A mere pier…?

By providing cleft lip and palate anomaly surgical care and follow-up treatment, Alliance for Smiles or AfS (the organization that I intern at) helps to reduce the number and stigma of such anomalies so that children can enjoy normal lives.

With respect to innovation, AfS is trying to make its five treatment centers in China more self-sufficient so that the Chinese doctors can do surgeries independently. This shift will make missions less expensive and more effective. In 2011, a second warehouse in Georgia was opened to decrease travel costs when shipping medical supplies from San Francisco to Atlanta. Additionally, launching a relatively new premedical internship program has a two-fold effect. One, the program will expose students interested in the medical path to learn and observe from medical professionals in AfS missions to underserved countries. Second, this will be a source of revenue for the organization. Another interesting fundraising idea is Dining for Smiles in which volunteers can host a meal or party at any location and donate the proceeds to AfS.

Human rights is an important issue that AfS fights for. In China, for example, parents with cleft children have been told not to go back to their village because the cleft anomaly has not been repaired. In some societies, the mother of a cleft child is shamed because the birth of such a child is thought to be a curse. This is why educating about AfS’s free life-transforming surgeries is so crucial because everyone deserves a beautiful smile. Additionally, cleft children may be bullied by other children because of their looks. Sometimes, if money is an issue in the family, these children may be pulled from school. With successful operations, cleft children can grow into confident adults as they embrace their new opportunities in life.

As for more sightseeing, this past weekend I traveled to Pier 39 to have some maritime fun! So Pier 39 is home to 13 restaurants, almost 100 shops, a waterfront park, a marina, rides, musical stairs, an infinite mirror maze, and so much more. Speaking of food, you will not go on an empty stomach here. You can sample barrels of salt water taffy, cookie dough, and waffle cones. You can even participate in a whale tour to explore the rich marine life of the San Francisco Bay.

Did you know that this pier was once named the best place to people watch in SF? I mean, I could totally see myself camping out here to contemplate the meaning of life while quietly observe hordes of people sandwiching each other…

XiongY01People, people, everywhere…am I here to see fellow humans? Yes…

I first explored the Aquarium of the Bay, which contains magical sea creatures such as moon jellies and bat rays as well as river otters.


Of course, you can’t forget about the sea lions. They play and bark like crazy. Man, I regret saying I should adopt one even for fun…Fun fact: a majority of the sea lions at Pier 39 are male…

XiongY03This above picture is a peaceful view of a row of sun-washed boats taking a nice afternoon nap…Zzzz…

XiongY02Above picture was taken when I overlooked the beautiful marina with three giant ferries in the background.


Ready, set, salute! Just kidding, these guys are preparing for a serious collaboration with each other and the water… (Look at me, three boat pictures in a row…I’m really getting these sea legs…)