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.

Mitsu – Chapter 2 – PW #3

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.”

Mitsu – Chapter 1 – PW #2

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”

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

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.

Anne Frank IRJE #1

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.