My Personal Response to “Brave New World”

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World made me view our society in a different way, consisting of mass production, corporateness, and broken relationships. There are a lot of people in my class who had immediately jumped to conclusions upon reading the first chapter as it was pretty unsettling, not saying that All Quiet on The Western Front wasn’t, but this book was unsettling in a different way, a dark and disturbing way. The first chapter went over the influence of mass production in this ‘brave new world’ which has led to technological advances such as meeting the demand of customers at a faster rate by producing multiple products at a time, or in this case, the mass production of humans in a way that would force them to work endlessly to boost the economy. Upon reading the chapter, it took me a while to understand what I have just read here. Not only does it imply that people’s futures were already decided upon fertilization, but also the fact that they were happy about it? The first chapter introduces us to the social classes among humans, which were created to determine what type of jobs they would have, and whether they were going to have a successful life. The social classes ranged from the Greek letters of alpha to epsilon where alpha (the top) would receive the most benefits and the be provided with the highest level of education, and the lower classes (specifically gamma and below) would be limited in their amount of knowledge by being limited in what they were allowed to do. The reason behind this was to accustom the lower classes to the lower paying jobs that they would be working in their futures. The type of social class would also determine the amount of oxygen they would receive as embryos as a way to control their amount of intelligence, the type of education that they would receive, and whether they were going to undergo Bokanovsky’s process where the ovula would be multiplied hundreds of times using a series of X-Rays. This was all concluded at the end of the first chapter which was originally a lot of information to take in for myself and would make anyone feel more or less confused on how to make the connections with the information that we were provided with the actual events of the story, but I didn’t let that discourage me from seeing the whole picture, I knew that there was a certain degree of meaning behind this nonsense; what was Huxley trying to communicate to us, the audience? How would the society of a world like this look like? I decided to dig in deeper.

I knew that there was some sort of hidden message inside this book, perhaps something that Huxley wanted to warn us about, so once I dug deeper inside this book, it all started to come together. First of all, mass production: During Huxley’s era, mass production was starting to become a major aspect of American society as it did help companies meet the demand of their customers at a faster rate, where the goods made by smaller businesses would start to seem irrelevant. Secondly, the social classes: for many years, society has always had some sort of gap between social classes where people could be treated differently depending on how much they make. Although it is not as commonly seen today as it was back then, it is still an important issue that should be addressed so these differences wouldn’t restrict what people would be able to do in their daily lives, the unacceptance of contradicting or ‘controversial’ opinions as seen in the various chapters where Bernard Marx is seen as an outsider as he does not agree with the common belief and is outcast as a result, and the abuse of drugs which is viewed to be a suitable alternative to therapy by getting rid of all negative emotions. Once I have realized all these things, I have noticed that we are in fact heading towards that direction. Although our society hasn’t gotten to the point where Huxley imagined it to be, I do have reason to believe that we are heading towards that direction, or if not, already living in that society. Nowadays, we start to see cases of smaller businesses collapsing due to the expansion of major corporations, people being treated differently depending on where they live or how they live their life, people being neglected, ignored, bullied, or in more severe cases arrested because of how they think or believe in, and the legalization of certain drugs as a way to ‘boost’ the economy while placing our modern day youth in a position where drugs are easily accessible to them are prime examples of how we are already living in the ‘brave new world.’ As human beings, we tend to laugh when our enemies fall, involve ourselves into modern-day situations and dislike one another for thinking differently if it means following a different religion or having a different political view, and hold grudges against other people because they may have done something wrong to you as a result of something you did to them or something that happened to them, where have we gone wrong? Even though we strive to be open minded towards other people, even if it means accepting other views and opinions, we tend to resort back to our humanly nature of attacking other people. This is what I believe Bernard is a victim of, being different from the others for sticking to his own ideals, and for that, I do admire him despite his flaws. Overall, this book has made me reflect on the many things that have been going around the world in a different way now that I have seen the way our society could look like if we continue to live our lives in this certain way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PW #6 – The Current State of Alejandro Rodriguez

It’s a new day, and a new start. Let the intrusive thoughts begin…

Good morning, or should I say good afternoon. Depending on whatever time you’re reading this, you would interpret it differently. Over these days, I have started taking my future into consideration such as what I would do for my undergraduate, what university I would want to go to, and how I would plan everything out to be the way its supposed to be. Right now, I feel like my life is a mess, but I’m not playing the victim here. I know that I have a lot of work to do in my organization and time management, but that is beside the point. What I really think it is though, is my past and all the failures that I have committed that have led to catastrophic results. Of course, I wouldn’t want to repeat those again, heck, I’d like to get away from them as far as possible, but there seems to be nothing that I can do to stop them from happening again. What I really mean is the fear of failure, and repeating the mistakes that I have made which had caused me to doubt myself. Something as small as not handing an assignment in time would make me anxious towards the workload that I would experience in university, or even the feeling of having to be ‘the best’ has made a major impact in my life. While I continue to work on these certain things, I try to hope for the best, even if I’m hanging by a thread at this point.

What I really have my mind set towards right now is my planned trip to Medellin, Colombia in the summer where I would visit my family which I haven’t seen in over a decade. Now that I’m thinking about it, I haven’t left the country in over a decade, I had forgotten what life was like in another country. I have had my mom tell me how the culture from Colombia is different from the one here in Canada in ways that I would’ve never expected. One most of all is respect, which is a major aspect in Colombian society, especially in Medellin. That should be easy right? Just don’t forget to use please and thank you. Turns out that I was incorrect. Something as simple as making a small request towards a stranger or someone of higher authority would require an enormous amount of respect, which wouldn’t even be seen in English. The request goes as follows:

¿Muy Buenos días, señor/señorita, cómo le va? ¿Cómo está su día? ¿Sería tan amable si me pudieras …. por favor?

Which literally translates to:

I wish you a very good morning sir/miss, how are you? How is your day? Would it be so kind if you could please….?

Regularly, you would have to say the entire sentence, or you would be seen as rude and disrespectful. As my parents had already been away from the country for a long time during the last time we visited ten years ago, they had forgotten how the formal greeting was supposed to be said, and even got scolded by a police officer while communicating with them. Its these cultural changes that really make me think about Canadian society. Are we the rude ones? Or are they too polite? Who knows? But it can only make you think of the way other countries can view yours.

 

IRJE #6 – Moishe the Beadle

Elie Wiesel’s Night is a true story written in the perspective of the author during WWII.  The book gives us a Romanian perspective of the traumatic events European Jews had to go through the Nazi’s rule. Although, Wiesel’s story is not as widely known as Anne Frank’s diary or the Book Thief by Markus Zusak, possibly due to the reason that it is based in the town of Sighet, Transylvania which is a town not known to many due to its small size and isolated location, it still holds the same amount of meaning as that these kinds of stories have as they help us achieve a greater understanding of history through the lens of someone who has suffered through the toughest of times.

In the first chapter, we are introduced to a character who was given the nickname Moishe the Beadle by the townsfolk in Sighet. Despite the impoverished community’s bad reputation in Sighet, the residents were particularly fond of Moishe as he did not intervene with the other’s daily lives, as if he were invisible. He would spend most of his time by himself attending to his job as the jack of all trades in a Hasidic house of prayer where he would later come across the protagonist, Elie Wiesel weeping over the destroyed synagogue in their town.

“Why do you cry when you pray?” he asked, as though he knew me well.

“I don’t know,” I answered, troubled.

I had never asked myself that question. I cried because… because something inside me felt the need to cry. That was all I knew.

“Why do you pray?” he asked after a moment.

Why did I pray? Strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?

“I don’t know,” I told hum, even more troubled and ill at ease, “I don’t know.”

From that day on, I saw him often. He explained to me, with great emphasis, that every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer…

Man comes closer to God through the questions he asks Him, he liked to say. Therein lies true dialogue. Man asks and god replies. But we don’t understand His replies. We cannot understand them. Because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die. The real answers, Eliezer, you will find only within yourself. (p. 4)

This was the first interaction between the two which came in the most unexpected and awkward way possible. At the same time, Eliezer was searching for someone that could teach him the studies of Kabbalah, which is the study of Jewish mysticism as his father said that he would have to wait until he is thirty to learn it so that he could concentrate on the basic subjects. Once Eliezer started asking Moishe more questions surrounding the Zohar, the Kabbalistic works, and the secrets of Jewish mysticism, he became his teacher that he was searching for. This sets an example to not judge a book by its cover, as someone as poor as Moishe could be very knowledgeable when it comes to the complex mysteries of Judaism where in Eliezer’s belief, could help him enter eternity.

PW #5 – That Time I Casually Got an Oblique Tibial Shaft Fracture Part II – The End

It came unexpectantly, the moment I have been waiting for. As you see, since the day I received my surgery to treat my badly broken leg, I have been under the limitations of two metal pins inside my left shinbone. Although I was still able to work out to some extent when I was fully healed, I would start to experience a certain degree of pain once I bent my knee too far. My volleyball performance was also hindered as I was not able to slide on the floor as the area would become tender if one of my two metal pins were to make rough contact with the floor. I knew that one last surgery stood in my way towards complete freedom and it has been one that has felt like an eternity to wait for.

But, after eight months of waiting… I was finally given a date.

As soon as the doctor muttered the words, “The 9th of February,” I knew that everything was about to change. I began to wait eagerly for the date of the surgery as it was only two months away at the time. I started doing research as I became genuinely interested in the procedure as I would have no idea how a team of doctors would be able to casually cut open my two original stitches and pull two metal rods from my bone. After browsing through a library of detailed videos, I became very interested, and I became hooked on looking up videos of surgeries. My dream profession was decided; I wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon as many of its aspects were linked with my personal interests. The biological side, the environment of working in the hospital, the result of giving a person their life back, money seemed to me as a minor benefit of working in medicine: I was obsessed.

The minute I woke up on the 9th of February, I quickly got ready for my 45 minute car ride to the Saanich Peninsula Hospital where my surgery was going to take place. I was anticipating to be able to experience the work environment that I would be in when I would be working as my dream profession. As soon as I opened the doors to the main entrance of the hospital, I knew that I was in for an experience. The hospital was very clean and seemed newly renovated. As I made my way towards the surgical daycare to be checked in, the nurse made me sign a form giving the doctors consent to be able to cut my leg open. This only made me a bit nervous as I was not very sure why I was required to sign a consent form for a very minor procedure, but I continued anyway. After waiting in the seating area for about five minutes, I was led through the doors into the surgical daycare where I was instructed to change into my surgical gown for safety purposes. After a while of accidentally tying my gown backwards twice, I was admitted into the pre-op room where I was visited by the team of doctors and nurses who would be involved in the surgery. I was then visited by the surgeon who explained the surgical procedure to me in preparation to my actual surgery. Once I was led through the doors out of the Pre-op room, I could hear the sound of rock music coming out of OR #2 which is apparently what the team of doctors were listening to throughout my surgery. As I dosed off with laughing gas once I was on the surgical table, I woke up the next moment with a bandage around my leg. I knew that the job had been finished. After a day of taking my hourly dosage of advil and tylenol, I had to cope with the scar that had been left after my surgery. It was somewhat sore, but it didn’t hurt to the point that I would’ve thought it would. But now, while I am sitting in my bed writing this blog post, I have been off my meds, and on the road to recovery which can take up to two weeks.

English: 1 ¶ Hypnopedia

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave new World,  a new style of learning called hypnopedia is introduced with the intention to make learning quicker and effortless. The principle is introduced in chapter two during the student’s visit of the Central London Hatching and Conditioning where they start labeling it as obsolete after they realized that children were not learning anything and were instead memorizing a bunch of sentences without any knowledge of what they mean. What really surprises me is that a book written nearly ninety years ago was able to estimate so much about the future while not being too far off reality. As a student, I sometimes find myself reading a sheet of paper in my head without searching for the meaning. In the end, I did read the text that I was assigned, but it didn’t mean anything to me, thus making it useless.

(A small boy asleep on his right side, the right arm stuck out, the right hand hanging limply over the edge of the bed. Through a round grating in the side of a box a voice speaks softly.

‘The Nile is the longest river in Africa and the second in length of all the rivers of the globe. Although falling short of the length of the Mississippi-Missouri, the Nile is at the head of all rivers as regards the length of its basin, which extends through 35 degrees of latitude…’

At breakfast the next morning, ‘Tommy,’ someone says, ‘do you know which is the longest river in Africa?’ A shaking of the head. ‘But don’t you remember something that begins: ‘the Nile is the…’

‘The-Nile-is-the-longest-river-in-Africa-and-the-second-in-length-of-all-the-rivers-of-the-globe…’ The words come rushing out. ‘Although-falling-short-of…’

‘Well now, which is the longest river in Africa?’ The eyes are blank.

‘I don’t know.’ (p. 21)

The reason this quote stood out to me is because of the way it was written. Huxley was able to imply the child’s tone by adding the dashes in between of each word as he starts to repeat what was said to him. I believe that this is Huxley’s way of saying that society is reaching a point where people think that they could get away with multiple things by taking the easy route rather than taking the longer route and getting a more complete product. In this case, hypnopedia was designed to shove children’s minds with too much information for them to handle to try to make them more knowledgeable at a young age. I also believe that this is Huxley’s way of saying that we shouldn’t do things at random or do too much than we can handle as we could miss important details or miss the entire subject of the text.

Outsmart Your Brain Reflection

Daniel. T. Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain addresses the main struggles students are faced with nowadays such as note taking, highlighting, and comprehension. The book then proposes solutions to said problems which made sense, and were well written.

Willingham’s first point was how students tend to struggle with reading comprehension as someone can tend to get lost in the word salad that is provided to us in a textbook. The reason that we perceive a textbook to be long and complicated is because we expect it to be organized in the traditional story book format where you have the beginning middle and end rather than a textbook that separates topics by categories and is not written with the intention to entertain, rather to educate. As someone who struggles with ADHD, I found these tips to be very helpful in terms of organization as this is something that I struggle with a lot.

Willingham’s second point about extracting text came as a surprise to me. Usually, I would grab a highlighter and label any text that seems most important to me without knowing exactly what I am looking for. Willingham’s proposed solution to this is to create questions about the headings and search for the answers in the text. This would allow me to focus more on the topic rather on the amount of words on my sheet which would set me on task, and would prevent me from getting distracted too much on the things around me.

After reading Willingham’s key points, I am safe to say that I have learned a lot. For starters, I now have a plan for the texts that I would read rather than jotting down random information that I probably wouldn’t use. As Willingham said, having a plan is better than not having a plan, and I completely agree as I have felt lost when I don’t stick to a specific order or set of instructions.

PW #4 – Nostalgia, and the 2000s

Sometimes I would find myself looking at a computer screen wondering how we have come to this point in history, where I can know the reason behind my sore throat just by looking it up on google. Well, I was around the late 2000s era to remember the initial excitement we had with technology. At first, my parents would usually hop on to MSN messenger to say hi to friends and family, which at the time seemed out-of-the-world. The whole point of the internet being somewhat complex to comprehend added to the excitement of using it, I felt like I was getting work done. Everyday after kindergarten, I would boot up my mom’s old Windows XP laptop which were filled with all these fancy animations and 3D text. Sound quality was a big issue for most people, but I always loved hearing the compressed sound playing from adobe flash player whenever I went to coolmathgames.com. My experience with computers made me invested in technology, and is what got me into researching these kinds of topics on a daily basis.

But in the present day… (2016-2023)

Computer design has become very dull thanks to modern design trends. Whenever I would load up a messaging program, I would find myself staring at a black background with a bunch of text written on top of it rather than the old UI computers had where it had a lot of eye catching details such as 3D text or some nice design that would come preloaded in the background. Computer design has grown to be really flat, taking a more minimalistic approach rather than the old eye catching design computers had back in the days. 3D styled buttons became plain rectangles, Fancy notification sounds became very dull (mostly just filled with the same sound) and logging on to a messaging service doesn’t have the same experience it did back then. I will always miss the good old days for giving me the fantastic experience I had, but here I am, falling asleep in front of my monitor, with nothing to do.

IRJE #5 – Pothinus Sab

Over the break, I decided to re-read one of my books which I haven’t read since grade 6 which made me realize a lot more details than I noticed before. The book is called Will Wilder: The lost staff of wonders which is the second book in the Will Wilder series that is about a teenage boy who discovers his hidden ability to see demons which has been kept a secret from him by his family.

Re-reading the book made me realize a two important things; First of all, my attention span back then wasn’t the greatest, and secondly my vocabulary wasn’t as big as it is now. Reading used to be a great struggle for me, but over the years it became less of a challenge than it was before.

The chapter I am currently in introduces a new character in the series named Pothinus Sab which is certainly a very interesting character. Pothinus Sab, also referred to as just “Sab” is a man who is opening a new Karnak center in Perilous Falls. Sab introduces himself as a healer that would cure anyone who would wear one of his necklaces that he is giving out to the public.

As he is viewed as a spiritual healer, no one really pays attention to him. In the opening ceremony of the Perilous Falls “Karnak Center” he asks the public to let out their anger and shout it out, possibly to rile the people up. This leads to a montage of people shouting out the weirdest things which brings more attention to the ceremony.

‘I can feeeel your struggle. In these trying times, it is hard to avoid anger. And you have much to be angry about, don’t you? Well, here’s a surprise: Don’t hold it back! This is the problem—we withhold the anger that needs to be free. Beyond that anger is the joy and the regeneration that you desire. But first you must releeease your anger. Get it out! Who is going to start?’ Sab pulled the microphone off the stand and with the rhythm of a jaguar, slunk to the right of the bandstand. He leaned over the iron railing, revealing in the crowd’s reaction. ‘What angers you most? What is irritating you my friends?’ He stretched the microphone over the heads of the audience.

‘I’m sick of the politicians who stop listening once we elect them!’ one woman screamed. Loud applause greeted her words. Mayor Lynch and some of the city council forced smiles and adjusted their seats.

I feel like this specific quote really makes Sab’s crazy side stand out a lot more than any of the other quotes. What really stood out to me was the imagery that this quote brought out which heavily emphasizes an awkward situation, especially for the mayor and the city council which were being attacked in the same event they organized. The quote is the first interaction Sab had with the audience and I am sure that it certainly made an impression on them.

War in Literature Unit Final Reflection

Last term’s unit final made me realize some areas that I should improve on my written assignments such as time management, organization, and communication. As my organization has not yet reached the level I have been aiming for, this has turned into something that has always been at the top of my priorities.

The feedback that was handed back to me suggested that I should make an outline before I get started on the essay. While I did write down notes from both passages, I did not organize these notes onto a separate sheet of paper. Instead, I should spend more time analyzing the passages and writing it down on a separate sheet of paper rather than using all my time on writing the essay. I have realized that this can save me a lot of trouble as it can also reduce a lot of clutter on my arguments. Since this is one of my biggest struggles, I can look back on previous classes and gather all the information that can help me in the long run.

Lastly, I should always look back on my essays to make any corrections that I have made. I have found out that proofreading has helped me out a lot in the past as it has eased some of the pressure associated with the exam. As I am given a limited amount of time, I should leave the proofreading for the end so that I don’t feel too stressed out while I am making my points. I believe that if I make these changes to my essay writing habits, I could get my point across to the reader while eliminating all the space and clutter on my paper.

My Ideal Utopian Society

After reading several dystopian novels such as the Hunger Games Series, George Orwell’s 1984, and the first novel of the Divergent series, I have a decent idea of what an ideal Utopian could look like.

The first thing I have noticed in these dystopian novels is that they all include an authoritarian government which has a large influence over people lives. Take the Hunger Games series for example, which is based in a post-apocalyptic nation called Panem which is ruled by a government which has a massive influence on its citizen’s lives, affecting what they they are allowed to say in public. This is also seen in George Orwell’s 1984 where the head of state known as “Big Brother” has several cameras and drones monitoring people’s daily lives in accordance with his established “Thought Police.”

Secondly, these novels include a protagonist which has to deal with the unfair treatment in the dystopian society they live in. The Hunger Games does a decent job at doing this where the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen lives in the poorest district in all of her country with a struggling family and without a father to take care of both her and her sister. Katniss is left in a rough spot in the series where she has to take up the role of being the main provider for her mother and her sister who are too weak and fragile in their current state of malnourishment.

So in conclusion, a utopian society would strive for a thriving society where its  citizens wouldn’t have to face these issues brought up by the many dystopian stories which have seen a sudden increase in popularity over the years. I believe that by doing this, the authors are trying to communicate the worst-case scenario which could erupt if a controlling government like the ones in their stories would come into power. Unfortunately, several countries in the world have to bear with this nightmarish ideology brought up by their governments where they are severely limited to even think for themselves. This is where I feel like utopian stories can come into place, where they can set a good example of how a society could function without any or very few drawbacks. And as time goes on, we can only hope that situations like these can be solved in the near future as they are being brought to the attention of the public.

Hunger Games IRJE #4 – Change of Pace

While reading further more into the book, I have noticed a change of pace in terms of its overall tone with the reader. At first, it seemed a bit slow to further emphasize Katniss’ dark life back in district 12. But mid-way through chapter 2 when Katniss takes her sister’s place as tribute, things start to speed up a little. Katniss’ slow and grim lifestyle transitioned into a fast paced, roller coaster of events stacked on top of each other which gives us this certain feeling of anxiety. We also get a better glimpse of Katniss’ emotions.

“Prim let go,” I say harshly, because this is upsetting me and I don’t want to cry. When they televise the replay of the reapings tonight, everyone will make note of my tears, and I’ll be marked as an easy target. A weakling. I will give no one that satisfaction.

This quote reminds me of the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” as it shows Katniss’ inner feelings towards others around her. The book portrays her as this poor teenage girl who has taken the responsibility as her sister’s caretaker ever since her mom couldn’t bear the load of her husband’s passing and who as a result, tends to have frequent blackouts. Even though if it would cause her to look through her town’s garbage, she would do anything she could to keep her sister away from getting taken away from her family. This quote makes Katniss seem like the brave person she really is and even starts to depict her in a more aggressive way as she wouldn’t want to be seen as a coward.

 

Hunger Games IRJE #3 – The Less Fortunate

Like many dystopian novels, Hunger Games makes note of many issues which occur in several totalitarian countries. In the post-apocalyptic country known as Panem, people do not have the right to speak against the government as they have complete control over all twelve districts. As stated in the first book of the series, the most common punishment for speaking against the government is death, usually by firing squad. In the first chapter, Katniss is reminded by her mom to be mindful of what she says around other people and in the house so that she and her sister Prim would avoid facing the consequences.

When I was younger, I scared my mother to death, the things  I would blurt out about District 12, about the people who rule our country, Panem, from the far-off city called the Capitol. Eventually I understood this would only lead us to more trouble. So I learned to hold my tongue and to turn my features into an indifferent mask so that that no one could ever read my thoughts. Do my work quietly in school. Make only polite small talk in the public market. Discuss little more than trades in the Hob, which is the black market where I make most of my money. Even at home, where I am less pleasant, avoid discussing tricky topics. Like the reaping, or food shortages, or the Hunger Games. Prim might begin to repeat my words and then where would we be?

In certain countries, this is usually what certain people must go through when they speak against certain measures imposed on them. In countries such as North Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, people are held captive in jail under inhumane conditions or are even executed. This only demonstrates how lucky and privileged we are to live in a country where we can speak against modern day injustices or even criticize the government publicly without facing the harsh consequences experienced in these certain less-fortunate countries.

Hunger Games IRJE #2 – The Loaf of Bread

As I venture onto my second book in the Hunger Games series, I am placed in the shoes of a young teenage girl, Katniss Everdeen who has been met with one of her largest challenges in life as a resident of Panem, the reaping. The reaping is an event where two candidates of ages 12-18, male and female are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, where they are to fight to the death amongst themselves and the candidates from other districts. At the beginning of the book, I was fascinated with Collins’ detailed description of imagery especially in the part where Katniss goes hunting with Gale, her childhood friend and start to make jokes about the reaping to help relieve themselves of their fear of getting selected for the games.

“Look what I shot” Gale holds up a loaf of bread with an arrow stuck in it, and I laugh. It’s real bakery bread, not the flat, dense loaves we make from our grain rations. I take it in my hands, pull out the arrow, and hold the puncture in the crust to my nose, inhaling the fragrance that makes my mouth flood with saliva. Fine bread like this is for special occasions.

The part of this quote which really stood out to me was the imagery associated with the bread and the way they joke around to take their minds off the reaping. The inclusion of the very detailed description makes me imagine the current situation of the citizens of district 12 and how hungry and desperate they are for something as simple as a loaf of bread. The way how the bread was described, the smell, the feeling, and even the mention of it being fine bread compared to their traditional flat bread made me imagine that this surely is a loaf of bread to be cherished.

PW #3 – Mitsu Chapter 2

The time has arrived, the time for me to escape. To venture out and explore this large and fascinating world. No more school, no more curfew, no more-

“What are you doing?”

“What?”

“That, you were just staring blankly into the wall.”

The only time I get to think to myself around here…

“Anthony, like you, I haven’t gone anywhere, I want to see the world, explore places. Could you do that for Mr. Griff here?”

Kaitlyn trusts me? To take care of her treasured dog toy? This is interesting.

“What are you getting to?”

“I’m sorry for being so rude to you last night, I hope this would make it up for both of us.”

“Did mom make you do this?”

“Maybe.”

“Fine, I’ll take your dog- “

“Mr. Griff?”

“Whatever, just cause mom said so. I still won’t ignore the fact that you have been treating me like crap these weeks.”

“I’m telling mom!”

“Katlyn, go to bed. It’s way past your bedtime.”

“I don’t go to sleep at 9 anymore! I’m not a little girl!”

Kaitlyn stomps out of the room slamming the door behind her. She wasn’t always like this…

“C’mon Anthony, any time now.”

“In a minute dad.”

A new adventure is about to unfold.

 

“You made it! Looks like Mr. Bowman spared you the consequences.”

Liam gives me a warm greeting as I arrive at the airport. At times like these, I usually find myself grouping up with Liam, James, and Jennifer to spare myself all the meaningless conversations I have with my 5-year-old-minded classmates. They’ve been my closest friends ever since I moved here in Melbourne. At this point, it feels like I’ve lived here for my whole life which is starting to make me feel uneasy.

“Surprise, Surprise.” I respond

“Anthony! You made it!”

“James! What’s up? You feeling better already?”

“Wouldn’t want to miss a trip like this.”

“And Mason, you feeling better already?”

“Cold went away in a day.”

“Yeah, Mason couldn’t live a day without his anime.”

“psst, shut up.”

Glad to see the group back together.

“Alright class! Today’s the day! Now let us get started. Can I get Thomas, Jacob, Liam, James for group one.” Says Mr. Bowman

“For group two can I get, Mason, Jennifer, Lucas, Kyle.”

“And with me, Group 3, Emma, Charlotte, Evelyn, and Joshua.”

“OMG JOSH!” screams the entirety of group three in unison.

“And lastly, can I get Monica, Jeffery, Anthony, and Jennifer.”

J-Jennifer?

“I believe that’s everyone. Please see me if you have any questions, we should be boarding in about twenty minutes.”

 

: )

 

As I make my way across the large pathway inside the plane, I double-check my ticket to find my seat, it’s a window seat.

“Hey Anthony.”

“Jennifer! You startled me!”

“Did you find the bathrooms yet?”

“Yeah, they’re at the end of the pathway to the left.”

“Gee, thanks. Man, Germany, far from home, isn’t it?”

“I’ve never been to Europe. Is the food as good as it looks?”

“I guess you would have to try it out for yourself, I personally am obsessed with European food, especially German food.”

“So, like schnitzel and bratwurst?”

“Ha! That’s just the tip of the iceberg!”

This is great. This is the longest we’ve ever held a conversation, at least until Jennifer’s bag of chips falls onto the floor during take-off, which we spend the next 5 minutes joking about. The sun’s quickly going down, and the lights are turned off inside the cabin. I quickly fall asleep until I am awakened about five hours later by the flight attendant who offers me a drink which I immediately reply with “ginger ale.”

PW #2 – Mitsu – Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – Michael Stevenson

I am not a lazy person; people just don’t get it. Whenever I have something very important to do, I do it immediately to avoid the consequences, and look where that got me, detention; fourth time this week. It seems that Michael has been messing with my computer again and deleted all my schoolwork as a “prank”. That idiot thinks he’s the funniest person in the world, and according to my classmates, he is! Well, at least for me and Jennifer, and sometimes Liam. When the due date arrived, I had nothing to submit and instead I’m the one getting in trouble. Next time I see that Michael, things are gonna get ugly.

“Anthony, Mr. Bowman is waiting for you in his office”

VERY ugly

Once I start walking down the hallway, I spot Michael leaning against the wall staring back at me with a big smirk. Once I reach Mr. Bowman’s office, a teacher closes the door behind me.

“Anthony, take a seat. So, what’s been going on?”

Mr. Bowman, the school superintendent asks me an obvious question in a desperate attempt to make me confess for something I didn’t do

“I’m not exactly sure, I thought this was about the late assignment, but things seem to be more serious than for it to be just that.” I reply.

“14 Missing assignments, abusing phone privileges, prank calling random parents; what didn’t you do?”

“I have been using my phone certain times during class and I admit, that was wrong; but I’ve never prank called anyone…?”

I might’ve done one tiny little thing, but I swear, it’s the only thing I have done. Thanks to Michael’s father being the school principal, they look at Michael as this principled, well-behaved kid who wouldn’t hurt a fly. They just haven’t seen his other side; he surely does a great job of hiding it.

“It must’ve been Michael; I couldn’t think of anyone else doing such a thing.”

“I think I have had enough of your shenanigans; you’ll be serving the rest of your week’s lunch time in detention. Look, I’ll make a deal with you. If I see you in my office one more time, you’re suspended. Take this as a warning.

“I understand…”

Ok, maybe I have had a rough history but that’s way too much! Its no use arguing over it, It would just make things worse.

“And don’t forget to hand in your assignments by Monday!”

And I must do that too.

“Well, how did it go this time?”

Jennifer stands in front of me with her arms crossed.

“What do you think? Didn’t you see the way he looked at me?”

Once I saw Mr. Bowman’s expression, I knew I was as good as dead.

“Maybe we should talk somewhere else; I don’t want to be anywhere near that guy.”

“Anthony why are you always getting in trouble? It almost seems like you live in his office.”

“Don’t ask me…”

I have no idea what I do that gets me into these situations, maybe its because of

“Look, please try to get out of trouble. At least until the trip.”

Jennifer has a point; I can’t afford not going to the trip. Ever since we were young, we were constantly told about the infamous trip to Berlin that the 11th graders would go nearing the end of the year. Its been our dream ever since we were little and if I would get suspended, I couldn’t live with myself.

“And don’t be late for class. And don’t forget to do the American Civil War presentation, I don’t want to end up doing it all like last time.”

So much stuff to do. If I don’t do my part, Jennifer would probably start hating me again.

“Got it?”

“Yes! Ok, geez…”

Jennifer glares at me in confusion and walks away.

That could’ve gone better.

“What? Did Mr. Bowman catch you snoozing again?

Liam, my long-time friend stops me in my path

“You look tired, did you get any sleep last night? It looks like you’re going to pass out!”

“no… My sister kept slapping me with a pillow. It was for a ‘science experiment'”

“Maybe I caught you at a bad time, lets talk during lunch.”

“I have detention…”

“After school it is. Plus, we still have to decide what we’re going to do in Berlin.”

“LET ME HAVE MY COFFEE.”

 

🙂

 

“Mom I’m home.”

“Hey Anthony, how was school today?”

Uhhhhhhh

“Good”

“What did you do?”

“School”

“What did you do in school? We aren’t paying for nothing.”

“Well…”

“Hey Liam, how was JENNIFER today.”

“We’re not starting this again.”

“You talk about her all night, and you kiss her mwah mwah”

“Kaitlyn, go to your room. show some respect!”

What was that about?

“I made you dinner sweetie, I left it on the counter.”

“Thanks mom.”

“I hope you have a great trip tomorrow sweetie; you mean the world to me!”

“Mom, it’s only a week, I’ll be fine.”

“I know, I won’t be able to give you a proper goodbye since you have to get up early.”

“Mom…”

“I know you will, that’s why you’re my big boy!”

“Mommm……….”

“And you’re flying FIRST CLASS! You’re getting the full package!”

“MOM!”

“I’m just teasing, I hope you have a wonderful trip”

“HA! Momma’s boy”

“Kaitlyn, apologize to your brother! I’m sorry she’s been like this these days, she’s been having some school related issues ever since she started kindergarten.”

” Tell me about it”

PW #1 – The Time I Casually Got an Oblique Tibial Shaft Fracture

What seemed to be a day I was waiting for over two years resulted to be a disaster. It began when I decided to go to bed early because I did not want to fall asleep on the ride to mount Washington. I woke up numerous times at night trying to contain my excitement at times where it felt almost unreal that I was going to go skiing again. I had just gone off the phone with my friend at 3:30 in the morning deciding on where we were going to sit on the bus but before I knew it, it was time. I quickly got up from by bed, took a quick shower, stuffed all my skiing equipment into my backpack, and made myself breakfast. I had a full 9-hour sleep and had my morning cup of coffee and was ready to go. Once I was dropped off by my dad, I was ready to get on the bus. I boarded the charter bus and put my backpack onto the top shelf and sat down on my chair. 10 minutes later, the bus was off. It took around 3 hours to get to mount Washington and it was hard enough being the only person awake since there was no one to talk to, but I remembered to bring my iPad for that specific reason. Once we got to the mountain, I had to desperately search for someone who could tie my ski boots for me and luckily, I found a student tying everyone’s boots because the attendees were mostly international students who have never gone skiing before. Once I got my skis on, I went straight for the easiest hill on the mountain, the Reverse Traverse. At first, it was a smooth breeze down the hill. Since this was my third time skiing, I was confident. Then I went down the hill a second time, and the already bad snowstorm got worse. I went down the first slope and almost fell, but I quickly regained balance. Then, it got much worse. The snow continued to pile up and eventually, I fell victim to a icy bump. I was thrown off my skis and started rolling down the hill, then I suddenly stopped. I tried to stand back up, but I was unsuccessful in doing so. A sharp pain went down my leg and when I tried to move it, I felt the shattered bone in my left leg rocking back and forth. I yelled as loud as I could, trying to catch the attention of nearby skiers until a skier saw me on the ground and called the ski patrol as I was begging for him to take off my ski. 10 minutes later while shivering on the ground, a member of the ski patrol came with a toboggan to take me down to the first aid building. It all seemed like a straightforward process, until the doctor had to figure out how to take off my ski boots. I was given laughing gas and inhaled a lot of it which seemed to help with the pain. The moment the ambulance arrived I was put into another stretcher with a box cast on my leg. Surely it couldn’t get worse than this? Once I waited an hour for my X-Ray to get taken, I was told that I would have to get surgery which I have never gotten before. It took me a while to process everything since at first it seemed that it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but then once I woke up from my surgery, I had a new cast on my leg that was half plaster half bandage. It didn’t hurt at first until the morphine wore off and I felt it all. Until this day, I have had to cope with the fracture since I still have the metal pins in my leg. I was on crutches for three months until I was given the green light to walk normally on my broken leg. My ankle was barely movable at first due to muscle atrophy, but it took me another four weeks until I was able to walk like I did before. Breaking my leg reminded me that I wasn’t indestructible and that I should pay more attention to the slopes next time.

IRJE #1 – Anne Frank

Anne Frank’s diary was a story like no other. Just after WWII, not many people had the knowledge of all the atrocities Hitler had committed against the Jews. The holocaust was a well-kept secret for a while and was first viewed as a conspiracy, but when the evidence got out and Auschwitz was further examined, people’s opinions started to quickly change. People began to realize the truth, and a book none other than Anne Frank’s diary worked towards a new point of view which could be seen by many people in the world. During the book, I felt a special connection with Anne Frank. Her point of view on many things such as relationships and families weren’t that unfamiliar to me. In the beginning of the book, Anne was exited when she got her first diary for Christmas. She felt like she didn’t have any real friends, so she decided to treat her diary like if it were one of her close friends and even proceeded to name it “Kitty.”

Hence, this diary. In order to enhance my mind’s eye, the picture of the friend for whom I have waited so long, I don’t want to set down a series of bald facts in a diary like most people do, but I want this diary itself to be my friend, and I shall call my friend Kitty. No one will grasp what I’m talking about if I begin my letters to Kitty just out of the blue, so, albeit unwillingly, I will start by sketching in brief the story of my life.

English Reflection on WWI Literature

In the past, I have read two stories written by soldiers who have fought in WWI on opposing sides. One tells the perspective of a soldier who enlisted in High School and the other which focused on a soldier coming home from the war. For the first half of They Shall not Grow Old, it remained slightly optimistic with accounts of soldiers going out of their way to enlist in the army. According to the film, enlisting in the army was seen as an act of bravery and men who refused to do so were looked down upon and were seen as cowards. It also gave descriptions of a soldier’s everyday life in the army camps such as singing songs and drinking off their pain with alcohol. It also showed pictures of their latrines and their lack of embarrassment. The movie later switched to a more violent nature when it started giving graphic descriptions of the horrors of soldier’s experiences in the war. It started telling stories about soldiers crying for help and being gravely injured by nearby shells, and getting diseases from spending too much time in the trenches. The descriptions were more graphic than any of the WWI stories we have read in the past and really started touching on the violent side of war. Paul’s story focused on a German soldier’s life and how similar it was to any opposing side and Soldier’s Home focused on the drastic changes a soldier would experience while returning home. All three of these stories felt very different while focusing on the same topic since they were aimed towards different aspects in the war.

A Comparison Between Harold Krebs and Paul Baümer

The life of Krebs and Baumer is unalike, but not too different. A Soldier’s Home was written with the intention of describing someone’s life coming home from the war, and All Quiet on the Western Front was written to show the world how indifferent German soldiers are from the rest. When we start to compare both stories, we realize that these two stories were written in the perspective of two very different soldiers who fought on opposing sides, one being in the US and the other being in Germany. In Baumer’s story, we read that Baumer tends to be more empathetic than everyone else and even starts pitying the French and British soldiers who he had killed or let die. However in Krebs’ story, we find out that he actually found a liking for the war and doesn’t see life ever with the same excitement he had in the war. Something I have noticed in each story is the fact that both of the soldiers had little or no emotion left for their families due to the rough experiences they went through in the war. In Baumer’s story, he tries to relive his memories of his childhood when he shuffles through his belonging while staying at his house rather than Krebs’ story where he was a bit more accepting of change when he started noticing how mature everyone he knew had become. A major challenge both Krebs and Baumer faced while returning from the campsite is sharing their experiences from the war. Baumer’s Father was eager to know his experiences in the war while Krebs wanted to be the center of attention and even started making up lies about the war, even though he felt that it wasn’t right. Krebs and Baumer have grown up and lived in very two different countries at the time where one hated another yet, they lived through very similar experiences during and after the war. This is what I believe All Quiet on the Western Front was trying to communicate throughout this time, that two soldiers no matter how different they are share many of the same experiences throughout the war.

My Personal Response on ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’

To live in a world free of safety, blinded by finding the good in everything and in search desperate search of hope but finding despair instead, this is the true horror of living as a soldier in WWI. It wasn’t until I picked up a certain book where I learned the truth. War can be many things to different people, to banks and the arms industry, it is a gold mine. To the many soldiers who fought long and hard and wanted to make the greatest deal of service to their country, it is much different. At first, I viewed war as a bland topic as it may include many things. I thought at first, that to become a soldier was to put your nation before everyone else in risk of dying a ‘glorious’ death and being honored in the many years to come, or perhaps survive through the great challenges of war and tell your story to your descendants. But as it turns out, it is nothing of the sort.

When I picked up the book, I was placed in the shoes of Paul Bäumer, a young man who joined the military with his schoolmates to fight in The Great War. He and his friends were influenced by his teacher Kantorek, who gave the suggestion to everyone in the class. When he joined the army, he was trained by Sargent Himmelstoss, who worked as a postman prior to becoming a Sargent. Himmelstoss had a bad reputation among Paul and his Friends due to constantly abusing his power and punishing them in harsh ways for very minor mistakes. During chapter three, we find out that Tjaden fell victim to one of Himmelstoss’ worst punishments due to him urinating on his own bed frequently. We later find out that Himmelstoss used to find another soldier who would also urinate his bed frequently and put them together in the same bunk and switch them every night. This would mean that whoever slept in the lower bunk would then have no choice but to sleep in the floor where it is cold. To Tjaden it was torture, but to Himmelstoss, it was a cure for laziness. Paul believed that the plan was not ill-conceived but that it was still rough. The friends get together and decide on a plan to get their revenge on Himmelstoss at night by beating him up and shoving a bed cover over his head. Tjaden and the others were satisfied knowing they got their long-awaited sweet revenge. Reading this chapter knocked me off a bit, but I was not surprised. I then realized that the author was communicating to the anti-German audience how German soldiers were not blood thirsty murderers, but they were patriotic human beings who would give anything for their country. Even for me, I wouldn’t imagine how much these soldiers were like us, not just how they feel emotion, but also the way they think, and all the rough times they had to go through. Chapter three was especially significant for me, because it’s how I saw (even if it their way of handling it was to the extreme) how soldiers can feel anger towards people who are very mean to them especially at a relatively young age.

Change may come as a shock to anyone who experiences it, but it wouldn’t affect anyone nearly as much as a soldier. To become a soldier means that you would put your country before anything else including your own family. In chapter seven, we come to realize certain differences between the army camps and civilian life which Paul experiences when he is off on leave. Once he gets off the train, he visits his mother and his sister once he arrives home. Immediately, he starts to notice something different as if he didn’t fit there, or if he didn’t belong there. He is treated with a warm welcome from his sister who announces his arrival. Paul is then alerted to his mother calling for him which his sister notifies him that she is sick. Paul greets his sick mother who is desperately concerned for him, searching him for injuries and later inquires about his leave. Paul reassures her that he is fine, and he is simply let off as a break. He is then offered potato cakes by his sister as she knows that it is his favorite dish. Paul later heads to his room and realizes that something is not right, taking his emotional state in consideration. He reads through his books in his bookshelf trying to feel like himself before he joined the war but is met with disappointment when he realizes that the books words mean nothing to him. This is a clear indicator that Paul is experiencing trauma from the war without him clearly noticing it. He is frequently asked by his father to tell him about his experiences in the war but is constantly neglected by Paul due to him not wanting to remember his separate life as a soldier. During his leave, he remembers that he must do something very important to him, visit the mother of his best friend Kemmerich who died in combat. As soon as he meets Kemmerich’s mother, she comes to him sobbing, asking him how Kemmerich died. As he did not want to carry the burden of telling her his long and painful death, he replied saying that he was shot and killed instantly without mentioning any details. Kemmerich’s mother, quickly seeing through him asked him several more times until she believed him due to Paul not mentioning the details of his death. It was a very sad scene, seeing how a remorseful mother mourning her son’s death would act towards someone who could’ve been very close to her. It shows that the German soldiers had mothers, siblings, and families who cared for them. They weren’t soulless human beings; they were beloved sons of many parents who feel the trauma of their passing just like the families of soldiers from opposing countries were like. The focus of All Quiet on the Western Front was to communicate how much alike we can be no matter how much we can loathe each other, but also that people are people, and nothing can change the fact that everyone’s actions are influenced based on past experiences and the environment they grow up in.

About me

Hello, my name is Alejandro Rodriguez. I am in grade 10 and have been attending Brookes Westshore for 5 years. I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC and am very proud to be living in this very beautiful province. My parents are from South America, and have raised me to speak Spanish and continue to do so for my entire life. It used to be the only language I spoke, until I had to learn to speak English in Pre-K; it is my first language now. I moved to Victoria in 2015 and took me a while to get used to the very laid-back lifestyle compared to the very fast, hectic lifestyle of Vancouver. I used to think it was boring at first, but then I realize that at least I don’t have to be looking behind my back every couple of seconds as it is very safe here.

This year in English, I hope to improve my English speaking skills but most importantly, my reading skills as I know I will use them a lot in my life. I would also like to improve my calligraphy skills as I think my handwriting is somewhat generic, but still readable at the same time. I hope to continue to work on these certain aspects of English so that I will be able to finish these last three years of school, and the many challenging years of university which come after.