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I cannot believe 2010 is passing by. It seems to be the longest year in my life!

I am sure 2010 will be remembered in the future as one of the most important turning points in my life.

First of all, my daughter, Yunji Zhang, was born in January 26. That’s a life-changing event without question! I became a father! The first three months were absolutely tough. With sleepless nights and little knowledge of baby care, my wife and I almost panicked facing this little helpless creature in our life. Fortunately, my parents in law and my parents took turns to help us out in raising the baby. It’s great to have them around! Things are getting better everyday as my baby grows. She is now 11 months old. Very sweet character. She smiles and waves to everybody close by. She can stand up and babble “mama” and “baba” now. Absolutely adorable!

I was promoted early this year to manage a small team of performance engineers, responsible for performance testing, monitoring and tuning for a range of HR/Payroll/Benefits/Time and Labor online applications. Again, it’s a big change in my career since I have always been in software development field. This new role broadened my view in the full lifecycle of an application. I am now working more closely with Infrastructure, Operation and Technical Support organizations and leaning more towards the operational side.

We bought a town house in August and moved in November. My wife and I became a first time house owner in United States. We had mixed feeling towards the new house. It’s definitely more comfortable than our old apartment but it also requires endless time and effort from us to maintain it. We were excited at the beginning but soon got used to it. After a long wait and many debates, we finally bought all our furniture from IKEA, against the conventional wisdom. We simply love IKEA’s contemporary style and its price! Still fixing everything up and making arrangements around the house. It seems taking forever.

And I went back to school! I was admitted by the New York University Stern School of Business and joined their Langone Part time MBA program in September. It gave my life a totally different dimension.  Although I only needed to go to school at Saturday, I almost have to spend all the weekday nights studying, doing homework, writing papers, preparing for exams! Study became a crucial element in my daily life. I enjoyed the courses and the learning and actually did pretty well for the for the first semester. It’s a great opportunity to step away from the familiar life and get into something new and exciting. My professors and classmates are fascinating. Everyone I encountered had a wonderful life story. However, the bad part is the study took away a lot of my time from my family. I felt guilty that I couldn’t spend enough time to help fixing the house and raising the baby. Life is a art of balancing. Hopefully, I can balance everything better next year.

Last but not least, my wife and I finally got our green cards, after 9 years of waiting. Now, we can travel freely between China and United States. It’s a great milestone to fulfill our dream of traveling around the world! By the way, my daughter is an American since she’s born in United States. How easy is that!

In Chinese culture, 2010 is the year of Tiger. It’s the year of my zodiac sign since I was born in a Tiger year too. In Chinese tradition, it’s deemed as a tough year in life. I definitely felt the toughness, with all the life-changes packed together in one year. I felt stretched than ever. I have been through many emotional up and downs, mixing extreme happiness and extreme sadness. Joy, horror, surprise, self-denial, satisfaction, all kinds of feelings poured together. What a unusual year!

If there is just one thing I learned from the swirl of changes this year, that will be “knowing oneself”. Life is full of twist and turns. It’s so easy to get lost in the strong winds blowing from all directions. Without established values and a clear understanding of the direction to go, we will just be swallowed by the forces surrounding us. What really make us happy? What do we really want to do? What are the thing we cherish most in our hearts? What are the identities we don’t want to lose?

At least, I am a little more clear about the answers for myself now, at the end of this year. For that, I thank the year 2010!

Happy new year, everybody! Let’s welcome a fresh new start of 2011!

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