Blog · Events

Orion: NASA Social Visit at Goddard

Earlier this week, I was one of 150 bloggers NASA Social invited to all 10 centers for the Orion Spaceflight preview of the Orion space capsule, and I spent Wednesday, December 3rd, Tweeting and Instagramming what it’s like behind the doors and fences of the Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, MD. The NASA Social is a program that provides opportunities for NASA’s social media followers to learn and share information about NASA’s missions, people, and programs.

On Wednesday, I headed to Goddard, where I planned to learn more about the mission and observe the historic first flight of Orion. For those unfamiliar, Orion scheduled to launch aboard a heavy-lift Delta IV rocket, carrying with it the deepest of space ambitions for decades to come. Orion is designed to take people deeper into space than we have ever been before, with hopes in the 2020s, we’ll have a crewed mission to redirect and retrieve an asteroid, and with any luck, land on Mars soon after to personally retrieve data and materials.

For me, it was the first time that I attended a NASA Social and it proved life-changing, inspiring and overwhelming. I learned so much, gained new pals and became inspired to teach the next generation about all the information I gleaned.

I’d like to share a few highlights of my day below and look forward to sharing more stories over the next couple of days. Highlights of the NASA Social include my first visit to the Goddard Center where I got to listen and meet an astrophysicist, a geochemist, environmental testing engineers and public outreach specialists in an intimate discussion setting, as well as meeting space enthusiasts and social media bloggers.

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NASASocial Group Photo INSIDE the #Orion Communications Center

Some things I gleaned at Goddard:

  1. The Dr. Stephen Rinehart, astrophysicist at the Laboratory for Observational Cosmology, will search for exoplanets not in solar system! The image shows plans for future telescope to aid in August 2017 mission.
  2. Adrienne Alessandro, communication and public outreach, speaks about the walls being painted black in the Satellite Servicing Center so cameras can see “space” more realistically in tests and while servicing satellites via robotic arm.
  3. Melissa Trainer, research space scientist, shows us a Sample Manipulation System that’s identical to MarsCuriosity and the pic above, Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Test Bed.
  4. Jamie Cook, meteorite astrochemisist, states this is literally the oldest thing we will ever touch. Piece of a meteorite at the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory.
  5. Me. Making a funny face inside the Networks Integration Center. We had to shut down our phones but pictures were allowed.
  6. Janet Thomas, environmental testing enginerr, gives overview of a very big accelerometer that can generate 30G’s and used to test the space-worthiness of objects up to 5,000 pounds!
  7. Aerogel Stardust via a comet mission in the Astrobiology Analytical Lab. They’d like more. You can request space materials from the Johnson Space Center to do some research.
  8. Star Wars vending machine. Couldn’t resist.
  9. The High Bay Cleanroom, largest in the world where the James Webb Telescope is being assembled
  10. The people inside are meticulously building the Webb Telescope that will hopefully see exoplanet atmospheres!
  11. On Thursday, December 4th, my view inside the auditorium for the NASA TV viewing opportunity of the Orion Launch. Unfortunately, the launch was a no-go that day.
  12. With Aries Keck, Goddard Social Media Team Lead. She was a wonderful host and tour guide for our inquisitive group.

The NASA Social made me realize: The importance of informing the next generation about space exploration. The main purpose of these Socials is to bring in new blood and garner interest from new parties. Which is something I can gladly help with and volunteer my services. So my advise, Follow @NASAsocial and apply for their next social. Be the next person to learn and foster a continued relationship between NASA and the next generation.

Favorite Quotes/Tweets from NASA Social that inspired me:

Blog · Events

Social Good Summit 2014 Inspired Me

At the start of this week I was fortunate to attend the 2014 Social Good Summit in New York City. Held at the 92|Y in partnership with Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Social Good Summit is a two-day global conversation on how we are using social media and technology to change some of the world’s dire emergencies.

This year’s theme was #2030now and basically asked the global community one thought-provoking question: In a global digital landscape that focuses on the now, where do we want to be by 2030 and how can social media help the global community reach its goals, such as ending poverty by 2030.

This year’s intense two-day summit covered a broad range of the most urgent challenges such as climate change, poverty, women’s rights and education, and pulls together some of the most influential thinkers and global change-makers in the world. I got to hear such incredible visionaries such as Melinda Gates, Pharrell Williams, former US President Jimmy Carter, Nicholas Kristoff, Dr. Jim Yong Kim and more. In addition, the global reach of the Social Good Summit was huge: It was livestreamed worldwide, translated into seven languages and  people around hosted international Social Good Summits with physical gatherings in more than 70 countries making it truly a global event.

For me, it was the first time that I attended the Social Good Summit and it proved life-changing, inspiring and overwhelming. I learned so so much and became inspired over the past few days that it is going to take me quite awhile to process all the information I gleaned from all the panels.

I wanted to share a few highlights of the Summit below and look forward to sharing more stories over the next couple of days on my blog.  Highlights of the Summit includ my first visit to the United Nations Foundation offices in NYC where I got to listen and meet the amazing Chris Whatley, attending an intimate roundtable discussion hosted by the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) on the crisis of maternal and infant mortality, and meeting online social good bloggers, fellows and friends.

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Some things I gleaned from the Summit:

  • The power of this generation’s voice via engaging social media platforms can make change. This, in itself, inspires and encourages me to take on these causes by continuing to cover social good stories.
  • “The key to all social movements is allies.” – Roxanne Rahnama, Student Activist
  • For the first time in human history there is hope of eradicating poverty across the globe. A pretty impressive and proud moment in the midst of ongoing question of progress.
  • Climate change is a literal hot topic, think “Winter is Coming” and all have to do our part and listen to what Nature is trying to tell us!

The Summit made me realize that there is hope for our future: The panel with Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Half the Sky, spoke about their new book, A Path Appears and about how their new work attempts to identify ways in which we can “spread opportunity” through well-targeted, intelligent one-on-one settings. They learned that researchers have identified early-life interventions targeted at infants and toddlers as having potential extraordinary impact, such as encouraging parents to talk and read to their children, the push for universal pre-K, improving access to primary health care for underprivileged new and expectant mothers and at-risk young children. I believe all the research points towards how more and more do-gooders are relying on trust-worthy specifics and hard evidence to describe, create and implement successful results. I left feeling inspired that someday the world will be a better and more equitable place for all.

Favorite Quotes/Tweets from Social Good Summit that inspired me:

Blog · Events

Lean Together Book Launch – DC

via iPhone
via iPhone

September 10, 2014 | 5:30pm Panel | 7:15pm Reception

On September 10th, the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) introduced its new book LEAN TOGETHER: An Agenda For Smarter Government, Stronger Communities, And More Opportunity For Women at The Decatur House.

LEAN TOGETHER is a book of 12 chapters written by female professionals. The book offers a new outlook for America: smaller government, stronger communities, a vibrant economy, and more opportunities for women and men.  This vision for America offers concrete policy prescriptions that will rein in the progressive state, streamline government, and strengthen the economy.

Below are some tidbits I gleaned from the discussion:

  • 62% of min wage workers are women – we don’t want them to lose their jobs so we shouldn’t raise the min wage
  • If we don’t reform entitlements, everyone’s tax burdens are going to have to DOUBLE
  • States should do their utmost to give people as many choices as possible when it comes to health insurance
  • Women’s lives are like tapestries that we piece together along the way. We have more choices now than ever
  • “Food policy has become a fixation for groups focused on alarmism”
  • 83% of women couldn’t tell the difference between real scientific studies and those designed to scare them
  • America is out-producing Russia in natural gas, ahead of Saudi Arabia in oil. Need to export it to Europe
  • Heart of healthcare debate is that we are having trouble defining root cause of problems
via IWF
via IWF ($10)
Blog · Events

World Cup: #USAvsBEL DC Viewing Party

Many came to Freedom Plaza from all over the region hoping to find camaraderie with other Americans who care about soccer as deeply as I do. It was 93 degree weather at 4pm but it felt like 100 degrees.

As the game started, I was asked by a Swedish Reporter my prediction and thoughts on why the World Cup and soccer are gaining momentum in the US? I told her USA would win the game 3-1. I’m sure the Swedish population is laughing at this. As for my thoughts, I simply said that the US survived the Group of Death and deserve nothing but our FULL support for their hard work. I’m glad the nation caught the World Cup fever! It’s been much more enjoyable to cheer for the USMNT.

Below are some pics:

DC Police @ Penn Ave
DC Police @ Penn Ave




USA Fans (Capitol in background)
USA Fans (Capitol in background)


Support Team USA
Support Team USA


Loved the hats
Loved the hats
Events · Professional

Philippine Consulate General Visit

via Instgram
via Instgram


Today, The School of Diplomacy with the Division of Volunteer Efforts welcomed Mario Lopez De Leon, Jr., the Philippine Consul General to New York, for a lecture and discussion on rebuilding efforts going on in the typhoon Haiyan areas.

Per my internship in Washington, DC last year, I stayed with a nice Filipino family, who essentially took me in and made me a part of their family. I let them know of the event and asked whether they had any questions that I could ask on their behalf.

The first question, I received was how the Filipino government will make sure all the donations, such as cash and in-kind items, be properly distributed to the victims and not end up in the pocket of the Filipino government?

The second question, I received is if the Consul General could provide an update on the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for undocumented Filipino immigrants working in the US, who send money back to their family in the Philippines?

What did I get out of Consul General De Leon’s Discussion?

the following:

  • An estimated $12.9 billion in damages
  • 1.1 million houses were destroyed
  • Need about $8.2 billion in reconstruction efforts

What is the Filipino government’s Rebuilding Efforts?

  • Build-A-Shelter Project in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General and Philippine Jesuits Foundation
    • Launched on November 26, 2013
    • Each house cost $3,300 to build
    • Raised $270,000
    • Building 3 villages of about 36 houses and working on 4th village to conclude project
    • Project plan is to finish building in 4 years


First Question – The problem lies in storage capacity because one their biggest ports was destroyed. So the answer, is the Filipino government has created a tracking system, the Track Recovery System (TRS) to ensure proper transparency. The TRS will be implemented starting May 2014 in collaboration with concerned government agencies to keep tab of financial resources for the Haiyan-affected. No actual date was given nor who exactly would be in charge monitoring the TRS. In addition, due to storage issues, they are giving perishable (can goods) items more priority compared to non-perishable such as blankets to be stored and distributed quickly. Also, the government is looking for creative approaches to assist in distribution procedures.

Second Question – Those who only meet the qualifications will receive TPS. The decision will be made next month by the US Department of Homeland Security. [On a side note: I believe he is hopeful a positive decision will be made since he cited the past disasters of Haiti and Nicaragua, where undocumented immigrants from their respective countries were allowed to stay under TPS]


Blog · Events

Journal Entry, US Policy and HR in China

Written on Monday, February 4, 2013
Event at SIS, American University
US Policy and Human Rights in China


American media and China scholars have widely discussed both the recent changes in China’s leadership and the success of China’s economic reforms. The question remains, howver, whether these developments will improve China’s respect for human rights and the rule of law. We are welcoming a panel of experienced experts and practitioners who will be here to promote reform in China as part of AU’s commitment to dialogue concerning the human rights issues both at home and abroad.

Dr. Han Lianchao, VP of Initiatives for China, began his lecture by stating there has been “30 years of progress” but China continues to experience a “bamboo curtain.” Dr. Han follows that 200,000 protests are conducted per year in China. There are 7 different types of protests held in China: Workers, Residents, Religious, Ethnic, Hong Kong, professional protestors and Agriculture. About $100bn is spent purely on stability maintenance, with $2.4bn going to the Police Force. 12bn people in China have committed to doing their part in the stability maintenance movement.

However, Dr. Han expresses concern that China has evolved from a mafia-esque authoritative government to a more military-like state. For example, in today’s society, the use of tortue as a tool is acceptable for the Chinese authorities to extract particular information.

Ms. Sarah Cook, Senior Analyst for East Asia at Freedon House, provided additional information on the nature and scope of human rights suppression in China. Economic development is obviously at an all-time high in China and will continue to increase. Even though there is an increase in internet controls, civil society organizations are constantly pushing the boundaries. The people want their internt freesdom to be the same as in 1997, when the internet was first introduced and there were no restrictions. Ms. Cook gave the example that in 1997, you could look up the 89′ Massacre and score about hundreds of hits full of information. Now-a-days, the only 89′ Massacre coverage available is screened through the government and the total online hits, tally close to 15.

Ms. Cook is astonished to report that the people in China are hopeful regarding the new leader and his proposed promises. Current NGO and other US advocacy groups are working to expose and press for the improvement of China’s human rights record by initiating, implementing and exchanging strategies with innovative people in China. Her advice, if you find a way in, take advantage and push through western strategies/ideas.



While I was waiting for the event to start, I wondered a bit around campus. IMG_1676


Such delicious food. Peruvian is the best, plus I’m a sucker for plantains.

Blog · Events

Journal Entry, Corruption Efforts

Written on Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Anti-Corruption Efforts in Global Development: A Commitment to Act


Corruption is a major obstacle to social and economic development and increases the cost of doing business.

“It is not just standing back and pointing a finger, we have to call it out when we see it and stick by our guns, but we feel we also have a responsibility to do everything we can to help people build those effective systems,” Kim told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

President Kim states the World Bank should not only gather and share data on fighting corruption, but also learn from the history of governments that have been successful. For example, President Kim noted that in Brazil the government has tackled drug-influenced barrios and turned them into safer neighborhoods, while in Italy the authorities have exposed tax dodgers, and in India the government is grappling with anti-corruption legislation. President Kim adamantly stated that the World Bank should not shy away from publicly naming offenders.

The World Bank has continued to fortify efforts on corruption ever since former President Jim Wolfensohn denounced the “cancer of corruption” in a speech in 1996. The poverty-fighting institution has also come under pressure from major donors, like the United States and Britain, to crack down on corruption to ensure taxpayers’ money does not go to waste.

Although World Bank lending is manipulate by how a borrower scores on governance and fighting corruption, the bank has struggled for a long time over whether to suspend lending to a country when it discovers corruption in bank-financed development projects, or to keep the money flowing while fixing the problem.

For example, in 2012, President Kim canceled a $1.2bn loan for a Bangladesh bridge project after the World Bank found evidence of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi government officials. Credit has not been distributed for the bridge project because the Bangladeshi government officials refuse to address the issues. However, the World Bank has nonetheless committed $4.3bn for over 30 projects in Bangladesh.

How can corruption issues be taken seriously if the World Bank continues to “work around” them? This is more of a mixed message rather than projecting a strong stance..

President Kim’s Speech Transcript, click here