Humanities Portfolio 2012

           Throughout the year, with both Copper Stream and Mr. Block, I have created many things that I thought I wasn’t capable of. When I look at both the History Class and English class, I can say that the things we did in here reminded me of kindergarten because the projects showed who we were and what level of creativity we are at. It also showed that we had no limits when it came to writing and Mr. Block just sat back helped us along the way. This whole year he guided through our projects but Mr. Block used a new sense of guiding….he never really told us the answer that we were so used to getting. I think that led me to all of my ideas because there was never really a limit. But I wasn’t always like that, I was always shy with my work, I think its really when I finished my descriptive piece, I saw that Mr. Block’s way of teaching. I was always scared to talk to him because he would change up my ideas but now I see that he has helped me finalize everything and anything from my papers to my podcasts to my ideas. Also, Copper Stream did a lot of collaboration work inside and outside of school so we were never cooped up into a room. We had freedom and learning mixed in together. There are three main things that I have learned about how I can tell my story, the different perspectives that are out there, and how the world isn’t always fair. All of these general understandings helped me become a better writer and helped me have a whole new point of view on how the world will see my work in the future.

With in the first week of school, we had to write our descriptive piece. We had no limit to what we could write about. The next day after writing our pieces, we gathered up into a circle and shared our story. That was when I realized that everyone has a story, it is who we are and the way we chose to tell it is always different. But in the end, it always defines us as people. I saw a whole new point of view on my class and the different individuals learning a long side me. The first project we did was the descriptive essay and we had many mini lessons leading up to the final piece. In this piece we had to write descriptively, using our senses and we had to make sure that the reader not only read our piece but also felt it. When it came time to writing, I felt that "all moments in life are important, but not all are special" (Revised Descriptive Essay Post). I felt as if I could describe at least one thing from each of the years that I was living, in detail but I didn’t know what to focus it on so I chose to write about my camera because it caught all of the emotions, actions, and moments from my past years. After that project, the language unit came next and I felt that I had a strong connection to this unit because my family speaks multiple languages and I act as if a translator. Until I wrote everything down, I didn’t realize how much I could help my family and what I am capable. Language has changed my life so much. When we were asked to talk about what language meant to us, I said: "I think that the language and the way you use it depends on how you grew up and self choices. Your speech is a part of your identity and your identity is what people will know once you have the power to speak. That's how I see it" (Worksheet Scene: Your Language Identity).

While growing up my parents would use words that weren’t real but I would say those words like they were real. "I’ve grown into those words thinking they were real and usable but they weren’t. They were only to the “fresh off the boat” people because that’s the slang they spoke" (Q2 Family Dictionary). In the end, "I struggled with my reflection because I had so much to say but there are so few words to describe it with. This is a feeling hat I can never describe. That's how amazing it is. I've learned that what I do is not necessarily a common thing and that putting it on paper makes me feel proud and happy of what I can do. Writing this autobiography was a blast" (Language Autobiography Reflection Sheet).

Language isn’t the only thing I learned in this class, I’ve learned that I can speak my mind in this class and discuss my ideas with others. Throughout the whole year, I had problems with sticking to one main idea. I would get a bazillion ideas and become sad when I couldn’t use them. During the Art in the Open unit, my group and I concluded that "We had so many ideas but we couldn’t portray it out correctly so we just had to drop them. It came to a point where the deadline was coming up and we had nothing" (Art in the Open Reflection). But when I finally got my ideas together, I had a work of art! An example of this is the podcast about my father’s journey and the boundaries he had to over come while making his way to America. "I tried my hardest trying to pull listeners into my dad's journey and life. I made sure he described everything" (Podcast Reflection Sheet).

During the whole year, my personal ideas have allowed me to impersonate, create, and be the person I probably would never be. We started off the year with the Spirituality Role Play unit. In this unit, we were given a role to research, answer questions too, and impersonate as we sat in a circle. I was given the role Karen Armstrong. It was the first time I got to act like some one I wasn’t. I always thought that role plays needed scripts, a stage, and actors…like Broadway but we didn’t. All we needed was our research and a big circle. For our next role play, I chose the role of King Louis the sixteenth. In this role, I had to act like a spoiled king. I often said during the role play: “All men are born equal to their estate. Nothing more, and a lot less. That's how it was when I was King and everything was fine. Also, if a man needs to be killed, then so be it…what does it have to do with me? I am living. I do not need to worry about any of the peasants. They barely do enough as it is” or I would be carefree and say: “I am royalty so don't worry…you can worship me as you please. People called me the wishy washy king because I satisfied neither the royalists nor the reformers.”

But my personal ideas didn’t stop there, the class and Mr. Block soon explored the Keystone Pipeline and how it affected everyone. We had to look in the point of view from a tiny fish to the big CEO man overseeing the blueprints. I chose to do three monologues…one was a girl that was saying good bye to her tree, the other person was an actor that was protesting a long the White House, and the last one was a conflicted worker building the pipeline in Canada. For this project, I had to keep an open mind to all of the point of views, Personally, I hated the idea of the pipeline so I wanted to focus on that but there are so many different point of views on hate like sadness, confliction, confusion, or anger. All of those things could apply. My first monologue had a girl named Janie talking to her tree, Bruce. Bruce was a tree that she grew up with and now that her family has chosen to move away from the pipeline, it meant Janie had to move away from Bruce. Janie starts to tell Bruce his expected future: "Everything will be gone but we’ll soon be gone before it" and "I tried to argue back saying we’re leaving you, our view of everything, and our memories" (Janie, Monologue #4). The next monologue was based off of the protesting in front of the White House about the Keystone Pipeline. I involved an actor into this scene because I wanted to shed a light that regular working class people aren’t the only ones with a say in what goes on. Many celebrities protest and stand up for their rights. Daryl Hannah, an actor, did that and that is why I placed her as a main character in my monologue. With that one cry for change, the U.S Park Police zip-tied a nylon cuff restraint onto my writs and threw me into the back of the car and I was brought to the slammer“ (Daryl Hannah, Monologue #1). As I said above, I can be someone that I am in when I write. When writing “The Missing Chapter 26” to the book, Things Fall Apart, it was no different. I could say things like: “I am a man, a man of my tribe and family. But the man inside of me is now gone.”

                   Throughout most of the year, we had the honor to work with Kate McGrath. She helped us create a play with her creative ideas and different techniques of writing. At first, I didn’t know what I was going to write about…what struck out to me…I didn’t want to write about family problems, or friendship and their dramas...I just wanted to write something that no one would know about so I explored the websites that Mr. Block gave to us and crossed a video…”Heaven’s Border”. This video struck me at the heart because my family came from a different country with nothing, legally and it was already hard enough for them. I wanted to show people what others will do to pursue their dreams and I wanted people to try to understand the hardships people go through for freedom. In my play, I had three main characters, strangers that would come together to make a make-shift family. Together, they flee North Korea by entering China, Laos, Thailand, and then they must finally seek asylum in South Korea. The journey is not easy because of the abusive smugglers and heartless border officials. At the end of the journey, only two of the main characters make it out of the three that started the journey. During the whole play, I was the minds of all of the characters from the cruel smugglers to seven year old girl trying to change her life. I was everyone and anyone in my play. I would either say: “Nuna, nuna, wake up! We’re all going to die!” (Dong Dong) to a receptionist in North Korea: “Thank you. Respect the general! Long Live the Sun of the 21st CENTURY! - Kim Jong Il. FIGHTING FIGHTING!” One of the reasons I was so interested in the play is because I got to create everything and bring in all of the work and my creativity together. I worked day and night on the play, finding info and watching more videos…and when I finally understood how the officials could treat the defectors so badly, I wrote the last part of the play. I had the main character who was caught, shot, and beaten say: “There are guards watching me until I can walk again and when I can walk, I will have to wear this weird monitor thing around my leg so they can find me. I have to keep it hidden too. But when I am done this torture, I will get out and find you guys. My mom has money for an airplane ticket so I don’t have to revisit any of those places” (Ji Yong, Breaking Borders).

In conclusion, I felt that this year was a very strong year for me because my work brought me to different places like: UPenn for my Language Autobiography and Temple to watch and get ideas for our plays! In all, I would not take anything back from this year. I feel as if everything has happened for a reason and I have a new view on writing and how I should incorporate my creativity into all of my work and not pass down any opportunities that come my way. 

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