Boys and Girls Ultimate: State Championships
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In the beginning of this school year we started exploring different things in english and history class. We started off with little things that led into bigger ideas. As day by day passed we completed many assignments giving us ideas of many things, which will all come together into this portfolio. All this led to giving me a better understanding of the world revolving around us. Leaving it all to two general understandings, creativity and challenges during this whole school year.
Creativity played a big role in this school year. I learned that creativity allows a person to show many expressions of different perspectives. Towards the end of the year we had a special guest come to our classroom, her name was Leah Stein. She showed us how dancing can express and give a bigger meaning of many different things by watching dances and videos of her own. When we first started this project with Leah Stein we were taken to a building to have an idea on what our project was going to be based on. Afterwards we had to choose a site with our group to represent what her and her dance company do on a daily basis.“When we chose this site we started wondering around to see how we can make the whole space useful.” I found this project very difficult, but I was happy when it was over and done with.
Another project that we did during the year that had to do with creativity was our podcast. In our podcast we had to interview someone on what his or her personal boundaries were. In my podcast I interviewed my older cousin and when I asked her what a crossing boundary was to her she responded bullying as a major crossing boundary. “One big crossing boundary can be bullying, bullying can be identified as a person who uses strength or power to intimidate those who are weaker.” This assignment showed us how people have their own perspectives on crossing boundaries and how it show others a perspective they might not see crossing boundaries as.
Challenges showed me that if you put so much effort into it you will have the best feeling of accomplishment. Overcoming challenges makes someone feel accomplished. Throughout the whole year challenges came towards my way and I found many ways to have them accomplished for my goal towards the end of the year. During the beginning of history class we had an assignment on global education. This assignment gave me a broader idea on how lack of education remains a global problem. “I think lack of education remains such a global problem because of economy effects.” In my opinion this meant that due to many things occurring with the economy many children tend to lack education as if it meant nothing to them.Another project that I created that represented challenges was the Young Playwrights play. It was presented to use by a woman named Kate, she gave this assignment to write a play on an global issues. Kate was a big help throughout this whole project, she always helped out with any feedback needed and gave ideas on improvement. “You must not worry about education. What you need to worry about is finishing that breakfast for your brother and I.” My play was called “The Life of an Indian Girl”, this play basically was a bout a young indian girl named Chandi. Chandi is just like any other indian girl living India who doesn’t have the opportunity of an education. She brags to her father about having an education but he refuses and tells her she must be like any other indian girl and be raised to be a house wife. WHile writing this play it showed me how we take things given to us for granted that other people wish they had the opportunity of. Also showed me how people take challenges to achieve what they’ve always wanted.
“Creativity comes from the heart of the person of how they feel.”I thought of this quote because I do believe that whenever someone creates something, it comes from the heart and what they believe should be created. The piece that they create is theirs and they have ownership to it. One of the projects that we worked on was our poetry wiki. This was a project where we had to pick a poet and study them. Then we had to write poems that were similar to the flow of the poet that we studied. It was interesting because it made me think more and stretch my mind to further explore the art and creativity of poetry. The poems that I wrote came from my own experiences and how I felt at the time. I think that this project was fun and I enjoyed myself throughout the process of this project. In the later part of the year, we studied the world and cultures of Haiti. We read short stories that an author named Edwidge Danticat, who was from Haiti and her family that still lives there. In addition to reading her stories, we had to write about her stories and then write a letter to her explaining how much her stories meant to us and how they were interesting. In my letter I said, “I liked how you talked about your family and what the culture is like in Haiti.” Both of these projects required a lot of creativity and I think both of my projects were very well done.
“Challenges lead to trying new things.”I think this quote meant a lot to me especially in the 2011-2012 year because there were a lot of challenges that I had to face in my English/World History class. The work wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. To an extent, I think it was good that I had a challenge because it allowed me to stretch my critical thinking more than usual. One of the projects that was really a challenge was the Art and the Open project. That’s when we had to create a dance that symbolized freedom and we had people come in from the Leah Stein Dance Company and they talked to us about the type of dance that we had to do. It was major challenge because the type of dance that we were taught was not the type of dance that I am used to. During this project, we were also put into groups to put in our ideas together to come up with a dance. It was totally out of my element because I wasn’t expecting to do anything like that. At the end of the project, we had to write a reflection on what we liked and didn't like about the project. I said that it was challenging because working with other people to create a dance was hard because not everyone knew how to dance and the location of our presentation was difficult to use because we were on public property and didn't want too mess it up. Another assignment that we had to do was write a letter of advice to one of the characters in a book called Passing. That was a challenge, because I had to use what I knew about the character and give her advice on what I thought she should have done. In order to do that, I had to read the book, as well as, reading it with comprehension. Along with the letter, we had to create a podcast and interview someone outside of school and talk to them about how they view different things and how they would react to certain things. To me, this was a fun and enjoyable project. I had working with my group and interviewing my cousin and here what she had to say and her view on certain things.
This past school year has opened my eyes and showed me that the solutions to the world wide problems can be the solution to our personal problems.
“Many people use their voice to express how they feel about certain actions that are happening. Language is one of the greatest ways to express yourself.” Language allows you to share with others how you as a person explain and express your opinion. When one has something to say, sometimes it can save millions.
In class we had to write a language auto biography that deeply explained solutions that were used for issues in the world. For instance Edwidge Danticat wrote a short story. The story explained how not having a father/guardian that understand and could relate to how you felt is similar to how a government doesn’t listen to their citizens. Understanding someone who is somewhat in charge of you is one of the toughest things to overcome. If they say one way, and you say another, and no one comes to peace. It’s one way or another.
In the last few of our past english units/projects, we learned as a class how to express ourselves from different views. Such as dance, art, writing, movies, and music. In order to express yourself, you need to have a voice that needs to be heard, to get a point across. As a class we had to find a way to express freedom without using our physical voice, but by using dance as another voice. Or how we use language in our daily lives, in and out of school to have a certain effect on us. For an example speaking english in public and school, and speaking spanish at home, is like living the best of both worlds. You get a mix of both cultures as well.
Expression was a key struggle this year. Given an assignment and being allowed to approach it from every which way was very challenging. Some of the other classmates approached it as if their a teacher, peer, the public, outsider, instead of writing as a the student. When you have different approaches so much can be discovered and noticed. Even solutions to problems that could be solved world wide.
Coming together as a whole, sophomore year has taught me to use my voice, to express how we should feel as a person, and not as students at Science Leadership Academy. How we can use our voice without talking to impact our school, community, city, world?
Tenth grade was one of the best, yet most difficult years of my life. It had a lot of great moments where I achieved a lot, and other moments where I really struggled. When I look back on this year, especially in Mr. Block's class, I find myself gaining more knowledge each time. I learned so much this year. Not just about wars or how to write a paper correctly, but about myself too. I learned that it really takes hard work to go far, and it takes you as an individual to make something out of that work. If I could describe this year in two broad ideas, it would be "Challenges are always there, waiting for you to overcome them" and "When you're struggling, you become a stronger person."
The first one I will talk about is "Challenges are always there, waiting for you to overcome them". The first day of school, I walked into Mr. Blocks english class frightened and not knowing what to expect. He was very friendly, and excited for the year to come. He gave us a poem, and we analyzed it. Then he told us to go home, and write an "English B" poem about ourselves. The assignment was very broad, but the next day we had to present what we had to the class. I was so worried that I did the assignment wrong. But when the presentations were over, I realized that there is no wrong. The assignment was made so you can interpret it however your mind works, and take the assignment and run with it.
Another example of this general understanding would be writing my play for the Philly Young Playwrights. We had several months to write a play. Mr. Block also had a playwright Kate come in and do exercises, help us elaborate on our ideas, and help us anyway she could. In the beginning, I had a hard time coming up with an idea for my play. Kate and Mr. Block really worked with me and helped me find something I really related to. I found a topic that combined multiple parts of my life and I created a crazy plot. Kate and I emailed each other constantly revising pieces, and giving constructive criticism on how I can make it even better. I submitted the play proud of the final product, and excited to see what they thought of it. I really don't think my play would be as good quality as it is now if I didn't challenge myself and revise my work.
The second general understanding of this year would be "When you're struggling, you become a stronger person." I struggled a lot this year, however I don't see it as a bad thing. Struggling is learning in my opinion. Throughout this year we had a poetry unit. I never thought that I was a great poet, or that I was even capable of writing the different poems we wrote. I struggled a bit, and "marked up" my poems a lot, but in the end they were awesome.
Another time I struggled was when we were working with Leah Stein and dancing in Art in the Open. I missed most of the workshops because of softball games, so I was confused about the concept from the beginning. Each day when we went out to think of new ideas, I just didn't know what to do. I contributed some ideas but they didn't make much sense. I was too overwhelmed that we had to perform and it took the fun out of the experience. Leah and her dancers then helped us and by the performances, I completely loved them. I was confident, and I had fun. I became a stronger and more outgoing person because of Art in the Open, and I thank Leah Stein, her crew and Mr. Block for that.
This year in Mr. Blocks class really made me take a step back and enjoy every assignment, project, and work that was given to us. Yes I struggled and there were many challenges, but it made me work to the best of my potential and I thank Mr. Block for his creative work tactics and positive attitude throughout this year. I learned so much from this class and now I can apply what I learned into everyday life.
Throughout this year I was given many different challenges within my work. Coming into tenth grade I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect. One thing that I was really nervous about is if I was going to be able to turn everything in on time and make sure it was A+ worthy. But once I got the hang of things, I realized early on that I was going to need to put a lot of hard work into everything I put my name on, but in the end it would pay off.
Nothing worth having comes easy you need to put in hard work. This is what I told myself every time I was frustrated with work. Every time I was fed up with an assignment I would just remind myself how great it would feel to receive that A on my report card, paper, or project. There were times when I was extremely overwhelmed with work but it was all a learning experience because it made me realize early on that college isn’t going to be easy either. Another thing that is clearer to me now is that creativity will never end and nether will the ways of expressing your self. These are a couple things that I learned from everyday experience. This is not something that can be taught. Every project that we did in this year had different ways of expressing ourselves. We had projects from papers, to drawing things, to making videos, to re-writing the end of books. These are just a few projects. There was also projects were we had so many different choices and if we didn’t like any of those we could make our own.
One thing that my class and I did not to long ago was teamed up with Leah Stein and her dance company. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect and thought it was a little weird at first but once I got into it, it was really fun! My group and I faced a couple struggles in the process of making up our dance. For example we got kicked out of our space and had to move into another one that set us back a little bit. There were times when someone in my group was absent or late which kind also set back the process but this gave us motivation to work harder. We incorporated things that were going on in everyday life, and everyone gave us ideas that were helpful. Even though we were nervous that something might go wrong, I just told my group “Always smile don’t worry about the little things!” In the end I have to say our dance was really amazing! It was a lot of fun! (Link for picture of my group at the bottom!)
Everything that you do that is new to you will cause you to make mistakes. But that’s what you learn from. I made a lot of them this past year but “I was raised by learning from mistakes.” That was from a poem that we did this year. It was all things that we were raised by. (Link at bottom!) One thing that I loved was no ones were the same. Also with a poem of our choice we had to make a piece of artwork. I made mines about this poem! (Link at bottom!) Another mistake people make a lot is thinking they can trust a lot of people. “You can’t trust everyone that you think" that’s something that I learned from reading Passing by Nella Larsen. Which we also had a project on and some people made drawings, videos, or typed papers. I made a drawing of the main character to show her two different sides. (Link at the bottom!) For this book I also made a video of a new ending, a ending that was how I think the book should have ended. (Link at the bottom!)
For our 10th grade year in Mr. Block’s classes, Mr. Block has introduced us to many world issues with the work we were doing. Most of the issues, I didn’t know of. It was like watching World News in my classes. We would research what happened and write about it. In English and History classes, we would read a book and relate the issues from the book to the world. It’s the end of the school year, and now we have to create a final portfolio to reflect on what we had learned throughout the school year.
One of the greatest general understandings I learned in class is Creativity. Creativity is the ability to express your work in many different ways. One of my favorite quotes from class is, “One of the many ways a sculptor of ancient Egypt was described was as “one who keeps things alive.” (My response) People who write about the “mythic element of the story” keep the “art” alive in Haiti. The “art” keeps the moral of the story alive. People, who know about the “mythic element”, write about it as “art”. People will then discover the art, and inspiration will come. (Edwidge Danticat Chapter 1: Create Dangerously) I learned that the quality and understanding of the topic itself would help you create your piece of writing. One of my projects that I did with a partner was the “Passing Final Project”, where we read the book Passing and made an interview between the characters in the story. We made sure that the viewers were getting our message with the people we were using in our video. I wanted to make people see the element of the story of our interview. My creativity was very bland when I first came into Mr. Block’s class. As the year went by and is coming to an end, I can say that I feel my creativity has grown so much with the work I did in class.
Second to Creativity is Understanding and Hard Work itself. With all the work we did in class, there had to be a deep understanding of the topic. Understanding helped me with everything in class. It increased my creativity, because it helped me see things in different point of views. A quote I found from my Burden: Response Poem “They go and try to get rid of that burden/Working under any conditions/But all they can do is relief the burden”. When I wrote this, I tried to look at all the world issues brought up in class in different perspectives. At first, I thought that you could completely get rid of the world issues with that one solution. As I began to understand more about the world issues, I looked at the solutions to be insignificant to get rid of the issues. I found out that the solutions would only relief the problems the world is having. As much as it sounds bad, I see it in a new way. Instead of a solution, it’s actually just a relief to the burden. I feel that they find the biggest relief possible for the world’s issues. To relief the problems, it requires hard work. In my letter assignment I wrote “Self-control makes me work hard in school, working hard in school gains me trust from my parents, trust from my parents leads to my freedom.” I use to think that I only did work to do the things that I wanted. I now realize that that is not true. I learned that I did work to learn and discover new things. I work hard to give myself a good image that I am a hard worker and that I want to learn.
To sum it all up is my general understanding of Experience. In my descriptive essay, I wrote, “When we grow up, we leave our family and work everyday like adults. We don’t get to see much of our family after that. I try to cherish all the time I can spend with my family”. Back when I wrote the descriptive essay, I was thinking of the past summer with my whole family being together. Now it’s the end of the year and I’m thinking about what I learned and how a great experience it was learning in these classes. In May 2012, we had the Leah Stein Dance Company come teach us what “Art in The Open” was. “My first impression of the project wasn’t very good. I was very lost when I first met the Leah Stein Dance Company. I thought it was very weird to do dancing that involved your environment. It was something new that I was introduced too.” (Art In The Open: Final Response) It was a great experience doing Art In The Open. I found it to be very different from the usual dancing, but I need to understand what it was to express what I needed to do which was to dance. I can say this year was a good experience, an experience where I learned a lot that I will not forget.
Creativity, Understanding, Hard Work, and Experience is what I learned most throughout the year. Experiences are what this year created. All these general understandings link up together to create the experience I had learning.
One of the first classes I walked into, on September 6, 2011 were Mr. Block’s History and English classes. When everybody walked in the room and got settled down, Mr. Block threw an egg on the floor. We were all astounded on how our new teacher introduced us. He welcomed us with splattered eggshells and egg all over. Over the crazy days that we’ve spent learning in class, I’ve realized two things. One of the things I’ve realized is that working hard pays off. Over the months I have done many projects, and I must say that I’m proud of all of them. I love all of my projects, but the ones I have worked harder on are the ones I like the most. I like my lit lens project that Danielle, Brent, and I worked on together. We made a puppet show about the book “Their eyes are watching God”. That was a great project, and we all worked so hard on it together.
The other thing I realized when in Mr. Block’s class was that going through struggles is the only way you can become successful. I have been through so many struggles over the past few years. My first big struggle was probably coming to high school. At first I was really scared to be in a room with a bunch of strangers, but then I realized that it isn’t so bad to meet new people. I realized that either way I will have to met new people and be socially interactive. So I went for it and now, in my second year of high school, I have so many friends. I went through a week of being scared for nothing! Another example for how I went through struggles to be successful was when we had to write in our journals. I never really liked writing and when I walked into class everyday, for English and history, we had to write a journal entry.
Over the course of a year I have questioned so many things because of these classes. In one of my journals I wrote “Religion = myth”. Before I never would have questioned religion. I wasn’t saying that all religion was a myth, but I had opened my eyes to multiple possibilities. I also questioned other people’s personal beliefs. For instance, another statement I wrote in my journal is "Why do we ask people if they are gay, but we don’t ask people if they are straight?” I always believed in one side of the story, but then I realized that isn’t true. I have always believed that working hard pays off, but something this class has made me have different opinion on were struggles. We go through history classes year through year and learn about struggles, but this year we went in depth on both sides. So another thing I have learned is that going through struggles is the only way you can become successful. I have learned a lot from these classes, but those are two things that I will always remember.Links to work I have done:
This year, my English and History teacher, Mr. Block, has brought up many world issues that changed my views on the world. Also, he has taught many subjects which I didn’t know about fully or correctly. It’s the end of the year and our last project is to create a final portfolio that shows at least two general understandings about some of the things he taught us and we found out ourselves also then incorporate quotes from our work to support it. My two general understandings are that social inequality will always accompany humanity, and that there’s always another side to a story.
Social inequality has many subcategories to it other than just race, there’s also wealth, power, and etc. In English, we explored a website that gave me a completely new understanding about race. Your race shows opportunities you have, it gives first impressions about your personality to certain people, and it divides people into their own group. Although, you can’t classify someone’s race by skin color, fingerprints, or blood type because race isn’t biological. In my history journal talking about race, I followed the quote from Mr. Block which was, “race is a social construction” (English journal #26), and then I figured out what he meant when I read on about race on the website. Race has just begun not so long ago because in ancient times, people weren’t divided into groups of race; there were groups of people’s wealth and class. Racism started when slavery became very popular in the US and all the slaves were all African. Many people would discriminate and stereotype people based on their race. This kind of inequality won’t end because just like I posted in a forum discussion about race in our English class, “There are many racists in the world and they raise their children that way, too.” From the same forum, I created another post from which I took from saying, “I read on and figured out that the only cure for racism is FULL equality. There would have to be sacrifices for some groups to even things out. Then I thought...Not everybody is going to sacrifice things in their hard-earned life for other people." (Race: The power of illusion moodle forum)
Another kind of inequality is the division of three classes of wealth during the French Revolution; the commoners, clergy, and nobility. The commoners were the poorest and had the biggest population, whereas the clergy and nobility were the richest and were very little in population. In history journal #27, I wrote a poem in which I created an analogy that compared the current US’s wealth class and the wealth class of France during the French Revolution. “Clergy and Nobility are to the 1%, as the commoners are to the 99%” (History Journal #27). In this unit, not only have I learned about the French revolution, but also that social inequality still remains as if revolutions never happened. There’s still a huge gap of the amount of rich and poor people. Also, I learned that skin color doesn’t make a difference. You can have white skin, but be African-American just like Clare in the book we read during this unit also called Passing. Clare had a racist husband who never knew that she was black, and loved her until he found out. It’s not the skin color you should judge, but their personality if you actually get to know the person.
My other general understanding is that there’s always another side to a story no matter how good or bad the main character can be. Throughout the year, we took part in 2 mock trials. One trial was about the age of exploration with Cortes, his men, King Charles V, the Aztecs, and the system of empire. Everyone was charged with something, and we were be split up into groups for each person and defend ourselves with the sources we had and found ourselves online. With everyone having a fault and more than one person to put the blame on, it was easier to be proven less guilty. I was in the Cortes group and immediately I knew all the blame was going to be put on my group. So my main goal was to put the blame on others. My job was to create the opening statement, and in the process I really felt like a lawyer defending my client. I wrote it as if Cortes isn’t at fault of anything because he was forced into his decisions, basically sugarcoating everything against him and what his actions were. I got so deep into it that I started believing this other side of the story and no long saw him as the bad person. For example, here’s one of the ways I blamed another person and made Cortes look good; “When Cortes was accused of killing 400 Indians, he only did it under self-defense. The Tlaxcalans are to blame for, too because they decided to help Cortes and also fight him, while Cortes only fought back in self-defense.” (Opening statement from Cortes Trial)
The other mock trial was about sweatshops. Just like the Cortes trial, the multinational corporations, poor country ruling elite, poor country workers, US consumers, and the system of profit were all charged with something against them. Again, I was put into the group that everybody was going to attack, and I took the same position in writing the opening statement. “We didn’t force them to work at our factories, they had options in life on how they could make a living and they chose to work in a factory.” (Opening statement from sweatshop trial) This was one of the ways we defended ourselves in the opening statement to prevent from the other groups blaming us for this.
This whole year has been not only a direct learning experience, where Mr. Block has taught us about all the different issues, but he gave a lot of room for letting us learn on our own. The learning “experience” has definitely let me experience and learn these new things in a more and effective way. For example, as I would research for a project online, I constantly ran across new information that I found really interesting and shared it with the class afterwards. Beside all the weeks and months of non-stop work, it was worth it. I feel more confident about my knowledge, and I'm not afraid to actually speak up with giving the correct history of things. Also, this class molded me into a different person understanding the world issues and acting to be the small change.
C r e a t i v i t y helps mold your simple thoughts into an explosion of splattered art that runs from your mouth or your hands. When I first found out that Mr.Block was going to be my History/English teacher I didn’t know what to think. I’ve never really knew him, but I would see him teach classes when I used to walk by the class room as a freshman. He first wanted to get to know us better so the first thing he told us to do was to take down bullet points of a successful descriptive writing in our journals. I knew this was going somewhere, I just didn’t know where. I was determined to impress my new teacher even if my writing wasn’t good, I was going to not try my best, but do my best as well.
How was I going to do my best? Easy! I was going to focus on work all day everyday! But that did not turn out well. I had friends that I barely saw all summer so it was kind of a hard start but I pulled through.
My descriptive essay was surprisingly amazing! I didn’t think I could describe something in so much depth so that other people would get an understanding of it. I guess it was the C r e a t i v i t y I put into the whole paper. Though at first it wasn’t that good. I had to get help from my teacher’s assistant, Mr. Zelnick.
He was very nice and he explained everything that I did not understand in so much description, it was almost like he was telling me a story so that I had to pay attention.It would have been impossible for me not to get it after he talked with me. My descriptive essay was my first starting point of having a creative flow in the way I wrote my papers. Being creative was, I guess in a way, one of the reasons for me to keep going and to aim for more success pieces of writing. Not only in Mr.Blocks class, but in every other one of my classes too.
Even with my play that I created. You at least needed some type of C r e a t i v i t y in order to have a successful Play. In the end, all of the plays from my class were going to be read by the highest people of the young playwrights organization.Therefore it was important to put a lot of your C r e a t i v i t y into not only your plays, but your mind as well. You had to open your mind up to different possibilities. And for me it wasn’t really hard. I already knew how to draw, and at that time I was learning how to play an instrument. My play was called Broken Idiotic Memories, and at the end of turning it in and all I would say,“It had to have been one of the creative things I’ve ever done”.
Hard work makes one person preserve enough to not only reach for the sky, but touch the stars as well. Though I finally found a place to start at, things were still hard. You had to kind of struggle for “greatness” I would say. It takes hard work to persevere. A perfect example of persevering is when we had to write several different poems different things. It was labeled Poetry Wikispace and everyone in my classes including my teacher had poems that were on there. Matter of fact it’s still on there now. For me that was probably the hardest thing to work on because I knew I wasn’t good at poems at all.
I always had to have them rhyme and I knew that wasn’t a good thing to do. Though I did it all the time. I was scared to go out of my comfort zone. I didn’t want to stop, but I knew I had to. So on my 5th poem I just didn’t care anymore and I didn’t rhyme. Even on my 4th poem called All in a day it stated,“Okay, be that way / I learned something cool something cool today / 96, and you late / I cannot fit any more stuff on my plate / This is one boss library jawn / Marker holder jawn / And he just hits it off / So, are we all game characters or something / I’m gonna go home and write a song about you / Cause, you know he don’t care”.
I somehow started to make the founded words in my poem rhyme because I was too scared that my poem wouldn’t be as good as it was without rhyming. Though I put all of my attention into the poem wiki to be sure I could make an efficient poem that still sounded good without the rhyming scheme. It was hard, actually very hard to come up with something non-rhyming. I was even behind on about 2 poems because I was having such a problem with the poems. But I somehow got through it and I received an awesome score on it in the end too.
I was proud of myself that I could put all my hard work into something that I needed improvement on. It was a challenge, but I got it done like an overachiever would.
Even with AiO (Art in the Open) I had a hard time really enjoying it. I hated it! When I say I hated it, I mean with a capital ‘H’. I disliked trying to make up my own dance. Though I’d challenge anyone in a game of Dance Dance Revolution or so Just Dance too, I just really did not like AiO at first. But because I got to see it more and more in the 2 weeks and because I was working with people that I knew and could sort of chat things over with, I started to get used to the silly movements and such.
It was pretty cool and fun and I was happy that my group got done in time and that we actually pulled off some solid quality. At first it was difficult to play the stupid weird game but they taught me how to relax. Not only that but that there are a lot of things around that make sound and art in its own special way. The things we later turn out to notice always seem to be the best part that makes us unique.
This has been a very interesting year with Mr.Block. I have learned a lot from him. Mr. Block’s class was set up in a different structure then most classes. His ideal of best learning is to watch videos, do paper essays, read, and do hands on activities. Strangely his idea is right and works. Through this year with him being our English and history teacher Mr. Block has taught us some important things. Which makes me grateful to have had him as a teacher.
One thing I learned is “The way to show you have power is to speak.” That is important because most people have the most life changing things to say, but they never be heard because they do not say what they have to say. Our poetry unit was the best one. Mr. Block had us writing something different that I found to be great. The Ode poem was really good because writing about an object is hard. That was one of my challenging poems that I had accomplished. My favorite lines from that poem is “having their necks bob to the ridiculous sound they consider a compliment But Incompetent To realize Originality is Self confidence" Another challenging poem was I was raised by poem. It was hard writing about my mom because she is so great and I wanted to put that all in one poem. Cutting it down was hard but I eventually got it. One of my best lines I would have to say would be "God do not make life to waste it." When we had to perform our poem a few people told me that this line had them thinking more about themselves and their lives. I was surprised because I never really paid any attention to that line. It was not my favorite until I read it and some bought it to my attention. That is when I realized how powerful that line is. Also in my English Journal entry 31 when we had to write a rant about something we feel strongly about. When I wrote this entry part of my rant came from seeing people blame other people for their mistakes or their miserable lives. A line from my rant was “The black people are so ignorant they keep blaming the system, shut up get educated and be the system.” I understand that is harder on the black race due to the inequality and messed up justice system, but come on you have to take care yourself before you can blame someone else. I feel like if I read this to some of the people in my neighborhood they would get up and do something or at least think about it, sometimes it’s the thought that counts. Poetry is one of the most powerful ways to get a point across. Poetry is like rap and people like listening to cleaver word play. Once you put words together that makes a person always remember is great.
Another thing I have learned from Mr. Block is “When you convince yourself you’re not creative then you block out all your creativity. Once you try and attempt to be creative you discover something new about yourself.” When we did our playwright unit I did not think I could do it. I never thought of myself being good with stories. Once I tried I must say I did succeed. A line from my play that I really loved was “I've been waltzing with the devil too long.” When we read it as a group people really loved this first line. A classmate of mine came up to me a few times saying this line teasing me. Also when we had to see who would be picked to do perform a scene from their play for the school. I was shocked that my scene seven of my play was picked. I knew I had a chance but I did not have confidence in myself that my play was that great. Once I seen that it was I discovered that writing this play was fun and I would love to write another one. There was so much creativity in getting us up to this. When we did the workshop at the armory was the best one. We were jumping off trucks and steps. Using the environment to create different scenes was so amazing. For this I learned that I like dancing the way Ms. Lea taught us.
Another thing we did was the Art in the Open unit. This is a weird unit that I cannot really say what it is because I do not know what it is. I know it was some sort of interpret dance mixed with feelings and a bunch of other weird things. This is was one of my favorite units. At first I was not thrilled because I cannot dance. Then when I saw what it was we were doing I was excited. My group we did our dance based on hide and seek. I think we had the best performance. Something I learned about myself during our performance is that I am a good stepper. I never knew that I was good at making a musical beat with my body. Once I applied myself this is when I discovered that.
Overall Mr. Block is a great teacher. He has taught me so much through this year. He was an amazing teacher and I am glad that I had the chance to learn so much through the year.
Here are the links to my poetry and play. Also A picture of me during my performance at the art in open show.
Now that the year is over, Mr. Block gave us the task of summarizing our year with our general understandings from the year. It can connect to how we learned or what we learned. I wanted to talk about expression and struggle. The things we did in class involved a lot of both, which made us better people and made our work better in the end. We did a lot of things in class that would help anybody open up and become more comfortable with themselves. Our classroom became more comfortable everyday and as the year went on people participated in the actives more. The quality of our work was able to evolve with the knowledge that we gained in class. The assignments 'weren't do this at home and then we are done', it was more like 'do a couple of more drafts, read and peer edit them'. We would have to read our drafts to classmates and start to listen to other perspectives. We always lingered, in a good way, on an assignment to make sure that we were proud of our final product. We made sure that our final product was something that we would be proud to have published on the internet. We learned to express ourselves better.
Nothing is weirder than doing an art show outside for strangers to see. People develop this idea of school that it is just this certain way to do everything. That everybody learns the exact same way, which causes kids to hate school. Kids need to express themselves because expressions helps a person become more comfortable with themselves and the world around them. This year, in my classes, English and History, that is what we did. We were taught how to express ourselves through different creative things. In class, we were all allowed to write a play for Philly Young Playwrights. The play was allowed to be able anything and everything. We were able to write in whatever we wanted to, about anything we wanted, and for whoever we wanted to. The plays allowed people to express the things that we thought about it. The things in our life that nobody else knew it about, but we were having trouble with. We could write about things that troubled us in the world, but we didn't know what to do about it. My play, 'So Ghey!' was about two girls that are best friends and they are trying to keep their friendships together while one if the friends's parents hate the other family. They go through a lot of ups and downs to get to a good point of the friendship. There is a climax and a wrap up, but sometimes things don't alway wrap up well. The process of writing this play was tedious and strenuous. At first, I thought it was going to be very easy but, then they told us that we were going to need to do a whole bunch of different drafts and edits. I thought this was a one time thing. As we went along, the one or two scenes we had were being molded into plays. Plays that we then acted out with people in our class. Some people didn't want to do it because they were shy, I know I was. I didn't want people to get a part wrong and then I would have to correct them. After a while of doing this, people were excited to have their play acted out. People became more comfortable with picking people for the scenes. Everybody was able to see their play for what it really was and they could tell what they needed to work on.
Near the end of year, we started to invest our time in an event called Art in the Open and we worked with the Leah Stein Dance Company on the project. Dancers from the company and Leah Stein came a had workshops with us on how to open our eyes to our different environments. We had workshops on how to get comfortable with our environment enough that we knew how to make movements that were creative and intriguing. My group 'Hidden Indulgence' wasn't a group of people that would usually hang out together, we had our own different social groups. But, together we were able to express ourselves successfully. As the process went on, we became more comfortable with each other and in our site (our performance place). We had movements that we planned out but, the more we worked together and with the site, it was obvious that we were comfortable and confident about our piece. We learned how to use daily objects like poles or rocks to make noise together that were creative. The day before performance, Sasha (the videographer) interviewed our group together and asked us how was it working together. I said that "It was hard at first because we didn't know what to do with anything around us, but as the process went on, it got better. We were all able to express ourselves and we became closer because of it. We were comfortable around each other, we talked, and laughed about everything."
We didn't only did this with subjects in English, but we did this in History class. It was different though because we did Role play. We would research a major event in history and then, we were assigned roles that we had to act out for the class. Or we would have a discussion as the people from history that we are. Even though, we weren't actually being ourselves and we had to hold back some our creative juices. It was still a good way to express ourselves. We would take a night to look over our person and write an introduction about them. Then, the next day at class we would come and sit in a circle and act our roles. Mr. Block would ask us questions about the events that we had to answer as the person. it was great because we had to think hard and fully understand our person's view on things to make we made sense. But, we got to show our emotion and put our own spin on things. During the year, we did two of theses. It was funny because the first time we did, some people were unsure of themselves and didn't really talk. But when the next one came, everybody was excited because we knew what was going on and what we had to do. We knew the basics that we build off of. It was a way of expressing ourselves, but not really ourselves. In the spiritual role play (a role play where we acted as a person that we thought was very spiritual and inspirational to us), I learned about different religions and how people get connected to the higher power: "People meditate and pray and I think that makes them spiritual. Because you have to open your eyes and realize what is going on in the world around you. Then, for you to become one with the world and yourself." I found out how other people express themselves in spiritual ways and that made me more comfortable with the world around me. In the end, expression helps a person become more comfortable with themselves and the world around them. The ways of expressing themselves can be totally different for each person, like artwork, dance, or singing.
As we went on in the year, I learned another thing: When a person struggles for something they want, the outcomes will be greater and better than expected. We read a lot of stories about people that struggled through their lifetime to get where they wanted to be. Most of the time, the outcome was better than expected. In some cases, it didn't always work out because they are just unlucky. Together, as a class, we struggled through a lot of things. We struggled through projects, days where we just didn't want to anything, days where the work was just overwhelming, but look at us now! We are very versatile 10th graders. We struggled to get our ideas out on paper, but we also read about struggles with people in history or short stories.
Finding Freedom was a topic that we did recently. We learned about how freedom doesn't always mean that you are able to do what you want to, but that you are in a mindset where you feel free. Jarvis Jay Masters is a man that is in prison and is on death row. He was given a life sentence, but he wasn't just drowning himself in his sadness. He let himself be free in his mind. He started to meditate and become one with himself. He was able to deal with his situation, with his past, and with his future. Even though, he was going to die in jail, he could die free. Masters struggled to find himself and couldn't do it. He struggled the wrong way and landed himself in jail. But, after all that struggle he was able to become free in jail. Sometimes, people don't become rehabilitated in jail, but Masters did. We read about his struggle in different portions of his book called Finding Freedom: Writings from Death Row. Then, we took our favorite stories and wrote about them. They were called Jarvis Jay Masters Response. I learned about his struggles to be a person that was respected in the jail but, still a person that was watching out for people. I learned about how on death row, everything is put out in the open. He had to confront his problems and be able to deal with them. Masters had to be able to answer questions that he would never answer before. Within itself that was just a struggle.
The Holocaust was an event that we did a lot of work with. We learned about the struggle of everybody in that was involved in the Holocaust. We learned about Jewish people in the concentration that struggled to stay alive. The sons that abandoned their fathers because they wanted to stay alive. The Germans that became evil in a blink of an eye to keep their lives. The book Night by Elie Wiesel was a very powerful book that we read during that unit. It was very straight forward, but it was different. It was already known that the main character survived the Holocaust because he wrote this book about it, but it was just crazy to read about his experience. It was crazy to read about the struggles he went through with his father, but he lived through it. It was crazy to find out that if he just made a different decision that he wouldn't had to stay in the concentration camps. The journey was amazing. He struggled to stay alive but, he also struggled to keep his father alive. He kept his father alive as he could. Elie did anything he could for his father, Elie even let his sick father have his rations. While, other sons just left their fathers for death and didn't even look back. The struggles that he went through made me feel like that he lived the worst things in life. He went through hell and back. In the end, the outcome was amazing. He was able to live and see the world now. He was able to write a book and become famous. He didn't just write one book either, he wrote a collection of books. Books that are very well-known. He let the world know about what was going on in the concentration camps, he was able to share his struggles.
Sweatshops was also a unit that we spent some time on. We learned about modern day sweatshops, who worked in sweatshops, the condition of sweatshops, and their history. We watched a movie called Made in L.A. The movie was about a factory that made clothes for Forever 21. The workers were mostly immigrants that we treated unfairly. The conditions were horrific and so was the pay. The pay was barely even enough to live off of. The ladies in the factories struggles with everyday life, they struggled to keep food on the table for their children. They made a organization that was for the immigrants. They organized protests, spoke around the world, educated children, and told everybody or anybody that would listen to them. The strike lasted them three years to get the Forever 21 Company to even listen to them. In three years, the women changed the world. The struggle was very long and strenuous, but they won in the end. The outcome was great because not only did they get what they came for but, each women got a little bit more out of it. One women was able to get the job that she had always wanted. Another women was able to try and get her children to America, her children who she hadn't seen in 18 years. The organization that they had prospered even more than they thought it would. The organization gained more members before, learnt from their mistakes, and gained even more stability than before. In the end, through out history it is clear that when a person struggles for something they want, the outcomes will be greater and better than expected.
I feel like the year has been an success. I learned about people and myself. I learned that struggle and expression go hand in hand. People struggle to get through life and as they get through they learn about expression. People learn that expression is the key to a better life and that doesn't come without struggling.
Our 10th grade English and History classes lead by Mr. Block at Science Leadership Academy were everything but ordinary. We used literary devices and our own thoughts to come up with either broad or specific ideas. Along the way we were challenged, taught and questioned numerous times by our peers and teachers. With all of that input, all that was left was the outcome; the work we hand in. I’ve compiled three general understandings that I came to after looking over some of my work.
This year I worked on a project in History where the entire class reenacted the French/Haitian Revolution and we discussed the relationship between the two. In the process of reenacting we had to research. In this unit, I acted as the Bourgeoisie and I had to find a quote, or research, something that would give me background and enhance my knowledge of the revolution. One of the most essential pieces of information I found was, “the typical rural family of five required sixty bushels of wheat per year, “or with the triennial rotation of crops, about 15 acres of land for food.” However, the majority of French peasants— as much as 70 percent in the region of Cambrésis, for example— owned less than two-and-a-half acres of farmland. To make matters worse, France suffered several droughts and harsh winters during the 1780s, and French peasants were unaware of new, more efficient farming techniques; most used outdated tools and methods that dated back to the Middle Ages.” This was a crucial piece of evidence in our reenactment because I played the Bourgeoisie and this piece of information allowed me to know exactly what it felt like to be in that class in that time period. Given the fact that even after reading that quote I had to delve deeper in my research to find out exactly how much a bushel was worth. My research definitely allowed me to have a better understanding of the unit. I was able to take note to what other people were saying during discussions and explain to their group why they were in the wrong, using fact based evidence.
During English we approached research and collaboration also. We had to complete a full podcast with a real guest and ourselves, as the host, leading the discussions. Everyone focused on crossing boundaries, and I decided to talk to my guest about the boundaries that she crossed. What I thought was amazing is how with every sentence, my guest would change the questionnaire and I would learn something different as we continued. It begins with, “Certain boundaries are just, not to be crossed. Certain boundaries, no matter how hard we try not to cross them, we will, but with a consequence at the end.” When one of my guests said that it made the entire piece, which was the most essential part of my podcast. What I’ve come to realize is that information from primary sources helps to develop a stronger understanding.
"The most powerful words are those that relate to you."
A piece of work that pushed my understanding and allowed me to have a stronger grasp of the assignment was the Religion Study where I related religion to music. Looking through the assignment, I realized that the most powerful words are those that relate to you. At one point in my research I found this quote, “Music in its purest sense is religion and religion in its purest sense is music” (Sri Chinoy, Music and Spirituality/Religion). This quote made me realize what my entire project was about. And it also changed the entire outcome of the final product (the brochure). I came to a conclusion, making my final piece a lot stronger because I found a deeper connection; music is my life.
I remember one day in English where we had a renowned poet visit us. She made us write a paragraph in our English Journals about the way we feel about words. I chose to write about the word “technicality”. I wrote, “The sophisticated way they think they speak, is literally their blatant ignorance, to me. How dare you tell me my emotions are just a technicality? My emotions are my soul. They are me, don’t you dare speak of taking that away from me.” After reading over my work I found that those words were powerful solely based on the fact that they were my own words and I meant it.
For another one of our English projects we wrote a play, my play was titled Arts & Crafts. In this play I reflected on India, the social changes, and myself. At one point, where I was concluding the play, I found myself talking about the way the life of one of my main characters was being intruded and somewhat changed in a decent way but while writing it I was thinking about the way I would feel if I had someone to listen to me. I wrote, “You're here. We're speaking. That's all I really want, someone to listen. To understand, Samajha mēṁ āyā?”(Arts & Crafts) I was suddenly intrigued and in that moment that play meant more than just play to me. Throughout this year I’ve realized that within my work, the most powerful words are those that relate to me.
"In the process of grasping freedom, one finds creativity"
We recently completed a dance; yes a dance for the Art in the Open Festival along with help from the Leah Stein dance company. In the beginning of the unit I was completely confused, asking questions like, “Do the dances have meaning?” or “What is the purpose?” We were given the opportunity to work with the environment and create a dance using the environment. We were allowed time to be outside and working with our groups to complete the project. The process was very tedious but in the end we were able to create amazing dances that we will never forget. After finishing that unit I came to the conclusion that in the process of grasping freedom, one finds creativity.
Overall, this year’s English
and History classes were filled with its ups and downs and mishaps that lead me
into a new direction within my work. I was given the opportunity to learn, to
create and to lead. And the best part about it all is that I wouldn’t give back
a second of it all.
In the poetry wiki, we were told to create our own poems, and the only guidelines were about the type of poems we had to write like an ode, or an imagist poem. The line, “Walking through rose bushes/The sharp thorns grabbing at the pants/Like an army of sharp fairy hands,” really shows the level of creativity we were expected to show. Where else would you get to use such an abstract metaphor?
You would think that with all of this creative writing going on, we would learn a flimsy amount of history or proper writing skills, but somehow we managed it. Our history lessons encompassed everything from Apartheid to the Holocaust, from the problems in Haiti to the French revolution, all which taught how our society came to be today. The history of how Haiti struggled through its own civil war so recently really enlightened me. It opened a window into the world of a poor worker and how they are oppressed and segregated constantly.
We were also given time to look over what we had done over the year and to draw some conclusions from it. I noticed that the multinational corporations and poor countries ruling elites were generally selfish people who were doing their best to destroy the environment and their people completely. “The Elites would have to grow a spine and stick up for their people, and be more insistent on things like child labor laws and fair treatment of workers.” This line comes from a mock trial analysis(Click Here) where the poor country ruling elites were prosecuted by the rest of the world. The trial revealed that the poor country ruling elite could easily change labor laws to be morally acceptable, with only a small cost to the corporations in charge. This selfishness is what is holding the world back from advancement in technology and quality of life. Even more so than that, I realized that poor leadership leads to most of the worlds problems, and if every leader did what was truly in their countries best interest, the world would be an amazing place to live in.
Throughout history class, I realized that whenever change occurs, struggle shortly follows, and the struggle may lead to more chaos, or it could end with serenity and peace. Throughout history, groups within society have tried to change the structure of that very society, and a group of people would always strongly oppose them, but that is not always a bad thing. In WWII, the Nazi’s tried to completely exterminate the Jews, but the rest of the world rebelled against them and eventually won the war, but not before it had affected many people. 6 million Jews died, and I realized the survivors had their souls "Scorched with the fire of oppression.”(Click Here) These brave survivors had to fight to regain their place in the world, while getting over the frightening things they experienced.
I believe that we were able to cope with the amount of work we were assigned because of the highly structured but flexible style of teaching Mr. Block employs. He makes sure that even when we have multiple projects going at one time, we keep everything organized and together, while meeting all of the time requirements for our assignments. The skills that have been reinforced in this class, such as perseverance, hard work, organization, and dedication, have large impacts in other areas in every day life, and that is what I truly learned this year in History and English.
Traumatic events come in many forms, but whether in the form of the holocaust or the wars overseas, these events always leave a wake of people affected by them in different ways and to different extents. However, everyone deals with this animalistic reaction to trauma in various forms. People who survive traumatic events are people who can overcome personal discomfort. Survivors are people who steel themselves against the horrors they face, but sometimes those horrors cling to these survivors like a wet article of clothing. The survivors who end up living better lives are the ones who can look into themselves and except their fate, or can simply shut the suffering in a little box inside of them, in order to get over the emotional pain.
Holocaust survivors had to deal with the posttraumatic stress disorder brought on by their horrible experiences, and the PTSD is sometimes as bad as the actual experience itself. Holocaust survivors also had to adjust to how they were treated. These survivors went from being treated like rats to being treated like human beings, which is not an easy transition for anyone. Modern day warriors also have this problem. Many surviving members of our military come home to experience PTSD and survivor’s guilt, which is to think that they somehow could have saved their fallen comrades. Warfare and struggle change a person, and the new person is usually a shocked shell of their former self, ready to be shattered by the casual cruelty of the obscene world.
people who usually deal with extreme levels of stress are the ones with a
strong support system. The people
with strong cohesive family units, or a group of friends or coworkers that
support you are the ones who have the support necessary to get over these
sensations of despair. In modern
day warfare the warriors that lead normal lives after their wartime horrors are
over are the ones who have something to distract them, like a team of some
sort, or the people who are able to shove all of those feelings into a box and
push it away from their conscious, so they do not think about it on a daily
In Maus, by Art Speigleman, the characters are all portrayed as different animals. The Jews are mice, Polish people are pigs, and the Nazis are cats. This further shows how, at that time, Nazis literally preyed on Jews, like a cat preys on mice. The Nazis purposely lowered a class of people below them, therefore justifying genocide to their larger public, as being nothing more than taking care of a rat infestation. This social degeneration being used against a society is despicable in every way. The Nazis took all of the Jews’ rights away and left them, as a race, depleted and thoroughly flabbergasted by the treatment they endured.
After the Jews were so completely mentally demolished, the survivors had to survive after that with all of that terrible information in their head. The mental images of hanging Jews, burning Jews, starving Jews, always haunted them. The Jews were treated as rats, except rats got more food and nourishment. Everything that people took for granted was a shock to them. Showering in hot water, eating until our stomachs are about to burst, exercising by choice, all of these things were foreign to the shell shocked Jews after the holocaust.
In Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, Marji left Iran fleeing from the war. She grew up in a country that didn’t care about the war, and who had never known true hardship. They had never been bombed and forced to bunker down in a basement with their entire family. They didn’t have to wear a veil so that they wouldn’t be shot. They didn’t have war at their doorsteps. This meant that Marji was a great deal more mature than her peers. She needed to grow up fast, or she would be lost in the chaos of a country going through civil unrest.
Since Marji was forced to grow up so fast, it made finding new friends difficult because she already had an idea of what was truly important, and what she shouldn’t worry about at all. She tried to find people who understood her predicament, but no one could to relate to her. She eventually had to compromise and make friends with people who didn’t really understand her, but they couldn’t really hold a decent conversation with her. This lack of companionship is a big problem for most people after a traumatic event. When something takes up your entire life, you live it, breath it, and then you have to flee from it, it leaves a hole that needs to be filled with something, whether it is a sport, or a good friend, but that takes time to accomplish.
When people go through traumatic events, their very souls are scorched with the fire of oppression. These people need time and effort to heal that burn, and while some people have the willpower to completely shut themselves away from the pain, most people need to talk about their experiences in order to recover. There is no “better” way to deal with stress; the whole goal is to just alleviate the pressure being put on you.
Satarapi, Marjane. Persepolis.
Spiegleman, Art. Maus.
Luttrell, Marcus. Service: A Navy SEAL at War.
Kyle, Chris. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US History.
For my Capstone project I am writing about being SLA’s Baseball Captain for the 3rd year. I played on the team for the year before and this year of, sadly, my senior year. The reason why I wanted to focus my capstone on Baseball was because I felt that I had/ still have a strong relation with the team and vise versa. It is sad that this is the last year I can play as a kid in high school but that won’t stop me from coming back next year to assistant coach.
Sweatshop Trial Analysis:
As we all know, mock trials are extremely useful teaching tools. It forces us students into the mindset of an unbiased observer, and makes us search the internet for sources both for prosecution and defense purposes. But some mock trials don’t capture the true essence of a real trial, and there were definitely some points that were said in this mock trial that would never have been said in an actual courtroom.
As an example, take a look at a quote from the U.S. Consumers closing statement: “We have been trained by the corporations and the system.” This statement would never have been said in court. It implies that the Multinational Corporations and the System have complete control over the U.S. Consumer’s life, that the average consumer is weak and simple minded. This quote is a sign that the consumers are ready to roll over and whimper because they have no real excuse for what is happening under their noses.
This sort of information flowed throughout the trial, another example of this is a quote from the poor country ruling elite. They said, “We do agree that the conditions in the sweatshops are bad.” In a real trial they would give no ground, saying that the conditions were good, until some outside source came up with some information to contradict them. Their goal would be to try to get out of the situation as quickly as possible without suffering any collateral damage.
The eternal struggle to try and change the sweatshop system would be accomplished much faster if everyone banded together. The Multinational Corporations would have to be willing to produce less revenue so they could afford to make the working conditions for their workers better, give them higher hourly pay, and dispose of their waste in a more efficient and sanitary way.
The Elites would have to grow a spine and stick up for their people, and be more insistent on things like child labor laws and fair treatment of workers. This would make the general population much happier in their daily lives, as well as make them happier in the workplace. In turn the workers might not get the instant, huge change from terrible to good as they might have expected. They might have to make do with small changes at first, so they can give the corporations time to adjust to the novel experience of not making such a ridiculous amount of money.
If the world bands together and does these simple things, the potential for sweatshops could be endless. There might be a point in the future where working at a sweatshop could be a prestigious job. That would be a huge achievement for the world, and it would solve much of the major problems in our society. There would be less civil unrest if everyone was treated better and given better wages, and the environment would be at less risk with everyone using their money to protect it, and many more improvements would be possible. These are just two examples in a sea of options. It’s a wonder people haven’t changed these sweatshops already.
"I began to get up early to try to calm my mind so I wouldn't panic. It was as if my whole life was being displayed on a screen during the death penalty case. Things I had never realized about myself and my life were introduced to me and the jury at the same time. Questions I'd never asked my mother - like how long she'd been abused, on the street, an addict - were being asked now. Through meditation I learned to slow down and take a few deep breaths, to take everything in, not to run from the pain, but to sit with it, confront it, give it the companion it never had."
It is like he is free when he meditates because he is free to be inside of his thoughts. Masters is able to deal with things and become one with himself. I think that his incarceration changed him into the person that is able to get to a place where he can deal with his problems. Incarceration turned him into a changed man, which is what they want to happen to them. He turned in a person that would be able to succeed in the world after he got out, but he was on death row. He came to terms with his problems and in that sense became free. He was free even though, he was in jail.
The Dalai Lama Hat
"Man!' he said. "This picture makes me look a lot more human, don't you think so?" He handed me the picture. "Yeah, it does. But I think you've always been human. You just have to feel it." I gave it back to him.
The key thing is this section is that fact that he says 'look a lot more human', that part stood out for me a lot. I questioned about what it meant, I interpreted as that prisoners aren't treated like humans in jail. Or they aren't viewed as humans, they are just animals. Animals that decide to do the wrong thing and go to jail to be reformed back in humans. While reading the rest of the vignette, I tried to think of the title The Dalai Lama Hat and how that connected to the man. I thought that the hat was the freedom and hope that he would get out of the jail. He would get out and see his family again. The hat gave him hope and you could see it in his smile, which made him look and feel human. Humans have hope.
Stop! A Buddhist Is Here!
"According to the laws of prison life, none of this was suppose to be any of business of mine. but it was. This time it had to be. For all the life in me, I couldn't look at this gay person, sitting alone against the back wall of the exercise year, and not see an innocent human being. Yet I could not summon up the courage to become a snitch and risk my own life to warn him off this yard."
I thought this section was powerful, Masters went into this whole background about what happens if a homosexual comes to the jail. He talked about how they are viewed and what people will do to them and to people how help them. Masters says that would die if he helped this man but, if he didn't anybody that would try and kill him, would die also. This is highlights the fact that some people view prisoners as animals. Anybody would do anything to kill this homosexual man because they wanted people to know that they hate homosexuals just as much as the next person. They would risk their lives just to get this one man. Masters showed that prisoners aren't animals. They are just trying to survive, like Crazy Dan. He was trying to show that was tough too. While Masters was trying to save him life, he wasn't being an animal. He risked his life because he could've been caught as a snitch. He would have been tortured by everybody. He showed his humanity.