hello there, i'm Nettra (pronounced according to spelling: net + tra = nettra).
i'm a global nomad and digital native currently based in Paris. i was born in California, raised in Phnom Penh and loved my three years in New York City.
i am a recovering political scientist keen on helping diverse stakeholders work together towards sustainable solutions to poverty. learning about the impact of technology, entrepreneurship and creativity on society is what gives me energy.
this tumblr helps me keep track of things which have happened to me, as well as the interesting, funny, inspiring and beautiful links i find this on this internet odyssey (read more).
for something more focused and structured (i.e., without photos of cute animals), you may like to browse my online art portfolio or visit my website. you can also find me on twitter, ask me a question or feed my fish.
Kant Help Me by Nettra Pan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Material posted here is my own, unless otherwise stated.
If you find your content here and would like me to remove or attribute it to you, please let me know and I would be happy to oblige.
Michael Sloan in his interview of Sorasak Pan in Code Word Khmer (2012)
So proud to be my father’s daughter!
After @lucjodet tipped me off about the Boston Marathon this week I went into a slew of emotions. He had run the Paris Marathon only a few weeks ago. I had gone to watch him finish. It was the first time I had attended a marathon and I was surprised by how inspiring the event was. I stood near the finish line from 1pm onwards (about 4 hours into the race for most runners) and watched hundreds of different people run by for about an hour. But I was never bored. It was easy to live vicariously through each runner’s perseverence, intense concentration, hope, joy, agony (for some)… It’s especially easy when they are right in front you and there are hundreds of them, all with distinctive features — some distinctivethan others. That afternoon I learned what it meant to be a person who watches marathons (via @morninggloria). I cheered on complete strangers and shared the anxiousness of the friends and family members wondering what on earth was taking their loved one so long (in my case: an inflamed illiotibial band on each leg).
Though I had never been interested in marathons before, they suddenly became real to me. So my jaw dropped and my eyes grew particularly wide upon discovering news of the bombings that evening in Paris. I couldn’t believe it. I remember realizing after reading my 6th or 7th article, that like a cartoon. I still had not closed my mouth out of shock.
I scrolled Facebook obsessively to read blurry updates from my friends in Boston through my tears.
I gathered links to Google’s Boston Person Finder, a list of places for runners to stay, the Red Cross’s ”safe and well” check-in page and an article on How to Get in Touch With Loved Ones During a Disaster (via @joshuamarcuse @redgirlsays). My usual reaction to anything. But I felt even that was useless. My grand plan was to tweet those links. Great.
Then the anger, powerlessness and hopelessnes set in. Not only was this a cruel, sick act, I knew too well that tragedy was everywhere. The same day, 30 were killed at an Afghan Wedding (via @AsimHaneef) and civililans continue to die at an unthinkable rate in Syria (via @rahafharfoush). It wasn’t new either. Civilians in the country where my parents were born, Cambodia, were also heavily bombed in the 60s. (Suffering comes also from natural disasters. There was a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Iran the next day.)
Sometimes it feels like there is something very wrong in this world.
I wanted to shut my computer down and crawl into bed, the way I have many times before. But the updates kept coming. So I stayed glued to the screen and eventually began searching for the positive side and what I could do to make a difference.
.Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (via Cheri Huber, Transform Your Life)
I felt like we as a people failed. How could we have let that happen? What did we do wrong? We can and must do better, I thought desperately, then realized, I had to start with myself.
So many friends and great leaders cite near-death experiences as the jolt that helped them to discover their life’s purpose. Others cite love. Though I have been lucky to never have had my life in extreme danger, I still think this was a combination of both. The tragic event inspired me to strive to be more present in each moment, to appreciate each moment. I realized I could do more to support and recognize loved ones, people in my community and the people I interact with daily. There are a lot of unnecessary things I worry about that are a waste of time. Sometimes I’m unecessarily confrontational. And I take myself too seriously.
What is the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood? —Buddha
The heroic images of people running towards to bombs in Boston made me realize the importance of being aware of my surroundings, to be mentally and physically well, to be ready to go at a moment’s notice, in case of an emergency. I feel like these would be the words of someone living in a war zone. But more and more I understand life is unpredicatable and cannot be taken for granted. Every day, there are major and minor emergencies in our wake. Every day, we have a second chance to be who we want to be. We should take it.
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ —Fred Rogers
For my own sense of self-respect, I want to be one of the “helpers,” someone running in the opposite direction, like my Dad. If I am in a situation like this, I honestly don’t know if I would I be as brave. But I can prepare. I can change the way I live to be most useful in times of need. I can strive to be present in every moment.
There is so little time, I must go more slowly. —Unknown
Thinking about how precious each moment was made me realize too how powerful love was as a motivator. In the face of tragedy, you realize how lucky you are to still have your loved ones, limbs and all. Perhaps I needed the possibility of losing someone I loved to help me filter out the noise and focus on what is important in the grander scheme of things. I felt similarly after reading a friend’s vivid account of almost losing his dad.
When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. —Unknown via @ekkans
The other day @arichardlaurent posted this infographic about the spectrum of motivations that drive women and men at work. I had half-jokingly responded “love” when she asked me, but since then, I’ve begun to realize just how true that is.
It’s not only who you love that inspires, either. It works just as well the other way. Knowing you are loved by people you love, that they believe in you, that to one or two people you might be the greatest pride and source of happiness… Jessica Jackley framed it bravely in her TED talk ’Poverty, Money and Love.’
To the world you may just be one person, but to one person, you are the world. —Unknown
There are enough events to justify giving up on the human race, if you don’t factor in love. But love exists, and because of that love, I’m inspired to get up each day and try and lead a better life.
Revenge by remaining calm, living well and doing good may be the best response to tragedy and suffering. In response to the Boston Marathon bombings in particular, I think I’ll have to run a marathon.