You and the World: Us and the Art Around Us

​Hello again, readers and listeners! As a freshman at Science Leadership Academy, for a long-running English project, I have been called upon to enact change in my community. I have been called upon to be an agent of this change and to see it through. 

In my first blog post, I came to you with facts. I came to you with the basis of my project; I planned to go into the city and look at the art, the story, that has been captured in murals and paintings, wheat-pastings and sculptures. Now, with a bit of my own research, I have more information and ideas at my benevolent disposal. 

As Philadelphians, many of us are incredibly privileged. With 32 museums, it is one of few American cities with a number as high as this. But, perhaps art isn’t just classical. Perhaps art isn’t just what we find in museums. As I thought and thought, I noticed that most of the art we find in Philadelphia isn’t by Van Gogh or Monet, but it’s been made by the hands of people today; those living and breathing in our city now are those making art the most with the most influence. 

​(above, Van Gogh's infamous Starry Night)

Understand that I don’t mean to disdain or put any blemish on the concept of classical art. Having classical works hanging on my walls and having a middle name with roots in the word Renaissance itself (Reneé...), I have absolutely no reason to believe that urban art and contemporary art has a greater place in this world, this city, than the classics. 

However, it got me to thinking: Is it possible that, in this time, urban art means more? It is my belief that it does mean more. I believe that urban art has a major influence on the children today, and especially on our city. For this research, I conducted a small survey which consisted of 9 questions all referring to the current state of urban art in Philadelphia.

Entitled, “What is Art in Philadelphia,” my survey’s first and second questions referred to the Mural Arts Programs which I had hoped to get in contact with before posting this blog. However, I was not able to contact the MAP for an interview due to run-ins with a lack of time and other responsibilities (I have especially learned in this project that it is a major mistake to bite off more than you can chew!). However, my first two questions did address the idea of the MAP and City Government funding. 

88% of those who took the survey knew about the MAP, though 100% of those surveyed agreed completely that the Program should receive City Government funding. Results corresponded well with my beliefs; I believe this shows the vast influence that urban art has had on our community. Though most of my answers were completely anonymous, for those that I specifically reached out to, the answerers were spread throughout the city; this is a clear representation of how widespread our urban art is- just within the city of Philadelphia. 

Out of 9 questions, I found three particularly interesting. When I spoke with my brother about what questions I should add onto my survey, he shot out “Ask what they think about graffiti!” At that, I typed up the following questions:

  • What is an artist? 
  • Is graffiti a form of art?
  • Can those who graffiti, then, be qualified as artists?

The answers were widespread and the following picture is the results of this question:

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.35.50 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.35.50 PM
With this new knowledge and an understanding that isn’t much different from mine, it sparked an idea- multiple, rather- for my ‘Agent of Change’. 

The climax. 

The culmination.

The consummation. 

As an agent of change, I will be sending out another survey to students around the city; college students, high school students, learners of all sorts. I hope to facilitate the beautification of my school, Science Leadership Academy. Being downtown and in the heart of Philadelphia, each advisory will carefully select a wall to decorate and make wondrous with a motif or main topic that is seen in and around Philadelphian culture. I'll be sending out yet another survey across the inter-webs and around my school to prepare for this. With blog #3, I plan to have photographs and news of SLA's beautification!

Again, refer to my first blog for more information!
Here is my annotated bibliography for a reputable record of my sources. 

Below is one final treat; a video of many people who see street art as art and not vandalism from Artist "Banksy" (courtesy of CBS)

You and The World Blog #2

Daniel Ross                                                                                              January 13, 2013


          While I was researching poverty I came across some very intriguing facts. According to the Webster's Dictionary, poverty is the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor. Poverty is a really big epidemic. The median household income in the United States is $46,326. In 2011 nearly 50 million Americans, more than 16 percent of the population, are struggling to survive. In 2011, 50.1 million Americans lived in households where food was scarce, 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children. Each day 10,00 babies are born dead and the same amount of newborns die within a month of birth. Over 1.4 billion people in the developing world live below the poverty line. 

         I found this website which lets you view your neighborhood’s statistics. Here’s a look at my neighborhood. Now to be considered middle class your income must be at least $40,000 a year. To be considered upper class you must pull at least $100,00 a year. As you can see, there is 43% of the residents with income below the poverty line. That’s really high for there only to be 176 houses. That means that 24 residents are living off of less than $26,000 per year. That’s $2,166 a month, and $541 a week. The average American spends $200-$300 a week on groceries. This only leaves about $300 for the rest of the week which may seem a lot not but it’s not enough for a family.

         I decided to research a little more and found someone in my neighborhood to interview. However they are above the poverty line. He does have a job, but it isn't the highest paying job. He also has two children who he deeply cares for. He really is struggling to make ends meet. His electricity is currently off and uses candles for light. Sometimes the only meal his children get is at school. This man’s life may sound very depressing but, he can honestly say that he is blessed. He could be jobless, he could be homeless but he’s not. Sure he’s struggling but at least he can come home to a nice, dry, warm bed every night. 

Animal Cruelty Blog #2

Since my last blog, I came up with new information and a survey on animal cruelty. I made a survey on how people feel about animal cruelty and if they have any knowledge on it as well. Out of the 22 people who took the survey, 18 people  had pets at home. 10 of those people adopted their pets which is good because the animal could have been through tough times with another family or was abused and treated wrong. I then asked if they know what animal do they think is the number 1 animal tested on and mostly all the people said mice. That is a good guess but, there is no number one animal. Dogs, cats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and monkeys are the main test subjects used to benefit us. For example, these animals are tested on by lotion, cosmetics, or anything that will be the newest thing for human skin or to make us look better in some way. Usually, the animals have their body parts amputated such as tails, a leg, arm, or anything else that will get tested on. I asked then is people think that people should test on animals and lots of people said no because they are living creatures like us or that you wouldn't like if someone tested on you so you shouldn't do it to them.My last question was if people would have seen an animal on the street limping, wounded, bleeding or starving, would they stop to help it or see what is going on with it. 11 people said yes which is really good and helpful. The rest of people said it depends, no, or not sure which is ok too but I think  some people think that none of that is their business and  then just walk away from the animal.

You and the World Blog 2 - Gay Marriage

Welcome to blog number two of my You and the World Project on gay rights. My first blog post addressed the statistics of gay marriage supporters in the U.S, and arguments that are held against gay rights, along with evidence supporting and opposing the the correlation of civil rights and gay rights. In this post, I will give an update on some new gay rights happenings since my blog one, share some of my own opinions, and give some new statistics. 

The last few months have been great months for the LGBTQ community. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington state in November. Gay marriage and adoption is on its way to be legalized in France. The Hobbit, a wonderful success, came out in December, starring openly gay Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey. It seems both in America and in the world at large, people are slowly coming to terms with gay marriage.

On the other side, there are still people in the world fighting to protect the young generations from making the “life choice” to be a homosexual as an adult. Do you agree with men like Scott Lively, supporter of the Uganda “Kill the Gays” bill? Or Stacey Campfield and his “Don’t Say Gay” bill? Do you think that the good outcomes these men hope to gain from their campaigns out weigh the good outcomes of the lives of married gay couples?

For my piece of individual research, I created a short simple survey about who the survey taker was and if they supported gay rights. The questions were as follows; 1. Male or Female? 2. How old are you? 3. What is your sexual orientation? 4. Do you support gay marriage? 5. If no, why not? 

Here are a few helpful graphs depicting my results.

Sexual Orienation
Sexual Orienation
Do you support gay marriage
Do you support gay marriage
If no, why
If no, why
The results show, on a whole, that 90% of the participants, majority of them in the 14-16 age range, support gay marriage. The 10% of participants that said they did not support gay marriage answered that religion was the reason they opposed gay rights. When I asked one of the participants why religion gave him a reason to appose gay rights, he replied, “because homosexuality is a sin.” 

Interestingly enough, as a new poll shows, the amount Americans that believe homosexuality is a sin has decreased by 7% in the last year, from 44% to 37%. Even more interesting are the statistics shown from further polling. The amount of people that answer that they do not believe homosexuality is a sin has only increased by 2%. This leaves a surprising amount of people in the “I don’t know” category. Is this good news for the the LGBT community? How will we make “I don’t know” into “yes”?

This change in heart from religious americans can be rooted in many different recent cultural changes, including the support for gay marriage from Barack Obama and the rising popularity of openly gay celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres. I read another article on Huffington Post's Gay Voice's section about evangelical minister Steven Chalke. Chalke has begun "calling on Christians to support the gay community, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, instead of promoting a policy of 'condemn and exclude'". This new christian way of thinking gives hope for a brighter future for gay marriage and gay rights. Christians like Chalke would not be changing their religion, but rather letting their beliefs evolve with the quickly changing times. 

I hope that this slow increasing trend of accepting gay rights will continue in America, and eventually throughout the rest of the world. Accepting the rights and differences of members of the LGBT community is the next step in the evolution of the human race. But once gay people have rights, will the world already have found a new group of people to discriminate against? Found a new step to overcome? 

For the third and final step of this project, I must become an agent of change and go into the world to make a difference that correlates with my issue. I plan to do a slideshow/video of the definitions of love. People arguing against gay rights have long, rolling arguments, but in the end, it's about whether you are letting people be with the people they love. With a series of pictures, I want to show that no matter who you are or who you are attracted to, you thrive off the same happiness and the same love. I hope it will make people think, reevaluate, and accept every single person's rights as a human being. Live and let live. Love and let love.

Here is a link to my bibliography. Stay tuned for my third and final blog!

If you'd like to see another youtube video giving strong arguments for gay marriage rights - click on this link

You and the World Blogpost 2 by Zoe Schwingel-Sauer

Lately in the news there has been a major uproar about the food industry. In Washington D.C. there is a bill that is trying to be passed that would force food companies to put on the package label if the food product had any trace of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). This is very similar to the bill that was attempted in California, but failed. People all across the country are starting to come together and protest for food labeling! In my first blog post I talked about GMOs and their effect. In this blog post I will be talking about how businesses are successful without using GMOs, but using natural ingredients.

While I was on break recently, I was in Massachusetts. There I went to a restaurant with my family that was called The Farm Table. I had been there once before and had learned a lot about their ingredients and attitude on food in general. All of their ingredients are 100% natural with no GMOs, antibiotics, or added hormones. Also, almost all of their food is grown or raised locally. Since fast food restaurants are so successful, there is doubt that organic restaurants will make a good profit. The Farm Table has had a major triumph with their opening and is continuing to have a constant flow of customers. Next to The Farm Table is a candle store and a Christmas store. All these profits go to to the owner(s) of The Farm Table.

Another success story of going all organic is the Weaver’s Way Co-op. One of their current locations is just around the corner from my house! Weaver’s Way is basically a mini grocery store that sells local and natural food products. The farms that provide the vegetables are very close in distance. One of the farms is even a high school! They have three different stores. What keeps people coming back for more? There are various reasons! Weaver’s Way has many loyal customers.  The stores has a wide variety of organic products. While these items tend to be a bit more expensive than non-organic items, they have the same taste (even better if you ask me), and are way healthier for you! People who live within the vicinity of the co-ops can pay a certain fee, and then OWN a part of the co-op! The owners of the co-ops are the community! The community comes together and collaborates on all kinds of decisions! These co-ops are role models for the food industry, and are the future.

Fast food = Cheap vs. Organic food = Expensive

Which is really more expensive?

Above is a picture showing a dollar meal menu from McDonalds. (source)

One of the main reasons that so many people buy fast food over organic food or even just fruit or vegetables is because of the cost. At McDonald’s you can buy an entire meal for about two or three dollars. At pretty much any store two or three dollars could get you two, maybe three apples. When it comes to mealtime, parents will spend only a little bit of their money on a decent sized meal, rather than spend the same amount on only a few pieces of fruits or vegetables. When you’re comparing the prices, getting fast food seems cheaper, but is it really? In the long run, you will actually have to pay more money in a result from eating fast food compared to eating healthily. How is this possible? McDonald’s while cheaper, is incredibly unhealthy for you. Eating McDonald’s every day or even every week will most likely result in a health condition, probably diabetes. (here is a game to see if you know what's in you food!) Paying for medicinal supplements every month is much more money than paying the extra dollars for a healthy meal. In general, people are “in the moment” thinkers. We don’t always contemplate what will happen in the future when we make a decision, nor do we always care. With food I strongly urge everyone to think about the long term consequences. If you pay the extra money now for the healthy food, later you won’t have to pay the overbearing amount of bills for medicine. To retouch on an earlier topic, the reason that fast food is so immensely unhealthy for you is because of the GMOs that are in the food, hormones and antibiotics given to animals, and that these products are never organic or natural. They get shipped in from all over the country!

Individual Research: Organic Peas vs. Natural Peas (False Advertisement)

To further my research on my topic, I bought a bag of organic peas and a bag of “natural” peas. Many companies will put on the food label that their product is “all natural.” A lot of people mistake natural for organic, however there is a difference. Organic products do not allow GMOs, antibiotics, and hormones. Natural products allow all of these things! While the ingredients look the same, there are MAJOR differences. On the back of the organic peas it said that these peas were certified by Washington State Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.29.45 PM
Above is an original picture showing the back of an organic pea bag (the certification)

This proves that the product has been tested and has come back with no results or traces of GMOs, hormones, or antibiotics. On the natural peas, there were only the main ingredients and no certification! It is false advertisement saying that a food product is “natural.” During my research I have gone to a couple of grocery stores, and compared the organic to the natural over and over again. Next time when you’re looking for let’s say GMO free food, always go for organic!
Above is an original picture the back of the organic pea bag (left) and natural pea bag (right) 

For my project to make a change, I am creating a "How-to-Shop" pamphlet on how to find organic foods that have good flavor, quality, and aren't too expensive. I will be putting these pamphlets around school and my neighborhood for anyone to use!

Here is my Bibliography.

Here is blogpost 1.

YATW Blog#2:World Hunger

Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.11.38 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.11.38 PM
Hello there, I am Dejanyia Johnson and this is Part 2 of my 3 part blog post. If you have not read my last blog post , I am doing this for my English class. I and my classmates were told to pick one of various topics, research about them, and create three blog post where we explained and talked about the issue that we have chosen. In case you are wondering what issue I chose, it’s World Hunger. I chose this issue because there are many solutions to the issue, but there is no one taking any action or being assertive.  After I finished my last blog post, I still had questions that were not answered. So, I took it upon myself to conduct my own research to see how people felt about the issue. I created my own survey asking people certain questions about the issue to see what the results would be like.

While I created and received data, I started to analyze and try to process the data. I found that while most people agree that hunger is an issue, there was still a few people who thought/think that it is not. When I first saw the responses,  I was a bit shocked, but then I began to understand why there were answers there were. I figured that since some,” no”, they most likely have not encountered the issue. I also researched other information on the issue and why were there so many people affected. I found that most individuals affected by hunger are children. This was at StatisticBrain. If you go to this site you can see how they analyze their data as well.

In my survey, I asked individuals did they live in a low income household. I asked that question because most likely the reason to the malnutrition of both children and adults, would be due to the fact that there is a lack of income households receive. I say that because if there is no money coming through, then food can not be afforded. Hunger is a big problem. In fact, this is the main reason as to why hunger is such an epidemic. I say that this is a problem because many people do not view hunger as a crisis, but more as something that is bound to happen. If you look at this site , you would be able to see the statitstics about world hunger. It is a major issue that should be solved. If you view the website, you can see or infer that the reason to hunger is due to lack of income.

Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.10.45 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.10.45 PM
This is information has helped me add to my understanding in multiple ways. After I have done my research and conducted my own research, I realized that hunger is an even bigger issue than I thought. Although this is true, I now understand how important it is to get the issue recognized because there are still people out there who does not believe this is true. Now that I have added to my research, I feel as though that there should be someone taking action and being assertive about the issue. Since I feel this way, I want to become an agent of change. An agent of change is someone who wants to do something about a certain issue. So, I am going to either volunteer at a soup kitchen or a shelter. This will help me to see up close and personal about what actually goes on and a chance to talk to the people who come there.
Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.11.55 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.11.55 PM
Click here for bibliography 

#English, #Dunn, #You #and #the #World

YATW Blog 2: Littering and its Effect on the Environment

This is a continuation of my first blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you do and then come back and read this one.

My name is Miles Cruice-Barnett. My stream’s English class at Science Leadership Academy is doing a “You and the World” project. What is a you and the world project? What we do is pick an issue in the world, or nation, or community, or wherever, and we do research on it. We then post a few blogs about it and go out and try to help fix the issue. My issue is about littering in public places and how it can effect the environment.

In my first blog I talk about how littering is bad for the environment. In this blog I will focus on what you can do to help.

For our second blogs we had to conduct original research. For my research I contacted the Executive Director of Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (a sub-branch of Keep America Beautiful) and checked out their websites. I found out that you just need to contact one of the Directors or find the website to to find out how to volunteer. For Philly, you can go to the Unlitter Us page for upcoming events.

If you do not live in Philadelphia, you can go to this link here on the KAB website; just click your state and find your city, town, etc.
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.21.05 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.21.05 PM
Find your city

Philadelphia was placed third in Forbes's annual America’s 20 Dirtiest Cities in 2012. That’s not good. I think that everyone should go out and volunteer at least once a month. If you don’t have time for that, next time you are walking down the street and see some trash, pick it up. Next time you are about to throw something on the ground, put it in your pocket until you find a trash can. Next time you see someone else throw something on the ground, ask them to pick it up. The bottom line is that it’s easy not to litter; just wait till you find a trash can.

This is my bibliography for both of my blogs.


You and the World Blog Post #2: Surveys and Gayborhoods

 Taking a step back into present day, homosexuality is now more controversial than ever. But it seems that people are now more open to expressing their opinions about the topic as opposed to prior times. I decided to do my own investigating and wanted to get the opinions of today's youth. The children that will be running the world as we know it when they are adults.

I initiated a majority of my student body to take some time and complete a survey asking them about their beliefs and opinions of homosexuality as a whole. From the results, many of them agreed with one another. And there were some who weren't afraid to express their true feelings. I do appreciate how everyone was very mature about the matter, it seems that they were all eager to get their thoughts out.  

Here are the results from that survey. If you are interested in taking it yourself, click here
Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 9.16.09 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 9.16.09 PM
Instead of just asking them “yes” or “no” questions, I wanted to get an actual response from them (if possible) about what their exact opinions were. And why they made the decisions they did when answering the questions. One of the main questions that was was “What do you think makes people go against/support gay marriage?”. The results were recorded as follows.
Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.13.35 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.13.35 PM
I then gave them the option to expand on their reasoning...

“God constituted marriage between man and women, not women and women and man and man. Therefore, I don't support homosexuality. But that does not mean I hate them, because as a Christian you are supposed to love everyone. Homosexuality is not a natural God made thing and therefore I don't support it.”

“Fear of something they know nothing about. You fear the unknown so you don't give it a chance.”

These were some of the most interesting responses. Everyone seemed to have their own logical reasoning for their beliefs and it was really impressive. Coming from an unbiased point of view, not many of the responses sway me to either side of the bar.

            A majority also believed that the reason people were against gay relationships were the doings of religion. A common belief, and understandable. Throughout history the Christian bible has been taken out of context, and caused the condemning of race and sexuality. Since homosexuality is such a big phenomena now, a new gay friendly “Queen” James bible has been created. According to sources, the book has corrected the passages from the original bible that seem to have bashed homosexuality. A nice buy for those interested out there.

Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.36.30 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 1.36.30 PM
I plan on expanding on this topic. I could possibly interview someone who feels comfortable expressing their opinions on camera. But on the other hand, lets get into the exciting part. I’m from Philly, if you didn’t already realize it. One of the most cultured cities in the States. When deciding what topic I could do my YTW on, I knew it had to be something that I could interact with.  Aside from the popular Rocky statue and cheese steaks, there is a much mesmerizing element. The Gayborhood.
Philadelphia’s gayborhood runs through 7th and 8th in Broad Streets and between Chestnut and South Street. The entire area makes almost a perfect square. Making it almost impossible to get lost, just look for the street signs with a rainbow under them. Within the neighborhood are gay and lesbian businesses, bars and restaurants. It is known for coming alive at night, definitely not a place for kids. However the wide range of restaurants attract people of all shades and sexualities. But aside from the entertainment scene, there are other places that attract different types. Literature. Located at 345 South St, is Gionvanni’s Room. America’s oldest gay lesbian owned bookstore. Giovanni’s book collection caters to those that enjoy bisexual, transexual, gay and lesbian literature and recent reviews say...

“Its very nice must go and try out you will like”


“The biggest, best, and most beautiful lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual store in the land. Online and physical. Queer studies a specialty.”

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.24.16 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.24.16 PM
The picture above depicts an in depth look inside Giovanni’s. The wide range of books look interesting from a glance.

I hope on my journey through the gayborhood, I can take a stop by and have a little conversation with the owners. Maybe I can even grab a bite to eat in one of the restaurants nearby? One of the main purposes of this journey is to get a feel of the gay lifestyle. Being a person that came into this project with an open and free mind. I don't want to choose between being for gays or not, but to get a better understand of something so controversial and share it with you guys.

Looking back at the survey results, everyone views gayness differently. People have their own beliefs and views, and discriminating against them will do nothing good. I really enjoyed the fact that a lot of people actually volunteered to take the survey, regardless of how uncomfortable the subject might make them. It really opens everyone’s eyes of future. The young faces that we see today will be running the world tomorrow. Will our views change? Are the same people who support gay rights, going to be against it in upcoming years? Conversions maybe? Will gayness be accepted and the discrimination be another thing of civil rights? There are so many unanswered questions.

​Take a look at my bibliography here
And if you'd like to view my previous blog post click here

You and The World Blog #2

Hello my name is Nashay Day, and I attend Science Leadership Academy. In English class we have to complete a ‘You and The World’ project, this allows us to learn on our own outside the classroom, and get a grade for doing it as well. For my project I am helping the homeless, if you have not seen my last blog post, please click here. If you have please continue to read... Over my christmas break I volunteered at the Mercy Hospice Women & Children’s Shelter in downtown Philadelphia. In my time there I loved how thankful they were for the clothes, toys, and food that was given to them. This made me look at the people around me, and as I began to think, I saw how luxurious we live. Even if you aren’t going to Neiman Marcus and buying a pair a Guiseppe Zannotti shoes, the things that we (people who are above the poverty level) find essential, may be truly a luxury item, such as fast food, or even disposable clothing. So how do we help those in need? We don’t change our lifestyles we just know how great our lives are, and give back as much as we possible can.

When my nearing its end, I went to an impoverished area to better my understanding on my issue. Click here to see my interview. As I was the derelict I saw that a lot of them were in fact veterans, and some even had degrees. They were either laid off, had a mental disability, or just had no place to live. Some of the stories brought me to tears. I honestly did not know how bad their lives were. It is so sad that people just like us were in such terrible living conditions.

Giving back can be something as simple as given your local derelict money, or even feeding someone in need. If we all lend a helping hand, we can make a huge difference. I know that some people make a huge speech about giving back because its the right thing, but we should make this essential. If we can make luxury purchases for enjoyment, why can’t we help someone survive just because it is logical thing to do. It is a principle that is suppose to taught early on in life, but I have noticed, when people grow older, and start to deal with the complexity of life, they forget the core values that were taught to them when they were younger, like greeting and helping your fellow man. But I am still left wondering, why people will not lend a helping hand, is it because they don’t feel comfortable or because they really don’t care?

To help me better my research and data please click here to take my survey on homelessness and remember if we all lend a helping we can make a big difference, I know it!

You and the World Blog Post 2

Sattera Mark                                                     You and the World Blog post Two

Here's a link to my first You and the World blog post

     I’m doing a project in my English class called “You and the World”. For the project me and my classmates had to think about an issue in the world that we cared about and seek to change it. I thought about it for a while and decided to work with Teen Haven. Teen Haven is a Christian camp in Brogue Pa. There, three different cities meet. Those cities are Philadelphia, Lancaster, and York Pa. Being at that camp for four years, I heard numerous of stories from some of the kids that come there. Many of them are foster kids and come from broken homes with no father in their life. Knowing this I was excited in getting an opportunity to volunteer there.

   A field director, Chanea Whitinginton asked me if I felt ready to take a leadership roll as a junior counselor. I immediately said yes. I also got involved in a leadership group at camp called Restore. The theme of Restore is to Restore, Rebuild, and Renew. It’s for kids who are already apart of Teen Haven and want to take their leadership up to the next level. At restore meetings we discuss how to become better at what we do. We go over how me can improve and also what were doing well. It’s also a chance to make new friendships with other leaders and learn from each other. 

   The last Restore meeting I attended was very recent. It was January 11-13. I had a wonderful time spending the weekend with other leaders and getting to know each other. During that weekend we had five meetings. In the meetings we discussed these topics., Trust, Lifestyle, and Conflict Management. In some meetings we were asked questions. We wrote our answers on index card without our names on it. Two of the questions were who do you think you are and the second one was who do people say that you are. After listening to everyone’s answers I realized that sometimes people think better of ourselves than we even do. Those questions made of learn more about each other and we are much closer. After the meeting people started opening up to each other and sharing things that they hid. 

    After last weekend I feel like I’m ready to serve this winter/spring camp session. I now know that I can trust the other leaders. I can’t wait to do my job and to help in any possible way that I can.


Why Abortion is Wrong - Blog 2: New Research

Hello to my new readers, and welcome back to my previous ones!  If you missed my last blog, you can see it here.

I have done quite a bit of new research since my last post.  It is surprising how much news there is related to the subject of abortion.  I was able to read several articles on the subject.

The New York Times published an article about how pregnancy centers are greatly influencing the pro-life movement on January 4th.  These centers, which are mostly operated by Christian organizations, especially Care Net, offer free ultrasounds and pregnancy tests, and a friendly environment, in an attempt to discourage women from abortion.  They have been largely successful, partly because they tend to be located near Planned Parenthood clinics.  In fact, the Waco, TX pregnancy center said that 94% of women, when they see an ultrasound, decide against abortion.  This article was, however, heavily biased, though not an editorial, highlighting more of the faults of pregnancy centers than the strengths.  You can read that article here.

The Putnam County, Indiana Care Net Pregnancy Center

The second article is from World Magazine, a Christian news magazine.  It is from a special issue on abortion about the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the case which gave women the right of abortion.  It was about how many abortion clinics are still aborting babies even after the legal limit (from 20-26 weeks).  These limits have been changing lately because of a study that found out that a fetus can actually feel pain after 20-22 weeks, and can feel the pain of an abortion.  These people, such as James Scott Pendergraft, an abortionist, whom this article focused on, still abort babies after the limit.  The price for a late abortion is actually much more than an early one, making more profit for Mr. Pendergraft; a first-trimester abortion is around $400 while a late-term abortion can be as much as $1,000.  These babies can feel the pain of a blade cutting them apart, but it is still legal to do so in some states.  Fortunately, as I said earlier, the limits are being lowered in light of this new information.  You can see that article here.   

A map and key of states’ restrictions on abortion based on the period of pregnancy.

After I wrote my first blog, I thought to myself, “What makes a person think abortion is right?”  I thought that maybe the public was not aware of how early a fetus has human characteristics (such as heartbeat, intelligence, etc.).  So I conducted a survey.  I asked eight questions (you can see the actual survey here).  I not only wanted to collect information, but I also wanted to provoke thought in those who took the survey.  The questions were:  “What makes a human being a human being?”  “When does a fetus have a heartbeat?”  

A fetus at 4 weeks, when its heart begins to beat.

When does a fetus first show intelligence (specifically sentience, which is awareness, or consciousness)?”  “When can a fetus feel pain?”  “When does a fetus start kicking?” and “When does a fetus become a human being?”  At the end I asked if the taker was pro-choice or pro-life, and why.

You may have noticed that the survey seemed like a test.  Yes, it, in a way, was.  I was trying to understand what people knew to find out why some people are for abortion.  

The complete results of my survey are here (please read this as I will be referring to it throughout the blog).  Before discussing the results, let us first assume that the killing of anything considered a human being is murder.   

I first asked “What makes a human being a human being?”  The majority of survey takers said human DNA.  If everything with human DNA is human, then all abortion is murder!  Yet most said that they were pro-choice.  Most people got the “test” questions right (though there was a fair amount who didn’t).  I then asked “When does a fetus become a human being?”  The most popular answer was at conception.  So, from those two questions, it can be said that most people believe that a fetus is always a human being, and therefore all abortion is murder.  Yet 47% said they were pro-choice on the next question!  

My only conclusion is this: most people who are pro-choice value a woman’s right to choose over a baby’s right to life.  I leave you, my readers, with one question:  Which is worth more: a person’s convenience or the life of a budding human being?

Watch for my next blog, in which I will create a piece of original media, possibly a video!



Hurricane Sandy Relief Blog 2 by: Serge Mass

Hello Everyone!

Last time I had made a blog post was last year. It’s crazy to say it’s 2013! So far the Hurricane Sandy clean up is coming along well. One of Mom’s co-workers helped out with the clean up in Red Bank New Jersey which is right next to Asbury Park. She also had helped out with Hurricane Katrina. I had an interview with her and this is what happened....

Q: What was it like to help out everyone effected by Sandy?

A: It made me feel really good and I felt like I made people’s day. I felt like a hero in a way .

Q: What did you do to help?

A: I went and cleaned up debris all over the place. In Red Bank it wasn’t as bad as other  beach towns, but it was pretty bad. I helped people find their belongings and got them into a temporary housing unit.

Q: Is there any other things that were interesting?

A: Well when I was there I met a family that their house floated away literally and it was crazy that it happened. 

Lately there has been a ton of relief efforts made by celebrities, but the biggest one had of been the 12.12.12 concert held in Madison Square Garden in New York City. The concert was to collect monetary donations for the victim’s effected by Super Storm Sandy. Some of the biggest musicians of the century were there. Including the Rolling Stones, The Who, Bob Dylan, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Adam Sandler, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, and the one and only Kanye West. It raised over $400 million dollars for the great cause. (source) 

The U.S. congress has just passed that gives $9.7 billion to insurance companies to help with flood insurance claims for the ones effected by Sandy. It lets the people that had their homes and businesses dusted by Sandy get back on their feet and try to get their normal live’s back. (source)

I really want to help this issue and I will be in a few ways. One will be in a saltwater fishing tournament in June at my dads yacht club and the money will go to sandy relief in Belmar, NJ. Another way I will help is do a donation jar system in local businesses around my neighborhood and I will donate the money directly to Red Cross. 

The pictures below are before and afters of Hurricane Sandy and pictures of the clean up and what happened  (source)  (source)


Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.16.43 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.16.43 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.18.58 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.18.58 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.17.27 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.17.27 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.18.36 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.18.36 PM

Poverty In Philadelphia Part 2

Jamie Turner

1-18-13       Orange Stream

    The Causes of Poverty

Since my last post I have done a lot of research.  I did a survey to see what people’s views are on Poverty in Philadelphia.  I got a lot of feed back and a lot of different answers.  I also got to see a few different point of views.  My results will most likely determine what my agent of change.  It all depends on what people think we can do to help prevent poverty.

In my survey I asked people the questions that I wanted answered in my first blog.  First I asked if they thought poverty was a major problem in Philadelphia.  91% said yes they thought Poverty was a major problem.  My first thoughts when I saw that 9% said Poverty wasn’t a problem was “ What are they Thinking?”  But when you think bout it they have a point.  Philadelphia has so many other problems.  I know multiple people died on New Years Eve this year.  As a matter of fact my dad’s cousin was killed in a hit and run on City Line ave.  So I can see that we do have other major problems besides Poverty.

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.16.16 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.16.16 PM
The second Question I asked was “What is the main cause of Poverty in Philadelphia?”.  The reader had a choice between Unemployment, Drugs, The Economy,  Or they could put their own answer.  The answers were pretty evenly balanced but most people voted that the economy was the biggest reason why people are living in poverty.  I personally thought that drugs were the biggest reason why people were living in poverty but now I can see that it may be the economy.  The country is in trillions of dollars of debt.  So I can totally understand why that was the most popular reason.  So I think that this answer is a lot easier to understand than the first answer.
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.16.05 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.16.05 PM
The last question I asked was the question that will influence my agent of change.  The question is “What can we do to prevent poverty?”.  I only gave the person the option of saying it’s up to the economy or their own answer.  More people said their own answer in this last question.  I was actually very surprised to see that a majority of these answers were about the country’s education problems.  I actually never really thought that education and poverty went together until I saw these answers.  This totally changed my thoughts on this question.  I thought the solution was more homeless shelters and soup kitchens.  But know I think education is the key to prevent people from living in poverty.

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.16.29 PM
Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 2.16.29 PM
This survey really interested me in a few different ways.  One way is that I got to find an understanding for other people’s points of view on Poverty in our city.  Another way is that it totally changed my point of view on how poverty could be prevented.  I think These things are the exact reason I did a survey.  I think the next time I do a survey I would try to get more people to take it because I didn’t have too many people take my survey other than that I think this was very successful.

Click here to see my first blog post on Poverty In Philadelphia.

Click here to see my bibliography.

Blog Post #2 (YATW)

     Hello everyone! This is my second blog post for; You And The World. As you may know my issue is teen suicide due to bullying. In my first blog post, I informed you everything you need to know about teen suicide due to bullying. For those of you who didn’t view it, you can view my first blog post here. Ever since my last post I’ve found new research that relates to teen suicide. I also decided to do my own research by creating a survey with various questions for teens. 

    I decided to explore more about teen suicide, that isn’t due to bullying. According the Wexner Medical Center, suicide risk factors vary with age, gender, and cultural and social influences and may change over time. Risk factors for suicide frequently occur in combination with each other. The following are some suicide risk factors that may be present:

  • one or more diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorders
  • impulsive behaviors
  • undesirable life events or recent losses (parental divorce)
  • family history of mental or substance abuse disorder
  • family history of suicide
  • family violence, including physical, sexual, or verbal/ emotional abuse
  • prior suicide attempt
  • firearm in the home
  • incarceration or the detention of a person in prison
  • exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, including family, peers, in the news, or in fiction stories. 

                                          Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 12.26.55 PM

    Research after research, I’ve became more curious. I wanted to find out about teen suicides before the year 2,000. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami), here are some of the few facts I found:


  • In 1996, more teenagers and young adults died of suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and influenza, and chronic lung disease combined.
  • In 1996, suicide was the second-leading cause of death among college students, the third-leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 24 years, and the fourth- leading cause of death among those aged 10 to 14 years.
  • From 1980 to 1996, the rate of suicide among African-American males aged 15 to 19 years increased by 105 percent.

     It is a hopeful sign that while the incidence of suicide among adolescents and young adults nearly tripled from 1965 to 1987, teen suicide rates in the past ten years have actually been declining, possibly due to increased recognition and treatment. 

       Taking research into my own hands, I’ve created a survey called “Teen Suicide.” This survey was answered by 59 teens. According to the survey 48 people out of 59 didn’t know anyone who died from committing suicide and didn’t help to prevent it. Which was awesome! In the other hand, 42 people out of 59 are unaware of the frequency of teen suicide in the United States. Also, 46 people out of 59 said that they were once bullied in their life. It’s unbelievable! Fortunately when asked “ What do you do when you see a person getting bullied? “ 38 people out of 59 answered, “ Tell an adult.” Seventeen people out of 59 answered “ Watch, and keep it to yourself." Only 12 people answered “ Participate in the action.” 

        Some of the responses on this survey affected me. They were quite confusing. For example, I couldn’t believe that amount of people who took the survey were bullied. It was more than half! I didn’t expect this. Also, I thought it was very surprising that some  people would actually answer “ Participate it the action “ when asked, “ What do you do when you see a person get bullied? “ That was quite unexpected. 

    Next time, I would be writing the last and final blog post. Action will be taken. I’m planning to do volunteer work for my agent of change. 

Click here for the story of one the most popular, but saddest teen suicides due to bullying, Amanda Todd.                               

                                  Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 12.27.09 PM

Click here for my bibliography. :)

You And The World Blog Post #2: LGBT Equality

Hi, I’m Morgan Caswell-Warnick. I am a part of the freshman class of 2016 here at Science Leadership Academy. This is my second blog post for my You and the World project for freshman English. I am dealing with the topic of LGBT equality in modern day. If you haven’t already, you should read my first blog post from earlier on in this project.

But this time, instead of just researching about the issue, I decided to do my own research on this topic. I conducted a survey amongst my peers here at SLA to see about who supports LGBT rights. Out of this survey, with everyone under the age of 18, 71% percent of people said that they supported gay rights because everyone should be able to love who they want without being judged. 7% said they didn’t know what they believed, and 7% said they didn’t support LGBT rights.

The main reason for supporting LGBT rights was because they felt you should be able to love who you want without being judged for it. The main reason for not supporting LGBT rights was because they believed that supporting homosexuality conflicted with their personal religious beliefs. Also, 71% of people said they also knew someone who identified as a member of the LGBT community.

However, this survey was conducted among SLA students. SLA is a community in which everyone accepts you and loves you, no matter who you are. SLA also has a Gay/Straight Alliance. This is an organization all over the country that the chapters are run from high schools. This organization gives high school students the chance to work within the community of their school to make school a more LGBT friendly place. Also, more and more cities are having citywide GSA clubs. This gives the kids involved the chance to get involved in the city and making hometowns more friendly.

I see this a good thing, most people support LGBT rights, Some people said no due to religion, but we can’t all agree. These stats are higher than they have been in the past. America is moving forward and making this great country a more inclusive place for everyone.

Lost Identity

Lost Identity

When I was a little girl, I only remember my mother having been extremely controlling. We were hers and if we didn’t do as she said, we had broken a law, no matter how minuscule it might have been. There was no room for our opinions. Even in my education. She would have wanted me to be smarter. There wasn’t time for me to become better at my writing, I simply should have just been able to do it. There wasn’t anything natural about writing for me. 

She took my papers. She took them and crumpled them up. All my hard work. I was 10 years old. She didn’t think I was smart enough to write a decent paper. 

“Give me the fact list that you have on the woman,” my mother demanded. 

She wrote the entire paper. I could barely read her handwriting but she made me rewrite everything she did and turn it in as my own. I wasn’t allowed to voice my opinion. It wasn’t right, I knew that when I turned it in, but she would be upset with me if I didn’t do as she said. She was the boss.

I was always afraid when turning in my papers. They weren’t mine. I was little, and didn’t really care how intelligent they sounded, as long as I felt honest. The guilt of dishonesty that never went away. With the lies you must tell to please your parents. 

Getting sick didn’t end her tyranny. It was all that kept her from “being hyperaware of the pain.” My mistakes in language kept her mind moving. She thought that the idea of intertwining her expectations into mine would be helpful to me.

As this process continued I realized that what she was doing was beneficial to only her. My mother was living through me. I knew nothing different and so I simply went along. You don’t say no to a parent who is losing hair and is nauseous all day, every day. 

The constant revision of my papers did not end. Her sickness progressed and made her interest in my education dissipate. She was forced into not overseeing and reading all of my work before it was turned in. She got too sick to know I existed.

One of the main points from the essay “How to Tame A Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldía. “So, if you really want to hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity- I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself.” Language is the representation of experience, ethnicity, and family, all together to create the final melody. A perfect combination of sounds and a back story, that can all become known from a few simple words.

If language is your identity, who are we until we find our own? My identity was lost. As if mine were the clone of my mothers.

“A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him. And a child cannot afford to be fooled.” This quote, taken from James Baldwin’s essay, “If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me What Is?” This states that any teacher who in fact dislikes children will not teach the child effectively. I connected this to my own experience because I learned from my brothers about the world and language. Much to their dismay. They saw I would never be taught by my mother who had taken the time to teach them. They must have been loved in a different way. I only learned from my own mistakes, and those of my siblings, when chastised for misuse of language.

I was forced to whine into a jar when I was young. I complained often I guess, but when I did, everything was gibberish. Nobody wants to hear words they can’t comprehend. The jar stayed on the kitchen counter until I was seven and a half years old. The way I spoke disgusted my family.

While my mother was sick, she ran a blog. She hated the term, so it was simply, her online journal. She began it the day after she was diagnosed. Wanting to be able to tell her story in the beautiful way that she knew how. Her writing was her everything. She touched people across the country. They read every post she ever wrote. So many people that didn’t know anything about us except what she wrote. I was 9 years old when her news crushed me. This was when I learned what a story could do. A person’s words were power. They moved mountains and could touch the heart of another without a physical contact needed. Even in Layman’s terms, her words sounded so honest. Despite the cliché, I find their overuse, very powerful and truthful.

“Dying is very inconvenient,” she wrote. Three days before her death, she knew it was coming. It isn’t about whether the language “intersects” with identity or not, but rather your identity is kept locked in your mind and soul. The only key to open it is your language. Whether writing the truest of true, or speaking, it’s poetry. She apologized to the people she never met, for leaving them. Her parting words made strangers burst into tears. Her story was public. But it was also over.

Language in my experience, is the power that kept my mother alive for longer than a year. It encouraged prayers from coast to coast. And it kept her mine for a little while longer, even if I believed she wanted to leave me. Language is identity. It also creates connection, whether healthy or not, the power of language is something to be worked on, not cloned.

Understand Me

Understand Me

It’s not easy being thrown into a situation where all of a sudden, you cannot comprehend anything. You are submerged into a new environment, a new culture, and a new language, and you are completely lost.

My whole life, I had constantly been in an English-speaking environment. Even if every person has their own American accent, I had been able to understand and converse with them. I had always been ordinary—speaking the native language and such. I’d always fit in, always blended into the normality of my surroundings.

All of a sudden, I was on the outside. The core thing that was needed to communicate, common language, was something that I did not share with the Nicaraguans around me.

I looked to my left into the face of a young child. “Por favor, señorita, ¿tiene dinero?” he begged. I shook my head numbly, unable to comprehend the words to explain to this poor boy that I was not allowed to provide him with money. I kept walking.

A man began shouting at me from my right, speaking so fast that I had no way to even get an idea of what he was saying to me. He kept repeating it, and he began to sound irritated.

“¿Por qué se mueven tan lento, poco chica blanca!” he said rapidly.

“I’m sor—lo siento, señor. I’m from America y no hablo ingles,” I said to him very slowly, in the best accent that I could muster.

“Chica estúpida. Tú no hablas español?”

“Lo siento, pero I have no idea what you are saying,” I replied.

“Me acaba de entregar su bolsa, ¿de acuerdo?”


“¡Tu bulsa!” he shouted angrily, motioning to my bag.

“Oh, here. Sorry.” I said as I handed it to him and he put it on the bus.

“Americanos tontos…” he muttered, walking away.

All of a sudden, I was different. I stood out. I didn’t speak the language, and therefore, I felt like I didn’t belong. I was an outsider.

Feeling completely lost in terms of language was a new feeling to me. In my house and school, I spoke English. Everywhere I went, I spoke English with those around me and could communicate easily. I never felt on the outside because I spoke a different language than everyone else.

Not only did I speak English everywhere, I have always been confident in the way that I speak English. I never had a lisp or a stutter. I can formulate sentences and express my thoughts accurately and thoroughly. I speak properly to teachers, my family and my friends. I speak what is defined as “standard English”.

And suddenly, it’s like that was all tossed in the trash. I could not formulate Spanish sentences or think of the right words to express how I was feeling. When I did speak, it was slow, with lots of stops and starts. It was anything but smooth, and it was anything but what I was used to.  In “If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin, he writes, “Language, incontestably, reveals the speaker.” I found this to be very true through my experience. My lack of fluidity of the Spanish language revealed something about me—I was a “gringo”.

At this point in time, I spoke very little Spanish and could not follow a normal conversation. In an essay entitled “Hunger of Memory” by Richard Rodriguez, he writes, “My words could not stretch far enough to form complete thoughts. And the words I did speak I didn’t know well enough to make into distinct sounds.” To me, this quote is extremely relevant and describes how I was feeling in Nicaragua. I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but I did not have the vocabulary to put it into complete sentences. I could not convey my point, and that was beyond frustrating to me.

After I was in Nicaragua for a couple days, I began to think about the experiences that I had with native Spanish speakers. When I was unable to understand them, I felt embarrassed. I felt like I stood out. I felt like I didn’t belong there because I could not communicate with those around me.

In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, author Gloria Anzalía writes, “There are more subtle ways that we internalize identification, especially in the forms of images and emotions.” From my experience in Nicaragua, I could not agree more with this statement.

There are so many ways to communicate in this world without ever speaking a word. Sometimes, you can gain a deep understanding with someone by simply sharing an experience with them. Sometimes it’s not even a word. It can be eye contact. Or it could be a smile. A nod. Language is one of the many ways that you can communicate with other humans, but sometimes you create more special bonds when no words are spoken at all.

By the time I boarded the plane back home from Nicaragua, I was at peace with the fact that the entire week, I was seen as an outsider. While there, I realized that even though I did not speak the same language as them, we shared experiences and feelings that bonded us in a way language never could.


Chameleon Language

Kenyatta Bundy Jr


Chameleon Language  


“Yo wassup?’ I say to one of my friends as he walks over to me.

“Wassup OG Yatta, you chillin?” He replies in his normal jargon.

“Chill don’t call me “OG Yatta” though.” I say in an intimidating tone.

“Ard my bad bro.” He replies quickly.

“You chillin yo, but I’m bout to dip off with my girl.”

“Oh true, where yall goin’?’ he asks

“Don’t worry bout it young. Sike naw we just bout to go get something it eat real quick.”

“Oh you right. How are yall? I don’t never see yall together no more yo.”

“Yea I know, cause we hardly ever get a chance to chill together anymore. My mom be

drawlin as usual, so I never leave the house to see her or whatever, and since we don’t got the same lunch or nuffin, we hardly ever chill. Shit be drawlin forreal!” I reply somewhat angrily.

“Yo chill YMCMB Yatta. You snappin forreal.” He says quickly.

“I know yo, it’s just annoyin forreal. And chill with the YMCMB Yatta shit for I get ya girl on you.” I reply.

“ Ard chill she ain’t bout that life though. She not about to mix me though.”

“I mean I guess, let me see you say that to her though. Watch you fold yo.” I say jokingly.

“Naa I ain’t bout to fold though.” He says.

“Watch yo she gonna treat you just like Aateeyah used to.  She gonna have you on the floor cryin n shit.” I joke.


“Ard that’s dead like gingerbread.” He says.

I reply with a simple, “Fuck outta here Jaaz you not tough yo. You really boutta fold like that fat bull in that World Star video.”

He chuckles as we walk away.



If you're not from Philadelphia, or a teenager between the ages of 13 and 19 you probably have no clue what is being said by the people in this scene. Well those people are my friend Jaaz and I. That person is the most natural side of me, and the side you would see if you were with me in my everyday life. But it's not just me. As time has passed, I have begun to adapt my speech based on the people I am most often around, and these people happen to be my closest schoolmates and friends. This as defined by James Baldwin would be me keeping up with my heritage and not "disowning" my African roots. But this is not how I speak in every single situation. Like the chameleon, I am able to adapt to a few different surroundings. Although I only fluently speak one language, I often like to look at myself as multilingual in the fact that I am able to speak with different dialects than just my original.

By James Baldwin’s' example, I believe I would be somewhere in between and I am okay with that. The ability to change my dialect with my surroundings in order to fit in and be comfortable should not be going "against my origin". If African Americans did what he thought was right with language, I believe we would be even more suppressed and discriminated against than we already are. It is this ability that allows us to succeed in society, and slowly begin to level the playing fields with race. Ignorance gives you no power now a days and not being able to speak to different people in different ways would be purely ignorant. The way that I speak is a reflection of not only where I come from, but also the intelligence that I also master.


“Hello Kenyatta, I am Mr. Johnson and I will be the person in charge of interviewing you today. How are you doing this morning?”
“I’m great, thank you. I would just like to start by saying that this is an honor to even be considered to be a member of this prestige academic society.” I reply politely.

“ It’s our honor. Okay now let’s get right into this so this can be as quick and painless as possible. So the first question for today is simply; what do you plan on pursuing as a career, and how do you believe you attending the Temple University Medical Summer Enrichment program will help you achieve these goals?” he asked.

“Well Mr. Johnson, from as long as I can remember I have had the desire to be a doctor, it was just the matter of what type of doctor I wanted to be that was the question. When I hit the age of 14 I knew that I wanted to either be a doctor that associated with the heart, or the brain. It wasn’t until I hit 16 and my grandfather passed away from a heart attack that I decided that I wanted to become a cardiovascular surgeon, or heart surgeon. So I believe that attending this summer program would not only give me some type of insight into what it is that I decided that I want to do with my life, but also would give me an opportunity to meet new people with the same interests as me as well as being able to make many associates that could potentially help me if needed in the long run. I’m sorry I began rambling, but yes I believe that wraps it up in a nutshell.” I reply.

“No it is no problem. I love meeting people with a true interest in the medical field, especially people who are as seemingly as passionate as you seem to be. Ok now for the next question...” He continues.


            From what you just read you would most likely believe that this person is a totally different person, from a totally different place, and in no way the same person as in the original scene but you would be incorrect. As said before, it is very much possible for a person to speak one dialect around a group of people, and a totally different one around others.  This was just one example of this, and can be demonstrated in a number of other ways. But I hope this was able to give you a new understanding of some people, and you will think differently when you see a group of loud, and seemingly rude group of people and begin to think about how uneducated they must be, because looks can be fooling.


Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

“AAaaaAAaHHhhh Max, you have been growing so much since th th the last time I have seen you!” 

Who this woman was, I did not really know. I was given the basic information on the drive up to New York by my Dad. We were meeting his aunt who is in town from Israel and staying at his second cousin’s house in Midtown. That was all the information I was given. Whenever I’m thrown with the obligatory, “oh you’ve grown up so much blah blah blah,” I usually just uncomfortably smile and say something meaningless like, “Oh, uh, it’s great to see you too!” Unbeknownst to me, the people I was meeting saw right through my attempt at politeness and became (strangely) upset. 

“What... you do not remember me? Do you not care about me or your family?!” 

My father’s aunt aggressively spurted this jewel out in my general direction when I met her for the first time last year. This is what I get confronted with from my extended family members. 

Sometimes when I speak, people mistake what I say for sarcasm. I’m only being sarcastic like 70% of the time. That’s a joke. You laugh now. Many people tell me that my voice just always sounds like I’m being sarcastic and condescending but honestly, I don’t mean it to be. It’s just the way I speak. Yes, I realize that sometimes the tone of my voice can give whatever I’m saying a bad connotation but it usually isn’t on purpose. It’s the difference between a “Yeah!” and a “yeah.”  The people close to me have been able to adapt and understand when I’m being sarcastic or not but people that I don’t know very well usually hate me for it. Especially if they don’t speak English very well. 

My Dad’s family was originally from Morocco and when Morocco gained it’s independence many jews thought that the rest of the non-Jewish population would start religiously persecuting them. My Dad’s family decided to move away from their home. For the most part they went to three different places; the wealthy ones went to live in France, the middle class members of the family made the journey to Canada, and the more adventurous and, well, poor ones made the move to Israel. My Dad’s parents were part of the group that moved to Canada, making him a first generation Canadian citizen. Almost all of his family members speak French and Hebrew. Those are the common languages that connect everyone. 

Because of the family splitting up, I know very few of my paternal relatives. My Dad has many relatives that live in Montreal and the surrounding areas but close to none of them speak distinguishable English. They all speak French and through just being around them I’ve learned a few words but I have nothing close to what people would call conversational skills. Many of the older people in my family have a more traditional French accent and I’m able to catch a few words every now and then. The younger generations, like the people between me and my Dad have a much stronger Québécois accent. In my professional opinion, it just sounds like a grosser, more sloppy version of traditional French. I cannot understand the Quebec French for my life. 

In the essay If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me What Is? James Baldwin claims that, “one may speak the same language, but in such a way that one’s antecedents are revealed, or (one hopes) hidden.” If an average French person from, say, Paris, were to hear any of my Israeli or Moroccan relatives speak French they would probably subconsciously begin to judge them. Generally, French speakers from France tend to look down on those with dialects from any African country or even the Canadian dialect. Hearing me attempt to speak French, any posh Frenchman would assume that I’m just an uneducated American snob. They would never think that I came from a long line of French speakers. I think Mr. Baldwin is trying to tell us that the way you speak directly causes you to be stereotyped. 

Every time I see my grandmother she greets me with, “Bonjour mon cheri! Blah blah blah uh huh huh!” That’s my poor interpretation of her proceeding to speak French to me. I always reply with, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” Once she realizes that I haven’t learned French since the last time I saw her she’ll say something like,

 “So, uh uh uh, m m max how is your schooling? Are you doctor yet?” They aren’t stereotypically Jewish in most ways but they pretty much define the stereotype that every Jewish parent/grandparent wants their child to be a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. When I reply to her I’m usually trying to be sarcastic so I’ll say something like, “No, I failed out of school a month ago.” This kind of thing never goes over well with her because of the language barrier and her inability to understand comedic genius. Anyone that knows me would have been able to tell by the inflection in my voice that I wasn’t serious about failing out of school. This misunderstanding is partly my fault because I know her English isn’t that great but, I mean, she’s been living in an predominantly English speaking country for about 50 years and she hasn’t picked up anything other than the basics. 

Since my family lives all over the world, they’re dialect for some of the common languages can make it seem like they might as well be speaking whatever distant language they also speak. This makes it difficult for me to understand whats going on when I’m around them. On the other end, they don’t understand the way I speak very well so it’s kind of a lose-lose situation for us all. My Dad’s family thinks I have a stupid American accent. Lots of the ones that speak decent English usually avoid talking to me because I guess they can’t handle hearing how I speak. But it’s a fair trade off because speaking slow enough for them to understand can be straining after a while. 

Seeing that side of my family always makes me feel like an outsider. I have a feeling I always will feel like an outsider until I take the time to learn every language my entire family speaks. Even then I’ll probably still have the feeling because of the culture gap. Knowing myself, I’ll most likely waste the time I could be using to learn French or Hebrew by like, reading about useless things on Wikipedia or something. My point is that even though we share a blood line, it means nothing with no communication. And it’s made even worse with massive amounts of sarcasm induced misunderstandings. 

Animal Vehicle Collisions blog #2 Deer

My inspiration for picking this issue was the animals I see that are killed by cars in the Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia. So I decided to focus on animal vehicle collisions near the Wissahickon. Because many road kill incidents near the Wissahickon, and throughout Pennsylvania involve deer, I also decided to focus on that issue. Pennsylvania has one the highest number of deer/car collisions. This is partially due to the fact that many highways in Pennsylvania are near woodland areas and lack passages for animals to cross them. There is also an over population of White-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus) in Pennsylvania, which has one of the highest White-tailed deer populations in the United States. There is an overpopulation in the state because deer have very few predators in Pennsylvania. Their main predators, wolves, and cougars were wiped out in the state due to hunting, and habitat loss, thus allowing the deer to overpopulate. In addition, deer can adapt to farms, and suburban environments. The problem with deer living so close to people is that they eat peoples crops and plants, and increase collision rates.

The population is a little more controlled in some parts of the state because of deer hunting. But hunting is a illegal in more urban areas such as Philadelphia, which has an overpopulation of deer especially in the Wissahickon. So what some cities like the Philadelphia are doing is allowing hired sharpshooters to kill local deer, thus reducing the population. The operation is safe, efficient, and effective, but it is very controversial. Many people don’t like the idea of weapons being used so close to homes and they also don’t like the idea of deer being killed. Humans killing deer is an effective way to lower the deer population, and reduce collisions. This form of death differs from car collisions because it doesn’t endanger humans. It also isn’t a wasted death because in the Wissahickon the meat from the deer goes to homeless shelters. Whereas if a deer is hit by a car, it just dies and that is a wasted death.

Deer vehicle collisions are extremely common in Pennsylvania. It is said that Pennsylvania highway drivers have a 1 in 86 chance of hitting a deer. This can not only injure and kill deer, but also injure and kill people. A full grown White-tailed deer can weigh three hundred pounds. Hitting them while going sixty mile an hour highway speeds can seriously damage a vehicle costing people a lot of money, and/or inure and sometimes kill drivers and passengers. These collisions have even killed people who weren’t even in the the vehicle that hit the animal. A woman in Butler County Pennsylvania was killed when a car going  towards her hit a deer. The deer flew into her car and went through the windshield and into her car killing her.

To read article click here

I’ve been conducting research on Pennsylvania environmental websites that have lots of information on deer car collisions to find this information. But I also talked to someone about animal car collisions. I emailed Maura McCarthy, the Executive Director at the Friends of the Wissahickon. I asked her some questions about animal car collisions in the Wissahickon Park because there are some roads that are near the park, and deer and other animals are sometimes killed on them. According to McCarthy the Parks Department is trying to prevent this by lowering speed limits and putting up crossing signs. Of leash dogs have chased deer into roads causing accidents. ( link to article about this on blog 1 ). An overpopulation of deer, means a large amount of collisions.

It is estimated that two to three deer are killed by vehicles in the Wissahickon each year. In 2011 two deer were killed just on Wissahickon Avenue alone. Just last week two deer were killed in the Wissahickon . One was a male killed on Wissahickon Avenue. Someone had cut off

To see a map of where i have seen road kill in the Wissahickon click here

Male deer killed on Wissahickon Avenue Young Female deer killed on Emlen Street

the dead deer’s antlers. Another was a young female killed on Emlen street. It lay dead on the sidewalk across from the woods. A small puddle of blood lay next to its mouth.

My research helped me understand this more because I now know more about animal vehicle collisions near where I live. It makes the issue seem more relevant and effect me more. I hate seeing dead animal lying next to the road when I go into the woods. I want to know what I can do to prevent this. I want to know why crossing passages aren’t being built in areas where they could be useful. I want to know what can be done to stop animal vehicle collisions.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to do for my agent of change. I want to somehow try to make it safer for animals on roads, especially in my neighborhood. I might do something to raise awareness that this is a problem, and that people should push for lower speed limits in areas where there is a lot of wildlife. Maybe if more people are aware of this problem then they will be more careful and animal vehicle collisions won’t be quite as common.

Blog #1

Language and Me

Peter Ricker

Language and Me

"what's up?" 

“nothin’ man.”

“yo, what up with you?”

These are the responses that my friends answer this question with. I never know how to answer this when asked because I don't normally speak in a relaxed tone.

"uhh, i'm good. you?"

It was a shaky response because of my tongue. I was raised to be polite and to not speak slang. Around my friends I'll usually loosen up and not talk to them as if I would with an adult, but that mood changes around adults, especially parents. 

“How was your day?”

“It was fine, how about yours?”

At school, the language I hear is different than I would normally hear at my house or at my parent's friend's house. Around adults, my speech is more formal and polished. The speech around my neighborhood is a mixture between slang and formal. I stick to my formal side because of the amount of adults I talk to in comparison to the kids I speak with. In school, I use a mixture of informal and formal English. It mainly depends on the people I'm around, as my tone changes. Around my friends, my tone has a relaxed feel but this changes when talking to an adult. I change my tone to a more serious sound so I can send a message of maturity across the conversation. I code switch around different people. Some, I'll use a certain tone in my voice when talking and then switch tones to something different for another person. In other words, my language differs between people.

Before high school, I went to a Quaker private school where every teacher was addressed by their first names and when speaking to an adult, you had to use correct grammar such as, “May I go to the bathroom?” instead of “Can I go to the bathroom?” This is where my natural speaking instinct kicked in. I had to use the correct grammar with the teachers or else I couldn’t use the bathroom for a whole hour. This set my language into place and stopped me from growing up informal. Quakers in general have  a very interesting language. They use phrases such as, “Hold me in the light” or use the word “discern”. 

Another example is when I’m around my grandmother. Since she grew up properly in the South and raised her children the same way, I am expected to speak the same way around her. She uses a formal and polished style of language which consists of full sentences and correct grammar and requires pronouncing words clearly and loudly to hear. It’s the same around her retirement community. When speaking to her friends, I have to enunciate my words and speak slowly and loudly. All of which gives me plenty of time to make sure I am speaking formally to them. Other family members, such as my  Aunt and Uncle, tend to speak formally when around my family.

This all changed when I arrived at public school. The environment around me changed but I kept my tongue the same. The language around me made me feel out of place and alien. My classmate from middle school had come over to high school with me and after a couple of months,  had started to use the language around her. I was shocked to see the difference between the ways we spoke around each other. I noticed this around my old classmates after a few months in their own high schools. Everyone seemed to be readjusting into their new environments, transforming their tongue to match everyone else’s around them and blending in, while I was still on the outside using my old ways of speech. 

I think two big influences on speech in public school are rap music and the media. Around school, I hear a lot of phrases from rap music and kids themselves rapping. Not being a big fan of rap music myself, I don’t always know what these words mean. When in moments where kids are talking like this, I tune out and ignore what they’re saying. In some ways, it makes me feel separated because I don’t follow rap music so I don’t understand what they are saying. Rappers are always changing words and phrases to fit their songs. This makes rap music linguistics confusing and disorienting for any outsiders who are not familiar with rap. “The art of rap is deceptive. It seems so straightforward and personal and real that people read it completely literally, as raw testimony or autobiography. And sometimes the words we use, nigga, bitch, motherfucker, and the violence of the images overwhelms some listeners. It's all white noise to them till they hear a bitch or a nigga and then they run off yelling "See!" and feel vindicated in their narrow conception of what the music is about.” (Jay Z.) 

Public school is like a big melting pot. Many different cultures and races blend together to form the community. All these cultures have their very own languages which makes kids struggle to combine into one culture. With my own language and being, I contribute to the melting pot as well. Being from the distinct White culture, my language differs from some of my friend’s languages, as I try to blend in with the cultures around me. 

Not the Same Girl By:Leah Petty

“Mom where is father”

I have called my dad father for about a year now, It started out as a joke but I like it. I also used to call my mom mother but she hated it, I wasn’t sure what she didn’t like about it but she just didn’t.

I was raised being taught to sit, eat and walk as my great grandmother would say a “young lady”. My latest childhood memory with someone correcting me for the way I spoke when I was about three or four. When I was little I watched a tv show call “Dora the Explorer”, it was a kids cartoon about a young hispanic girl that explored places and taught kids Spanish. There was a fox on the show named “Swiper the Fox”, and he would always try to swipe things away from Dora. Sometimes he would get them other times he would not, but when he did not he would always say “Aw Man”. I would repeat often this phrase. My great grandmother would always tell me not to say that. . Sometimes in the middle of me saying it she would this a face, that would make me know not to say something. Whenever my mom was around to hear it she would defend me by say “It’s is off of a TV show she watches”. When my mom wasn’t around she would still stop me from saying it.

When I started school, I started off in a small private school in West Philadelphia. It was primarily black, but it was Pre-K so my language didn’t really change most just expanded. It was when I started first grade at another school in West Philadelphia, in the the Powelton area, called Powel Elementary. This one was sort of diverse, but I would say it was more “white” than any other race. The kids there spoke proper as well as the teachers teacher.. Instead of say “I’m very mad at the class” they would use synonyms for mad. So they would say “I am very angry at the class to today” or  “The class has angered me today“. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now I look back at it a lot.

Powel wasn’t a school in my neighborhood, but I was fairly close to me. But if anyone wanted me out of that school, and told someone that wasn’t my neighborhood school I would have been transferred. In the book Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez, in the text he talks about his school being mostly white. He says “An accident of geography sent me to a school where all my classmates were white.”. This is almost the same for me expect the opposite. My parents fought for me to go to Powel. They wanted me to be exposed to people that would help benefit me the the future.      

When I graduated from Powel, I went to Middle Years Alternative (MYA). This school was majority of black. My language changed a lot, I used much more slang, not even slang but words people would not consider proper English. Like “ain’t”, “funer” and “hurted”.It something that I am not proud of today. My fifth and sixth grade year are what I would call now, the rock bottom of my language. My family was correcting me on things I honestly did not care about, because it was the way my friends and I talked.

It was not until my seventh grade year in MYA is when I wanted to change my language. My little sister had started my old school Powel the year I started MYA. In my seventh grade year my mom had become really involved in Powel’s home school committee, and she became Vice President of it. I started spend a lot more time at Powel. I remember time there was a meeting at the president of the Home and Schools house. She lived in University City, in a pretty big house to be living in the city. Six bedroom, two bath, and a wonderful kitchen out of a magazine. While I was at the house I was listening to the meeting, and they talk so proper, even my mom had code switch. Around that time is when I decided that I wanted to talk like everyone in that room. They were all so successful, and had nice big houses, and really good job. Not saying my parents didn’t have good jobs, but my parents are college professors at Penn, I pretty much envied the people in that room them. Most those people are all good friend of my family now, I babysit most of their kids, at the same house. Every time I am there I am reminded of how it changed that person I am today.

When I decided that I wanted talk proper, I reason I did it was because I thought it would take me places. Which I feel like it did, I started getting better grades, and even became president of my school. My principal loved me, and I was because I was like a diamond in the rough. Compared to the kids in my graduating class I was a mini adult. I soon got into SLA, the only kid in my whole graduating class. To this day I refuse to sound like a girl born and raised in West Philadelphia, but like a girl from somewhere in the Suburbs.

Different Environment

Timothy Ingram

Different Environment 

“Hi guys how you been?”

The way I talk depends on the environment. Growing up in a hard neighborhood people expected me to say, 

“Wassup or ayo.” 

When I move to a new environment meeting diverse people. I started a new year in at a middle school called Upper Merion located in King Of Prussia. It was a big move from West Oak Lane to KOP. We are different in a lot of ways. The main thing that was different was the way we talk and the color of our skin. I walked up to people saying,

 “Wassup or ayo”, 

and they looked at me like I was crazy. In the first week of school I met a Caucasian boy who I walked up to saying “Ayo”.

He looked confused and said, “Sorry I don’t understand what your saying.”

In my head I was thinking I was in my original neighborhood but I thought about when I was walking around hearing everybody say “hey or hi”. It felt very different I walked around hearing things like,

“Dushbag, Cracker or Anis.”

As the school year continued I really started becoming known from my cousin that went to the high school. She was a very popular student who knew people from the high and middle school. I then joined the basketball team and first thing that people asked me was “Hey where are you from?”

“I am from a neighborhood called West Oak Lane.”

People either say “what is that or where is that”, shake their head or look at me with a confused face. I was at the point when I wanted to move back to West Oak Lane because thats where my real friends were but time and time my cousin just told me it a better environment so just try and change your language. In my head I was thinking thats a good idea and how about I let them know my language. As a new week started the same Caucasian boy walked up to me saying,

“ Hey you’re really quiet. Why don’t you talk to anyone?”

 I told him, “I don’t know anyone and it seems like I am so different from everyone.”

I started telling him how I use to talk in my old neighborhood and how people talk different. I told him people talk with slang in my old environment and people down here talk weird. I really felt uncomfortable telling him the differences. But he told they have slang to just like every environment have there own slang. Then he said,

“How about you teach us some of your slang and I’ll teach you some of our slang.”

 In my mind I started feeling comfortable but I didn’t know how people would react to some of the slang but I just decided to tell them the some slang or the short for things we say everyday. After telling him some known words that people in my old environment  the boy started laughing. At this moment I didn’t know how to react. I wanted to ask him, “what was funny?” After he stop laughing he begin telling me slang words that I heard when I walked around the school. He said,

“Dushbag, Cracker, or Anis.”

I asked, “what do the words means?”

He look, laugh and said, it has no meaning people just say it.”

 As he started walking away I was confused so I started walking around saying them words to people when we had funny conversations. Taking that advice from the Caucasian boy help me a lot. I started becoming friend with random people I didn’t know and I felt comfortable in this new environment.

My story connects to another story I read which is “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Glona Anzaldia. A quote that connects with my story is, “ We need a language with which we could communicate with ourselves, a secret language.” This quote connects with my story because the environment I move to is as a culture had their own language that they could only understand and not people from outside other environments.  After learning that moving to new environment I learn not to give up and try new things.

My video:

Bold and Raspy

“Repeat after me, Sha-lom, mah ha’ inyanim.”   

“ Sha-lom, mah hah-in-yah neem.”

“ Good, good. But say “yah” with more throat, like you’re spitting something up” my teachers voice growled.

I could feel my face turn a little pink, they were all staring at me, expecting me to say this unattractive hebrew word and then spit up a loogie on the table.

“ Mah- chah-in- yach neem” ew, the word sounded ugly coming from my mouth. I hate this language. It’s bold and raspy.

The language itself isn’t extremely hard to learn, but I started learning hebrew when I was 6. When I was really little my sister and I would get so excited to go to synagogue on saturdays, and put on our pretty little dresses and stand next to my dad. As my sister and I have gotten older hebrew school has gotten worse and worse. The people who belonged to the synagogue were quite interesting. The women would wear conservative clothing with obnoxiously huge hats, face caked on with makeup. The men wore suits and would be the first ones upstairs for the kiddish (Lunch). A group of women would sit at the end of the table, holding wine cups and shoving food in their faces. They had a typical Jewish lady accent, they all sounded like Fran from the show “The Nanny”. “ Ya know Mooolly, ya don’t look varry Jewish.” One of the women said to me as I walked by her. The sound of her voice made me cringe, I began to turn away slowly, but then she began to talk again so I turned back to hear what awful thing she was going to say next.

Her face was too close to mine and she smelled like alcohol. I got that a lot, I don’t look very Jewish. I look alot like my mother, who is irish-catholic. We both have light hair and blue-green eyes. My dad is Israeli and looks it, tan skin, dark hair, dark eyes. My sister got that from him.

“ Yeah, well I look alot like my mom.”

“ i’m surrrrrrre ya do, ure sista looks so botiful and Jewish.”

Wow, I wasn’t going to let myself be offended by this old drunk lady. Her voice made me cringe, so winey and nasally.

I went back into the shul and looked around. Everyone had dark hair and tan skin. I looked different. I do not look Jewish. I do not sound Jewish. It did not bother me very much. So what? I was born with blonde hair and dyed it darker every now and then. My sister looked exactly like me, just darker, longer, curlier hair and big brown eyes. When I used to dye my hair darker people used to get us confused and believed me when I said I am half Isreali. But hair dye fades and people started saying things to me in synagogue again. I didn’t like people to judge me but then again, I do not want to change for anyone and I didn’t want it to bother me. It was all extremely confusing. After studying for years I finally had my bat mitzvah, it was nothing really special; I felt extremely uncomfortable having all the attention on me. I somehow convinced my dad to let me stop going to hebrew school. My argument being that it was stressing me out to go there every saturday. My hair dye faded fast and I forgot a lot of hebrew words. Hebrew is rarely spoken in my household but my dad does call me be my hebrew name “Mishk”. Overall, I don’t like the idea of you being born into a religion. Everyone has their own different beliefs therefore it would make more sense if everyone just chose their own religions. I’m not from Isreal, my father is. Therefore, I’m not typically Isreali, so I should get to chose my religion; whatever I believe in. I thought about all of this for a while. Then I realized, religion does not really matter in my life right now, i’m only 15; i’ll find my way and fit into my own category.  

The Origins of My Language

I have an eclectic language. It is specific only to me. It’s like a house furnished with tables and chairs from around the world. My specific dialect has morphed throughout my life with every new experience I have and every community I spend an extended amount to time with. I’ve been to 3 different schools with 3 very different cultures and I’ve joined a few communities too, although I’ll only talk about one of the most prominent ones. Something else I should note before I start is that I don’t count the language spoken at home as a dialect, it’s more of a baseline that one builds from. Languages are sort of like our personalities, your experiences throughout your life shape and form who you are, all of your communities and experiences add things to your language, everyone had their own, here’s mine.

“Hey Erica” I would say to my teacher “When you get a second could you come here and tell me what the heck I’m doing wrong?”

“Sure or you could come talk to me during choice time”
 I started elementary school at Miquon, a small private school in the woods outside of Philadelphia. The school is an incredibly informal place where students call their teachers by their first names. There is a specific dialect spoken there because it is so secluded, words like “Monkeyland” or “choice time” make complete sense to anyone from there but to an outsider they’re useless. Now “Monkeyland” is a wooded hill just south of the creek where kids build forts out of logs and trade for things using a particular rock called quartz crystal as money. Choice time though is an easy translation, it’s just their version of recess, it happened twice a day once in the morning for half an hour and one right after lunch for an hour and a half. During choice time kids play in the creek, take care of the chickens, if it’s snowed, you can go snow tubing on the large hill outside the gym and if it’s summer you can go swimming in pool below the basketball court. The “jargon” has ceased to appear in my everyday language, but an innumerable amount of smaller things have. One of them being my ability to speak informally and maturely with adults.

My innocent “Heck” soon turned into a “Why the hell can’t he shut the fuck up?”

“He’s never stops fucking talking” my friend would reply as we sat together on the couch in the corner of english class talking about another boy in our 7th grade year. After graduating miguon in 6th grade, I transitioned into Project Learn, an even smaller co-op school in Mt. Airy. It would be fair to say that it wasn’t the best influence on me. I became best friends with a girl who cursed out teachers on a bi-weekly basis. Now I never cursed out a teacher, but fuck, hell and shit became quite frequent in my informal speech. Luckily I was able and am still able to code switch when I’m in a more formal environment. Along with the addition of cursing, I also gathered new vocabulary as I suppose one does when one goes to a new community or place. My vocabulary had to shift from talking about trees and dirt to buildings and concrete. Sadly my time at Project Learn was short, after 2 years I had to head off to high school.

“Your benchmarks are due a week from today, It needs to be submitted to moodle, you have a work period for the rest of class so take out your laptops and get to work!”

For the past two years I have attended Science Leadership Academy. A school right in center city Philadelphia. If you go there you know it’s a unique place, It’s a 1 to 1 laptop school where kids have lots of control. Coming to SLA presented a few challenges in terms of “language barriers” for lack of a better term, here I was a little boy from a background of proper-ish speaking hippies dropped into an inner city school with people that speak with all sorts of accents and with dialects that were incredibly different from mine. It wasn’t hard to break the “language barrier” but the initial culture shock was an interesting phenomenon to see, the difference in language just within one city. When I came to SLA there were an abundance of new words that I adopted, mostly having to do with technology, like “moodle” a place for teachers to display and accept assignments with/from the students, “SLATE” an acronym for “Science Leadership Academy Technology Experience” is the blog network built into the SLA website. SLA being a diverse and very social environment, is always a place to learn new slang, In the movie “American Tongues” it says that slang and passing popular phrases don’t count, but I disagree. New slang pumps through the building like blood. School isn’t the only thing that’s shaped my language though, I’ve always been parts of communities outside of school.

About 6 months into my my first year at SLA I came out as gay, I was lucky enough to get involved with Mazzoni Center, an organization that works for LGBT equality especially with youth. I’m part of a group that helps GSAs (Gay Straight Alliance) in schools around the city, being part of this has opened many doors for me. One of which was being able to fly to Kentucky over the summer for a national GSA conference. While I was there for 4 days I must have learned 20+ new words. “Werq” may have been the most prominent, “werq” is a term that is used in the LGBT community a lot. Slang isn’t supposed to be considered part of a language, but contrary to popular belief “werq” had been a staple in the LGBT community for years. It originates from the drag community, during a performance spectators yell things like “you better werq” or simply ”werq” it’s a way of praising someone for a good show or for just being really good. Nowadays it’s meaning is more general and you can just use it when your friend looks really good today and you yell down the hall “you bettah werq!” That would probably be followed by a “thank you hunty”.

“Hunty” is another word originating from drag. Hunty is an endearing word that can be used in infinitely more situations than “werq”. “hunty” can basically replace any “honey” or terms of endearment. It’s origins are from combining the word honey and cunt and was used as an insult of sorts, but over the years has grown into more of, as I said before, a term of endearment. These aren’t words that I get to use a lot though, you really have to be in a group of queers to not sound crazy, although other words from that community have recently surfaced like “shade” although straight people have misconstrued the meaning and the actual meaning has been lost. These are in my repertoire, but I don’t find myself using them too often. If someone walked in looking really good I would probably be more inclined to just say “you look good today” to which they would reply “thank you”. But it all depends on the environment I’m in. I think I have a pretty well rounded language. I’d like to say that I’ve worked hard to create it, but the fact is it’s easy. I’ve gathered it from community’s, schools and home, and I’m sure it will continue to develop until the day I die.