May 4

Studying Lit Texts and Non-Lit Text

What value does studying non-Lit texts add to your study of the Lit text? Give an example or examples in your ELP of times that your study of non-Lit texts has benefited your study of your Lit text

I think lit texts tend to be extremely implicit in conveying its message to the readers, as they tend to be a long book or play which requires a long period of time to complete the book and fully understand all the implicit messages, whereas non-lit texts are commonly exposed to readers on social media or online websites, meaning that most readers will not be bothered to spend more than 2 minutes on reading the text. This causes non-lit texts to be relatively explicit and easier to understand, hence the message being carried is lighter than lit texts which convey quite heavy and meaningful messages that are difficult to fully understand without strong background knowledge. Therefore, I believe that non-lit texts act as a bridge that connects the people who aren’t interested in such topic with the world of literature that delivers essential knowledge/messages that human needs for the development of the society.

Personally, I was never interested thus did not have any idea how bad islamophobia could be in a country like UK, so I did not really enjoy reading the book “Home Fire” which deals with all these issues regarding ISIS. However, once I have explored many non-lit texts regarding the same topic and had more background knowledge on this topic, I was fascinated and actually enjoyed it a lot when I was re-reading the book for my assessment. As such, non-lit texts help develop the public’s interest in a serious global issue in a somewhat light way, which urges them to explore further using literary texts.

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April 27

Stress, Worry and Anxiety Are All Different. How Do You Cope With Each?

Article | Tell us about a time you experienced worry, stress or anxiety. Describe how it affected you and how you tried to cope with it? What might you do differently now that you have read the article?

The most recent event that got me worried is obviously Coronavirus outbreak, especially when many countries started the border lockdown relays. As a boarding student, I could not stop worrying for the 2 whole weeks of spring break, trying to make a decision whether or not I should fly back to South Korea, as I there was a high chance I won’t be able to fly back and meet my family over the long summer break. Many of my peer students have already gone back, some were stuck in Singapore until the end of the lockdown, and all these chaos in boarding house has brought me extreme stress. Knowing Korea can close its borders any time soon with its skyrocketing number of cases and possibility that the school may go online after the break, I could not mentally stay calm and focus on revising for the mock exam that was supposed to happen after the break.

After wasting the first half of the break calling my parents, talking to the houseparents and staring at the Korean news website every day, I finally managed to get my mind back together and go back to studying. One thing that helped with cope with such stress is allocating enough sleep time for myself. I haven’t been able to get a solid 8-9 hours sleep from 11 pm to 8 am, as I had to make up for missed study time during the day due to the circumstances, but I avoided quick naps during the day and started exercising to get my body tired, which helped my fall asleep early, wake up early, and recover my physical wellbeing.

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April 16

What Songs Matter to You Now?

Article – Many of the articles in the collection analyze the lyrics of songs. How closely do you listen to song lyrics? Do you ever feel moved by what artists are saying, or want to know more about who they are because of the words in their songs? What do you think makes lyrics good or powerful? If lyrics are not important to you, what else about a song do you listen for?

When listening to music, I tend to value the general structure and the beat of the music more than the lyrics. I understand that lyric plays the arguably the most important role in communicating the message hence allowing music to be able to convey deeper meanings like many other Artworks do, however I personally use music as a tool to help myself rest in a more relaxed mood. Due to this, I prefer music with great melody and structure than music with great lyrics. This doesn’t mean that I do not care about lyrics at all however, since whenever I am deeply attracted by a song, it’s generally due to the impressiveness of the lyric along with the satisfactory beat. I feel that the biggest part of the music that enables us to analyse and spot the true meaning of a song is the lyrics, how the choice of different words contribute to conveying a very specific message to the audiences –which I think somewhat resembles the methodology of literature works–, or to be more general, it literally tells us what the song is about. One can easily decide on the general mood of the song, whether it is depressing, cheerful, etc., however one can never be certain of the detailed story behind the song. Hence for a song to act as an artwork that has a meaning to convey, I believe that the presence of a good lyric is absolutely necessary. Music may be able to move someone’s feeling and impress them only with well-composed instrumental, yet I doubt it will be able to convey the same quality of message as those with lyrics.


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April 13

Is It Immoral to Increase the Price of Goods During a Crisis?

Article – Does high demand for items like hand sanitizer and masks during a public health crisis justify higher prices? Are resellers who stockpile supplies and then sell them at a higher price providing a service? Or, are they taking advantage of people? Do you think what Mr. Colvin did is immoral?

The Article above features brothers in the US stockpiling a huge number of hygiene products and selling them online, making massive profit during this coronavirus pandemic. The article reported, Colvin brothers “took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky”, purchasing all hygienic products from every stall they could find over four days after the first death in the country due to the virus. Afterwards, they started selling those items online through Amazon and eBay at much higher prices, making “crazy money.” They were then put on newspaper front page, being criticized for hoarding hand sanitizers and selling them for 20 times the price he paid for.

I find it quite hard to judge whether their action was immoral and selfish, as they simply applied what they have learned in school, economics, to real-life at the correct time. As an economics student, I was taught, when there is high demand, consumers are willing to pay for extremely high prices for the product, and this allows such high market prices. After the coronavirus outbreak, everyone started demanding hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes to prevent spreading of the virus to their family, and Colvin brothers were smart enough to see this opportunity to benefit from this economic theory that is currently being taught worldwide. They made a huge investment and purchased about “20,000” bottles of hand sanitizers using their own money, and that investment worked, until Amazon and eBay “suspended” their account. Despite such fascinating success, they are currently being publicly criticized and insulted for “selfish” action of theirs, according to media. Many argue that what they have done is ethically wrong and egoistic, as they have first limited others’ access to essential products in current circumstances, and prevented the less wealthy families from purchasing enough hygienic products. Apparently, they “charged $20 on Amazon for two bottles of Purell that retail for $1 each”, and the Colvins claim they deserve it due to their efforts, “Amazon fees” and “$10 in shipping”. They also argue that without them it would be impossible for some residents to even get a single bottle of hand sanitizers, since “The Dollar General in the middle of nowhere outside of Lexington, Ky., doesn’t have” any of these on sale. Therefore by purchasing “2,000 pandemic packs” from liquidation firms and reselling them to anyone who needs it, he is providing public services.

I honestly do not think their action itself was immoral since it is true that they were able to supply demanded resources to some who have little to no access to, and they just benefitted from the profit they deserved. However, I believe the biggest reason for all the criticism on the internet is the fact they took away supplies from those who were able to buy at the normal price level and forced them to pay 20x price for such essential goods. To summarize, they had their keen eyes to spot such opportunity for business, however they went way too far with it.

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April 9

How Can We Help One Another During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

Article – How can we help one another during the coronavirus outbreak? What can you, your friends, family and community do to look out for one another?

Coronavirus outbreak has brought chaos to the society in many countries, especially the US and European ones, and the majority are taking a common measure of social distancing in attempt to slow down the spread of the virus. It is definitely effective, there is nothing better than absolutely eliminating the chance of the virus moving around people, however, there are some opposing arguments regarding it. The article above shows three texts that are generally arguing that stronger unity than staying farther away. They claim, social distancing only leaves the more vulnerable ones alone, develops distrust between citizens and anger towards a specific community, therefore instead, the building of supportive community is more effective in combatting the pandemic. I generally agree with the claim and respect Serrano’s efforts to form a supportive environment, however we should not still have social distancing active. I believe the only problem is that some people’s interpretation of social distancing is wrong and bit too serious, so the social distancing is effective and required for tacking the COVID-19 issue. We should do what the third text is saying, how we should try to help others by donating food supply or offering assistance to the weak instead of completely isolating ourselves from society.

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March 28

Citizenship: Privilege or Right?

Article 1 | Article 2

Article 1 is mainly composed of Piers Morgan strongly insisting that ISIS brides should never be allowed back home, while article 2 argues that it is pure racism that Shamima Begum had her citizenship deprived unlike the other cruel criminals, simply because she is dual national. Personally, I strongly agree with article 1, as it also seems to me that both brides are trying to lie their way out of the ISIS nest that they will be stuck in unless they make it back to America/UK. It is clear that they were old enough to understand the consequences of marrying a member of ISIS, the biggest terrorist community that is considered the world’s enemy, especially when they are from USA and UK. They made their choice, no one forced them, hence they should take responsibility for their lives, and never intend to come back to the countries they betrayed, saying that they “regret”. I can’t even see their honest remorse, nor if they really understand what they have done. I was simply shocked when Begum said “people should have sympathy” for her, who decided to marry a terrorist and provide continuous support to a serial killer putting the innocent public in danger. I do not feel any sympathy for her, I feel like she absolutely deserved it. To conclude, if the government has made a correct, well-justified decision on whether one should keep their citizenship or not, the government should be allowed deprive one’s citizenship in order to protect its “real” citizens.

While reading the extract in Home Fire and the newspaper articles, I have noticed a few similarities and differences between the extract and the articles. The language, in general, is more informative and persuasive in newspaper article than the extract, as the articles employ logos to provide more reliability to their claim in the article. They both intend to provide logical development of their argument to convey their message to the readers and persuade that the ISIS brides deserve to come back/should stay in the ISIS nest. However in the Home Fire extract, Karamat Lone, the home secretary, does not really intend to explain or justify why he is revoking the citizenship from Pervys Pasha, he simply states that he has been doing this to everyone who is dual national and has joined ISIS, and that is the reason, which isn’t very persuasive.  This nature of newspaper article and literary extract show patterns in sharing a common point or idea. Newspaper article tend to be rather direct due to the presence of many evidence in form of quotes or images, while literary texts generally convey its deep message, which is extremely difficult to find out without a complete understanding of the text and the background information of the settings.

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March 16

Analysing Newspaper article

Instruction Sheet

a) South Korea sees more COVID-19 patients released than new infections, 13 Mar 2020 10:45 AM | Link

b) Main points raised

  • Number of recovered patients (177) exceeds the number of new patients (110)
  • The number of cases in Daegu has declined dramatically
  • It is currently under control, the daily infection number is stabilizing under 500
  • Korean stock exchange market, or economy in general, is concerning

c) Purpose of the article is to announce that COVID-19 situation in South Korea, once largest outbreak outside China, is under control and is getting better

d) “raising hopes the outbreak is being brought under control”

e) Tone: Relieving, Assuring, however slightly concerning due to falling economy

f) “South Korea – once the largest COVID-19 outbreak outside China – saw its newly recovered patients exceed fresh infections for the first time”, “But its stock market was caught up in the global economic concerns over the pandemic”

g) Techniques employed

  • Headline: “South Korea sees more COVID-19 patients released than new infections”, which effectively draws the attention of the readers, as South Korea is expected to have an increasing number of infection every day ever since it skyrocketed a few weeks ago.
  • Graphic: Shows process of disinfecting the public service which would have caused further infection, hence indirect explanation of the headline

h) Words

  • Pandemic: noun – a pandemic disease.
  • Benchmark: adjective – of, relating to, or resulting in a benchmark

i) Relieving, as whole family lives in South Korea, and I was always worried whenever I saw coronavirus update in Korea

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March 8

Stereotypes and Photography

Inspired by Yumna Al-Arashi and her fascinating works that break away from the different stereotypes, I decided to try one myself. The videos below show my roommate, Yuvaan Ibañez, scoring an important buzzer-beater that wins the losing game.

He is one of the top players in the UWCSEA SEASAC Basketball A team although he just joined the school in G11.

The picture on the left shows him in the room. He challenges the stereotypes of good basketball players in terms of his physical appearance. He is not super tall like most basketballers in our school, he is smaller than some basketballers in the B team, he doesn’t have the speed to outrun the defenders, however he is able to make such impressive shots from long distance and drag the team to victory.

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March 5

Yumna Al-Arashi and Kamila Shamsie

In what ways do the authors offer insights and challenges into contemporary religious and cultural practices?

In Home Fire, Shamsie demonstrates the stereotypical viewpoint of non-Muslim citizens on Muslims who are practicing their religion. For example, Karamat Lone, home secretary of the UK, intentionally avoids walking near mosques to prevent any connection between himself and the religion forming, showing many people are aware of the Islamophobia however they do not wish to correct this injustice, even the people in such high position who should have enough power to speak up. In this situation where the entire country is indirectly against religious practices and considers them as something to be avoided for better public reputation, Muslim people are challenged with pursuing their religious practices.

Yumna Al-Arashi’s photos have the power to urge the audiences to realize and reflect on themselves about their unconscious thoughts on the Islamic culture of wearing Burqa, by fascinating use of juxtaposition. Most of her works show a clear contrast between the subject, usually a female wearing burqa, and the background. In the example below, the subject wears a pitch-black burqa and she stands firmly in the green. This picture initially gave me rather awkward feelings, and I believe many others will feel the same. It is partly because the photographer intentionally structured the picture in such a way that makes people feel something is off (putting a dark figure in the middle of vast nature), however this feeling strengthens the deeper message that Al-Arashi is trying to convey: Islamic culture is often viewed as something that cannot naturally fit into the society. Islamic culture is quite unique and different from any other culture, whereas other cultures have many things in common. This nature of Islamic culture inevitably gave the feeling that Muslims are “odd” to many people as they grew up, and the awkward feeling this picture provides encourages them to spot her message.

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