Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Team Reflection

"One piece of log creates a small fire, adequate to warm you up, add just a few more pieces to blast an immense bonfire, large enough to warm up your entire circle of friends; needless to say that individuality counts but team work dynamites."  ~Jin Kwon

This quotation that our team picked out together basically describes us. We worked well together. We had the ability to distribute our work evenly. We were strong. Our individual strengths collectively outweighed our weaknesses. For example, we did really well on our group Novel Study presentation. We all contributed evenly and recieved decent grades.

But we are not perfect, there were bumps during this mission. We bombed our Poetry assignment. The amount of effort and time that was put into the assignment was less than satisfactory. Summer must be to blame.

All in all, our team was very effective. Even if we missed a day of school, the team did our own parts and contributed to what the assignment was asking.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Team Bibliography

Team Bibliography

Abuelaish, D. I. (2010). I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey. Toronto: Random House Canada.

Gladwell, M. (2000). The Tipping Point. New York: Little Brown.

Hosseini, K. (2003). The Kite Runner. Toronto: Anchor Canada.

Mortenson, G. (2006). Three Cups of Tea. New York: Penguin.

Nicholas D. Kristof, S. W. (2009). Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fourth Diplomatic Posting: Reflection

This posting was quite short in comparison to the last three. It went by fast. I thoroughly enjoyed all the assignments, especially the non-fiction book study.

The book I read was amazing. It opened my eyes, and I think I finally realized my role as a global citizen. I need to help people. It's crazy to think that one book changed my whole perspective on life. I'm so lucky, and I should really show gratitude every day. It's helped me to set goals. I'm excited to "be the change I want to see in the world".  This book inspired me to go out there, and do what I can to change the lives of countless people who are not as priveledged as I am. I'm finally becoming exactly who I want to be.

I enjoyed working with my team this posting. We got along really well, and we actually accomplished things. It was good.  We each had something to offer, and it complimented our work well.

I'm not sure what else to write. My team was good. I loved my book. My vocabulary assignment went great. My short story assignment was a breeze. That's really it:)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Half The Sky: Individual Assignment 2

Annotated Bibliography

Nicholas D. Kristof, S. W. (2009). Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Oppurtunity for Women Worldwide. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
This text analyzes the life of women in parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. It provides personal experiences of the women there, and their lives. They share their stories, however heartbreaking they may be. It exposes controversial information about life in countries outside of the Americas and Europe. It proves that women can make a difference in the world around them, beating incredible odds. It explains that if we all help just a little, we can change the world. It’s a book that has the potential to change the world.

Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
By Naomi Hill

An old Chinese proverb states, “Women hold up half the sky”. What does that mean, really? It can’t actually be true, considering that there are approximately 2 males to every female, so two thirds of the sky would be held up by the men in this world. So, if it can’t be scientifically proven, then it must mean something else. Basically, the role of a woman holds up half of the sky. Without women, the world could not go on. Women are the reason that men exist today. Life could not continue if it weren’t for women.
For some reason, despite their almost divine role, women are mistreated all over the world. In this book, stories of many women who were exploited, misunderstood, murdered, or convicted of crimes they did not do, are told, and it breaks one’s heart to hear of these ridiculous situations and horrible environments. Many of these women are victims of sexual crimes, such as rape, but also kidnapping. Many of them are forced into loveless marriages, where they are unwanted, and live a life of distress, and in most cases, abuse. Some are forced into marriage, only to be killed later, either by their husbands, or during childbirth.
One story of a young girl was particularly striking. Zainab Salbi was 20 years old, a brand new university student, when she was forced into an abusive marriage with an older Pakistani man who had moved to America. Zainab had spent the majority of her life living with Sadam Hussein. He was family to her, just not by blood. She spent many summers swimming in his pool with his children. Her father was Sadam’s personal pilot. Her mother forced her into this marriage, and she was confused. Eventually she divorced the man, and married a young Palestinian doctoral student. When Zainab finally gathered the courage to ask her mother what her reasons were for forcing her into the marriage, her mother was on her deathbed. Unable to speak, she wrote Zainab a note, which simply said, “He wanted you, Zainab. I didn’t see any other way.”  The “he” was Sadam Hussein. Her mother didn’t know what to do. Sadam wanted Zainab as a human plaything, a mistress, and when he tired of her, she’d be killed. Her mother forced her into the marriage to save her life.
Another issue discussed in this book was that of prostitution, the process of human trafficking, and life in the brothels. There are multiple accounts of girls as young as 12 being sold into the brothel lifestyle, and forced to have unprotected sex with much older men. Most of them contract HIV/AIDS. Some commit suicide. Many of them contract other sexually transmitted diseases, and are left untreated, eventually causing their deaths. The majority of them become addicted to illicit substances, especially methamphetamines. They are worn down, exhausted, and if they have the chance to escape, most of them return to the brothel because of their addictions. It’s a terrible thing, but in some places, it’s the only way these girls survive.They are fed, clothed, and sheltered. Most of them are there because their families couldn’t provide for them, and the male children were more important.
This book mentions an interesting paradox. That is that of honor killings. The societies with the most strict morals and values end up allowing the killing of innocents, an incredibly immoral behaviour. One girl was just seventeen years old. She fell in love with a boy, and they stayed out all night. Nobody actually knows if they had sex, but they both denied it. The men in her tribe banded together, and killed her. Another instance provided basically the same back story, except that an autopsy was performed and it was found that they had not had sex, but the girl was killed anyways. Honor killing is just a term. It has no meaning any more, as in some countries, they kill girls just because they are girls.
The relationship between globalization, democratization and human rights in this case boils down to one key item. That key thing is the treatment of women. Women are human too, and in some places, they aren’t treated that way. In the places where women are treated the worst, there is not a democracy, and if there is, a woman’s vote doesn’t count. As for globalization, because of the efforts of women and men all over the world, the situation is changing, slowly. It’s not going to change overnight, but the women in those places will tell you that it is getting better. They are allowed to to go to school. In some places, they are allowed to leave with their faces uncovered, and they don’t need to be accompanied by a man. Basically, if the world keeps changing the way it is, eventually women will have equal rights everywhere, which is what this book is trying to say. The bottom line is that women are changing the world. The effort they put forth is changing the way they are treated. It is a lot like bullying. If they stand up for themselves, for their beliefs, then it will get better. It’s only a matter of time.

Critique Assignment
Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
By Naomi Hill

This text is incredibly amazing. It speaks of things that we don’t fully understand, because we’ve never had to go through it. We are able to feel the way these women feel, just by reading this book. Our hearts break as we learn of their situations. The message conveyed by the authors was one of hope, and we can all take something from it. There was nothing wrong with this book. Honestly, not a single improvement could be made. It tells the truth, however horrifying that may be, and we learn from it. I think if we all read the story of Zainab, we’d count our lucky stars. We have it good here, and this book teaches that. Our sex crime rates are nowhere near as high as they could be, and we should be so thankful for that. Overall, my only critique of this book is that there should be a sequel. We need to know more about these amazingly brave women. Their stories are not over yet, and their legacy needs to be upheld. They are strong, independent women, and they deserve recognition for the incredible things they have done. We have the opportunity to learn from their experiences, and we need to seize that. It can change their lives, but it can also change ours. Through helping them, we are able to gain a perspective of how truly wonderful our lives are. Take a minute and consider their experiences. We have nothing to complain about. This novel was well researched, and it was an easy read. You didn’t have to read the sections in order, but I did anyways. It didn’t read like a newspaper article, which I appreciated. It used strong vocabulary, and it made sense. It was the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read. It teaches lessons that everyone can learn from. These women, whose stories are told,  sacrifice themselves for a better world, and their stories could not have been told in a better way.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Individual Assignment #3: Short Stories

Short Stories

-most require readers to bring a prior knowledge or understanding of the situation
-dramatic conflict---may not always be resolved in the climax
-foreshadowing---gives the reader a glimpse into the future, or a sense of what may happen
-repetition---helps drive the point home, most people learn best by repetition
-suspense--draws a reader into the idea of the story
-setting can include mood or atmosphere
-could be any of the perspectives (first person, second person, and third person)
-the theme, or total meaning of the story doesn’t have to be just one moral....could encompass more than 1 valuable life lesson
-plot, setting, characters and theme are perhaps the most important details of a short story
  • arresting opening
  • well developed and appropriate structure
  • action
  • tension
  • clearly recognisable climax
  • effective use of language in word choice and imagery
  • one or two well developed characters
  • effective use of narrative voice
  • revealing use of interior dialogue
  • dialogue that makes a contribution to narrative development and/or to characterisation
  • skillful exploitation of conventions of the chosen genre
  • use of setting to enhance narrative

            The excerpt of Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King is both short and concise. Everything happens quite quickly. While the plot isn’t complex, there is a clearly defined plot line. The setting enhances the plot, by creating the problem. There is not a clearly recognisable climax or action, but there is obvious tension between the mother and father. There are two well developed characters, that of the mother and the son. The son’s thoughts are made known to the reader. It is a third person narrative, meaning the reader is able to know everything about what’s going on. There is foreshadowing when the father talks about work before they leave on their holiday. The story does stay true to most of the characteristics of a short story. 

This is a picture I took of Waterton Lake. It represents the theme of the story. 

The theme of the story Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King is that of crossing boundaries. In the excerpt, this applies to Waterton Lake. The border runs through the lake, and the character of the son is able to cross it. The idea of the border is a figurative boundary, but it represents a very real boundary. The son’s parents are not getting along, and his father has to cross a boundary, and leave. The son learns a lesson from the lake, and it’s a valuable one. Sometimes, to get where you want, you have to cross boundaries, even though it may hurt someone you love. 

Situational irony is when the exact opposite of what is intended happens or a very different outcome becomes apparent.  
Dramatic irony is irony that is inherent in speeches or a situation of a drama and is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the play.
Verbal irony is when the exact opposite of what is said is meant.
Situational and verbal ironies are used in the short story The Wall by Gilles Vigneault. Situational irony applies to the fact that the man is repairing his own prison cell, meaning he could break out if he wanted to. Verbal irony applies to what the man says to the people around him. Dramatic irony is used when the man leaves the prison by his own volition, and nobody stops him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reflection: Third Diplomatic Posting

The Third Diplomatic Posting seemed easier in some ways. We read one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, Romeo and Juliet. I've loved that play for years.

We focussed a lot on current events. With all of the political instability throughout the world, we had to explore, and find out what was actually going on. We've spent a lot of time discussing the issue in Libya. We talked about natural disasters, like the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. We've been discussing the current nuclear issues and the tsunami/earthquake in Japan. A lot is going on now, and if we do not learn from now, but also the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

I found that I did quite well in this posting, because everything we did involved something I was quite passionate about. I look forward to writing my essay:) I enjoyed all of the assignments involving Romeo and Juliet, but I also enjoyed the assignments that allowed us to discuss both past and current events. Basically, this posting was good to me. I enjoyed it a lot.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Baz Luhrman's Romeo&Juliet: In Review

The key question in this assignment was, "How does this adaptation capture the mood and atmosphere of the original script?"
Keep in mind that in this adaptation, the characters are thrust forward into 20th Century Verona Beach, and use guns instead of swords. While they are still families, they resemble gangs. It's a more modern adaptation in setting and action, but they use the Old English that we are all so familiar with. The setting is pretty much perfect. While some people were not sure it would work, it did, and the end result is fascinating. I've been a fan of Baz's work forever, and this just adds to my love of his work.
Using anyone else other than Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Juliet probably would have resulted in failure. They are pretty much the whole mood and atmosphere. Without them, I'm fairly certain that Baz Luhrman would not have been able to pull it off.
I realize that a lot of people did not like this movie, but I think it's a lot better than Zeffirelli's 1968 version. The actors in that one were flat, and pretty boring. They had little to no emotion. While shooting the 1996 version, Claire Danes reported that when Leo was giving the speech that ends with "Thus with a kiss, I die..." she was supposed to be dead, but he brought her to tears, and they had to cut as soon as Leo stopped talking, or they would ruin the take. If that's not emotion, I'm not sure what is.
I think that if I were to suggest an adaptation to watch, I would definitely go with this one. It's pretty much perfect.