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Sun was part of his high school’s Asian “Appreciation” Club and wanted to screen a copy of the hit Asian American film Better Luck Tomorrow. This film featured Asian American actors in non-stereotypical roles, which quickly caught Sun’s attention. When club members came to him with a list of 200 names interested in the screening, Sun decided if they were going to do this, they were going to do it big.
Before the age of social media had really hit, Sun went around posting actual fliers and advertising the screening on his Xanga page. Not only did he end up with 800 attendees, he also garnered enough attention that the director, Justin Lin, who now directs the Fast & the Furious movies, brought the cast and crew out for the screening. After meeting, Sun Lin said to him, “Welcome to the Movement.”
“The only reason I was successful was because I didn’t give a s*** if I failed,” Sun said. “You have to strive to fail.”
Calvin Sun spoke this past Monday night in the library lecture hall at a lecture event called “Life Hacks: How to Get Ahead in Life,” which was co-sponsored by the Asian Student Association and the RHA. This lecture was intended to help students create better spending habits and give advice for getting ahead in life. Sun is currently one of the youngest public speakers on the Asian American speaking circuit; he is also an award-winning filmmaker, a graduate of Columbia University, and a full-time ER doctor. This event marked Sun’s third time speaking at Emmanuel in two years.
Sun was the second son of what he referred to as “two Tiger parents.” Growing up in New York City, he was a shy kid with a stutter who attended SAT prep school in the second grade, and had piano lessons 7 days a week.
“I was the last person you would expect to travel the world, bartend, and be on MTV,” said Sun. “I was also not proud of my Asian American identity and wanted to rebel,” said Sun.
Throughout the lecture Sun weaved in stories from his life experiences with advice for young people trying to get ahead. Sun talked about the value of networking and learning to think for yourself. He encouraged listeners to “take up as much as possible and stop postponing your life.”
One of his major discussion points was traveling. Sun founded The Monsoon Diaries, a popular international travel blog that has been featured on BusinessInsider.com and the Rachel Maddow show. Through the Monsoon Diaries Sun gives advice on budget traveling and also leads group travel expeditions. According to the Monsoon Diaries website, it is “Group travel for people who hate group travel.”
In his parting words, Sun said “Remember to turn fear into something you can use. Welcome to the Movement.”
Connect with Calvin Sun through his various social media accounts below.
Kyla Burke is a staff writer and editor of The Week’s End. Follow her on Twitter at @kkb_ .