In Search of Diversity

In the year 627 AD, a Buddhist monk was concerned with the translation quality of Chinese Buddhist scriptures; he decided to take a trip to India to learn the language.

A year later, the monk enrolled in the ancient University of Nālandā, where he studied logic, Sanskrit, and Buddhism alongside thousands of scholar monks. It took the monk more than a decade to complete his study. At the end of his journey, he returned to China with hundreds of volumes of Buddhist writings, and devoted the rest of his life translating Sanskrit in a monastery.

The Heart Sutra that he translated continued to be recited throughout Buddhist temples in China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam today. One of his disciples compiled the monk’s nineteen year journey into a book, the Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, which formed the basis of our understanding of the geography and early customs of South and Central Asia. The Great Tang Records also captured the imagination of a 17th century writer, who then created the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West based on the epic pilgrimage.

What started as a personal quest to fill in the gaps of his religious study, the monk transformed the lives of millions through traveling, learning, and inspiring the people he encountered along the way. The monk injected a new energy into the collective consciousness of Eastern Asians, and shaped the future development of Neo-Confucianism, Daoism, and other emerging philosophies.

The monk was an agent of change of the 7th century China, just as we are the agents of our time. We share the same mission to introduce new perspective to our organization, and to better ourselves, together with the rest of the community. At 8th Light, we truly believe the value of diversity, and we are encouraged to take the first steps toward our personal journey through company sponsorship.

Back in August, 8th Light flew me to San José, Costa Rica to reboot our craftsman swap program with sister company, Pernix Solutions. From day one, I took a dive into JavaScript with their front end specialist, and later quickly switched gear to Facebook integration and Heroku deployment. I had my first taste of augmented reality with Unity at Pernix, and before I knew it, I was thrown into a jungle of legacy code in Java.

Needless to say, I learned quite a bit by the end of the week. I was ready to untangle a complex XSLT code base should an opportunity arise. And in exchange, I introduced Jasmine.JS and RSpec to their very enthusiastic Ruby on Rails team, and many of the testing strategies we have developed over the years.

Outside of work, what I admired the most about Pernix was their dedication to contribute to their community, help local museums and businesses to adapt new technology and develop new customer base. Pernix also rolled their own apprenticeship program, and gathered a group of bright and very knowledge-hungry students.

In many ways, Pernix reminded me of a younger 8th Light, where the crew was much smaller and more connected. While I stayed at a quiet living quarter in Cartago that Pernix had kindly prepared for my companion and myself, I was overwhelmed by the hospitality of my host and his colleagues.

My journey may not be as challenging as traveling across South and Central Asia on foot, and horses, while evading hostile tribes and sworn enemies of ancient Chinese Empire, I was still able to share with our Costa Rican friends my experience in software development, and bring back their values and what they stand for.

Software is filling up every niche of our market today. The products that we are working on now, can reach an international audience tomorrow. As developers, we are ever in need of new voices in our workspace to create competitions, collaborations, and innovations. And what better way to find new voices than to travel, and explore the possibilities beyond our regular lives?

Pernix Solutions: http://www.pernix-solutions.com/

Li-Hsuan Lung enjoys reading, writing, and translating between Chinese and English and is part of the ongoing effort to bring the Agile Manifesto to a Chinese audience.