This website, and the associated book, are dedicated to every woman who’s ever broken through a barrier, violated a taboo, or overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve what seemed impossible, but was merely difficult . . . without even breaking a nail, or whining about it if she did.
But for me, a sixteen-year-old Indian girl traveling from San Jose to Beijing, this trip was a daunting ordeal. I would be spending the week with six other kids I didn’t know, sharing a large apartment with my dad as the only chaperone.
We were traveling to China as part of an International Outreach Awareness Committee with Team HBV, a student-run organization under the Asian Liver Center. The Asian Liver Center, along with Team HBV, aims to educate the general public about the prevalence of chronic Hepatitis B infection in Asian communities.
Chronic Hepatitis B, which can lead to serious liver damage and eventually liver cancer, claims the life of 600,000 people each year. Furthermore, although Asian Americans consist of only 4% of the American population, they comprise of over 50% of the nation’s chronically infected people.
Hepatitis B is preventable through vaccination, but the disease often does not show symptoms until it is far too late. Because of this, early screening and testing are of utmost importance.
Unfortunately, there is a strong stigma surrounding Hepatitis B in Asian communities. Our group traveled to China as a way to start the conversation regarding the disease. By encouraging even a few people to get screened or encourage their friends to get tested, we could take small steps to eradicate the taboo and saving lives.
Our group consisted of kids from all around California who were handpicked to represent the Asian Liver Center in China through an application process.
The first few days of our trip were awkward and tense; no one knew each other and everyone was trying to get accustomed to their surroundings. Our shared goal of spreading information brought us together, and we spent several hours rehearsing our presentations, going over HBV facts, and working out the details of our outreach.
Although we weren’t able to present at some of the elementary and middle schools we had planned to visit, we educated everyone we talked to, from college students to workers in the Subway.
We even worked with interns at the Peking ALC to see if they could replicate some of the outreach that was working so well in America.
And over the course of this week, the trip that I once so feared became one of my favorite experiences in my life. I grew incredibly close to the other committee members, and I visited many amazing, historical places in China.
I also grew even more passionate about our cause. Before, I volunteered with Team HBV because I thought it was a good cause to support. I got involved because I felt like I couldn’t let innocent people die when I possessed knowledge that could help them.
During my trip, I grew close to people who experienced first hand the tragedies of HBV: people who had lost loved ones to the disease; people whose own parents couldn’t tell them they were infected because they were embarrassed; people who wished they had gotten tested just a little sooner.
After returning home, I started looking for more opportunities to get involved. One of my first attempts was to rent out a booth at the monthly De Anza Flea Market to distribute outreach information and spread awareness. My two friends and I talked to over one hundred and fifty people about Hepatitis B and what they could do to help.
I used to think that this trip to China would be my biggest contribution and involvement with Team HBV. After all, I traveled all the way across the globe for outreach. Now, I know this is only the beginning. There are so many more things I can do, from starting a club at my high school and later at college to writing a blog and volunteer more frequently locally to help make a difference.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stuti Upadhyay – She is interested in the field of Biology – particularly molecular biology for cancer. Looking forward to participating in many cancer-related molecular biology research opportunity, including hands-on lab work. She is passionate about helping disadvantaged kids, health and exercise, and environmental sustainability. A Bay Area native who enjoys the beach, running, soccer, watching movies and listening to music.
In Graham Hill’s TED talk, he asks if having less stuff can lead to more happiness. He makes the case that when we own less, and in turn need less space, we will have less debt, more money, more freedom, more time, and we’ll also be leaving a smaller environmental impact. He believes that these things combined would lead to less stress and a happier life.
You can move into a 600 square foot home and eliminate most of your stuff, but you only have to do a little bit in order to make an impact on your happiness and positivity. In this article, we’ll discuss how bringing minimalism and sustainability into your life can improve your overall happiness.
Your home makes a big impact on your happiness. Like Graham states, a bigger home is more expensive and leaves a greater footprint on the environment, leading to more debt and more stress. But the size of your home isn’t the only factor impacting your life. Your community, location, and accessibility all play a major role.
Sustainable living, and sustainable communities, commonly boast a higher quality of living, not in luxury but in fulfillment. Sustainable living can help nurture economic and environmental health, and social equity. In sustainable communities, everyone is expected to do their part and everyone works toward a healthy lifestyle for all that live in the community. But it takes work.
Look for sustainable communities, or community groups in your area to get involved and become a happier person by working with others toward the same goal. Or start one in your own neighborhood. Do a self-evaluation of your home and find out what you can do to make your home, and your community, more sustainable for the environment and for your own finances.
Minimalist Living Tips
Sustainability and minimalism often go hand-in-hand. Minimalism is known to improve your life in many ways, but at its core, minimalism leads to more time, money, and less stress. These three simple changes can end up providing more memories with your family, new hobbies, more adventures and travel, and more creativity. But you don’t have to move into a tiny house to be a minimalist. Here are a few simple tips to live a more minimalist life:
At first, it is important to remember minimalism is a mindset. It’s not only about minimizing your material possessions. A big part of minimalism is working to focus on individual things or activities one at a time. Instead of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, minimalists stay in the present moment in everyday life. It’s easier said than done, but here are a few tips to help:
- Actively take note of what is happening in the present moment.
- Take a technology break.
- Spend time in nature.
- Start a journal or just write down your thoughts.
Next, it’s time to cut down on the clutter. But you don’t have to go through your whole house with a fine-tooth comb. Start with the one room you use every single day, where happiness and relaxation are important. That’s right, we’re starting in the bedroom.
Your bedroom is meant to be your personal escape from the hectic outside world. So take a look at it now. How does it make you fee? Do you feel relaxed and maybe even a little sleepy? Or do you see the pile of laundry, the unmade bed, and the old dishes on your nightstand and feel stressed? Let’s fix that and turn your room into a cozy escape. A minimalist bedroom design could improve your sleep quality, make it easier to keep clean, and even get ready for the day faster. Here are some tips for a creating a minimalist bedroom design:
- Remove all electronics from your bedroom including the television, phones, tablets, etc.
- Get a bed fit for optimal comfort, whether that means a firmer or softer mattress is up to you. Or, invest in good linens for a cozy night’s sleep.
- Find simple curtains, or thrift them, to create solitude and ambiance.
- Remove busy posters or any pieces that aren’t soothing and relaxing.
- Get basic accessories, like a rug and lamp, and stick to just the necessities.
- Organized your clothing and sell or donate any items you haven’t worn in at least a year.
Sustainability and minimalism can absolutely improve your happiness. Many people have proven it before. But the impact often depends on how you approach life changes. Are you open to positive new changes or worried and nervous? Relax and let these tips guide you to a happier, simpler life.