My favourite Economist | Summer 2016

I have a friend named Jian Wei. I call him J-Dubs for fun sometimes. I’m not sure if he knows. What he does know though, is that he totally is the inspiration behind my blog. One morning last summer, we had breakfast together—actually, he had breakfast but I was fasting so I just watched him eat—and as is the way of long conversations, one thing lead to another and at one point he said “you’re good at writing, you should write.” I insisted he had no reason to think that, but he pushed right back. I think we were in the midst of talking about ~systems to keep ourselves accountable to the goals we set~, during which he told me not to overcomplicate things. Just “write once a week,” he said plainly. He made it sound so simple. So after shoving a lot of my doubts aside, I started blogging when I got back to Penn a few weeks later, and writing once a week even became part of my blog title.

I met him a couple of Fridays ago for dinner and it was the first time I saw him since last August. Dinner started with him accidentally asking me “so what do you weigh?” instead of “so what do you want to eat?” and us bursting into laughter. Just after we finished dinner, I sheepishly said “hey, so you know… I blog now… so I’m always like… taking pictures… so…” and just proceeded to take a picture of him. He just smiled and humorously asked “how’s my hair?”

I had known by that point that I wanted to write about him but I don’t know how to begin to do that here, or how to even articulate why I feel compelled to write about this friend of mine, but I suppose I’ll start with this: Jian Wei and I aren’t particularly close but he is the kind of friend who makes me reach for my notebook as we talk because he is always unconsciously spewing straight up wisdom.

The best part is he doesn’t bombard into conversations seeking to give advice, even though he knows (or I think he knows?) I want/need advice. He isn’t self-righteously wise; he just talks to me and tells me stories about himself, his job, his friends, his college experience just like any friend would, and then somehow I get what I need to know.

Jian Wei is an economist through and through. It is quite evident even through casual conversation. I told him I don’t really know what I want to do after graduation because my interests are all over the place. He assured me you can still make a line of best fit through a scatter plot. We talked about how chemistry in relationships doesn’t always mean compatibility. He said there is a difference between high growth and sustainable growth. I find it really funny that he keeps using these econ terms but I also find it heart-warming (if that’s the right word?) because I love how there is just about no discrepancy within him.

His casual vocabulary reveals he’s an economist but I think his commitment to his work lies in an underlying dedication to public service (apart from just a sheer drive for achievement). He has explicitly told me that he always knew public service was for him, but even if he didn’t say that, I would know. I mean, I’ve never worked with him but I don’t have to have worked with him to know that. The thing is, some of my ultimate favourite things about Ang Jian Wei are that he sends me articles he thinks I would appreciate, he checks in on me every now and then to see how I’m doing and he would put on headphones to talk to a friend in distress even if he’s in the middle of a busy day at work. I can even sense it from the things he shares on Facebook; he always posts those like educational or inspirational articles which I always learn something from and he has even shared the way he plans his goals and resolutions on Facebook. No doubt, he doesn’t do all of these things because he’s all like “I want to be of service to people!” but that’s just who he is, you know? To me, Jian Wei has this obvious but unassuming inclination to help by sharing, whether it’s his time, energy, knowledge or experience. And whether he realises it or not, that’s (what I consider) a life of service.

He and I met at an idyllic beach resort in Langkawi. But not in the way you might think. I met him because my dad used to do training for fresh graduates and I just happened to decide to tag along on that trip while he was running the program. So you could say it is a relatively unlikely friendship—Jian Wei and I could so easily have never known each other. That’s just all the more reason I feel so lucky to call him a friend; he reminds me that I want my life and my entire being to be of service to others.

I guess maybe that’s why I felt like I wanted to write about him. I’m really glad he inspired me to create this blog a year ago so that I could.

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