Category Archives: Uncategorized

“State of Grace” release

This post comes courtesy of my friend Nat (a.k.a., Natural), who is probably one of the most amazingly talented individuals I have the privilege of calling my friend. Besides being an educator, he is a musical artist, and “State of Grace” is his latest, greatest project. I’ll leave the rest of the post in his words. Please spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, smoke signals…however you choose to interact with the world. Thanks for taking the time to read this!


Boston and Beyond,

It has been almost six months since the Boston Marathon tragedy. In the time since Patriot’s Day, I have spent a huge amount of time reflecting on and thinking about the state of our wonderful city.

From personal connections to the tragedy itself, to the ongoing search for answers during the aftermath, the journey since April has been an arduous one for many. Though tragedy, loss and sorrow have certainly had their place, hallmarks of community have constantly been on display: Remarkable acts of kindness, generosity, empathy and peace.

It is from witnessing these amazing acts from my community in which I drew inspiration for the song “State Of Grace”.

The same elements of community that inspired “State Of Grace” are best exemplified in the memory of Martin Richard. Boston’s proud son was a wonderful little boy who was taken from us far too soon. The unforgettable image of Martin holding a sign urging “peace” serves as an unbelievably strong message and source of inspiration.

“State Of Grace” aims to honor Martin Richard’s memory and to carry forth his philosophy for peace. ALL PROCEEDS will be donated to the Richard Family Fund. ( Additionally, there will be a benefit concert in the coming months.

We are asking for your help generating awareness and spreading the word in any way you can. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Your past, present and future support is held in the highest of regards. I felt this was the best way I could give back to a community that has inspired me so much. Love, blessings and peace from Boston, Massachusetts.





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Boston Visits – Summer 2013

This was a rare summer of me staying stateside. I know, I know…I was gone for 6 months, so it make sense to stay put for a while, but I have to say it was VERY strange to be in Boston for the summer.  Fortunately, I had plenty of out-of-town visitors which made the summer so much better!

My first visitor was the fabulous Brenna Graham. Brenna and I go way back to middle school. She currently lives in Baltimore and is now teaching second grade (the best grade ever!!). Her visit brought us up to Rockport for a day – first time for both of us!



The next visitor was my friend CJ who is a Boston native but left us for brighter days in northern California. While I am extremely happy for his new adventures on the west coast, there is definitely a void in the Bean.

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And then the Fiasco crew hit town!!! I love this family! Becky and I started swimming on the same club team when I was in fourth grade and we have tons of memories to draw upon from the decades of friendship. Despite swimming for colleges in different conferences, we still managed to see each other at various meets. Ralph and Becky had 3 amazing daughters: Kendall (9), Lexi (8) and Toryn (1.5). We had a great time touring some historical sites and we managed to get to a Sox game. This visit was a highlight of the summer for me!

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The next visitor was a huge bonus for me. Back in summer of 2011, I attended the Ahimsa Center Summer Institute at Cal Poly, Pomona. Even more so than the Northeastern Summer Institute this past summer, it was an experience that literally changed me.  Part of what made it so influential were the people I was studying with during my time there. Kristy Smith is one of those educators I had the privilege to learn with and from, and this summer she was in Boston at Tufts University, attending the Fletcher Summer Institute run by the ICNC (International Center on Nonviolent Conflict). That’s a long explanation to say that Kristy – who lives in Oakland – was in Boston!! I was happy to grab some time with her during her busy week!!



A few weeks later, Ranjan and Amanda came up from NYC. Ranjan and I went to high school together and we have reconnected over the last few years. We all hit SOWA for the first time!

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And the final visitors of the summer…my family! That’s right – the whole entire Moo Tang Clan (including the Mini-Moos) came to Boston for the first time ever! The timing worked out that we were all able to be together for my mom’s birthday. I took way more photos than I think anyone but me should have to sit through, but here are some highlights.

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Thanks to all of my out of town visitors who made summer 2013 a memorable one! And for those reading who are inspired to come visit, just let me know when!!

Northeastern Sports Leadership Summer Institute 2013

In July, I attended a week-long summer institute as part of my program at Northeastern. It was 5-days of being in class from 8:00am-5:00pm with 45 other students that formed our cohort.  This whole summer institute had a reputation that proceeded it.  I kept hearing things from “It’s the longest week you’ll ever live – good luck!” to “It’s so much fun!” to “You’ll have to stay up till midnight to keep up with all the work!” So, needless to say, I was nervous before it even started – too many unknown factors to anticipate. One thing that was making it less anxiety-provoking, is one of my friends from the program, Nichole, was staying with me for the institute. Given the early start time of class each day, it made the most sense for her to just crash with me. So that first morning wasn’t too bad since everything’s better when you have a friend with you.

I won’t bore you with too many nitty-gritty details, but I will say that Summer Institute definitely made me feel better about I’m on the path I’m on.  I literally walked away from a full-fledged career to go back to grad school in a completely different field.  I felt like I’ve had to defend my choices to several people – including some I would call friends. Since I came back in January, I’ve been trying to get people to understand the mission I’m on, but when I was at Summer Institute in July, it was the first time I didn’t feel like I had to explain what I wanted to do. Instead, I was prompted to think not about being in the sports industry, but what kind of leader I’m going to be in the field.  A lot of this challenge came from the instructors for the week, Peter Roby (Athletic Director at Northeastern University) and Robert Prior (full-time faculty for the Master of Sports Leadership Program at Northeastern University). The classes/lectures were designed to have us examine current issues in sport and society and provide the opportunity to consider how our personal leadership skills and assumptions can offer solutions for change.  We discussed the areas of equity, creation of organizational culture, the sport media, and the influence of money in sport. One of the most influential comments made by Roby during the week, was when he said, “The question is, do you have values of conviction or values of convenience?” As soon as he asked this question, suddenly everyone was sitting up in their seats and looking around, realizing that we all needed to examine ourselves before we answered. The second thing that stood out to me that week was when Roby said, “Culture is created by shared experience, but it is the leader who initiates this process by imposing his or her beliefs, values, and assumptions at the outset.” He shared this to have us think about what kind of culture we’re going establish as we become leaders in sport, but I think he also showed this by example throughout the week.  He was the leader who helped create the culture for our shared experience throughout the week.

The last comment I’ll make about Summer Institute is that the week revealed the importance of the people you choose to surround yourself with. I went into the week knowing maybe 10-12 people who were in classes on Boston’s campus throughout the winter and spring quarters. I came out of the week with a small army of new comrades who left me inspired to go forth and be a leader in the sports world.  It really is true what they say – that if you surround yourself with like-minded people who are after the same thing you are, your energy and inspiration will increase greatly.  It was a long week of lecture, projects, writing, and thinking, but we all came out as closer classmates and better people on the other side of it.  I know that I am motivated to keep after what I want to do, and that there is a group of people who will help get me there. And for that, I am grateful.


Where in the world is Miss Moo?

I recently received from emails from a few of my former students and I realized I never took time on this blog to update everyone on what I’ve been up to. So this post is really for all of my students – its dedicated to you.  While I returned to Boston a little over 8 months ago, life has continued to take me on all kinds of adventures. The most pressing question I want to answer is from my former students.  Most of you have been asking me what I’m doing and if I’m ever coming back to NHCS.  I’ll answer the first question first.  I am now a student as well – I am going to grad school at Northeastern University, right here in Boston. (Christopher Conroy…I’m an official Huskies ice hockey fan!) I’m learning all about the sports industry – from how athletes make it to professional status, to how stadiums are built and how much money it costs…I’m learning about advertising sports through commercials and magazines, and how coaches and teams are bought and sold. It’s all very fascinating and I’m learning a lot.  I’m also working as a soccer coach with a program called HappyFeet. I work with other coaches and teach kids ages 2-6 how to play soccer.  It’s a lot of fun and while I don’t get to see all of YOU everyday, I’m happy I get to see kids everyday.  So school and coaching keep me quite busy.  Now, as for the question many of you keep asking me over and over again if I’ll be returning to NHCS. Right now, the answer is no.  I can’t say I will never return, but it’s not in the plans for a little while. I will be in school at least until May 2014 to finish this degree, and I’m also hoping to coach more and more with HappyFeet.  I know it’s been a while, but if you think back to our meeting when I announced to you all that I wasn’t returning to NHCS, I think you’ll remember that I said I wasn’t coming back because I had a lot of learning I still need to do.  Just like you go to school and do homework and learn new things everyday, I’m doing the same thing. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to teach more future ahimsakas just like you, and use sports as a way to do that.  As I said during my winter visit, even though I won’t be there everyday, if you let me know when your games, recitals, field trips, or school events are, I can try and make them.  If you’re doing something special for Town Meeting, I’ll try and come to that as well.

I have so much more to share, but I will close this post here. You can respond on the blog or you can email me ( anytime. Miss you all a lot, and I hope the beginning of fourth grade is going well!!!

Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon), Vietnam

Our third (and final) overnight train ride was much less stressful, and we arrived very early in the morning in Ho Chi Minh City.  In the 18thcentury the area was occupied by the Nguyen lord based in Hue and named ‘Sai Gon’ after the kapok tree.  In 1802 he returned to Hué as the new emperor Gia Long and Saigon remained the administrative centre in the south, during which French traders and missionaries settled here.  The 1862 Treaty of Saigon declared the city the capital of French Cochin China and Saigon came to be known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Begun in the 1940s, this legendary tunnel network allowed the Viet Cong to control a large area close to Saigon.  At its peak, the tunnel system stretched from Saigon to the Cambodian border.  Over 250 kms of tunnels, some several stories deep included living areas, hospitals, storage facilities, weapons factories and kitchens.



Reunification Palace

This was built in 1871 for the French Governor-General of Indochina, and it was later used as the presidential palace.  It was extensively damaged in an assassination attempt and subsequently demolished.  The current building was erected in 1966 and renamed Reunification Palace after April 30, 1975 when tanks smashed through the front gates and Saigon surrendered to Ho Chi Minh’s soldiers.



Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta area is an intricate pattern of streams and canals.  Water is the focus of life and the main means of transportation.  Floating houses, markets, and fishing boats are everywhere.  The Mekong travels 4500 kms from the Tibetan Plateau to the delta, where it splits into the tributaries which give the area its name Song Cuu Long – River of Nine Dragons.  The rich soil and silt distributed by the river make the region agriculturally rich, growing predominantly rice and fruit. 


Coconut Temple (in the Mekong Delta)



And that concludes my whirlwind trip to Vietnam. As you can see, it’s an amazing country and I hope to go back one day. I am so grateful for the new international friends I made on this trip, and I hope we can meet up to travel together again one day!




Nha Trang, Vietnam

It was time for our second overnight train ride, and this one did not go well…AT ALL!! When we got on board, there were people in our rooms and sleeping in our beds! When our guide went in to tell them to leave, they gave her an attitude.  So we had to go into cars with dirty sheets that had lingering dirty smells.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, all 4 of us found bugs in our beds and cockroaches on the floor.  It was all so disturbing, that we all busted out as much gear as we could to not have to make contact with any part of the room: mosquito nets, hoodies, raincoats – whatever we could find!



In the morning, we reached the city, Nha Trang.  This port city is the biggest in Khanh Hoa province and lies at the opening of the Cai River, which runs for 412 km into Saigon. Khanh Hoa has a 200 km coastline and I was told the weather is pretty much perfect all year.  There were a few sites we could have visited, but we only had one day here.  We were all so traumatized from our train experience, we spent the whole time recovering at the beach and bars:


Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An was definitely my favorite city in Vietnam! Hoi An is an ancient port town on the Thu Bon River.  The first inhabitants of the area were the Champa, who occupied the area from the 2nd-15th centuries.  Then under Vietnamese rule, the city attracted foreign trade, particularly with China, supplying silk, fabrics, tea, pepper, and medicines.  Other ships came from Japan, Portugal, Spain, India & France.  Old maps who Hoi An (then known as Faifo) as one of the most important trading ports of SE Asia.


At night, on the opposite side of the Thu Bon River, across from the Old Quarter of town, there is a street of lanterns.  They light them up every night – they were beautiful!


One of the ways to cross the river is via the Japanese Covered Bridge.  This was most likely constructed by the Japanese community to link the Chinese and Japanese quarters in the 16th century.  It has a green and yellow tiled roof, with 2 guardian dogs on the east side and 2 guardian monkeys on the west.  A small Japanese-style pagoda to protect sailors is built into the north side. The lighting was tricky so I could only get one good photo.


Our second day in Hoi An, we went on a bike tour.  We got to see a lot of the countryside, and learned to how crops got watered.


We even got to go on a buffalo ride!


Our bike trip ended with a boat ride down the river.

My last day in Hoi An, I took a cooking class with one other person in our group, Chuck.  The class started off with a visit to the local market:

We then cooked a full 4-course meal:

Hué, Vietnam

A few nights after Halong Bay, I had my first overnight train experience in Vietnam.  They sure know how to squeeze people into one room – there were 4 of us in our “cabin”. The photos don’t accurately show exactly how small it was in there. I roomed with Mathilda, Amanda, & Laura.


We arrived early the next morning in a town called Hué.  Imperial capital of the Nguyen Emporers, Hué was the political center of Vietnam from 1802-1945.  The most popular way to explore Hué is by motorbike. This was my driver/guide for the tour:


We visited  the Thanh Toan covered bridge; ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

the countryside;ImageImageImageImageImage

the Thu Hieu Pagoda and Imperial Eunich graves;ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

the elephant and tiger fighting arena;ImageImageImage

the former US base overlooking the Perfume River;ImageImageImageImageImageImage

conical hat making:ImageImageImageImageImage

and incense making;ImageImageImageImage

Early the next morning, Mathilda, Amanda & I went see the Citadel.  The Imperial Palace was modeled on Beijing’s Forbidden City, while the ramparts follow French military architecture.  It is comprised of 3 walled enclosures, each within the other.  The exterior moated enclosure encompasses 6 square kilometers.

Editor’s note: I accidentally hit “publish” before putting the Citadel photos up. When I went back to update, I couldn’t have the photos in the same format. You should be able to see a “gallery” below of the  photos. Thanks for your patience as I’m still figuring this site out!

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Next stop was Halong Bay.  The name Ha Long Bay is literally translated as “Bay of Descending Dragons.” The legend of the area is that long ago, the Viet people were attached by foreign aggressors.  The Jade emperor sent a mother dragon and a herd of child dragons to help the Viet fight the invaders.  While the enemy vessels were launching massive attacks against the mainland, the dragons descended into flocks from the sky.  They spat out innumerable pearls that, in an instant, were changed into jade stone islands linked together into firm citadels that checked the enemy’s advance and smashed their vessels into pieces.  This helped lead to the Viet victory.  Halong Bay is more than 3000 islands and rocks that rise from crystal clear waters.  Here are some photos from our boat ride around the bay (peep the freshly caught lunch!):



And here are some photos of our group – you’ll see them pop up throughout other posts 🙂

Carolin & Wiebke (from Germany)Image


Pernille (from Denmark) & Lousia (from England)



Our whole international crew!



The boat made one stop at Thien Cung Grotto.  This is considered the Cave of the Dragon, where the dragon who created Halong (see story above) sought refuge.  There’s a legend surrounding the cave about a young girl who, in order to end years of oppressive drought, married the presiding dragon in the cave, and their wedding was attended by all in the animal kingdom.  It is a “dead cave” in that, unlike many limestone caves, it is no longer dripping water and growing formations of additional deposits or creating new fissures and caves.



Can you see the dragon’s head in this rock formation?



We took the boat back to Halong Beach and spent the night there. Not much to speak of in the town, but it was fun to stay to close to the Bay.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Going to see Vietnam has been on my list for several years now, and I was more than thrilled to finally make it.  I had heard from several people that the best parts of the country are the towns between Hanoi (in the north) and Ho Chi Minh (the south).  Fellow travelers I met over the years said the best way to get from place to place is to find a tour or a guide. After a lot of research and cost comparison, I decided to join a “G adventures” tour. G adventures is the same tour group that I hiked Machu Picchu with so I knew they would be good. It was nice to have all the logistics taken care of – transportation, places to stay. But it was also nice to have the freedom to do what we wanted once we made it to each town.  Our leader would offer up suggestions but no one was bound a schedule.  I arrived in Vietnam a few days before the tour began – my visa from Indonesia was running out so I had to leave.  I flew into Ho Chi Minh on Saturday and then flew up to Hanoi on Sunday afternoon. I spent the rest of the day just wandering the streets. My favorite part were all the narrow streets:



On Monday I took a day trip to Hoa Lu & Tam Coc, two areas that are 2 hours south of Hanoi.  Hoa Lu is the relics of the ancient capital and temples dedicated to King Dinh and King Le remain. The two heroes who lived in 10th century chose Hoa Lu to build the citadel of the capital city then. Archaeologists continue to excavate buried parts of the ancient citadel with rusty weapons and ceramics. The temples are said to be built on the old foundation of their original palaces from the 11 and 12th centuries, then restored in 17th century. Though the temples are not maintained entirely some precious antiques are still preserved such as the whole-stone dragon thrones, wooden and lacquered statues of King Dinh, Kinh Le, Queen Duong Van Nga – who in turn married both of the kings.



We took a short bike ride after lunch and saw some amazing landscapes.



Tam Coc translates to “Three Caves” and is very near to Hoa Lu. We took row-boat trip (they row the boats using their feet!) through the area’s three caves.  The meandering river is lined by rice paddies and guarded by limestone cliffs, often inhabited by local goats.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage


On Tuesday, I took a day trip to the Perfume Pagoda, which is a vast complex of Buddhist temples built among the limestone hills and tropical forests in the area of Huong Mountain.  The center of the complex is Chua Trong (inner temple) located in Huong Tich Cave.


We then took a cable car to the top of the mountain to see some views and to visit some other pagodas.



Last on the agenda was a row boat ride on the Yen Stream. While very relaxing, nothing extremely different from yesterdays river trip.



Wednesday was my chill day. I moved hotels because our group was meeting up that evening. I took a stroll around the Hoan Kiem Lake which is the centerpiece of Hanoi.


The highlight from this day is that I was able to find a new backpack!! If you’re a backpacker, you can understand the time and energy it takes to find the right one, as well as the high prices that are involved. Fortunately, a lot of things made in Vietnam are cheaper to buy! This pack cost over $350 on the internet, but a mere $20 on the streets of Hanoi!  Check out my new traveling buddy:



Thursday, the group went to visit some Hanoi landmarks.  The Mausoleum contains Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body.  The Ho Chi Minh Museum documents his life and the modern history of Vietnam.


The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) is Vietnam’s oldest institution of higher education.  Dedicated to Confucious, the temple served as a national university for over 700 years educating Mandarins.  Students at the time used an ideographic script based on Chinese.



And that wraps up my 5 days in Hanoi!!