Wednesday, January 27, 2010

no telling when i would have sat down ...

feb 22, 2009 was the northern california memorial service for jengyee.

(repost from a 02/22/09 post)

i had the honor of being part of the memorial service for my friend jengyee. the service was this afternoon. as part of that event, in addition to volunteering to bring boxes of kleenex, pens, an artist's clipboard, name tags (oops! forgot those), and a microphone stand, i offered to share some thoughts.

originally planned to be in the "first part" of the memorial service, i had started drafting a bit of a eulogy that i'd hoped would express (and impress) the sense of my friendship with jengyee - mentor/mentee turned girlfriend buddies. ultimately, it made a bit more sense to be part of the "second part" of the memorial service where there was an open mic for those attending to share their memories of jengyee with each other.

the one special memory shared between me and jengyee is the genesis of her book, hello real world. and for this, i chose to share with others at the memorial.
"no telling when i would have sat down ..."

thank you for this opportunity to share with you the slice of life i experienced with jengyee. my name is shirlsd. jengyee and i met through the Student Alumni Mentorship Program (SAMP) at U.C. Berkeley. as an alumna, i wittingly knew that, when jengyee chose me, i would have a captive audience for my college and career experience musings. although our college majors differed - she in IEOR and me in ChemE, we expressed a similar passion about environmental issues. after several random talks about environmental-related careers, roommates, places to hang out in berkeley, and dance places in san francisco (which was scary to find out that the same places still existed after 20 years!), our mentor-mentee talks quickly evolved into heartfelt conversations about enjoying life and making a difference in the world. it was during one conversation that jengyee became my mentor - she inspired me to develop a more formal and thoughtful summer internship program for my consulting practice.

the slice of life i feel honored to share with you is about my experience with the evolution of “hello real world” – jengyee’s book. after spending a little time talking with mr. liang last night, i decided to share something a little different than what i had originally planned to share, with the hopes that this slice brings to life one of the many facets of jengyee.

the following is the sentiment she wrote in this very book …
“shirlsd, wow! what a journey!! thanks for being the impetus behind this book. no telling when i would have sat down to document my experiences without your initial suggestion and continued support. may this book bring you many amazing internship moments. jengyee liang. 2.28.06.”
a little bit about my journey with jengyee – regarding her book, amazing internship moments. and my personal transformation from the words ... “no telling when i would have sat down … ”.

being able to put my finger specifically on the moment
12-27-2004. 3:38 pm
this is the date and time when jengyee started writing about her internship experiences. she and i were talking on the phone over her christmas holiday break to catch-up on life – school, business, interns, social life, music, boys, family – the normal stuff. by this time, our cal student-mentor tenure had already ended, and yet we chose to stay in touch. and in fact, i don't know if it was a choice so much as it just was what it felt it needed to be.

she was expressing some frustration over hoping to have a productive internship experience. long story short, i encouraged her to simply journal. write thoughts down – good, bad, happy, sad, indifferent, doodle – whatever just seemed to automatically flow … then call me or send something over in a couple days or so. in fact, i did the same thing – as a business owner who wanted to make sure that any internship experience i offered would be at least somewhat fulfilling as jengyee would hope to have for any students' experiences. me? i came up with 1 page. jengyee - more than 5 pages, single-spaced. little did we know that what started as a cathartic moment between two girlfriends ultimately would result in her book, “hello real world”.

jengyee and i continued to exchange ideas. and while doing so, jengyee asked if one of my interns, margaret, would read the beginnings of jengyee’s internship guide, which is how it originally was starting out – not quite a book, yet.

fast forward nearly 10 months later
september of 2005
margaret shared with jengyee her perspectives and comments. and as i’m sure you all know, jengyee was very thankful and took to heart and mind much of what margaret offered. and as with margaret’s input, jengyee continued seeking input not only from margaret but also from other friends, mentors, and colleagues. (just as was mentioned earlier by jesse about his friend, tom). suffice to say, jengyee not only continued to refine her writing, she decided she would see about formally publishing a book.

3 months later
December 2005
jengyee asked me to write the foreword. i’ll refrain from reading it here for now and will simply say that i was simply honored to do so.

finally, for one of my "no telling when i would have sat down ..." moments
the next month
january 2006
i started a blog - at the encouragement of jengyee … chronicling the experience of one of my interns - affectionately known as "reality: intern". in fact, it was an intern whom jesse introduced to me.

i’ll stop at this point – so you know that the matter of fact manner of which i’m describing my friendship with jengyee clearly was more than tasks, dates, times, telephone calls, e-mails, etc. my friendship, and i’m sure as with your friendship and memories of her, have been about sharing life’s moments and evolving from even the simplest of statements -
“no telling when i would have sat down … ” moments.
it is this sentiment that i often carry and share when faced with life's occasional curve balls and many competing interests.

then i remember and remind myself - take the opportunity to occasionally sit down a bit, take deep breaths ... and do so especially with the encouragement of a friend -
“no telling when i would have sat down … ”
thank you for letting me share this sentiment with you, again, and with that, i'm sure we all look forward to others' memories of jengyee. and thank you to mr. liang and mrs. liang for letting us have this opportunity.
if you have chosen to read through this whole post, thank you very much for doing so. it means very much to me.


  1. It sounds like you had a very special relationship with Jengyee. How wonderful that you were so instrumental in the writing of her book... something that will immortalize her and continue to change the world, even though she is no longer here.

  2. yvette, thanks so very much for acknowledging this. i have to tell you, jengyee was very special. and her family also is very special. (she is part of my yhd2011 #7 - special intentions).


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