Boxing/Muay Thai: My Expectations for the Year (CAS Reflection 1)

Boxing/Muay Thai was a somewhat obvious pick for me as a sport/Active activity (A in CAS). Having done it for now almost 3 years, I have familiarised myself with the activity, the sport, and the techniques, and I also am receptive to many different training methods and various exercises. This year, I expect to push myself in improving my power and technique; even though general fitness is always a goal I never want to lose sight of, I think that I am sufficiently well-acquainted to the sport to begin to push myself into specialising and improving the smaller things. Thus far, I do not regret in any way my choice to take it as a sport; it is exhilarating, physically demanding, and is also a great way to spend time with friends. It also fits very well into my schedule, with my doing it from 3:00 to 4:30 on Tuesdays, followed by Initiative for Peace from 4:30 to 6:00. Overall, I am very much looking forwards to the year of boxing to come, and am anticipating new techniques and developing new skills.

Jakarta Street Kids: My Expectations for the Year (CAS Reflection 1)

Joining Jakarta Street Kids was not an easy choice to make; having been an active member of the Global Concern Gili Eco Trust in both Grade 9 and 10, part of me felt primed to jump right back into it, seeing as I had very much familiarised myself with all the GC’s goals, concerns, and aims. However, this familiarity was exactly what drove me to select Jakarta Street Kids as my Global Concern; I had been an active member in fundraising and maintenance for Gili, and I felt now was a good time to expand myself into a new area of GC that I hadn’t worked with before. Whilst Gili was very much an environmentally-oriented Global Concern, Jakarta Street Kids is very much humanitarian. This difference notwithstanding, I find that both services have some very interesting similarities; both sell products made from upcycled “junk” products, and both are involved in similar fundraisers (this week’s upcoming “Swimdonesia” event springs to mind, as well as other general service opportunities such as the Family Festival). My now-graduated brother, who was formerly a member of Jakarta Street Kids, may also be a reason I joined this GC; I wanted to try something new, but also familiar enough. From what I have experienced thus far, I expect a year of service not dissimilar to the one I did last year, but with a new leaning, and a new goal.

IFP: My Expectations for the Year (CAS Reflection 1)

I have chosen Initiative For Peace this year as an activity, both for it counting as “Creative” (I normally would have auditioned for the drama production, but I didn’t feel particularly inspired by this year’s one. Seeing as I head heard some very good things about IFP from some family friends, I felt that it was something that was worth incorporating into my year) and for it being an experience unlike any other that I had attempted before. Whilst I was not entirely foreign to the idea of hosting conferences to raise political understanding in especially hostile parts of the world (my prior experience with MUN in Middle School had helped me grasp the organisational concepts behind a conference, and my interest in Global Politics, as both a school subject and a discipline, means I keep up-to-date on many such points of contention in the modern world), I loved the premise of being an active member in hosting the conference; in managing the various activities, researching what concepts like “conflict”, “peace”, and “tolerance” really are, and generally entering an environment I was not accustomed to before. Thus far, I am very content with my IFP experience, and definitely do not regret signing up for it. It fits perfectly well into my schedule (on Tuesday I do Boxing/Muay Thai from 3:00-4:30 and then IFP from 4:30-6:00, meaning I am able to do both within a single school day), and I am also surprised (happily) at the large number of people who have signed up for it; with what I believe is well over 60 people in my grade being part of it, it also constitutes a valuable opportunity to view, discuss, and gain an understanding of new viewpoints and perspectives, which I would not have otherwise been privy to. I am very much looking forward for the year of IFP to come.

Jah and Kays Simulation Reflection [IFP]

The Jahs and Kays Simulation we did in IFP last week was, I felt, very interesting in how it not only pertained to real-life cases of the conflicts that can arise between developed and developing nations (even when they both have good intentions), but also how it showed the skills that we needed to have to effectively mediate and prevent arguments. Firstly, it was interesting to see the unique perspectives of Jahs and Kays. I was a Kay, meaning my country was highly technologically advanced and developed (something of a pseudo-utopia), and we thought we were in the right in trying to bring our prosperity and technology to the Jahs. Though I initially saw the Jahs as close-minded and content with their own issues (especially since we were told that the Jahs suffered from several plights such as unemployment, disease, lack of education, and so on), when I learnt of their perspective (them freeing themselves from the control of other countries, and being fiercely proud of their independence), I began to understand them better. Additionally, the activity taught me the importance of good, clear communication. Though our group of Kays initially went in with a very straightforward approach, we realised that the Jahs found it condescending, and eventually switched to a more constructive style of discussion. Though the talks ended up yielding little, it was still a very interesting experience.

My Week Season 1

My week in Season 1 tends to be quite variable. Monday is quite an easy start to the week, just with Philosophy club running from 3:00-4:30, giving me plenty of time to manage schoolwork. Tuesday, however, is by far the hardest day of the week, with Jakarta Street Kids taking up my lunchtime slot, and Boxing/Muay Thai running from 3:15-4:30, followed by IFP, running from 4:30-6:00. This takes up a significant amount of my day, so I’ll probably have to manage myself better by doing more work on Monday and the weekend in preparation, since I’ll have a reduced amount of time to do homework. Thankfully, Wednesday and Friday are both free days, and Thursday is also very manageable, with my service, Memoirs of the Pioneer Generation, running from 3:10-4:30, giving me plenty of time. So far, apart from Tuesday, my week is very flexible and leaves plenty of time for both homework and other pursuits, so long as I adequately prepare myself for Tuesday.

Posted in CAS

How does “The Importance of Being Earnest” challenge Victorian values of identity?

In The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde challenges the Victorian ideals of “decency” and personal identity by portraying the character of Jack/Ernest as one constantly living a double life. Though introducing himself as Ernest to Gwendolen (which, it is later revealed, is his actual name), his “real” name is Jack, and much of the drama of the play revolves around him attempting to be re-christened to change names (hence, also referencing the title of the play, “The Importance of being Ernest“). The duality of his character, with him constantly living a double life as Jack to some people, and Ernest to others, challenges the Victorian values of transparency and decency in identity by showing a deeply deceitful and untruthful character. “The cleverness of the multiplicity of the character of John/Jack/Ernest Worthing is not simply a farcical conceit […]” (The Importance of Being Out, pg. 15), indeed, it is simultaneously a source of comedy, a plot device, and a critique of society’s expectation of transparency and truthfulness.

How are Victorian characters’ identities represented in the opening of the play?

In the first act of The Importance of Being Earnest, several characters are established as almost satirical, or at least parodic, caricatures of the traditional values of the time. Chiefly among them is Algernon, who, in stark contrast to what one would assume to be puritanic values of the time, seems to revel in cynical debauchery, often espousing absurdly crude statements such as “The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else, if she is plain.” and, upon hearing that Jack has come to town to propose to Gwendolen, “I thought you had come up for pleasure? I call that business.”. All these statements establish him as an outlier; a man living with few constraints who seems to draw pleasure from disregarding social norms and disrespecting the traditions of the time concerning marriage and sexual normalcy. Similarly cynical, Lady Bracknell is also established in the first act as a domineering, assertive woman, equally jaded with the idea of marriage, stating that “I hadn’t been there since her poor husband’s death. I never saw a woman look so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger.”. Equally so, she seems attached to societal norms, telling Jack that “[The cloak-room] could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognised position in good society.”, referring to Jack’s unfortunate circumstances of birth.

Act One of “The Importance of Being Earnest”

How does Oscar Wilde render Act One of The Importance of Being Earnest funny?

Wilde makes use of dry sarcasm, outlandish statements, and shift in word-class to create a general sense of incongruity and absurdity in Act One, contributing to the humour of the Act. For example, upon Jack stating that he has come up to town expressly to propose to Gwendolen, Algernon responds “I thought you had come up for pleasure?… I call that business.” This statement both helps flesh out Algernon as a thoroughly unromantic character, but also creates humour; his dry sarcasm’s contrast with the lovestruck Jack gives the scene a light-hearted juxtaposition. Wilde also makes use of wildly inappropriate statements, such as when Algernon declares that “The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain.”. The statement is funny not only because it comes out of the blue, but also because of how it contrasts with what one would expect to be the prudish values of the time; you would never anticipate such wild licentiousness from a society as conservative as 19th-Century England. Finally, Wilde’s use of shift in word-class also creates humour in the Act, most notably in how he used “Bunburying” as a verb for sneaking away from marriage under the excuse of a (imaginary) friend being unwell, drawing on his purported friend, “Bunbury”. In a sense, the humour of the scene derives from how it contradicts the traditional representation of Victorian ideals; whereas we begin the play with a preconception of a prudish, socially conservative, traditionalist society, especially in the upper-class, Wilde contradicts this by presenting us with an image of exactly the opposite.

Maths and Me

My name is Luca Salvatori, and my previous mathematics course was Additional Mathematics in IGCSE. Usually, the feeling I associate most with math is probably difficulty; even though I would consider myself somewhat “good” at it, I tend to get “stuck” on problems, and sometimes I miss out on a solution that’s right in front of me as a result of being somewhat frustrated. I’m starting this course optimistically, seeing as it’s also the course my brother took, but I’m also a bit apprehensive; there are times where I feel like I’m behind, mathematically speaking, of my peers. I enjoy working things out for myself in math, but I’m also not afraid to ask for help; if it’s a concept I have a hard time grasping, I’d rather have someone who understands explain it to me than continue butting heads with it until I finally get it. When I get “stuck” in math, I try to think of the process; retracing the steps I took in solving the question and seeing if I made an error along the way or if my method needs to be changed. I find that this helps me to approach a question more clearly. I’d say that I’m quite inquiring in maths, as I enjoy understanding things clearly, and I also hope that I can work on being more diligent this year.

Fun Home: Genre Reflection

What is your definition of a graphic novel so far?

In my mind, a graphic text is a piece of literature that employs visual aid (illustrations) as a primary vehicle for storytelling, on the same level, and occasionally even more, than the writing itself. This distinguishes graphic novels from both purely visual art (which tends to entirely employ visual aid as a means of conveying an idea) and a novel (which tends to entirely employ language and writing to convey a story, concept, or idea).

How do speech and narrative language

In the case of Fun Home, parallels and themes are drawn through use of both text and images, especially regarding the fantastical metaphors made when describing Alison Bechdel’s father [e.g the text describing him as “Daedalus”, foreshadowing his eventual proverbial “fall”, whilst the image of him carrying the pole paints him as a messianic figure, similar to Jesus carrying the cross].

Whose story is told here? How is identity represented?

Though Alison acts as the narrator of the work, I would argue that her father, is in fact the protagonist, as the events of the book aren’t dedicated to describing the life of Alison, but the impact her father has had on it, with the first pages establishing him as the central character of the book. Whereas her father’s identity is expressed in his fixation on decor, his pride in his work as a mortician (expressed in the letters he sends Alison), and his constant fixation on reading (painting him as an analytical, cold figure), Alison’s is expressed in her narration. Even when describing the events of the past, her identity shines through; her bitterness at the abuse and emotional distance her father subjected her to as a child, mixed with her dry admiration of her father’s conviction. Key quotations that emphasise this include her constant reference to him as both “Daedalus”, and his anger as “the Minotaur” (“My mother, my brother and I knew our way around well enough, but it was impossible to tell if the Minotaur lay beyond the next corner.” [pg. 21]), entailing both his great intelligence (in the trappings of the mythical inventor of Daedalus), and his unfounded, almost beastly anger (when he is alluded as the wrathful mythical creature of the Minotaur). However, this metaphor is most interesting in that it perfectly describes Alison’s father’s anger, especially when referring to the house as a “labyrinth”. The Minotaur of legend was held in a labyrinth constructed by Daedalus (metaphorically referring to how her father’s anger is expressed only at home [the proverbial “labyrinth”], instead putting on the external appearance of an “ideal husband and father”) [“He hid the Minotaur in the labyrinth–a maze of passages and rooms opening endlessly and into one another… And from which, as stray youths and maidens discovered to their peril… Escape was impossible.” [pg.12]].

This is a graphic memoir – how does this genre affect your reading of it?

I find that I’m less willing to “read into” characters, as these are not narrative devices, constructed by the author, but actual flesh-and-blood humans who actually lived within this story. I’m less willing to accept that a “character” (if you can call them that) is somehow a metaphor for an idea because of this; they are not created by the author, they are actual people.

What image and text do you find most striking, and why?

[See “What story is told here? How is identity represented?”]

What are your predictions for the rest of this book?

I think there may be a downwards spiral involved; now that the start [Alison’s childhood] and the end-point [her father’s death/suicide] have both been revealed, Bechdel has to explain not only the role her father played in her transition from child to adult, and how her father also changed.

The article linked on the OLP also connects strongly to the feelings of shame that Alison feels throughout the story, firstly in her own sexual awakening (to the point where she would scratch out the words “masturbating” and “menstruating” in her journal), then later in her father’s actions; despite have worked up the courage to finally come out as lesbian to her parents, she finds herself “upstaged” by the news of her father’s pedophilia.