Noah Chon Lee is a professional fool committed to exploring as wide a spectrum of human experience as possible. He has wandered through 22 countries as a backpacker, lived with a tribe among the Woarani indigenous people in eastern Ecuador, presented as a keynote speaker for fortune 500 companies, and performed as a professional juggler and fire spinner for schools, orphanages, and Hindu temples since the age of ten. He currently studies sociology with a focus on cultural design at UC Berkeley.
My story: Hello, at age sixteen some combination of debating a pastor about universalism, visiting worship centers of various faiths, and Rick and Morty killed my religion. With nothing remaining that seemed worthwhile, I booked a ticket to Singapore and began wandering around odd destinations for the next few years in variable states of despair. I tried to construct a new sense of meaning through pragmatic mythicalism, the idea that untestable ideas can still be believed in based on their utility. I decided it would be useful to believe that the well being of people are worth fighting for, but still felt miserably alone. Then I discovered EA, or rather it discovered me as I was ranting to someone about the fermi paradox and great filters to which someone replied "oh yeah, those are called existential risks in effective altruism," to which I replied "what the HELL is effective altruism?" Then there was no turning back. The concept that a community exists with such a purposeful drive to improve lives gave me a rope to grasp as I clawed my way back to life like it matters. The ideology granted me a beacon to strive towards, but lacking interaction or connection with the community, I did not yet feel the hope or joy of being welcomed into a place that aligns with your values. The bones were there but not the flesh. I found that sense of belonging with hippies in the cacti forests of Chile, an orphanage in the Andes mountains of Ecuador, and in a tribe among the Woarani people in the jungle, and now am establishing that in UC Berkeley as I study sociology in order to understand how to bring that sense of community that was shown to me in South America into modern workspaces and living spaces. I intend to find ways to welcome in those who find hope in this community and wish to be connected with it. Concepts on how to do this include developing Bountied Rationality as a public list of bounties that anyone can hunt (Idea outlined here https://docs.google.com/document/d/17h_PtFoRE-W7mRtVZOAyRinAFv542O-kR22VBXxGC6c/edit?usp=sharing), templates for group houses, and perhaps an EA hostel. Thank you to everyone who has helped build this community, from those who founded international organizations to those who read one post and then told a friend about it (after all the person who told me about EA I think knew little about it but radically altered my life trajectory.) Thank you for showing me that there are people who are strategically kind. If anyone has connections with EAs involved in indigenous rights (which I believe ought to be a cause area, I hope to write a post on this soon) and community building, feel free to reach out :)