It’s my birthday, let’s build a school

I’m turning the big 24 this year. And instead of having a party and all that business, I decided that I want to build a classroom with Pencils of Promise.

I have to tell you something. I’m not a person that naturally asks for things. If you ask my parents, they’ll tell you I’ve always wanted for little and ask for almost nothing growing up. I chalk it up to fear, fear that I’m inconveniencing you or someone else when I ask for something. It takes a lot of strength to overcome fear and questions like “is it rude of me to ask?” or “what will this person think of me if I ask?” What I’ve been learning, now that I’m out of school, is that:

  1. It really doesn’t hurt to ask (if you ask in a humble genuine way)
  2. If you are asking for something you care about, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that

And so that’s why I’m asking you to help me reach my goal of $10,000 to build a classroom by donating $24 to my campaign at

A classroom

Yeah, so no big deal, let’s just build a classroom for my birthday. There is nothing else that has more so shaped me into the person that I am today than school. Education has afforded me opportunities that I can’t imagine living without. And others, specifically children in Laos, deserve the same.

Laos is a land-locked country in Southeast Asia in between Thailand and Vietnam. Both my parents are from there, my mom from the north and my dad from the south. What’s incredible is that both my mom and dad’s families fled the country around the time that the Vietnam War began expanding beyond it’s borders into Laos. It’s empowering to hear their stories of how they crossed the Mekong into Thailand as refugees before making it to the United States.

Building a school in Laos is important to me because:

  1. I could have been a child in Laos if my parents and grandparents didn’t have the courage to leave
  2. There’s an incredible need for education in Laos

Close to 70% of the population lives in rural areas without any access to schooling. And only 37% of children ages 12–18 are enrolled in secondary school. Schools and basic education built and provided by communities and organizations like Pencils of Promise are crucial in reducing poverty and improving quality of life.

If you’re an economics junkie like me, you need to know that the people of Laos are generally young. The whole infrastructure and government isn’t prepared to provide education to this population so children are growing up without it. This means a whole generation defined by low economic activity and poverty, and on top of this, it would be a long time before Laos is no longer a “developing country.”

Think of it like this, what is a school? When I was a kid, school was a safe place that I actually wanted to go to. It was a place where friendships were made, community was built, and where I had fun. It was a place where families met each other and neighbors learned about each other. A school provides so much to a child and a community. We can help build that.

I need your help

I need your help. Now that I think about it $10,000 is a lot of money and reaching that goal by the end of the month (my birthday is on the 28th) seems near impossible.

I’d like to think of it this way, it’s just like a typical birthday. But instead of having a bunch of little presents, you are grouping up with some others to get one, much bigger, cooler present. And the present isn’t for me, it’s for a community in Laos. Basically the same thing.

This is what I need you to do:

  1. Donate $24 (or more, more is totally welcomed) to my campaign
  2. Post the news about your donation and why you are helping to facebook, twitter, with a link to the fundraising page
  3. Pick one friend and commit to asking him/her if they would help

Let’s build a school.