Little Fires everywhere creative task: Diary entry of Elena

 

This isn’t about her. How many times did I have to tell her this? If she had followed the rules with simplicity initially, this would have never happened. I told her, that’s how you succeed. You gain recognition in one way and it’s not that hard to obtain it. The more I try to raise her correctly, the more I fail, the more miserable it gets sustaining the equity of this household. Things were easier with Lexie, at least that’s one who’s more like me. Is it so hard to get both of them to resemble me?

How dare she claims I treat her like a puppet, and refuse to play the violin I spent so long helping her perfect the piece. And in front of the whole orchestra audience. Who in the right mind has the audacity to do so? I do want her to be happy. And it would all be so much easier if she did things the way she should. When will she learn that her impetuous actions have consequences? Not only on her self, but our family and other surroundings. Our values. What is to be perceived of us when my youngest daughter wears ultimately inappropriate clothing and pursues a despicable style of living. It takes one slight imperfection to make us stand out more than we should.

Her actions of craze have most definitely pushed my buttons. But she knows better than this! Why is it that she clings on to her own ways and won’t let go? Is making such impulsive decisions the norm she wishes to live? Surely she can express herself otherwise. Besides, the sight of permanently ruined, imperfect hair is despicable. Yet it was her most honourable feature, especially when loose and untied. She inevitably found her ways to eradicate it, and any other desirable features of hers. Whilst the shortest path is the smartest, wisest option, she chooses the longest, complicated one without hesitation.

I’m just trying to raise nice children who do good in the world. I thought I had done what’s best. At least with the first 3. But I am running out of ideas. I won’t tolerate this much longer and she will soon have no choice but to come to terms with me.

Environmental sustainability – food waste & composting

I have always been highly involved in sustainability practices and consider saving the environment a very important priority in my life. This is also why I hope to study physical geography and environmental sciences in the future.

I think composting is a great solution towards reducing food waste. It is simple and effective in the long term as it only requires a limited amount of resources. Nonetheless, one of the issues I have is living in a condo, making this practice difficult to implement. I only have a balcony to place my compost/pot for growing and it could eventually provoke smells that would disrupt neighbours. I am also limited on space in the apartment I have. Therefore, I would highly encourage citizens who live in spacious apartments or houses, to implement this action.

For people like me who live in condominiums, I would be more lenient towards urban farming. In fact, right next to my house I observed there was a small urban farm called Hort Park gardening hub. I was surprised by all the types of herbs and vegetables that were growing within such a relatively small area. Giving that it is of walking distance from my house I also figured it would be practical to be involved with this gardening. Although I am not sure if the gardening products are sold, I think it is a very good idea to have included this aspect of sustainability in the middle of a populated area in Singapore. I really hope to be able to purchase goods from there as I would feel very satisfied contributing to a zero carbon footprint movement. This would also encourage the local people who keep this farm going, to work.

Therefore, if food composting is unable to be done, I think we should all start to look at where the local farms or gardening spaces are. We should definitely make better use of them as not only does this contribute to limited carbon emissions comparatively to when we buy imported products, but it also enables a stronger bond within the community and encourages local people to work.

What are your thoughts on some of the issues raised in the article and in the video? Are there any clear solutions? Where does responsibility lie?

Reflecting upon the video and article about Racial integration in Shaker heights, I think it is clear to see that citizens might just like the idea of being inclusive and integrating towards the black, but don’t deeply strive towards exterminating the issue of racism. Giving that the bar is set very high regarding the social class and financial status, I think the idea of being perceived as a non-exclusive community may just be another ‘garment’ to constructing individual fame in this society and realistically, and adds on to an individuals value and worth. As shown in many of the scenarios of the video, the idea of being inclusive towards all races is clearly a fantasy. When none of the white citizens raised their hands indicating a black person had been to their house, this proves to show that deeply, there are still barriers set between both races, which is hard to break. I think the responsibility lies in the hands of the white as they populate the majority of Shaker Heights and are stereotypically seen to acquire the most power and superiority. Therefore, the consequences of their actions and beliefs are thoroughly shown and reflected comparatively to if a black person were to stand of for themselves. This again shows how justice is not in place and ‘power’ should not be imbalanced between both races.

It was also shocking reading about the disparities in academic level at school. This comes to show that even though they might not realise it, white teachers may have subtle bias towards students of the same race as them as that is the ‘type of person’ they always grew up with and it is hard to adapt to something else. Whilst obviously each individual varies in terms of their perception of race, it seems to me that citizens in Shaker Heights tend to stick to the traditional, stereotypical norms and rules that have been taught to them. I think it is even more impactful being a black student in this scenario, as when growing up they may experience variations in the way that different races treat each other. This appears quite unsettling and discomforting for the student being considered as ‘worse’ or ‘less smart’ than an other, when really this may just be an automatic assumption made by others.

I think there are always solutions to overcome this racial barrier but I think most importantly it is the people who must take the initiative to make changes that provoke justice and peace amongst races. No fine or punishment should be made upon anybody who disrespects another race, as the incentive to treat them right should come from an individual’s own self, and should not be imposed as a punishment by the law. Therefore, reenforcing education upon this and breaking all the stereotypical norms and perceptions of race should try to be eradicated so that people learn to simply live in harmony. This issue can only be eradicated by the people themselves and their will to make the world a better place.

What does Ng reveal about Elena Richardson in this extract? How is this effective?

Throughout this extract, Ng portrays Mrs Richardson’s underlying good morals. It is explicitly shown that Mrs Richardson cares for her community and desires to give the less fortunate more opportunities. Mrs Richardson may feel empathy for the black who are indirectly ‘different’ and less integrated in the community. This reveals a rather delicate and affectionate side to Mrs Richardson that wouldn’t have initially be expected. I would’ve thought Mrs Richardson to abide strongly to the standards and expectations of society, and for it to be revealed to the reader. However I feel as if this is still an undermining value of hers and perhaps, she could be covering this up with her apparent desire to help the less wealthy. This may characterise her and her appearance as more ‘worthy’ and this could be the specific impression she seeks from others. Ng also portrays Mrs Richardson’s important role as a mother and how she strives to support her family. This could signify that Mrs Richardson isn’t often satisfied with herself and resents the need to the most that she can in order to please herself and others. It also shows her dedication and value of educating her children in a highly sophisticated, traditional way.

Little Fires Everywhere Introductory questions

Rate this statements from 1-5

  1. People are happiest when they follow rules 2
  2. Rules are meant to be broken 3
  3. Children should only be raised in families that mirror their ethnicity. 2
  4. The best community is one in which racial and cultural differences are eliminated 1
  5. A good mother will not make serious mistakes in raising her children. 
  6. Women with more financial resources make better mothers. 1
  7. Teens in high school should not be parents. 4

What lockdown has taught me about my relationship with friends

Being confined to my personal space has given me the opportunity for self reflection which I think is important during these times. Often I have been caught up in the rushed school routine, and often commit to numerous hours of studying or time socialising, that I forget to take a pause and think for myself.

I think that although lacking physical contact with my friends has provoked both benefits and disadvantages for me. I obviously do miss my friends and being surrounded by people who care for me (aside from family) and I think their presence in school reassured me in the sense that I can tell them anything on my mind, whenever. I do think I took this for granted, especially all the outings we would plan last minute together which now would appear a luxury to have for any of us.

Nonetheless, I have always had an independent and solitary nature when studying. I do think this has also been reflected regarding my relationship with friends. I feel as if it can be a burden to keep up with whatever the topic of discussion is, and I do often resent the need to be disconnected from this continuous cycle of discussion, especially when I have nothing to contribute. I have been able to do so by restricting myself of phone use from the time I go to sleep, until 3pm in the afternoon. This applies for both school days and weekends. In school days it doesn’t make much difference as I often focus on the school work. On the weekends I feel it is nice to disconnect and enjoy the weekend as a time I have for myself and relaxing with my family. This has been a successful way to distance me from my friends, not in any defensive way but just for my personal necessity. Obviously, I still maintain contact with them through video calls in the afternoon and regular messaging at night.

I think the restriction of seeing friends for such a prolonged period of time has surprisingly benefitted me more than I thought. I have enjoyed spending time alone and I have realised the importance of having a small period of time for myself every day, to essentially ‘oxygenate’ myself. This time alone can also provoke deep thoughts of reflection which I think is essential for everyone. The way I do this is by often going on 15-30min walks daily, during break, lunch and after school. I also run quite regularly. Whilst running is a more intense form of exercise, I feel I can reflect better when I walk alone. I often listen to music which is very soothing and relaxing for me.

Therefore, when I do get back to the normal habitual way of life, I think I will most definitely continue to dedicate time for myself and balancing this with the other time I spend to socialise with either my friends or my family.

Reflection: Apologies

After reading several different perspectives upon apologies during difficult time it made me realise that I experience the same incertitudes and emotions as other teenagers regarding apologies. I personally think apologies can be taken for granted and many people find it is the easiest, ‘shortest route’ out of a problem and is the automatic solution.

Being confined to my own personal space has enabled me to reflect on self worth, alike one of the students addressed in the article. This highlighted how you must always consider your happiness and self respect over others- whilst obviously not being selfish. I think often times, I always put myself in the vulnerable position by holding myself responsible for a fight or issue provoked amongst my friends. I don’t necessarily find this fair as now having reflected upon my past dilemas, I realised I tend to close the loop by apologising myself, as this is the best way to eradicate a problem. Also, from my experiences the other person doesn’t have a tendency to take the first step and initiate a resolution. However deep down, the underlying issue isn’t really resolved and is essentially just brushed aside. I think that generally the term ‘sorry’ is used out of our control and often we don’t know which scenarios to use it in.

Obviously during the pandemic the circumstances make it difficult to communicate effectively. I find that social media is the worst platform to communicate your feelings as simple phrases can be interpreted in the most unexpected ways. I think that so many unnecessary problems can be triggered throughout online conversations. Moreover, the fact we are confined at home and not exposed to physical interaction with others complicates our means of communication, altering it. We tend to dwell on things we never have before and may react to things in certain manners. It is a constant cycle of overthinking and I believe it’s purely provoked due to our drastic change in habits recently.

I think in these times it’s important to stay sincere and honest. If you do encounter a minor fight or misunderstanding, people shouldn’t assume the right way is always to apologise. Truthfully, people should speak for themselves and if the emotions hurt, then so let it be. In the end, it’s important to be truthful to yourself and own even the slightest of self respect. Apologies are effective only if you deeply mean them- if not it creates false feelings and can complicate things at the worst. Apologies are also very delicate and should be used responsibly. Essentially, they mean that you have acknowledged you are in the wrong or have identified a word or action you shouldn’t have done and wish to take it back. It is much more deeper than we think it is, and now I know that I should be conscious of when to use it and why I think it’s worth using.

Tell a story about your pre-pandemic life in numbers.

During pre-pandemic life, I would take many things for granted without thinking closely about them. For example, I would travel to over 4 places annually for each holiday. this meant I would take a total of 8 flights there and back, and even more possibly for transits. On a daily basis, I would travel from my school and back 5 times a week, sometimes to the doctors for a casual check up. On the weekends to tuition and back, twice usually. This meant 4 car car rides. I hadn’t considered the impact of my carbon footprint before. Now that I am at home, I am much more conscious about it. A random stop at the shopping center whenever I feel like it for an item I hadn’t intended to purchase. Things came with such ease. Life was free of any restriction.

Now that I am at home I no longer have canteen food 5 times a week. This made me appreciate what I have, making me eternally grateful for the food I am provided at home. 3 meals a day and over 2 snacks between!

100 deaths, 200, 300, 400, it goes on. Over 50 phone checks a day only to see the daily government update messages.

From seeing over 50 people per day, to 5, including my dog. 0 new people met. 0 friends to physically interact with.

Now, the only form of communication amongst ourselves is technology- over 6 hours of video calls for school. An additional 2 hours spent binging TV. Occasionally, 1 video call with my friends every other day.

We are doing what we can. If anything, such times will bring our humanity closer together than ever.

Look around your home and choose three or more objects that say something about you. For each object, introduce what it is and share why it is meaningful or what it could reveal about you

I chose objects from my room only as this is rather personal space.

The first object is a pairing of two mirrors. 

For me, the aesthetics of my bedroom are important mostly for myself. Although I do not see my mirrors whilst working, the mirrors are placed in a way that when I am relaxing on my bed for example, they create a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. To me the mirrors are very aesthetic to look at and also match the theme of my room. The fact that they are placed in the middle of a bare white wall also makes them more apparent as my room is rather minimalistic. I think the mirrors reflect the creative and explorative side of me as they also reflect myself when I stand up, for example. The fact that they are placed high above my bed also could symbolise determination due it being almost unreachable yet to some extent it could be.

The 2nd object is my lamp.

Similarly to the mirrors, the grey lamp that I have both on my desk and on my bedside table also create a nice aesthetic. I don’t like having too many colours dispatched across my room as I feel like I can get lost within the burden of colours. Therefore the grey of the lamp appears quite soothing. I also like how it matches with my grey bed sheets. It is not too apparent and relatively subtle which is what also reveals the conservative and slightly insecure side of me as I sometimes prefer to remain un noticed. The way the lamp is positioned is also appealing to look at as it projects a dim yet clear yellow light that can expose my work or books.

 

The 3rd object is my windowsill.

I really like this aspect of my room as it gives light and clarity to my room. The fact that my bedroom is hidden amongst the trees shows the comfortable yet explorative side of myself as although the view may always look the same, the movement and sway of trees is always changing depending on light intensity, rain or wind speed. When in times of thunder and rain the trees tend to move violently and occasionally sweep across my window. This shows a rather rough and strong attitude which could possibly be perceived when I am playing sports for example, The abrupt movement of trees can symbolise determination and perseverance as the trees continuously sway and shake, enduring through the harsh wind or rain.

SWOT Analysis of my skills

After doing the audit test, my results showed how my strengths lie in the skills of communication, time management and personal mystery. I acknowledge that I have portrayed these skills thoroughly, especially when working through progress, and I believe it is what has helped drive me as an individual and as a team member, to success.

Strengths:

  • I am a critical thinker. When considering an initial idea, I like to think ahead and around the idea so that I can be sure that I am taking the right steps and decisions regarding the certain idea. I also like to ask myself questions to challenge my thinking further.
  • Time management. The audit test proved this, but I have always prioritised work above my other personal affairs as I value efficiency and organisation. Not often do I leave my work last minute, as I value it being of good quality yet being done within a specific time frame.
  • Communication. I am an active listener and whenever I have a certain doubt or query it is important that I clarify it instantly. If I also have misunderstandings regarding a specific task I usually don’t hesitate to clear it.
  • Personal mastery / Independence. Personally I have always preferred working individually as this enables me to self regulate my work and set personal goals. This is a strength regarding the upcoming CREST project as I will be able to individually plan and research accordingly.
  • Perseverance & resilience. This skill is mostly brought out on my athletic side when playing sports, however even in academics when I undergo a challenge or issue I tend to sustain my efforts and work towards overcoming the issue. This is important as the CREST will be challenging at times.
  • Regarding presentational skills for eg) throughout the means of an infographic, I can be very creative and innovative, presenting my ideas in an interactive manner.

Weaknesses:

  • Decision making. Often, I find myself caught between two or more several ideas in which I cannot chose. This could be regarding a certain experiment I want to do or even the area of focus I chose my project on. Being indecisive loses time and I think I should be more straight forward when making decisions, and not overthink once I’ve made the decision as this can only cause uncertainties.
  • When I don’t follow the initial plan I can get distracted by different ideas. The burden of ideas can sometimes be unsettling as I struggle to sort out the information and end up losing efficiency.
  • When working collaboratively, if workload is not distributed evenly or a member isn’t motivated as much as they should be, this can cause me to become irritated and impatient.
  • If things don’t go to plan I have a tendency to stress and panic. This loses time and also reduces my self esteem and certainty regarding my project.

Opportunities:

  • Doing a science project will enable me to explore my analytical skills regarding statistics and qualitative data, something which I haven’t done in a while.
  • This is an opportunity to explore the field of study in which I hope to study at university level- earth sciences and the environment. Hopefully I can gain more knowledge upon the earth and it’s processes

Threats:

  • With the ongoing pandemic it may be hard to communicate with teachers wether I am on the right track. Different forms of feedback via emails, etc may be harder to interpret and understand regarding the areas of focus needed for improvement on the project.
  • It’s easy to get caught up with other work during the time of the pandemic and I may be setting too many ambitious, unrealistic goals. It will be important to stay on track.
  • Not being able to conduct physical experiments could decrease my range of primary sources available. I will therefore need to select reliable sources (but not too many) that can successfully help with my research findings.