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7 Things About Mr. Pham

What inspired you to do this kind of work?

When I started, I thought teaching was just going to be temporary. I had no idea I would love it so much. The students, and their ideas, humor and enthusiasm, inspire me every day.


What is your position here and how long have you worked at O’Dowd?

I’m a visual arts teacher. I’ve been at here since 2002! Yikes.


What is the best piece of advice you ever received (generally – it doesn’t have to be related to O’Dowd)?

When I was in my final year of art school, my favorite teacher was this eccentric artist named Randy Chavez. One day, I was all stressed out about a piece I was doing and I came to him for help. Instead of telling me what to do, which is what I was hoping he’d do, he told me a story about a Buddhist monk who, while taking a walk, was chased down by a pack of mountain lions. As the monk ran from these lions, he tripped over a rock and fell over a cliff. Thankfully, he managed to grab onto a branch instead of plunging to his death. In that moment, as he hung from a branch with a pack of hungry mountain lions above and a long steep drop into sharp rocks on the bottom, he noticed a strawberry on the branch. He picked and ate it. Finally it was all clear. “That is one good strawberry,” he said. At the time I had no idea what the story meant, but I can tell you, I think about that story almost every day of my adult life.


What is your favorite thing about your job?

I love everything about my job. The thing I love the most is the community here. Going into work every day is like going to be with a huge family who loves and supports each other. Not many people have that.


What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most?

I really do think I’m an amazing artist and teacher; I say this all the time but people still think I don’t really mean it. I do. I am an amazing artist. But, if given a choice to be an artist or a teacher, I’d pick being a teacher.


What is the most interesting or surprising thing about you?

This isn’t too surprising, but I don’t believe in ghosts, owls or dinosaurs.


If you could rescue only one thing from your burning office, what would it be?

Oh for sure my laptop. My whole life is on this thing. Hmm, maybe I should do a back up…


Bonus Questions


What is your favorite kind of music/what are your favorite bands?

I’m not a huge music lover, even though I listen to music all the time. My favorite bands are probably Radiohead, Guns and Roses, Sigur Ros, Pearl Jam and Kenny Loggins


What is your favorite sports team or who is your favorite individual athlete?

This has changed a lot over the years, but right now because I love Oakland so much, I’m really into the A’s and the Warriors. I love Josh Reddick.

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