I have been rowing at Philadelphia City Rowing for the past 4 years. It’s team’s mission is and has always been to empower local public school students through the sport of rowing. That is exactly what it did for me. The sport of rowing teaches discipline, perseverance and teamwork, reinforcing invaluable lessons that extend into all areas of life. By increasing access, affordability, and diversity, we can promote the sport of rowing in the United States and add depth to the athletic pool. My capstone is starting a Philadelphia City Rowing club at Science Leadership Academy. My goal for this capstone is to inform students about the benefits of becoming a student athlete and the opportunity it brings (scholarships). It also provides a safe and fun place for the students that row for PCR that go to SLA to socialize, collaborate, and really get to know their teammates off the water. In the club, the members and I think of creative ways to advertise and promote PCR by making flyers and brochures to hang around the school, explaining what rowing is and how it could help you physically and mentally. Because PCR is a free organization, my club members and I have been raising money by having bake sales. Rowing has taught me so much and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to row for PCR. I am so glad I get to promote and offer my advice and knowledge to students that never heard of the team or even the sport itself.
Comparing “Notting Hill” to “The Taming of the Shrew”
The popularity of romantic comedies throughout time comes from the hope they offer women that love will find them and bring them the ultimate fulfillment in life - marriage, transforming them from angry, bitter “shrews” into fairytale, picture-perfect wives who live happily ever after with their handsome “prince.”
Girl meets boy. Girl behaves badly. Boy forgives her, woos her with kindness and acceptance. Romance blossoms. Sun sets on the beaming couple at their wedding.
In Shakespeare's romantic comedy, “The Taming of the Shrew,”a wealthy merchant in Padua named Baptista completely controls the fate of his two daughters. He has declared that the younger, gentle, and innocent Bianca, cannot marry before her older sister, Katherine, whose stubborn spirit and “foul temper” have given her the reputation of being a “shrew.” As many suitors as Bianca has, Katherine has none until the arrival of Petruchio, who considers himself “up to the challenge” of “taming the shrew” and turning her hostility around with a plan to “kill a wife with kindness.” In the end, despite the fact that he has deprived her of sleep and starved her to get his way, Katherine surrenders publicly and becomes the docile wife she is expected to be, giving up her own sense of independence and free will for the love of a man and a “happy” marriage.
Similarly, Anna Scott in the movie, “Notting Hill”, is a famous but hot-headed Hollywood actress who seemingly has everything- wealth, fans, and fame. She lives a luxurious, jet-setting life of privilege that she has created for herself, by herself. Enter a chance encounter with the floppy haired, shy, and clumsy William Thacker, a mild-mannered travel bookshop owner, down on his luck romantically and financially. First she kisses him then pushes him away, not once, but twice. But in the end, love conquers both her spirit and her heart and finds them happily married and expecting a child.
But, what if it’s all a lie?
What if, underneath the light-hearted, theatrical vision of love, lays a darker, shocking subliminal message - love is not real! Romance does not exist! Both were created by society as propaganda to ensure the submission and sublimation of women to men. As women gained more and more independence and self-reliance, they could no longer be forced into marriage, the one role that society historically has wanted (and needed) them to have. A woman’s place was behind and beside a man, at a man’s will and under his rule. Societal standards deemed women as nothing more than property to be controlled and used to provide heirs and alliances for their fathers and husbands. But once women wised up to the idea that they didn’t have to let men make decisions about their lives and their futures, what could society do to bring them back to their obedient obligations? And so the concepts of love and romance were developed theatrically as a form of propaganda to help entice women subconsciously back, seemingly of their own accord, to fulfilling their society duty of becoming wives and mothers.
Petruchio: Come, come, you wasp, i’faith you are too angry.
Katherine: If I be waspish, best beware my sting.
Petruchio: My remedy is then to pluck it out.
Katherine: Ay, if the fool could find where it lies.
Petruchio: Who knows not where a wasp does wear his sting? In his tail.
Katherine: In his tongue.
Petruchio: Whose tongue?
Katherine: Yours, if you talk of tales, and so farewell.
Petruchio: What, with my tongue in your tail?
(Act 2, Scene 1, 207–214)
When Katherine and Petruchio first meet, this conversation between them should have been a showcase for Katherine’s intelligence because it’s clear that she could not only respond to Petruchio’s taunts, but equally match him with her quick and “sharp” wit. But in order to promote the propaganda of a woman’s need to be subservient, audiences of the time instead were given a comparison of Katherine to a nasty wasp, because a woman, after all, was nothing but an animal that had to be yoked. Even Petruchio was used to turn their clever back-and-forth banter into something sexual, undermining and bringing down an intelligent woman by turning her into a sexual creature who needed him.
Anna Scott, fresh off of a successful publicity tour for her last blockbuster hit and in London working on her next film project (a Henry James novel adaptation because William Thacker had mentioned it earlier), having “behaved badly” and pushed him away months before, now comes back to tell him that all of her fame, all of her achievements, which she’s done on her own, mean nothing without him. She stands in front of him begging for his love, not as a woman of independence and means, but as a “girl” who just wants him to love her, who needs his love if she is ever going to be happy. Romantic love at its propaganda best - a self-sufficient, successful woman who has everything and should feel complete, willing to give it all up for a man, because without a man’s love, she is incomplete.
“Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintence commits his body
To painful labor both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst though liest warm at home, secure and safe,
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks, and true obedience-
Too little payment for so great a debt.”
(Act 5, Scene 2, 162-180)
In this last scene in the play, Katherine has been “tamed” in a very public display to ensure that not only the people of Padua, but the audience sees her revert into an obedient and compliant wife with no further need for a spirited, independent streak because she now understands that her husband is there to rule and she is there to obey. Society’s propaganda used this play as an opportunity to show love from a woman isn't even sufficient “payment” for all that man does for her, making sure that everyone understands that a woman would never be able to survive and succeed on her own.
Similarly, in “Notting Hill”’s closing scene, the famous Anna Scott is seen gentling cradling her pregnant belly while blissfully laying her head on her husband's lap, utterly content away from the cameras and fans, no longer needing success or fame to define her because she is now married and in love.
In both the play and the movie, instead of characterizing a woman of independent thought and deed as someone to be admired and respected for their self-confident intelligence, society’s propaganda vilifies them as “foul-tempered shrews” who would only find happiness once they had found a man to love and marry them. With women who did not need a man in their life, there had to be a way for society to get them to want a man in their life. If force was not an option in a society that had no intention of letting women rise beyond their subservient station, then an alternative had to be found. Romantic love was created for independent-thinking women to subconsciously “force” them to believe that their lives would never be complete, no matter how independent they were, without a husband (and the subsequent happily-ever-after).
I am a rower. It is the very definition of who I am, at my core, where my body and my mind meet to create my character. Standing here at 6’2” in height, I weigh just a little bit more than I would want to share, but I know that those extra pounds are all those toned and honed muscles in my neck, back, arms and legs that have been painstakingly strengthened through years of sweat-drenching work-outs that sometimes still leave me falling asleep face-first into my dinner plate. And yet, even at my most exhausted, when raising my eyelids feels harder than it might to lift the Titanic off the floor of the Atlantic ocean floor, I row. So when anyone asks who I am, I have just one answer for them: I am a rower.
I do not see myself first as a daughter or a sister or even a typical teenager, always at the ready with the perfectly practiced eye-roll, hair-toss combination. I am not just another girl with long blondish waves, dead at the ends because of an unbreakable bond with a curling iron’s 400 degree heat setting, who loves a just a little-too bloody rare hamburger smothered in ketchup and the tangy taste of a midnight Pink Berry - plain vanilla, chocolate dipped, no nuts, please. I can spend all day under a duvet with kittens criss-crossing the headboard while I wave a laser pointer around the room trying to get the little bundles of soft fur to pounce on it’s dancing beam. I can text for hours with my friends, holding together bits and pieces of a hundred different conversation threads or snapchat seconds of silly stunts that send me into fits of laughter for days. But in the end, when the day is done, from its dawn to its goodnight moon and setting sun, I am a rower. The outside of me is flesh and bone and thoughts and deeds, good hair days and bad skin days, while inside of me will always beat the heart at the pace of a race.
I think it’s because I’m a rower that I chose to read the Yellow Birds rather than The Things They Carried. The title of the book comes from a military marching cadence and as a rower, I know just how important cadence is in helping to drive a boat forward in the water, from catch to extraction. It is the rhythmic beat of every rower’s oar working in unison, every body synchronized to that one particular cadence, that helps us maintain a consistent stroke - oars in, oars out, feathering at a tempo that would make a symphony conductor proud, or, a drill sergeant, in this case, his troops, left-righting in harmony as a single unit from one end of a battlefield to the other.
Without the violence and bloodshed and death that defines war, when all of the horror of it is taking out of the equation, war, at its core, like rowing, is a matter of wanting to win and hating to lose. What actually separates a soldier from a rower? We’re both the grunts on the ground and in the boats while our generals and our coaches watch, comment and command from the sidelines. A war, like a race, tries to kill us, if not literally, then definitely figuratively. It pushes us as hard as it physically can,“through the tall grass on faith, kneading paths into the windswept growth like pioneers,” as Kevin Power’s so eloquently described, towards a finish line, towards the promise and hope of a win, even if getting there leaves us too weak to even climb up the podium to collect our prize, And if we don’t win, we are given a moment’s rest, a short reprieve, before the call to re-arm and re-oar is made and we are back in the depths again, sweeping our way around the next bend, praying with every stroke that we don’t capsize or cramp out or simply “die” of exhaustion.
Like soldiers, we do not question, we do not talk back, we accept our orders from our superiors and we follow them. We do it because there is a thrill in a victory, a need to succeed, and especially a desire for praise. We want to be heroes. We all want to be heroes, soldiers and rowers alike.
And yet we all know that not every one of us will walk away with a medal or a trophy. So we lie to ourselves. We lie to each other. We lie to everyone around us. It’s the lies we tell that propel us to back to battle. We assure ourselves that it’ll be ‘next time, next race. We weren’t ready. We didn’t know this river. The other boats were newer, better, their rowers stronger, faster. The weather, it’s always the weather against us.” The key to the excuses: the we’s and the us’s. Even in a loss, it is still us against them, a sisterhood of teammates who fight together to the finish line.
I’ve always heard of soldiers being referred to as a “band of brothers,” bonded by bloodshed if not by blood. It’s a camaraderie of combatants who keep each other alive while bullets try to pick them apart and bring them down. But in Bartle, I saw a soldier who was as much intent on his own personal survival as he was in his “brother,” Murph’s. As the war saw soldier after soldier die, violent, senseless deaths, readers saw Bartle realize the hopelessness of the promise he made to Murph’s mother to “bring her son home.” Then Bartle saw it himself. And so the brotherhood disbanded in favor of Bartle being able to take one more breath. War makes one thing very clear, it doesn’t matter how many others come home, as long as you do. And Bartle turned his and Murph’s “us” into his own, personal “you.” The guilt of Murph’s death would torture Bartle forever after that, but the fact remained that he lived to feel that guilt every day.
No matter the circumstances, be it war or race, it seems that it comes down to the survival of self. The self that survives, survives not only to tell the tale, but tell their version of it, with no dispute from the silent, still form no longer capable of speech. They can easily create of themselves, victim, villain or hero, without opposition.
We rowing sisterhood are no different. Teammates until the end when, back on shore, behind backs and in silent whispers, we point a finger at someone’s wrongdoing. The “us” of our lies in a loss become the “hers” and “shes” of self-preservation. “Her’ stroke was off. “She” fell behind. Not my fault, “hers.” Catty and bitchy, too much like actual blood-sisters, we fight individually for our seats on that boat. There may be a next time, a next race, but it needs to be with me at the helm. The challenge is always to return. And who am I if I am not challenged by a challenge? I am, after all, a rower.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” As a preventative measure, vaccinations are essential to quality of life, not only in this country, but across the globe because curing an illness that could otherwise be remedied by a vaccine ends up costing more in time, effort, and money. There has been a growing trend against vaccination which stems from both misinformation and misunderstanding about the relationship between vaccinations and side effects. According to the propaganda campaigns being spread by the anti-vaccine movement, fear is being instilled in parents based on the alleged link between vaccinations and autism. To turn the tide of opinion from anti-vaccine to pro-vaccine, it is vital to continue to educate parents regarding the benefits of getting their children vaccinated which far outweigh any potential risks, not just to the children themselves, but to any person who comes in contact with an unvaccinated child.
It is first and foremost important, considering the anti-vaccine “hysteria” in the U.S. today, that everyone understand the different meanings and definitions of “vaccines,” “vaccinations,” and “immunizations.” According to http://www.vaccines.gov, “A vaccine is a product that produces immunity from a disease and can be administered through needle injections, by mouth, or by aerosol. A vaccination is the injection of a killed or weakened organism that produces immunity in the body against that organism. An immunization is the process by which a person or animal becomes protected from a disease. Vaccines cause immunization, and there are also some diseases that cause immunization after an individual recovers from the disease.”
Unfortunately, fear is easier to ignite than to extinguish, but the reality is, vaccines are no more dangerous than the diseases they protect against. The controversy around them stemmed from the clinically unsupported fear that the shots could cause autism and other disorders. According to author and British medical doctor, Andrew Wakefield, based on a study he did on 12 children, there was a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and an autism-like disorder. His paper was published in 1998, and once Anti Vaccination groups and the media heard about the alleged vaccine-autism connection, the news spread like wildfire. It even caught the attention of celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, who claimed that her son got autism from the MMR vaccine. However, there is no clinical basis between autism and similar type disorders and vaccinations. The article that had started the anti-vaccine buzz around the country was retracted in 2010 because there was no scientific proof of the link. While some side-effects of vaccines may include low grade fevers and other mild symptoms as well as the possibility of allergic reactions in very rare cases, the risk of unprotected exposure to diseases that vaccines prevent is more significant than the most serious of side effects.
The benefit to the community are not just medical, they are financial. Vaccines are one of the most cost effective ways of protecting public health, helping to avert millions of illness cases as well as illness related costs such as loss of productivity (due to death/disability), caretaker productivity loss, and transport costs. Vaccinating kids has a high return on investment. It prevents 42,000 deaths per year and 20 million disease cases. It saves $13.6 billion in direct costs and a combined amount of $68.9 billion in indirect and direct costs. For example, the weighted average price of the Pentavalent vaccine is $2.58. This one vaccine can prevent 5 diseases: Hib, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough). So not only is “an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure,” it also saves a lot of “Pounds,” (CDC).
According to the CDC, before Pertussis vaccines became available in the 40’s, about 200,000 children got it every year in the U.S. and 9,000 died due to the infection. Now those numbers have dropped significantly, with 10,000 - 40,000 cases reported each year and about 10 - 20 deaths, and that is all due to the Pertussis vaccine. So what can every parent learn from these facts? Could it be that vaccines are safe? That vaccines are effective? That vaccines work with the immune system, not against it? When all is said and done, vaccines help prevent disease because they are safe and effective, and because they work. There is not a parent in this world who would ever be able to forgive themselves, in this modern day and age, with all of the technology, research and medical care available, if even one child died of a disease as simply preventable as pertussis. In order to protect a child from disease, vaccinate that child.
"Making the Grade in Preventing Disease." Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 May 2015. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.
"World Health Organization." WHO. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.
Jerry Candell, 56
Los Angeles, Calif.
Hello, I’m Jerry Candell. I am 56 years old and I am a lung cancer survivor. I should be over the moon with happiness because I just heard the great news from my doctor who called to tell me that, as of right now, I am cancer-free and lucky to be alive. Honestly, though, that’s not at all how I feel. What i feel is guilty because I SHOULD be thrilled that I can finally get back to enjoying my life and doing all of the things I told myself I would do if I got better, but instead I feel almost as sad as when I got my cancer diagnosis. Why, you ask? Well, I spend so much time thinking how I got lung cancer. I’ve never been a smoker and none of my family members who I spent all my time with didn’t smoke either. I didn’t have a family history of lung cancer and actually most of my relatives lived very long and healthy lives well into their 90’s. I grew up with my family on a ranch in Montana where the air was always crisp and clean and you could drink the water right out of the streams. The sky was always full of stars and we spent our youth playing outdoors, camping and hiking and just enjoying nature. But after college I was offered the job of my dreams in Los Angeles and couldn’t wait to move to such a dynamic and energetic “big city” full as it promised to be of skyscrapers and highways and malls and people who seemed to be everywhere doing so many interesting things. I spent all my years there hard at work, not bothering to notice that the city kept getting dirtier and dirtier. It got to the point that the smog hovering over the city made it difficult to breathe let alone spend any time outside, but I didn’t pay it much attention at the time, since I was either cooped up in my office or in the car or at home. It only hit me when I had to check myself into the hospital for treatment and I had all this extra time to just sit and think while I was fighting cancer, that maybe it was all that city smog and bad air that I had been breathing all those years in Los Angeles may have caused my cancer in the first place. While talking to my doctor, we discussed this possibility. Considering the lack of cancer and my non-smoking medical and family history, the doctor told me that this might be the case for me. Climate change had a very devastating affect on my health and nearly killed me. Now cancer-free, I worry about continuing to live in Los Angeles. I don’t see the situation on in this city getting any better and no matter how much it seems some people try to help the environment here, it’s only a small drop in the bucket and I have no real confidence or hope that the air here will get any better any time soon. So, for my health and my peace of mind, if I want to really have a future where I have many more years to be able to live and enjoy all that life has to offer, I think I have to pack up and move back to Montana where I can breathe.
Celia Carmichael, 39
New York, NY
Hello? Mother? I know it’s been a long time since we’ve talked but, as you know, work keeps me very busy and I barely have the time to eat a real meal or sleep, let alone chat for more than a minute. Ever since I made partner, it seems that my workload has quadrupled. But on the other hand, I am the youngest partner in the law firm’s history so feel free to congratulate me on my latest achievement. All that money you and father spend on my education continues to pay off. As a present to myself, decided to buy that new Range Rover and move into Manhattan on my own into this gorgeous apartment on the 20th floor of the most prestigious buildings in town. I really feel like I’m at the top of my game right now and just happy; busy, really busy, but happy, really, really happy. And to put the icing on the proverbial cake, I’m pregnant. Oh...my...god...i’m actually...pregnant. I’m going to have a baby. I’m going to bring a child into this world. A world where my child will probably have to fight so much harder than me to survive, to just breathe. I can’t believe that thought just crossed my mind. I blame those protesters. 300,000 of them are marching through the city right now. And it seems like they’re trying to warn the world that We're going to lose our planet in the next generation if things continue this way." And here I am, realizing I’m carrying the next generation. For all of my hard work to get myself financially ready for this new baby, maybe, just maybe I have to figure out a way to get environmentally ready so that I can help bring my child into a better world, rather than a world of climate disaster. I spent so much of my life in school working towards improving my education and getting my career off the ground that I didn’t take the time to appreciate or even understand the nature of nature and how impacts our lives and the lives of our children. Will my child even have nature to explore or grow up? Will the legacy I leave my child be a wasteland rather than a land of natural wonder and beauty? Will my child even have real grass to play on or real trees to climb? Will there by oceans and lakes for my child to swim in instead of just chlorinated pools? Will my child even be able to go outside? I keep going back to what I heard those activists shouting about the loss of the ozone and its possible dangerous and harmful effects and how the situation seems to be getting worse and worse rather than better. I can’t imagine bringing a child into this world who won’t even get the chance to touch or see or breathe the nature that I took for granted would just always be there while I buried my head in my books in my room. Maybe I need to start making some serious changes in my own life. Every little bit that I do can help a little bit. And if everyone else does their own little bit, then together all of our future children will have a promise of a natural and beautiful tomorrow. So maybe that present I buy myself will be a more energy efficient Prius rather than a gas-guzzling Range Rover. And I don’t really NEED that big apartment that will waste so much energy with all those lights and appliances. My baby and I can make do with less if it’s help ensure her future has more.
Like, I love where I live. California is too bomb. The beaches are beautiful, the people are beautiful (obviously including me lol) and the weather is almost always perf. But like literally the worst humidity came through like turn down for everything and my hair was too ratchet for life! I cried like 6 times at my school ruined my makeup. Couldn’t even make track practice like, I was such a mess. And then to make things even worse, I was like walking to my car to get home and it started to rain. Like are you serious right now weather? Why are you even thing? SInce I couldn’t go outside for obvious stupid reasons, I went on twitter to rant about my awful frizzy nasty hair. All that was on my feed was white girl problems, drake quotes and the hashtag climate change. I was like climate is weather right? and change is like cool. Or bad? I was confused. I clicked on the hashtag and thousands and thousands of tweets about climate change popped up. I didn’t realize how bad and life threatening climate change is. I found out on urban dictionary that climate change is a long-term change in the earth's climate,especially a change due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature. So like, it doesn’t just happen in a seconds it takes a minute, you know? Or sad stormy ones. I started following some climate change twitter accounts and they keep posting news about climate change stories and news reports. Like the latest one I saw was a picture of 35,000 walruses barely fitting on a small piece of land. Too many glaciers and ice are melting because of climate change! Like it’s like 100 mes in my room at once like get out. I know that if we don’t help the environment climate change will get worse and worse. Since that I wasn’t like aware of climate change until I saw the hashtag I think I’m going to make a twitter account just about information about climate change. I think my friends should know about this, ya know? We don’t need any more bad hair days.