A Letter To America

Dear America,

What the fuck?

Where do we go from here? How do we move forward from a Trump election? How did this even happen?
Like I said yesterday, if you didn’t vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome of the election. The election was so close, and you could have done your part to stop Trump.
How did we even let this guy get so far? When he first announced he was running for president, you brushed it off. You said he will never get too far. Big mistake. When he got the nomination we all asked how that happened, but we still sat back and did nothing. We were so sure Hilliary Clinton would win. Again, we were wrong. Now Donald Trump is our president-elect.
Who is Donald trump? Donald trump is a corrupt business man. He doesn’t think women should have rights to their own bodies, he thinks all Muslims are corrupt, he’s against LGBT rights, he thinks Mexicans are all rapists and druggies.
Take a look at Donald Trump’s personal life. He was a democrat his whole life (up until this election). He not only thought Hilliary Clinton was good at her job, but Clinton and Trump were friends. Now, he has had three wives, and he has cheated on at least two of them (if not all three). He feels like he can do and say whatever he wants without consequences. He feels he has the right to grab women you know where because he’s rich. He hasn’t paid income tax in 20 years, and he says that makes him smart. He has an upcoming trial for a fake university he ran, and another trial for a child he raped.
Let’s take a step back. The electoral college was made to stop unqualified candidates from becoming president. We all thought that even though Trump could win the popular vote, the electoral vote would go to the obvious choice. However, it was the opposite. The popular vote was in favor of Clinton while the electoral vote was in favor of Trump.
Donald Trump so often said the election is rigged. However, I don’t think you will hear him say that anymore. But, perhaps the election is rigged. Wouldn’t that be a simple explanation as to how Trump won?
That aside, many have been talking about a serious issue. How do we explain Trump’s victory to kids? Political commentator, Van Jones said it best when he said, “You tell your kids, don’t be a bully. You tell your kids, don’t be a bigot. You tell your kids, do your homework and be prepared. And then you have this outcome and you have people putting children to bed tonight and they’re afraid of breakfast.They’re afraid of, ‘How do I explain this to my children?'”
It is so hard to tell people to not emulate Trump. He did and said whatever he wanted, and he had zero consequences. He had no political experience and yet he managed to make it to the highest office in our country. One thing we can take from this is that we need to take everyone seriously. Don’t discount anyone ever, because we did that with Trump and look at where we are now.
All in all, whether you wanted Trump to win or not, we all need to come together to make the best of the next four years. We need to work together to make the best of our situation. If we work together, we can work through these next four years and make sure something like this never happens again.

Sincerely,

A shocked, disappointed, and scared American Citizen
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My Wood Badge Experience

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I would like to start off by thanking Scoutmaster Robin, Senior Patrol Leader James, Troop Guide Dean, the members of my patrol, and all the other staff and participants for making Wood Badge a memorable experience for me.
For those of you who don’t know what Wood Badge is, it is an adult leadership training course by the Boy Scouts of America. It consisted of two three-day weekends. One in September and another in October. The first weekend was modeled after troop meetings, while the second week was modeled after camping trips.
On the first day, each patrol went through the simulation of being a Cub Scout pack. By lunch, we reached our Blue and Gold ceremony (The bridging ceremony between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts), and we went from being a Cub Scout pack to being a Boy Scout troop. At the campfire on the second night, One of the youth on staff gave a wonderful performance where he was dressed as Sir Robert Baden-Powell (the founder of scouting as it’s known in the US) and gave a wonderful performance on the life of Sir Robert Baden-Powell. We partook in many group activities and had many lessons lead by our troop guide. My favorite of the lessons was on the EDGE method. At the end of the first weekend, we saw a particularly interesting movie called October Sky.
During the second weekend, we had to cook all our meals in our campsite, unlike the first weekend where all our meals were provided to us. This was because the second weekend was modeled after camping trips where troops would normally cook in their campsite. Also during the second week, we had more lessons, group presentations, and a conservation project.
As part of the second week, each patrol was required to put on a group presentation. Each presentation had a firm time limit of fifteen to twenty minutes, and any group that went overtime was cut off. My groups presentation was on Scoutreach (Scoutreach is scoutings attempt to reach urban areas. More information to come in a later post). Most of the people in attendance that weekend, plus several members of my patrol (myself included), had never heard of Scoutreach before. Our presentation began with a brief history of the Scoutreach program. After that, one of our patrol members talked about his first-hand experience with Scoutreach in his town. Because Scoutreach is still widely unknown, I talked about several ways to effectively market Scoutreach.
While at Wood Badge, we had to come up with several items for our ticket. A ticket consists of one central goal and five projects related to your central goal that give back to scouting. While I had some difficulty coming up with a suitable goal and suitable projects, everyone was nice enough to give me more than enough help with my ticket goal and projects.
Overall, I am extremely grateful for the chance to attend a Wood Badge course. While I was much younger than the other attendees, I never once felt out of place. I learned many skills that are not only useful as an adult leader in scouting, but also useful throughout life. This is an experience I will remember forever as I use all the skills we were taught. My advice to anyone considering attending a Wood Badge training course is to go for it. Wood Badge is extremely useful as an adult leader in scouting.

Draper University

Once upon a time, my sister decided to take an entrepreneurship class at her university. One day, a prominent venture capitalist from the Silicon Valley area named Tim Draper decided to give a talk at my sister’s university. He spoke about many things, but what stood out was draper university.
Draper University is an entrepreneurship school located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Each class is made up of students ranging in age from 18-28 who come from all over the world. This year’s class was no exception to the rule.
The application process for Draper University is simple, but getting admissions to Draper University is by no means easy. First, an applicant must write a short essay about a business idea they have. The applicant must also write a second short essay if they wish to apply for one of the scholarships offered by Draper University. The second short essay details why the applicant believes they deserve the scholarship for which they applied. The Draper University admissions team will read your admissions essay. The admissions team will then set up a short skype interview with you if they like your business idea. You are granted admission to Draper University only if the admissions team likes your essay and your follow up interview goes well. But you are not done yet.
When I was accepted into Draper University it was a surreal moment for me. I had applied on a whim. However, I had still put my full effort into my application because I knew it would be a huge opportunity for me if I was accepted.
Once accepted, all the students were required to read two books. First, we had to read The Startup Game by William Draper. This is a good read for anyone looking to dive into Silicon Valley because it gives the reader insight into the way Silicon Valley works. The second book we were required to read was called Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku. This book delves into the future of technology and how it will affect the world economy over the next one hundred years.
Once you arrive at Draper University, you are greeted by Entrepreneurs In Residence (EIRs). The EIRs are the part of the Draper University staff which the students will deal with the most. The EIRs live on the campus, and they are made up of students from previous Draper University classes.
While at Draper Univerity, each student is assigned a mentor. These mentors have a diverse set of skills. Based on the kind of person you are as well as your business idea, each student is paired with a mentor. Each mentor has several students under them, and they not only find time for all of their mentees but other students as well. In that respect, the mentors are great because they are more than happy to make time for students who were not assigned them as a mentor.
Draper University boasts itself for being the most Diverse Entrepreneurship program in all of Silicon Valley. In my class alone, students came from the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Italy, Chile, Slovenia, France, Scotland, Japan, Estonia, Brazil, Germany, Kenya, Sudan, and even more places. Draper University was a melting pot of cultures and ideas from all around the world, and I was privileged to be working alongside such individuals.
The days at Draper University were quite busy. Weekends included. We had many speakers each day with breaks for lunch and dinner, as well as activities on weekends and optional skills workshops some nights. Our speakers consisted of entrepreneurs from the silicon valley area and the topics on which they spoke varied. We had speakers talk about the future, networking, speakers generally talking about their experiences as an entrepreneur, and everything in between.
While the days at Draper University were busy, we still had time to leave campus. Just a five to ten minute walk away from the campus was the Caltrain station. The direct train would take us to San Francisco in under an hour. The staff was considerate enough to plan scheduled events around big events such as Pride and evening fireworks on the fourth of July, so that students could attend if they wished. There were even a few off-campus activities planned where the staff had chartered a bus to take all the students to the destination.
On weekends, the schedule was less rigorous, but we still had planned activities. Instead of having speakers on weekends, we had activities such as a hackathon, a cold calling event, and few other activities. Becuase weekends were more relaxed, students had more time to mingle, relax, and work on their businesses or business ideas.
One of the last days was the Draper University Pitch Day. This was what the whole program had been leading up to. The students all pitched their businesses to a panel of investors. Each student, either individually or in a group, had a few short minutes to go up on stage in front of investors and their fellow students to pitch their businesses. Students who already had their businesses running prior to Draper University could possibly receive funding, while students with less developed ideas, which they had come up with during their time at Draper Univerity, would more likely receive some business connections with investors who could potentially invest in their business in the future.
There are numerous reasons why Draper University was so beneficial to me. Firstly, it gave me an opening into Silicon Valley. Prior to attending Draper University, I would not have known where to start if I wanted to get into Silicon Valley. Along with my first point, the program gave me so many new contacts. Thanks to Draper University, I have contacts around to people around silicon valley including, but not limited to, investors, entrepreneurs who came to speak to us at Draper University, and everyone who made Draper University possible. Also, Draper University has made me many new friends, and at the same time given me a global network thanks to their globally diverse student body. It is also thanks to Draper University that I met my co-founder, started my own startup, and have the connections to keep it moving forward.
Draper University is perfect for anyone looking to become an entrepreneur. It is also beneficial to entrepreneurs with early stage startups who are looking to network in Silicon Valley or just bounce off ideas with like-minded individuals. Draper University is a place where people can go to get an opening into Silicon Valley, make new friends from all over the world, work with like-minded individuals, and still have a good time.

Why Scouting is Important

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Just last year, I became an Eagle Scout. For those of you who don’t know, Eagle is the highest rank a boy scout can achieve. This is a huge achievement for any boy, and not an easy goal to achieve. To put things in perspective, only four percent of all registered Boy Scouts ever become an Eagle Scout.
I know I have just become an Eagle Scout, but I already see the positive impact it has on my life. I have learned an invaluable set of skills that I would not have had the opportunity to learn anywhere else. I have learned skills that I can use to not only help myself but help others as well.
The Scout Law states that “a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Most scouts try their best to follow the Scout Law throughout their lives. For Eagle Scouts, there is an expectation that the individual will uphold the Scout Law in their daily lives.
To become an Eagle Scout, there are many requirements a scout has to fulfill. These range from camping to community service to twenty-one merit badges that the scout has to earn. Most of the required merit badges are very specific, but a few are left up to the choice of the scout from a selection of over one hundred merit badges.
Through the required nights of camping, a scout develops an appreciation for nature. All scouts are taught Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics that scouts follow. Scouts learn to respect nature. They are essentially taught to leave no trace. What that means is that one should follow marked paths and not stray from them. Also, one should leave nature the way they find it. This means that one should always clean up after himself, but also that they should not take anything from nature.
In order to become an Eagle Scout, one must complete an Eagle Project. An Eagle Project is a service project that is planned and lead entirely by the scout. However, the scout is required to log a number of hours of community service before they reach the point of their Eagle Project. For the hours that the scout must complete preceding their Eagle Project, it is not uncommon to volunteer with older scouts Eagle Projects.
A scout must earn 21 merit badges before becoming an Eagle Scout. These merit badges teach young boys skills that will be useful throughout their lives. One example is first aid. Although one may never know when first aid will be needed, these skills can come in handy when one least expects it. For example, there have been countless stories of a boy scout who encountered a situation in their regular activities where they were able to use the first aid skills they learned to save a stranger’s life. Another great merit badge that scouts are required to earn is cooking. While cooking may not be as useful of a skill as first aid, it teaches young boys a skill that they will use almost daily throughout their lives. Many other useful merit badges that scouts are required to earn include, but are not limited to, swimming, camping, personal management, and family life. Some of the merit badges teach skills that will be useful later in life such as personal management and family life, whereas other merit badges teach skills that will be very useful, but scouts never know when they might require these skills.
The Boy Scout slogan is “Do a good turn daily”. This is something that Eagle Scouts try their best to uphold every day of their life. A good turn does not have to be something huge like donating large sums of money or volunteering many hours for a charity. A good turn could be something as simple as holding the door for someone, picking up something that someone dropped, or even the cliched helping an old lady (or really anyone in need) cross the street. Every day when I am ready to go to sleep I ask myself one simple question. What was my good turn for the day? We are not always making a conscious effort to do a good turn, but we end up doing one anyways because that is one of the essential values that all Eagle Scouts grew up on.
There is a saying that goes, “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.” This means that once someone becomes an Eagle Scout, they will forever be an Eagle Scout. You never say someone WAS an Eagle Scout because they will ALWAYS be an Eagle Scout. No matter how old they are. The reason you say that someone was the soccer champion is because they may not be as good at soccer as they used to be. However, the skills and life lessons that one learns on their Journey to becoming an Eagle Scout last with them for a lifetime. That is why when someone becomes an Eagle Scout, they become a member of a brotherhood for life. Through this brotherhood, all Eagle Scouts, no matter how old or how young, are brought together through an eternal bond that is formed between fellow Eagle Scouts from any and all generations. This is why Scouting is so important, and why being an Eagle Scout is and will always be an essential part of who I am.

 

The Greatest Person I Ever Knew

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Almost two years ago, the world lost a beautiful soul way too soon. On August 1oth 2014, at the young age of 28, Crystal lost her battle to cancer. Not a day goes by where I am not positively affected by the impact Crystal had on my life.
During my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I had the privilege of not only working for one of the greatest nonprofits I have come across to date but also one of the best bosses. What made Crystal such a great boss was the way she positively impacted the lives of countless individuals. Myself included. She was a friend first and a boss second. It was because of this that everyone around Crystal felt that she was more of a friend than she was a coworker or boss.
I had the opportunity to work under Crystal for about a year. It was a volunteer job done completely online, so my interaction with Crystal was through email and the google hangouts the team would have every once in a while. Just through her emails alone, Crystal was able to spread so much positivity. It was even more evident during the google hangouts. Crystal was the warmest most positive person you would ever meet.
During the summer of 2013, I had the opportunity to be an office intern for the same nonprofit organization where I had been working under Crystal. This internship will forever be one of my favorite memories, and I owe that all to Crystal. After so many emails back and forth and so many google hangouts, I was finally meeting Crystal in person. Not only did I get to meet Crystal, I was working in the same office as her. Meaning my days were always full of positivity and love thanks to Crystal.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of Crystal’s passing. I was sitting at the desk in my bedroom on my laptop. When I opened facebook, I saw a message from a friend I had met while working under Crystal. As I learned the news I began to cry. But I knew that Crystal’s passing did not mean the end of her legacy.
In that day and that moment I had made a promise to myself to continue Crystal’s legacy. I would try my best to spread warmth and positivity to everyone around me. Just like Crystal had done for me and so many others.
Crystal’s passing was particularly tough for me. Not just because she was such a positive person, and not only because she was more a friend than a boss to everyone. But because I, like many others around Crystal, did not even know she had Cancer. That’s how amazing of a person Crystal was. Through all her battles, she managed to put others before herself.
Thanks to Crystal, I now make it my mission to be my best self, so I can have a positive impact on everyone around me. I know I will never be able to live up to the standard that Crystal had in her everyday life, but I try my best.
Thank you so much Crystal for the amazing impact you have had on my life. Thank you so much for being such an incredible human being. I will continue to carry on the values I have learned from you as best as I can. Your memory lives on through all the lives that you touched. We will never forget you.

A Letter to Samsung

Dear Samsung,

Nine months after I bought one of your phones, it stopped working (out of no fault of my own).

In early June 2015, I bought a brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 from Amazon.com. I was super excited. My previous phone had also been a Samsung phone, and it never gave me any problems. I had that phone for a few years, and it was getting outdated. So I decided to get a new phone. My dad had, and still has the same, Samsung Galaxy S4. He absolutely loves his phone, so I decided to get the Samsung Galaxy S5.
I loved my new Samsung Galaxy S5. And I loved it for the nine months for which it worked. However, when my phone stopped working, out of no fault of my own, I was less than satisfied with the customer support I received from Samsung.
The first thing I did when my phone stopped working was take it my local Best Buy store. Their Samsung “expert” tried turning my phone on by hitting a series of keys simultaneously, connecting my phone to his charger, and switching my battery with a new battery. No luck. Before letting me go, he provided me with the number and address of a Samsung repair center. I then proceeded to my local AT&T store, but they could not help me since I did not purchase the phone through AT&T.
The next thing I did was contact Samsung customer support directly. The lady on the phone was very nice. After explaining my situation to her, she gave me an email where she told me to forward my proof of purchase to. I thanked her, hung up the phone, and forwarded the email containing my proof of purchase. However, the email immediately bounced back.
The next morning, I called up the Samsung repair center. I explained my problem to the lady on the phone, and she told me to bring in my phone. After a one hour, one way, drive to the repair center, I showed my phone to the representative and was told they could not help me since my phone was an international phone.
I returned to my car, but before leaving decided to call Samsung customer service one more time. This time was different than the last time. I was again told to forward my proof of purchase to a different email than the last time, and it thankfully went through this time. It was Friday, and the representative on the phone told me I would get sent a shipping label by Tuesday or Wednesday latest.
By Thursday, I still had not gotten a reply to my email. At this point, it had already been eight days since my phone stopped working. I called Samsung customer support for the third time about this problem. The representative on the phone told me they could not help me because I had purchased my phone from an unauthorized retailer. At this point, I was furious on the inside. How was I supposed to know that Amazon.com, a huge online retailer, was selling me a product they were unauthorized to sell? The most shocking part was that I was told I would be getting a refund, but then my refund request was quietly denied without notifying me.
At this point, I did the last thing I could do. I contacted Amazon.com for a refund. They sent me a shipping label without questions. I mailed out my phone the next morning and got an email within a few days saying I would be getting a refund. However, I noticed that the refund was for a lesser amount than I had paid for the phone. After a careful check of the Amazon.com return policies, I noticed that they only give an eighty percent refund after thirty days have passed. I was upset but glad that I was getting something rather than nothing.
I was most upset by the way Samsung handled my case. I was kept going back and forth for over a week, only to be told that they could not repair, replace, or refund my phone.
A phone that came with a two-year warranty seemingly ended up with no warranty. Samsung is a global company, and therefore, should be able to assist me in getting my phone repaired, replaced, or refunded. When I purchased my phone, I had no way of knowing that I was purchasing from an unauthorized seller, and that international models were not supported in the USA. Furthermore, since Samsung is a global company, they should have been able to locate and deal with the international party that could have solved my issue.

After this experience, I am quite weary of Samsung.

An Upset Customer,

Vihan Khanna

My Phone Is Broken

I bought a Samsung Galaxy S5 in June 2015 from Blutekusa on Amazon.com. On the morning of Wednesday, March second, the phone stopped working. I am really frustrated because I spent a few days dealing with many people on what I could do about my phone. However, nobody seems to know what to do.
First, I went to the Samsung website and opened the chat so I could speak with a representative. He had me go through many scenarios of possible reasons my phone was no longer working. He asked me if it was charged, if I used the charger that came with the phone, if I tried using a different charger, and if there was any possible water damage. I had already tried all his charger suggestions, and my phone had not come in contact with water. Afterward, he proceeded to us the numbers under the battery in my phone to let me know he could not locate my phone in the system, and there was nothing more he could do to help me with this particular issue. Finally, he was nice enough to forward me to a Samsung number which I could call to get help with my problem.
I proceeded to call that number immediately. The lady on the phone walked me through the same scenarios on the phone as the representative had previously done on the chat. She also looked up my phone in the system and could not find anything.
Next, I went to my local Best Buy. I explained my problem to their Samsung specialist, and he tried to help me as best as he could. First, he tried plugging my phone into his own charger. Nothing happened. Then, he tried starting up my phone a special way. Again, nothing happened. Finally, he tried switching out my battery for a brand new battery and then switching my phone on in the special way. Still nothing happened. He proceeded to tell me there was nothing he could do. Before leaving, he provided me with the address to a Samsung repair center.
After yet another failed attempt to have my phone fixed, or even figure out what’s wrong with it, I took my phone to the local AT&T store. This trip was completely useless, because after explaining my problem, the lady immediately told me there was nothing they could do to help me.
After going home, I decided to go to the Blutekusa website so I could directly contact the people I bought my phone from. Unfortunately, the website had a message that said it was temporarily closed. Luckily, I was able to find their seller page on Amazon, where I found an email address and phone number for them.
I proceeded to email Blutekusa hoping to get my phone fixed or repaired. However, I did not get a response until the next morning of Thursday, March third because it was already after hours. By the time I got the email response, I had already called them. Much to my disappointment, the man on the phone told me that there was nothing they could do because the one month warranty period was already up,
Immediately after hanging up the phone with the Blutekusa representative, I called the Samsung Repair center. I explained my situation to the representative on the phone, and I was told to bring in my phone. After driving one hour to the repair center on the next morning of Friday, March fourth, I was told that they could not help me because my phone was an international phone. Before I drove home, I decided to call the Samsung help number that I had called the previous day. This time, the representative on the phone was much more helpful. He told me that they could fix my phone (unlike what I was told the day before). He gave me an email address to forward my proof of purchase to, and that I should get a response to my email on Tuesday or Wednesday. I wrote down all the information, and I sent the email as soon as I got home.
The next day of Saturday, March fifth, I found my mom’s old iPhone 5s, and she happily agreed to let me use it. When I tried to insert my sim card into the sim tray on her old phone, I noticed that I had a micro sim while her phone took a nano sim. We set out to go to the AT&T store to get me a new sim card. The first AT&T location we went to, near our house, had shut down since the last time I had been there. The next location we tried was the location in our local mall. The manager at that location said he could not help us (Something I had gotten used to hearing about this particular situation). Finally, the third and last AT&T store we stopped by had what we were looking for. Just a ten-minute drive from our house, the man working at this location was able to issue me a new sim card for my replacement phone.
It is currently the night of Sunday, March sixth. I will keep updating this post as the process continues. For now, I am awaiting a reply on my email to Samsung.

Thanks for Reading,

Vihan Khanna

UPDATES:

It is Thursday, March tenth. The Samsung representative had told me that I would receive a reply to my email on Tuesday or Wednesday. However, I did not receive any email, so I proceeded to call yet again today. the representative I spoke to on the phone told me they could not help me because Amazon was an unauthorized Samsung retailer. My heart sank. I thought I was going to be stuck with this broken phone that was supposed to still be under warranty. The representative on the phone was very polite, and she told me I should try contacting Amazon.
After hanging up with the Samsung representative, I called the Amazon customer service number. The lady on the phone was very helpful. I gave her my order number, told her the phone was not working, and she told me that she could email me a shipping label so I could return the phone to Amazon and get a refund. Currently, I am waiting on that email.
On Friday March eleventh, I received an email with my pre-paid shipping label. I mailed out my phone, and I received an email after a few days stating that my refund would be processed in three to four days. All was well. Or so I thought. I noticed the refund amount was less than I had spent to purchase the phone. I looked up Amazon’s policies and found out that they only give eighty percent back after thirty days have passed. I was upset at first, but I was overall more happy to receive some sort of refund after all the trouble I had been through.