My Journey Never Ends - Ice Breaker - by Helen Alvarado

posted Jan 31, 2011, 9:52 AM by Tip Top   [ updated Feb 1, 2011, 8:44 AM ]

My Journey Never Ends

In Chinese, when we describe a person who doesn't know very much about the outside world, we say this person is like a frog in a well, because in its view, the sky is only this big (show a circle).  I was that frog.

I grew up in a remote small city called Chifeng.  (Show the map.) The red circle is China. The blue circle is Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, a province of China. My hometown Chifeng is here, 60 miles away from the Gobi Desert.  My parents were middle school teachers.  Their reading habit was a good influence to me.  I had been doing pretty well in school.  In China, the National Higher Education Entrance Examination is the sole determinant for admission to virtually all Chinese colleges and universities.  In the late 1980's, only about five percent of the examinees nationwide were eventually admitted to universities.  When I graduated from high school, I was the only one who passed that exam in my class!  I went to Inner Mongolia Finance and Economics Institute.  It is in Hohhot (show the map), the capital city of Inner Mongolia.

In the early 1990's, the government assigned you a job when you graduated from universities.  I went back to my hometown Chifeng and worked at the National Grain Warehouse. (I mentioned my first job last week.)

Personal computers changed the world, the same way it changed my life.  After working there for 2 years, the Grain Warehouse started its first IT application system development project.  Among the only 7 university graduates, I was the only one familiar with the overall business processes.  No doubt I was the best candidate for the business requirement analyst role. During that project was the first time I visited Beijing.  The museums, the parks, the libraries..."Wow, the city is big!"

I liked computers.  I liked Beijing too.  I wanted to study computers in Beijing!  I prepared for two years, and then I was admitted to Beijing Tshinghua University for my masters' degree. Time is different now.  You are on your own.  When I graduated, I got a offer from Huawei, the largest globalized Chinese telecom company.  It is located in Shenzhen with 95,000 employees up to today. (They have 10 offices in the United States.)

Conveniently located just across the border from Hong Kong, the city of Shenzhen attracts many travelers from all over the world to start their discoveries of China. I met my husband there.  Now I am here.

This is my family.  My husband O is an aeronautical engineer at Lockheed Martin.  This is C, my first dog.  He is very smart.  He knows many words.  I am always wondering that if I send him to school he could finish his PHD.  This is N.  She is very sweet.  She always wants to snuggle with you.  If you push her a little bit, she would not be bothered.  She stays with you all the night.  This is the sweetest change in my life.  I love them from the bottom of my heart.

But, what can I do for a living here?  My English is horrible, that you already know.  I can't be a IT project manager like I did in Huawei, talking all the time.  I decided to do some technical work.  So I went to SMU's Computer Science and Engineering Department for my second masters' degree.  This time I was serious, I graduated with honors with an accumulated GPA of 3.94!

Now, I am a software engineer for HM.  After 3 years of diligent working, I am known as the fastest programmer in my team.  Unfortunately, I am also known as the quietest person there.  In three years, no matter if it was a team meeting, or an all hands meeting, or a round-table meeting with VP and directors, etc., I didn't raise any questions, nor any suggestions.  I kept silent all the time.

Gregory Berns (a professor at Emory University) says "A person can have the greatest idea in the world - completely different and novel - but if that person can't convince enough other people, it doesn't matter."  This is it.  No more.  I am here today to join you.  My fear ends today and my new journey starts today!  Thank you!

Tip Top,
Jan 31, 2011, 1:20 PM