Meeting with Hanna Alkaf

1. How did Hanna’s talk develop /deepen/complicate your understanding of the issues surrounding the representation of minority or marginalized groups in literature/fiction/ the media?

Hanna provided several normal features of characters who have mental illness in fiction or films. Some of them appear stereotypically. Through the way of knowing these behind stories, I got to know more about the concept which I did not encounter before. There is a “cure” somehow can cure the illness at the end; any treatments are bad, the protagonist insists treatments make things worse; pills fix everything, suddenly everything gets better, and lastly the inspiration porn, to make readers or other people feel lucky for not having such mental illness.

She also pointed out a phenomenon, that I did not think about it before. The STIGMA- stops you from receive information that you need for help. This phenomenon often occurs through the process of publication and take medical treatment. That’s why all the women struggling with their mental illness did not go to see a proper doctor, she told us. Moreover, her research process was tough since the number and date of surveys she can get are limited. People do not want to share their stories with others, therefore, lack of information.

The way Hanna presented her ideology and concern to us is above the ordinary. As the topic she wrote is sensitive, sensitive enough to let most of the people who have mental illness trapped themselves inside. She revealed facts, including her personal experiences, that I did not know for the topic, such as what do these people really concern about.

2. What connections do you see between Hanna Alkaf and Sandra Cisneros as authors, and between their novels? 

Hanna and Cisneros both “put” their fictional characters into their living experiences. With the addition of attractive plots and the experiences of functional characters, their novel- The weight of our sky and House on Mango street both revealed bigger ideas of society through the narrative of life. This is why the analysis becomes interesting when we read the lines, it may seem simple, but when we dig to the deeper value, all the complex circumstances and social background appears.

As for the authors, they both had encounter impressive life events or realized the formation of their specific values. We might see these experiences and their ideology in their books. We can found these connections by reading Eszperenza’s growth story or Melati’s experiences after she is forced to separate from her mother.

Fri- Outdoor activities and survived a tsunami

On Friday, I heard two stories, one about survived a tsunami in Thailand, another one is “struggles in academics but finds the way out in outdoor education”.These are the topic I found interesting in, especially the second one since I often do outdoor activities, the way it releases stressful things and contact with nature is always the best thing to do after a period of working time. As for the tsunami, I am just curious about the influences on the survivors.

Although it is not a big disaster, he experienced watching people’s life gone away and realize human is so tiny compared to nature. After the tsunami, many injured people were transferred by helicopters, everyone is panic and crawled in hotels waiting for further instructions. I can not imagine what happened there, the speaker said he can see hands steaking out under the remains, and he did not actually see these scenes before. Fortunately, they were totally fine. On the next day, the embassies took all their citizens back to their country freely. Under disasters like this, the governments are still well-organized which is impressed.

The second speaker lived in a wide place during his childhood, it gave him the ability to access natural education. His family also encouraged him to do outdoor activities, such as horse riding, skiing, and windsurfing. However, his abundant outdoor experiences did not give him advantages in the academic aspect. He did not get ideal scores for GSCE and dropped university in the second year. One thing I remember the most is his boss fired him when he was doing his first job, claimed he works slow and learns slow. He was shocked, obviously, self doubted about his ability his background information. Very luckily, his family supported him to do something he really likes, later on, he taught windsurfing in clubs and participated in a lot of outdoor events. In my point of view, perhaps he does not adapt to settle down, discover the new world and find the connection between humans and nature is something he feels good at, but he will settle, one day. Why people have to do things they are not good at,?

I summarized some possible angles I may pay a lot more attention to:

  • Nurture and nature’s impact on the second speaker
  • first speaker’s point of view on the resolution of governement, how they handled this disaster
  • People do not have to follow the path those other people went before
  • future impacts of the tsunami on the survivor

Interview with Sergey and Katie

Sergey Grechishkin is the first visitor we met on Wednesday.

Based on my memory, I roughly summarized the process. His book narrates a grown-up story of a boy in the USSR. Fortunately,  I have a vague impression of the history of the USSR and people’s living conditions at that time. Under the name- Everything is normal, the main character’s life and surrounded people, based on his childhood, all seems normal and traditional, however, there are deeper values and restrictions that are way more interesting. Moreover, most of the people do not experience the shift of living style between an old brand socialist country to a capitalist country, there are some cultural transformations that triggered my curiosity.

Something I am interested in and can be my potential topic is that he told us the restrictions of Coca-cola, as the government viewed it as a capital product. On the other hand, the corporation of domestic firms and Pepsi in the USSR. Citizens are not allowed to consume fast foods such as burgers and fries, or yogurt, which are typically considered as western food. Indeed, some of the facts surprised me, and all the restrictions on products are related to the government’s ideology.

Lately, he answered several questions about how can he deal with his relatives after he published the book or did he feel regret after publication. He did not hesitate. I can see the designed the characters intentionally, after several revises, not all of the plots are real since the influences after the publication took into account. Anything deal with social impact and reputation? There must be “One theme carries from the beginning to the end.” as he said.

Now, I want to know more about the book.

“I am working with survivors with sexual violence.”

Katie Powel Rachid came during the second section on that Wednesday. From her appearance, I did not expect that she works with survivors with sexual violence, including verbal and physical. She then told us about her experiences, her clients, the cases, and the difficulties. This is never an easy job to do, she has to face different cases and hear her clients talk about their depressions. This sort of work demands people with inner strength, like her.

However, she revealed something I did not think about it – the support system. I asked her how can she recover if her clients’ negative emotions influenced her. Noticed that the support system is connected, she has her own mentor to talk so putting the system into place can ease the tasks for her. I consider the supportive cycle is the most essential element for her and her clients since people always need emotional and physical supports when they are depressed. Additionally, understands the individual’s right and provides information relates to law and resolution, give clients choices.

In the end, she said ” anyone can support anyone, we all have the capacity to do it.