Outbursts #030: I’m a Father!

No. Not really.

Well. Yes. I am a father, but not by any “I fell in love, got married, and had kids” standard. Much like a big/little sib program, I’m involved in a University of Virginia program called the Peer Advising Family Network (PAFN). Most of the friends I have made at University are involved with this program, and it was PAFN that really allowed me to insert myself into the UVa community, grow in confidence, and learn to really enjoy helping others.

Interjection Note: btw, if you’re trying to watch the video and skip the blog post, skim to the bottom of the entry to find pretty obvious clue as to what the private video’s password is…

Olive was the certain individual that suggested I join PAFN. After somehow convincing me to attend a casual “Welcome Back” event involving ping pong, billiards, and hot coffee (or marshmellows? I can’t remember…) I dilly dallied for several hours, meeting my future mother and mother (no typo there) as well as siblings. My assimilation into the family was akin to an adoption process, though I don’t think I can say it was a very standard adoption process.

One of the mothers, heywire, possessed a strange ability to express a variant personalities. Seemingly loving and kind, heywire always treated my ambivalence towards joining her family with equal passivity. It was actually a strange experience, really, as I was used to seeing others be turned off or disapproving of my normally uninterested demeanor. Don’t get me wrong, heywire is probably one of the nicest gals you’ll ever meet, and she definitely wanted me to join PAFN, but her hands off approach of convincing me to join PAFN was ultimately strange and effective for someone like me.

Not forcing me to actually attend events, heywire never made me feel obligated to become more involved with her family and organization. I’d say it was the fact that most things I’ve ever done prior to university was suggested by those I know. My cello, my piano, my art, and my academic interests, have more or less been things I didn’t start myself but have ended up enjoying quite a lot. Perhaps it’s partially indicative of youths not knowing what’s good for them, but I’d say that I generally never outwardly expressed what kinds of things I wanted to be involved in during my childhood. I’m actually not upset about this, since I truly love the things I do now, but UVa was the first place where I had no pressure to be involved in anything.

Thus, my enjoyment for PAFN grew several-fold with each passing month. PAFN truly became a central hub and mode for my social life first and second year. It helped expose me to people I would later forever enjoy the company of and………

I ended up becoming an advisor after being a kid, and then an e-board member the year after. Each year marked an increased commitment from myself for an organization that I strongly believe influences the lives of incoming UVa students. PAFN distinguishes itself from many other organizations in where students don’t join to climb the positional ladder or pad their resume. Rather, the members of PAFN strongly focus their efforts in helping each other and building a network of trust and friendship. Granted, there are some people who are in it for the status or name (as no group is free from these people), but PAFN is almost as pure as you can get (some may like to differ, but I’ll stand by what I say).

With fourth year around the corner, I decided to step down from my Technology Chair position, thinking it would not only be beneficial for me to not overload myself with responsibilities, but that it would be a great opportunity for another generation to handle the executive reigns and learn from the experience. With was a bittersweet decision, and one that was not easy to make. I also tried to express my deep gratitude and attachment to the organization in a statement to the organization as the new 2012 Board stepped into their roles:

2011 PAFN Final Sentiments

Christopher Hsing, 2011 Technology Chair:

As a moderately self-contained and quiet boy, it has always been a challenge to throw myself into any social circumstances. And although I still have certain tendencies to act socially reserved, I’ve grown to be considerably more confident and happy after having been involved with PAFN during the last three years.

After haphazardly joining PAFN my first year, becoming an advisor my second year, and serving as Technology Chair most recently, I definitely am amazed to see just how much I’ve changed. I’m now willing to approach people and speak in front of large groups (something that, honestly, terrified me before I came to U.Va). I’ve also been given tools and experience to help other students in their academic and social lives. Additionally, PAFN offered me the opportunity to connect closely with several of my “children” and “grandchildren” — several of whom I consider close friends. 

What really sets PAFN apart from other organizations, for me, are the people involved. I realize it’s an overused statement, but I’m sure that many of you also find that our college experiences thus far have been defined by the people we’ve met and gotten to know, and the ways in which they’ve helped our lives. PAFN is all about offering that kind of network of people from the get-go and that is what’s truly wonderful.

It’s been a unique experience as an E-Board member, dealing with a different set of problems and getting a glimpse of PAFN from a much broader perspective than I had previously. I enjoyed managing and organizing events such as Field Day and Thanksgiving Dinner, while developing smaller things such as newsletters and Schedule of Courses. Working together with my fellow board members has been the ultimate delight, and being an integral working part in the PAFN machinery never felt better. Although I will not be serving on the official executive board once the new year rolls around, I hope to continue being involved with PAFN as an advisor, since much of what epitomizes PAFN is each advisor’s direct link to their advisees.

And with that, CONGRATULATIONS to the 2012-13 PAFN executive board, new and old members. It is thrilling to know there will undoubtedly be a considerable amount of contagious passion and vitality originating from within the new board. I am sure I am only one of the many students who are excited to see what each one of you has in store for PAFN and how PAFN continues to grow during the many months and years.

I didn’t leave PAFN altogether, though. How could I? I love PAFN too much, and I really wished to have another chance at getting my hands on the youthful potential of first years as I had done my sophomore year. The power to change, inspire, and corrupt young souls is most exhilirating (I jest).

Now, I’m a father of three children; two girls and one boy.

Before the new academic year begins, the PAFN advisors/parents are given children based on the who the incoming first year applicants indicate on their questionnaire. The parents are then tasked to contact their children, introduce themselves, and get them hyped for the upcoming year. With only three kids this year (as compared to last year’s standard 10 children, phew~) my wife, jennanotjenny, thought it’d be cool to make something slightly more personal than writing a novel-length email. This idea, thus, gave birth to the posted vlog. Hopefully we didn’t embarrass ourselves too much, but it was fun.

What I hope to do this coming year is to positively influence the lives and experiences of my three kids, much like how heywire, olive, linzian, and the rest of my first surrogate PAFN family all helped make my university time a period of great happiness and growth. Thanks to all of you.

The password is pretty straightforward: four capital letter acronym for your most favorite UVa organization ever. The video is password protected as some individuals in the video have not quite warmed up to the idea of  widely distributing the video, esp. the embarrassing end section (though, arguably the most fun).


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