Owl on 8th

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Owl on 8th is dedicated to sharing stories on the efforts that groups and individuals are making to create a difference in this world.

If you're a part (or know) of an amazing cause, let me know! I'd love to learn and write about it.

So subscribe, give me feedback. Let me know how I'm doing so I can become a better writer & help save the world, one story at a time (:

Betty Ford, outspoken & admired first lady, passed away at 93

Former first lady Betty Ford passed away today at age 93. Wife to former President Gerald Ford, who died December 2006, she was one of the most popular presidential wives to date.

TIME Magazine considered her the most politically active first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt. She was an activist for the Equal Rights Amendment, supported legalized abortion, raised breast cancer awareness and was a leader in the Women’s Movement. Betty Ford was admired for her outspokenness and for being such an inspiration to many.

In 1974, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after two years of chemotherapy it was announced that she had made a complete recovery. It was her courage that inspired tens of thousands of women to have their own breast-cancer examinations.

After overcoming her alcoholism and pill addiction, she co-founded the Betty Ford Center in 1982, which is now one of the nation’s most well-known rehabilitation centers. The center offers holistic treatment and support services for alcoholism and other drug dependencies through a 12-step program integrating medical and therapeutic advances.

The cause of her death is not known at this time, but Betty Ford passed away surrounded by her children.

Said former first lady Nancy Reagan in a statement of condolence, “She has been an inspiration to so many through her efforts to educate women about breast cancer and her wonderful work at the Betty Ford Center. She was Jerry Ford’s strength through some very difficult days in our country’s history, and I admired her courage in facing and sharing her personal struggles with all of us.”


New York Times



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First lab-grown organ transplant breakthrough in regenerative medicine

On June 9, the first transplant using a lab-made organ was performed on a patient with tracheal cancer. Since his diagnosis in 2008, the patient had undergone every treatment available, but the tumor had grown to nearly block his windpipe.

Scientists in London created a flexible Y-shaped framework out of polymers, which was bathed in a solution containing the 36-year-old man’s stem cells. The stem cells were chemically and physically manipulated to grow into the desired type, and eventually covered the framework from the inside out.

The entire process took 10 to 12 days, versus waiting months to find a donor.

“The structure was becoming a living structure,” said Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, professor of regenerative medicine at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.

The synthetic trachea was implanted into the patient, whose body has accepted the artificial organ.

Three years ago, a similar transplant was performed by Dr. Macchiarini yielding good results, but the recipient was still dependent on an organ donor.

This recent, more successful, case should open doors for future transplants.

“It’s a beautiful international collaboration,” said Dr. Macchiarini. “If scientists and clinicians work together, we can help humanity.”

Original article via CNN

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Updates 07.07.11

More updates! It has certainly been awhile, although I feel as though I’ve been posting updates more often than stories as of late. Things have been slow here mainly because I’ve had tons of family and friends in town over the last couple of weeks, and I’ve been doing a little bit of traveling. Can’t complain!

I’m excited to announce some new changes soon to be implemented to my blog. But first, I’d like to say that Round 1 of fundraising has ended, and about a week ago I submitted the donation to the OC Chapter of the ALS Association. Thanks so much for everyone’s contributions and for your support!

From the ALS Association:

Thank you for your generous donation to The ALS Association, Orange County Chapter.
We are so grateful for your support of our efforts. Your gift makes a difference — it enables us to provide vital services the patients and family members living with ALS in our community, while also funding cutting-edge research to discover the cause, cure, and treatment of ALS.
We count on you and people like you to ensure that we can continue providing services, while searching for a cure. 
Once again, thank you for your support.
The ALS Association
Orange County Chapter

Now onto the forthcoming changes. I love having my own charity blog, but since I had to quit my job in order to move back home (it’s been almost 2 months and I’m still job hunting!), indefinitely I’m unable to continue running this site with its current objective of donating a monetary amount per site visitor.

However, in order to keep it a “charity blog”, I’ll no longer post random stories on whatever topics I feel like. Instead, from here on out, I’ll be writing stories on the philanthropic and activist efforts of the world – what people and groups are doing in an effort to make a difference.  

I’ll be leaving the Donate button on my Blogspot page, but any contributions made from now on (until I announce otherwise) will go towards G.I. Joe Search & Rescue.

That’s it for now. Thanks again for all your support and encouraging comments thus far. I hope you’ll all keep reading!

With love,


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House of An’s $5k Pho Bowl

As previously mentioned, the House of An (the group that owns Crustacean in Beverly Hills, AnQi at Southcoast Plaza, and Tiato in Santa Monica) auctioned off a $5,000 bowl of pho last month for charity, its proceeds benefiting children’s hospitals in LA, OC, and SF.

The House of An has released a photo of said noodle bowl, and here it is:

How… untitillating. It just looks like a dinky bowl of vegetarian noodles with thin slices of spam on the side. I’ll give them props for their philanthropic endeavor, but I wonder how many of these bowls will actually sell.

Source: bonappetit.com 

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Michael Brosowski & Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation: Hero to Vietnam’s street kids

This week, I had the option of reflecting on that 11-page novelPaper Tigers” by Wesley Yang that was recently featured in New York Magazine, but seeing as how the topic of Tiger-anything nowadays is simply tiresome, I opted for a dose of something more inspiring instead.

If you didn’t catch it last month, the founder of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, Michael Brosowski, was featured on CNN Heroes. Blue Dragon is a grassroots foundation that sets out to rescue at-risk children - the “street kids” of Vietnam. Brosowski, an Australian teacher, came to Hanoi in 2002 to teach English at the national university. Shortly after, he found himself teaching a group of children who were living on the streets and barely getting by.

These street kids come from the countryside, seeking odd end jobs such as shoeshining or selling trinkets to support themselves or their families. But this lifestyle poses a number of dangers to these children, from gang violence to child trafficking, and “the lure of a booming heroin trade”. Blue Dragon provides the basic necessities – food, shelter, medical attention – in order to get these children off the streets.

“In Hanoi, Blue Dragon’s center offers food, clothing, classrooms, play space and a computer lab. There is also bed space for 20 in the group’s nearby shelter. Each child who comes through the center is provided with a dedicated social worker and has access to a psychologist, counselors, teachers and lawyers.”

Blue Dragon has helped over 2,500 children to date. Talk about inspiring – Brosowski left his job to devote himself to the foundation. In 2005, Blue Dragon’s mission expanded to include rescuing victims of child trafficking and finding ways to permanently disrupt trafficking rings altogether. His staff of 44 includes several of those whom the foundation has helped in the past.

Read the rest on Vietnam Talking Points

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Are you pho-real? $5,000 for a bowl of pho

$5k for a bowl of noodle soup? Sounds absurd, but it’s true. Pho is a staple of the Vietnamese cuisine, usually costing around $6-7 a bowl (see image).

However, the AnQi Pho, made with “A5 Wagyu beef, white alba truffles, a foie gras broth, hand-raised bean sprouts and ‘noodles’ from a rare blue lobster meat” is getting auctioned off today with a starting bid at $5,000. Not sure what “hand-raised” bean sprouts would do for me, but if it’s for charity then why not?

The auction event is invitation-only and is taking place at Tiato Market Garden Cafe, a Vietnamese restaurant in Santa Monica. The proceeds will benefit the Children’s Hospitals of LA and OC, as well as the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Tiato is owned by the House of An, the group that also owns Beverly Hills’ Crustacean.

If you weren’t invited to the auction, fret you not because the dish will be soon added to the Crustacean menu as a permanent item, its proceeds continuing to benefit the children’s hospitals.

If anyone’s feeling benevolent enough to try this pho out for themselves, let me know what you think! I’m very curious to know how philanthropy tastes.


LA Weekly

Time NewsFeed

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Updates 05.17.11

It’s been a crazy few months. New York has opened so many new doors and possibilities for me and I love the city for it, but frankly, I need a break. With all the hardships I’ve been through since the start of 2011, I need to be home for some time, to be surrounded by my support system. I dealt with the losses of my grandmother and Joe alone and had moments where I just couldn’t take it anymore. Although I appreciate the solitude at times, an empty apartment is not a healthy place for a person in grief to be. So I’m going back home for the summer and will decide in August whether or not I will be returning.

I will be heading up public relations and fundraising for the G.I. Joe Foundation, which Joe’s sister, Victoria, has created in his memory. Its mission will be to provide volunteer assistance and resources to local authorities and families with missing loved ones. I’ll post updates regarding the foundation here, so keep an eye out for them if you’re interested in being involved.

As for the money I’ve been collecting for the OC ALS Association, I’ve been taking so long to turn it in because I plan on making the donation in person when I return to California. I will then tally up my site visits and total that amount with the donations I’ve received. At this point I’m very happy to say that we’re at a little over $350 - my goal minimum was $100!

A huge thanks to everyone who has contributed. Just wanted to post this quick update in case anyone was wondering where all your money went… hehe.

Very excited to be back in California again soon.

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"Witness" arrested for committing the crime he reported - Rest in peace, Hung.

25-year-old Hung Do of Huntington Beach was riding his bicycle around 3 a.m. when he was struck by a vehicle. The incident occurred in Fountain Valley, CA, on Warner Ave. at the 405 freeway. Hung was pronounced dead soon after at the UCI Medical Center in Orange.

The Fountain Valley Police Department was later contacted by someone who claimed to have been a witness to the accident. Further investigation revealed that the caller, 19-year-old Adam Garrett, was actually the driver who hit the bicyclist. Garrett was arrested and booked into the county jail.

Hung was someone I knew in middle school. Although we didn’t really cross paths since - we went to separate high schools, and I didn’t keep in touch with many of my old friends - it was still a shock for me to hear this news. We weren’t close at all, but I am still saddened by this. I remember every person who was cruel to me or made me cry in middle school - yes, I hold grudges. Hung wasn’t one of them. He was my friend then, and he was always kind to me.

I’ve thought a lot and have been dreaming a lot about death recently, perhaps because over the last year and a half, I’ve been surrounded by it. My grandmother passed in January of old age; natural causes. Soon after, one of my best friend’s father was taken by Lou Gehrig’s disease. A month after that Joe died from drowning on a hiking trip, and now Hung has been killed from getting hit by a car. Not to mention the three deaths that occurred in my family last year, also of all different causes.

What is the universe trying to tell me? I spend much of my time nowadays contemplating life and death. Why are we here, and what determines when our time is up? Is everything planned out for us, or do we go once some kind of contract is filled? Or - is life just a series of coincidences and luck?

Read More

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“Holla for Japan” Benefit Concert Raised Thousands for Disaster Relief

Pay no mind toward the borders that separate us, nor the strife that exists in our past. When a fellow is in need, the Asian American community knows fully well that love (and goodwill) conquers all. Holla!


While Vietnamese people all over joined their communities on April 30th to commemorate the events that took place in 1975, at least two Vietnamese Americans opened their hearts in New York, participating in a different type of cause: a concert raising funds toward relief efforts in Japan.

“Holla for Japan: A Benefit Concert” took place from 8-11 p.m. that Saturday night at New York City’s oldest rock club, The Bitter End, which is famous for hosting performances by legends such as Etta James, Bill Withers, the Isley Brothers, and Andy Gibb.

The event was organized by “Home for the Holla’Days”, a collaborative group whose core members include Magnetic North (half of which is Vietnamese American emcee Theresa Vu, the other half being Chinese American Derek Kan, a.k.a. Direct), Vudoo Soul (the second Vietnamese American performer of the night), Taiyo Na, and Sam Kang.

“Home for the Holla’Days” was originally formed to help raise money for Aid to Children Without Parents, Inc. (ACWP). “The group I played with tonight, the whole Holla’Days crew, we do this thing; it’s been an annual thing so far,” said Vudoo Soul, 29, currently of Southern California. “We’ve done it twice already in the Bay Area. The first year raised $7,000 to provide children without parents in [Southeast Asia] resources, like food, clothes, and education. The second year we raised $14,000.”

In the wake of the recent disasters that literally shook up Japan, “Home for the Holla’Days” was joined by Alfa Garcia in raising proceeds for the International Rescue Committee. A thank you message sent out by Theresa announced that a grand total of $8,675 was raised, which will all go towards Japan.

“Sometimes we feel our calling is to write music for our community and the underrepresented,” Derek said. The 29-year-old New Yorker has been doing music with Theresa for nearly ten years. “Sometimes we feel that we need to write music for ourselves, just to express something that’s been eating away at us inside.  But, more and more, it’s events like ‘Holla For Japan’ and the ‘Home for the Holla’Days’ concerts that really seem to be the most important force to why we do music.”

Read the rest on OneVietnam Network’s Vietnam Talking Points

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I’m published!

A month ago, I submitted an application to become a contributing writer for OneVietnam Network’s Vietnam Talking Points. I now have a bio on their page! Check ME out!

I also got my first article published on VTP this week, which I am very excited about. Enjoy!


Not Just a Pretty Face: Tet Pageant Winner to Attend MIT

By An Nguyen

Step, pause, turn, spin, and pose. Beauty pageantry is an industry that continues to flourish and draw speculation from all parts of the world. Vietnam and its communities at large are no exception. Despite the stigmas of today surrounding pageant contestants as being superficial and lacking intelligence, recent winners of the Miss Vietnam of Southern California scholarship pageant (Hoa Khoi Lien Truong Nam Cali) have shown that physical beauty can, and does, go hand-in-hand with brilliance.

Nathalie Huynh, 17, of Arcadia High School, brought home the title of Miss Vietnam of Southern California 2011 this past February. She was the youngest contestant out of the bunch, and is also the youngest to win this pageant since 1999. A senior in her final semester of high school, Nathalie anxiously awaited her college acceptances. “It’s really bad, I’m losing sleep over it!” she said.

Luckily, she didn’t have to lose sleep for much longer. She was recently informed that she had been accepted by one of her top college picks: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Not exactly an easy feat: according to the school’s website, only 10% of over 16,000 freshman applicants were admitted in 2010.

Read the rest of it here.

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I was leaving work at 1AM and saw that a mob had congregated at the center of Times Square, chanting and singing over the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by US troops. I haven’t had any sort of training in video editing/news reporting, nor do I have fancy equipment but I tried to make the best with what I did have - my digicam and camera phone. This is my first (very amateur!) video project for Owl on 8th, self-edited and produced on a whim. A huge thanks to my sister for running (literally) out to TS in her PJs and flip flops to help me shoot. Enjoy, and constructive criticism would be extremely helpful!

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Happy Earth Day

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from social media, as I’m still grieving the loss of my friend. However, I wanted to make a quick post in light of Earth Day.

Here are some Earth Day deals via Yahoo! Green.

Remember, people - a happier Earth is a healthier you. Recycle, reduce, reuse, and close the loop!

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