2010 from 9am to 12pm. They will have all kinds of booths with games, prizes, and fun. The Japanese Club at USF is promoting the event and would love to see you there!

Facebook Event Link: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121062011245749&ref=mf

Bowl Down Poverty

You can make a difference in the lives of the poor by joining the members of GK at USF as we bowl down poverty! Come out for a night of fun and games for a great cause! All proceeds will benefit Gawad Kalinga (GK) at USF and our mission to take action against poverty.

Date: Wednesday, March 31st
Time: 9pm-12am
Location: AMF University Lanes
Address: 13109 North 56th Street Tampa, FL, 33617

$10 advance / $12 at door (for unlimited bowling & shoe rental)

For tickets contact any GK at USF member:
Melissa Barrido | Maricel Anayas | Danny Villarosa | Rex Balmes | Nate Cleland | Dan Lalican | Rico Barrido
usf.gawadkalinga@gmail.com
(727) 459-6413

::What is GK at USF?::

GK at USF is a newly formed student organization that is driven and inspired by the movement of Gawad Kalinga. GK is a growing global army against poverty and has already built over 1,800 villages for the poorest of the poor in the Philippines and other third world countries.

For more information about Gawad Kalinga, please visit http://www.gk1world.com and register online for the monthly newsletter.

::A Call to Action!::

The members of GK at USF believe that our generation has what it takes to “Be the change (we) want to see in the world.” We invite you to make a difference in the lives of others by refusing to pass on a world of poverty and suffering to the generations that will come after us. No matter who you are or what your background is, you can be an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. GK is a movement larger than life and you can be a part of history.

For more information about GK at USF, please join our group page at http://www.facebook.com/?sk=messages&tid=380135872591#!/group.php?gid=176438917387 or email us at usf.gawadkalinga@gmail.com

Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=105826319439006&ref=ts

USF Student Body President General Election Update

There was a tie reported last week in the student body elections for USF Student Body President so they were planning on having a run-off this week which has now been canceled and turned into a general election. Personally I hate the idea of runoffs or just re-voting because the initial voting group doesn’t come back out (because of time or lack of knowledge about it since it’s usually really close to the original election) and numbers just go down so it may not be as effective.

It has apparently been rescheduled though to after spring break due to voting software problems:

“After careful investigation into the recent general election voting database, we found that voter irregularities did exist in the voting software. After discussion with the Supreme Court, Election Rules Commission and Student Government Advising, Training and Operations, it is necessary to cancel the run-off election and to hold an expedited general election post spring break. This discovery only impacted the presidential/vice presidential race. Therefore, all other ballot items (i.e., senatorial) are exempt and were not affected by the voting deficiency. All original presidential tickets will be on the ballot. We want to thank the students who brought this electronic error to our attention. The times and dates of the expedited election will be released later this week. We deeply apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused any of our candidates and their supporters.” Source: http://www.sg.usf.edu/?q=node/1