Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wall of Fame

  • Anonymous (6): You know who you are. The Anonymous people in my life have also been some of the most supportive people I've ever known. From childhood friends, to college friends, to Cincinnati friends and more! You've went bowling with me, planned fundraisers with me, laughed and cried with me. One of you is the love of my life. One of you is my Mom. Thank you, all of you.
  • Laura Wagner: Laura is awesome. She manages to put together a hectic life that seems impossible, and at LEAST when I've seen her, she makes it look easy :P Always so insightful and supportive. How does she do it all? Must be...magic. Thanks so much Laura!
  • Kirstie Mattheis: Kirstie has helped me in so many ways, all the way from California! She has been a great influence and somebody I can talk to. She is super talented and I wish her all the luck with her filmmaking dreams! Thank you Kirstie!
  • Clarissa Carbonell: Mom! At least at Binghamton. Clarissa was a great PAL in Philippine American League, and caring person. She is a role model, and I'm lucky to be her son. Thank you Clarissa!
  • Amy Cubbage: Once, I only knew her as the engaging student leader I shared stories with at the Food Co-op. Now-she's off to the world of nonprofits and weirdness called Eugene, Oregon and I'm thrilled to hear about every step of the way! Sometimes, there are people whose paths you cross and, despite distance, are fortunate enough to grow as friends through your similar life aims. Thank you Amy!
  • Bacha Sharma: The children of my Aty. They are some of my newer cousins, and have a very warm family. I'm looking forward to growing up with them. Thank you Bacha Sharma!
  • Meng Zhu: An awesome friend! One of the student leaders I am so fortunate to know, she was a welcoming presence in student org's that I wouldn't normally consider coming to (Women In Business? Hey! What's this meeting about?), and an inspiring person. She connected me to great opportunities on and off campus--yay Indian food! Thanks Meng!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A vaccine feat and video treat!

Today was an eventful day! Not only did I finally secure an event location (with the gracious help of Pattie Byron of Pop Revolution Gallery), but I went to the clinic for my shots! This was a moment of truth for my nerves and my wallet, but fortunately it turned out well!
                            showing off the new tattoos (angry birds bandaids)
The shots were over before I knew it, and so was the pouring rain outside. The only part that dragged was the traffic on the Interstate. But even the traffic turned into a fortunate accident. When I left to take an alternate route home and got lost, I found an art supply store. Knowing that my girlfriend is in Africa, opening a school that could use more supplies, I asked the store owner for help. She helpfully offered plenty of stickers, cards, and other goodies that might eventually make their way into eager kids' hands. It's what I think of as searching for a meaning behind a messy situation :) Only once I was leaving did I remember to ask for directions! Other than that, I also took up a spontaneous offer to volunteer at a small, annual gathering of families. I messed around with a bunch of kids under 5-the highlight may have been fulfilling a few wishes in getting them to slam dunk a tiny basketball with a little lift. I also spoke to an East African family about my work in South Africa. One of them impacted me significantly when he told me that, as an immigrant from East Africa, he would go back to his home country and not bat an eye at a kid without shoes on the street--that used to BE him. But when a child of his extended family went to the country and saw the same thing, she was moved to give the person the running shoes off of her feet; as a teenager, her dream is to return and help those kids. He said that this girl spoke at a fundraising party for those kids, and brought home to him the poor conditions that he had became used to.

Speaking of fundraising parties--I wonder what I will say to my friends and everyone who will be at my fundraising and farewell dinner. I will definitely show them a video! Today begins the video messaging I am doing directly with students. They sent me a message today and I have to respond to it, a very awesome icebreaker to have!
                        Tricia and Elaine say Hi!
I have a lot of reasons to want to be doing this work, but perhaps the decisive reason that I am so excited about Imagine Scholar are the videos, pictures and even blog posts where I can get to know the students I'll be working with. These are personal, and they are real. Without knowing what exactly I am getting into, the students' energy and potential seeps across the computer screen. That is what motivates me to make a difference in the world in this way.

Monday, August 19, 2013

From the Imagine Scholar blog: Another Student poem published!

Reading this gets me even more excited to meet these students! Check it out:
It has not been easy to keep track of all the student achievements in the past several months. Twelfth grader Zodwa had her poem “The Black Nation” selected by not one, but two, publications (read it here – Tenth grader Christina’s poem “I Am From” was printed alongside Zodwa’s. Tenth grader Ncamiso and eleventh grader Jabulane constructed an electric vehicle and won a racing challenge in the nearby city of Nelspruit. The most recent success came from ninth grader Siphila. His poem, entitled “What if we could not read…”, was published in the South African Sugar Journal.
Not only did Siphila accomplish a feat few others have at his age, but he went an extra step by offering to present his poem at the annual Rally to Read. The event was hosted by the Rally to Read Programme, a local organization that began in 1998 to promote student literacy in rural schools and motivate greater educator involvement. Since its inception it has invested millions to realize its goal. This year’s Rally to Read began early in the morning with hundreds of students piling in to collect books, shoes, sporting equipment, stationary and other items that their schools desperately need. It was here Siphila had the courage to stand up as a representative of his secondary school and share his poem. He didn’t just do his school proud, but Imagine Scholar as well.
What awesome perspective and drive! I think a great future awaits :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Got unused board games? Donate 'em :)

Hi all!

As I continue to prepare for this extensive, 1-year(!) commitment, I've heard that the students are in need of a few brain-building board games. Scrabble, scattegories, and similar games would be G-R-E-A-T!  :)

Thanks again... To contact me, send an email at'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Donors: Please be a part of our amazing family. Here's what you will receive:

--All donors will receive a heartfelt “thank you!” message, and can see my pictures and progress updates on my blog throughout the '13-'14 year!
--donors of $10 or more will also get a spot on my blog's “Wall of Fame"
--In the past, donors of over a certain amount have also received a poem, or something else personally written by an Imagine Scholar!
--Finally—for donors who would like to REALLY know an Imagine Scholar student inside and out—donors of $1,200 are invited to become student sponsors. They can communicate online with an amazing student, like Promise or Zodwa, and see their work and successes each month. Email me at if interested! Extra bonus: Your name will be LASER-ENGRAVED in my mind. For-ever...for-ever...ever...(note: name-removal is extra)

Thank you so much for your help! This journey would not be possible without YOU :D

Monday, August 12, 2013

The journey begins...

Hi everyone! :) My name is Mark Lim, and I have recently wrapped up a year as a College Access Advisor with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative in, you guessed it, Cincinnati. I love the city! But, this September, I have chosen to go on a new path by accepting a Student Development Manager position with Imagine Scholar in the Nkomazi, South Africa, with a focus on English Writing and Reading. I am hoping to help all 30+ students of the Imagine Academy develop their passions, while honing my own, and learning a lot from each other about school, the world, and ourselves. I am lucky enough to be working with some of the region's most unbelievably dedicated and inspiring high schoolers, striving for excellence through tons of hard work and mutual support. Plus, we're starting next month off right, with a whole unit just on spoken word poetry. I get to watch these students open their minds with eloquent rhymes, all of the times. I'm pretty excited!

Currently, I'm back home in New York, but preparing to head to Cincinnati for 3 last weeks. Over the last year, it has become the city that I embrace like a home...I am beyond lucky(!) and very grateful to have found the best people to call housemates, friends, and more. :) Those who know me may be aware that my girlfriend and inspiration, Lauren, made it to Africa last month doing HER dream job starting a brand new school for girls, a role that was a LIFETIME in the making. Looking back, it has been worth the months of uncertainty and agony to get to this remarkable point!

If you're here, you may be interested in helping this cause for the next generation of our world's dreamers and leaders. There are many ways to help out. The most obvious is a donation, here: We are also looking for old iPods and laptops to give the students--if you have any laying around, let me know at, I'd be happy to accept them! Or, you can see what is on the reading wishlist for these voracious readers here (950 pages per month is required to stay in the program!):

Thanks for poking around here, and for each and every contribution. I look forward to blogging again soon!