Humanities Portfolio 2012

Walking through room 307, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t expect the World History and English classes to be quite what they were; the curriculum was filled with new cultures, places, and experiences that shaped me as a student. My perspective has changed, along with my opinions. I was exposed to a whole different way of teaching. This consisted of interactive trials and scenarios, dancing, and freedom within the classroom. Over this school year, we’ve covered numerous topics. I hope to pull together my entire year and what I’ve learned into two general statements: the ability to express one’s self allows for freedom and culture molds humans into unique beings.


When writing my general statements, I thought about the different projects I created. I began to think of my favorite ones and noticed that each of them allowed me to express myself. To sum up how these projects affected me I came up with the general statement: the ability to express one’s self allows for freedom. We took part in a poetry unit, which allowed students to express themselves. I wrote many pieces, but noticed a pattern within my writing. Every one of my poems stayed true to my life and was very raw. By this I mean, I write with feelings not with thoughts. In my ode poem, Ode to the Worn Out Sneakers in the Corner, I compare my sneakers to myself: “we're bent up, and used up. / days have made us weak./ all we have left is to,/ sit in the corner.” (My Poems) This poem allowed me to become free of my past experiences and share them with the reader. I wanted them to be able to feel the words I was saying by comparing them to an everyday object.


The Art in the Open Festival was an amazing and quite interesting experience. After splitting up into groups we were able to come up with our own performances. This self-created performance allowed us to express whatever feeling we wanted to convey. One of my group members, Helen said in her reflection forum, “ I was expressing my opinions on my piece through movement and it came naturally.My group chose to design a dance showing a prison break and one of the prisoners breaking free. As the freed prisoner, the routine made me really feel free. The site-specific performance was freeing in itself; it was a chance for everyone to let go of their self-conscious mindsets and move around in new and weird ways. We became free of the boundaries that kept us all separate from each other. (Art in the Open Wiki)


A creative project we worked on all year was our plays, which we submitted to Philadelphia Young Playwrights. This was not an easy task. It took months to complete and we had to reach a deadline. I struggled with my topic because I branched off into a whole new world, literally. Every other student wrote about realistic problems that spread across the entire world; however, I wanted to take my play to a whole new level. I wrote about a human-like alien, Vara, who is sent to Earth to help humans in need. Writing The Stranger allowed for me to express my love for Science Fiction and for writing stories. I became free of the worry of what others might think. I wrote The Stranger for someone like me to read. (The Stranger)


Our classes were very geared to experiencing new cultures; especially in World History. We explored England, Germany, Poland, Haiti, Asia, Nigeria, and many more locations through our units and assignments. After taking this class, I can say that I’ve learned that culture molds humans into beings. To elaborate, culture is an important thing to know and take pride in. We did many activities concerning culture; however two stuck out to me the most: the language autobiography and the body biography of Edwidge Danticat.


            The language autobiography was one of the most difficult assignments I’ve ever written. It challenged me to look at what my culture is and the language that I speak. Yes, along with everyone I speak English; however, I thought about my culture and everyday vocabulary that reflects who I am today. In my language autobiography I mentioned the power of words on human beings, I said, “It’s language like this that puts guns to heads, ties ropes around necks, pops pills in throats, and slices a pure wrist.” This was my favorite line because I believed so strongly in the power that negative words have on people. The reason this paper was so difficult is because I never really thought about my ancestry, traditions, or culture. It gave me a chance for self-reflection. It was important that I wrote this paper to better understand myself, and the person I’ve molded into over the years.


            The second culture project we created was a body biography of Edwidge Danticat. Danticat is a famous Haitian author. We created a body and included words that remind us of her and quotes from her stories. Drawing the body biography helped me to look deeper into Danticat’s culture. It helped me to understand her life and words better by reflecting what meant the most to her. My body biography can be found here.


            My year with Mr. Block in World History and English was unforgettable. We were pushed into a corner of the room to understand what it felt like to be a holocaust victim, put into groups to see the lack of justice within the French Revolution, and became one of Hernando Cortes’ men to understand their point of view. It was a year full of understanding myself and understanding lives of people I could never know. Being in touch with my culture has made me comfortable with who I am. Expressing myself has helped me to gain freedom in sharing things about myself. 

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