Regarding grade 9 overall, I believe that I have made extreme progress in many of my subjects. My strongest subjects would be geography, and Spanish, and am happy that I am managing to consistently sustain these good grades. However, I have also largely improved in sciences. In the beginning of the year I would achieve an average of 5s and occasionally 6, but at this stage of the year I have been getting 85%, and 90% for chemistry and and biology. I am really happy as I have been working so hard, and been striving to get higher grades. Giving that I also really enjoy science, I am happy to have improved so much and hope to sustain these efforts and good results. On another note, I am also happy with my progress in Gpers and drama. In drama I have learnt to built confidence to the point that I find myself capable of performing such incredible performances, especially in the style of Berkoff, for “Metamorphosis”. I find myself really passionate about this subject as acting relaxes me and clears my mind. I can use all my energy and feel great about myself, which is why I value that subject so much. I am happy to have seen my acting skills develop and evolve to become more matured and detailed. Regarding Gpers, I am also proud of my contribution in class and applying of my skills to the past papers we have recently been completing. I believe that my ideas have really expanded and I have developed a wider awareness and initiative to learn. These are only a few of the subjects I believe I’ve made progress in. I am proud of how I have consistently worked hard this year, striving and achieving grades higher than I would expect. Aside from the grades, I am mostly happy I am not having too much difficulty understanding the content I am learning in each subject, and if unsure I will never hesitate to ask questions or clarifications. My next step is to manage my stress, as going into Grade 10 it will be vital I don’t constantly stress or panic, as such anxiety could play a big impact on my studies and when coming to exams.
” Our student-writers rose to the challenge, producing authentic, responsible, and powerful pieces”
I would partially agree with this statement. WF was a rare occasion for all of us to experience writing about motivational speakers, in which not only was an enjoyable process for the most of us but also strongly developed our critical thinking, analysing and reflective writing skills upon different experiences and perspectives. Our knowledge amongst so many different topics and issues was strongly widened as we now have a wider range of experiences to talk about. Prior to the writing process, I believe that the process appeared different for each individual. For me it was an enjoyable process as I was very passionate of the topic I was writing about, therefore my ideas came by faster and the writing came together much more naturally and concisely. I would not say that this experience was a “challenge”. As previously said I was passionate about the topic I wrote about, hence the writing process appeared much easier for me. It should have likely been the same for other students as alike me we should have all been passionate or interesting upon the topic we were writing about. This is why this task was not too challenging, but just right, as we still had the opportunity to extend and develop our writing and look further into different perspectives. Regarding the second part of this statement, I believe that we all definitely in some way managed to produce a, authentic, responsible and powerful piece. Depending on the story and style of writing, we all managed to convey a significant message or theme that appeared useful or impactful to the readers in some way. The amount of effort put into the articles also gave a specific outcome, for example for me I put in a lot of effort and dedication to it, hence from the feedback of the perspective of the readers I selected, they stated that the article appeared very interesting and hooking to read, giving an interesting perspective upon the Marathon des Sables.
Having now completed the metamorphosis scripted performance, I think that our performance went very well. Some of the successful elements of it were:
– Variations in pace, not only pace of our actions but also at the speed we talked. It created very good contrast and made each scene distinct to one another. Our use of pace also helped portray the image of our characters, for example Mrs Samsa sipping her tea at a face pace, or Mr Samsa strolling steadily, with one foot in front of the other.
– Our use of lighting also helped create atmosphere and mood in each scene. For example in the opening scene, the indoor nighttime blue light used in the beginning and mostly throughout the performance, really gave the image and atmosphere of Gregor’s transformation into the bug. The dark tone and shadiness provided the audience an insight as to how dark and creepy Gregor’s story is, and perhaps an idea of what was going on in his mind.
– Our use of the stools. Although we did not use it very aerobically, we used the stools partly for Mr & Ms Samsa as a tool for us to act out our designed actions. It would always recall our ritual actions and was well associated with each of our character’s sitting posture, for example Ms Samsa cross legged and Mr Samsa upright. The stool was also used for several sound effects throughout, especially when Gregor would slam the door open to reveal his body to his family, in which we used for the ending. It was used also to mark specific moments such as him turning over, or even used by Mr & Ms Samsa to indicate the importance of a line we had previously quoted, or to terminate a scene.
– Our use of music & sound effects. Alike the lighting, music reenforced our piece by really setting a suspicious, mysterious atmosphere. Especially in the beginning scene when the family repeatedly did their actions, the music in the background focused the audience’s attention as to what the theme of the story would be, and gave them a little mysteriousness and suspicion as to what was to come next. Other tracks were used to really embody Gregor’s transformation into a bug, the track’s roughness and gloominess giving the audience extra insight as to the certain atmosphere we were trying to portray. A beeping sound effect was additionally used throughout the Gregor! Cash! scene, the repetition of this effect revealing a static, robotic mood. This was the case as everyday Gregor’s family had so many expectations from Gregor and he simply had to bear with them. Nothing would change about their attitude and requests and the beeping effect was well associated with this scene to portray the lack of change, and constant inhumane behaviour and torture Gregor had to be put through.
All in all, I am quite happy with our performance. These are only some elements in which I thought played very good effect on our overall performance, but one strong element we all did very well on was characterisation. Throughout, we used maximum energy and over exaggerated every single of our lines to match the expectations of Berkoff. Having used such good characterisation extensively throughout the whole performance, this sustained our roles and whilst sounding totally inhumane, some of our phrases appeared humorous and appealing towards the audience, hence interpreting our performance in the best way possible.
Following fellow Mr Stirrat’s unique journey amongst the scorching Sahara dunes from start to finish, the role of a strong mindset will never appear so vital.
How would the idea of running a 240 km marathon in the baking dunes of the Sahara Desert appeal to you? For most people, this challenge lies way beyond their capabilities. Every year in the Southern Sahara Desert in Morocco, the ultra marathon of 240 km is held over the course of 6 days. Its harsh extremities, challenges and unique landscapes the marathon offers, attract over 45 nationalities and 900 runners internationally, to compete annually. Through the scorching sands and dunes, running in temperatures varying up to 50 degrees, this marathon appears to be the ultimate challenge to take on, providing each individual the opportunity to discover one’s’ abilities and capacity to endure through such extremities.
Throughout this article, we will depict the journey of a UWCSEA maths teacher, Mr Stirrat, and his experience of participating in this marathon, amongst the ultimate challenges he faced throughout. From a young age till now, Mr Stirrat always enjoyed running both as a form of relaxation and competition, every year seeking a new challenge to face. One factor that strongly influenced Mr Stirrat to take on this challenge in 2014, was UWCSEA. He said how in comparison to other places he’d previously lived and worked in, UWCSEA had inspired and given him the most initiative to take such extreme risks.
Mudstacle.com – the Sahara Summit
The ultimate preconceptions
Mr Stirrat had long known beforehand that this ultra marathon would be a challenging one. Thus, huge amounts of time, dedication and sacrifices were yet to be made in order to be best prepared. Financially, this race was at high cost- savings and investments were mandatory to purchase all necessary equipments including a tent, daypack, bottles and more. Being a self-sufficient race, Mr Stirrat had to ensure he would be physically capable of carrying such equipments throughout the race, at all costs. Whilst many months of preparation and training in advance would appear orderly prior to such race, Mr Stirrat stated how his training consisted of 5 months training beforehand. He chose to train this way as he wanted to maintain utmost focus throughout the whole course of the training without any distractions, over this short span of 5 months. Whilst some wouldn’t go down this path, Mr Stirrat stated it was an effective, suitable training for him.
As he trained, Mr Stirrat had to make sacrifices, giving up football, dedicating his time to running. Other forms of activity at lower intensity such as swimming and cycling appeared as useful alternatives from constant, hardcore running. Mr Stirrat emphasised the importance of “maintaining a strict and balanced diet”. This meant incorporating a variety of superfoods such as kale, and high consumption of nutrient rich foods containing fibers, proteins, and vitamins. Other forms of fats, carbohydrates or sugars were eliminated, including alcohol.
The journey: Depicted
Having covered the essential backstory to Mr Stirrat’s training, we will now look further into his experience and emotions throughout the race. Now, upon personal reflection, Mr Stirrat would portray his feelings as an “emotional roller coaster”, with ultimate peaks and troughs.
Prior to his first impressions and encounters of the atmosphere, people and scenery, Mr Stirrat described the race as a “Romantic Vision”, the scenario and landscapes so unique and unconditionally real to be experiencing. However, despite his positive approach and adrenaline towards the race, Mr Stirrat simultaneously asked himself “Can I start, and finish alive?” Was this hard work all worth it? Well, that could only be answered later.
The first two days of the marathon began on a high for Mr Stirrat, at peak confidence. Having engaged in 5 hours of running on the gentle dunes, he claimed to have coped well, both physically and mentally. Similarly, having run a slightly further distance over more time on the second day, Mr Stirrat sustained his optimism, despite the underlying challenges. Consuming an average of 3000 calories and limited to 5L of water daily, it appeared crucial to sustain such endurance and great resistance through such conditions, with a positive mindset.
It was on the third day of the race that Mr Stirrat’s self-esteem fell terribly low. After collapsing under a shaded tree, suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration, such conditions lowered his overall impulse and motivation towards the race. At this point in time, Mr Stirrat had specified, “I nearly gave up on the race”. Experiencing such extremities and discomfort amongst running 38 km in 7 hours, Mr Stirrat found it inevitably difficult to endure through such challenges. Lack of grit and determination was engraved into his mindset, restraining him from pushing any further. The importance of a positive mindset here was crucial, as the mind undeniably had the potential power to surpass the physical incapability, enduring through it. It was one of his friends made amongst the journey who helped him get right back up to his feet, pushing Mr Stirrat past his limits, tolerating the pain.
Fstoppers.com – the extreme conditions of le Marathon des Sables
Having eventually reached the last benchmark in which a medical tent was located, Mr Stirrat started to take immediate consciousness of the surroundings around him. Observations of people suffering through harder conditions than him, such as one almost experiencing a heart attack, he realised that his case held such little concern and importance, comparatively to other patients. He’d personally acknowledged he wasn’t “suffering”, but his body was simply fatigued, knowing that the mind was the one thing capable to carry it throughout the remaining of the race. All he needed was to reestablish and enforce his approach, starting off strong again and striving to succeed. Alongside a drip that boosted his energy levels and physical form, Mr Stirrat rose again, stronger than ever, envisioning a successful finish.
Telegraph.co.uk – the Sahara’s extremities
A strong mind leads to a strong finish
As pledged prior to this great downfall of self esteem and resilience, Mr Stirrat finished the remaining days on a high. The following day having partially recovered from his exhaustion, he stated to have “cautious optimism”, with a positive vision over the following obstacles to come. The last days were plenty of contentedness and overwhelming joy, of having completed such a tiresome, staggering race.
When facing such difficulties in tough situations, we see how the role of a positive, healthy mindset plays great importance when striving to finish what you started. Personally, being a young runner participating in many races and intense competition, sustaining a determined mindset has always helped me in moments of complete doubt and exhaustion, encouraging me to never give up. Relating to Mr Stirrat’s fascinating story, we see the importance of a good mental approach towards all challenges is crucial. This, undoubtedly, is an important life lesson for all.
DeStefano, Michael, and Michael DeStefano. “What It Takes to Photograph an Extreme Event Like the Marathon Des Sables.” Fstoppers, 25 Feb. 2018, fstoppers.com/spotlight/what-it-takes-photograph-extreme-event-marathon-des-sables-224623.
“Marathon Des Sables 2020 – Registration.” | Marathon Des Sables, marathondessables.com/en/marathon-des-sables.
Mews, Tobias. “10 Things No One Tells You before You Run the Marathon Des Sables.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 8 Apr. 2015, www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/11520427/10-things-no-one-tells-you-before-you-run-the-Marathon-des-Sables.html.
“The Dangers of the Marathon Des Sables.” Marie Curie, www.mariecurie.org.uk/blog/the-dangers-of-the-marathon-des-sables/48594.