Maths In Grade 9 p.2

Something that I could do differently is possibly focus more and make less silly mistakes I could study the things that I am weak in. Two things that I could remember would be to double check and to work faster. I would tell myself in the GCSE to not get excited every time I see a question and to read it thoroughly before I answer it. The most interesting aspect of the course was the learning technique. The most important thing I learnt was probably basic maths/ the numbers unit. I think its important because it is basically the fundamental thing to learn. You can recognise when you have done well when the questions are right and also when you know yourself you’ve put in effort. The most challenging thing was remembering everything and not being under strength. I can use this as a way to not be stressed.


If maths was a sport in the Olympics it would most likely be “olympic swimming”




A Different World: The Long Winding Road of Acceptance


“Why are you back from work so late, dressed like a slut? Why are my collars dirty and what’s this crap on my plate? Why are you so stupid, I need an educated woman…”


Sounds like a jouska, right? A hypothetical conversation played out habitually in the mind? That terse analysis, a purging talk perhaps, is Deborah Emmanuel’s poem, ‘I Love You’ – a poem about how the past should not colour the future. A powerful paean to accepting your past and yet not allowing it to define yourself, just like how the wind rustles the leaves of the trees and yet does not change the nature of the forest.


A Melange of Voices

Singapore, a diverse country of different cultures and communities, holds out a promise of racial inclusiveness and yet has a poet who found it difficult to fit in. Recently, the same poet, performer, and TEDx speaker Deborah Emmanuel rendered her poetry to a group of high school students at UWCSEA. It began with her past, of how she had trouble fitting into the Singaporean community. She introduced the concept of common formation in Singapore, also known as CMI, which stands for the Chinese, Malay, and Indian communities. Deborah claimed that she couldn’t fit herself into any of these categories. To a majority of these students, Deborah had proposed a point that hasn’t been discussed threadbare in the school. A contributing reason as to why students in International schools never discuss this issue is perhaps because they don’t necessarily need to worry about it. UWCSEA, well known for its inclusiveness, encourages student interaction across barriers of religion, race, culture, and gender. “Not fitting in” is an insignificant issue in the nurturing environment of the school. However, students and teachers never notice those who fall through the cracks of the school community. Through her poetry, Emmanuel helped the students realize how oblivious they have been to their surroundings.


Labeled for Life?

Indeed, students from schools like UWC have learned to accept different identities determined by sexual preference (LGBTQ++), race, religion, and skin colour. However, what is most troubling is that these categories have labeled us from the second of our birth, basically narrowing our choices, from the clothes we wear to the people we associate with. When the society determines who and how we are, it gives us a particular mindset that we learn to live with all our lives. But, when the mindset breaks, minds are discovered lost and unable to fit into the norms of a society. International schools break these barriers among the school communities, defending students from how societies outside the school walls really are. When Emmanuel says, “I am treading upon the same soil, muddy boots taking searching steps, backpack filled with “English stories”, looking for the place that I belong but the history alive in me is unable to speak,” it shows the mismatch between her English culture and her Malayalam history. In a way, it reveals how UWC students have this “international” English culture which is inclusive in many ways and how when they return to their home countries, their true identities aren’t accepted and they are excluded in the communities in which they belong by birth. The schools don’t equip the students to handle the world just as the world is not prepared to handle the students.


Although international schools have allowed their students to explore a variety of minority groups, there are still a handful of individuals who do not fit in. There will always be that single person in the classroom who will constantly be excluded from activities and won’t have any friends for reasons unknown. Similarly, Deborah Emmanuel was never able to fit into the CMI system, nor the westerners who inhabit Singapore. She could possibly have been a part of this handful of people who lurk in the background of every situation.


Doing the Immeasurable

Yet, a major question asked during a period of existential crisis, depression or just pure frustration with life is “What is the point of doing something if no one else is even listening?” A question that shows signs of giving up and is perhaps used too often by the present generation. They give up too often when they think something has become too rough or too complex and has slowly become too deformed and monstrous to be taken care of. But, it is important to carry on working as there will be a time when people will start sitting up and taking notice. Take Van Gogh for example, not until his death did people notice his artwork which changed how people saw things. This is not to say that death is required to be noticed, but to engrave your existence in the world doing something immeasurable and valuable should be encouraged.


I Love You

Deborah had performed “I love you” a poem written for her mother. She seemed to be promoting the idea that love isn’t permanent and that love doesn’t last forever. Anyhow, both ideas do sound a bit mediocre and obvious. But they do strike a question in the mind – is there only one way for love to be? Indeed, the sense of love between people can differ widely and yet remain the same. It is true, love isn’t unchanging because, at some point, one person or the other will run out of emotions just like how one day, the sun will burn out or the world will come to an end. A line from her poem reads, “The need to have another person exactly as we want them, an unwillingness to accept that everything is impermanent.” This proves how people change to be noticed which shouldn’t be the case. The society should change, or more specifically, people should learn to adjust to accepting differences. The poem advances to the idea that accepting a person comes with loving them for who they are. It admittedly is ‘cheesy’. However, it is remarkably true. People like Deborah who had an abusive past should not be penalized in a community for expressing her ideas differently. Deborah expresses the pain from her past through the spoken poetry which is different to others who may simply decide to keep it to themselves. For her, silence is not acceptable.


A Wider Perspective

This talk has definitely given the students a wider perspective as to how oblivious children all over the world can be to their surroundings, as well as how they underestimate their powers. This generation is heedless about issues like recycling or global warming or racism or the refugee crisis, let alone worrying about the few who fall through the cracks of a society, mainly because they don’t want to. They feel as though these problems will go away at some point and don’t want to accept that it will only increase till something drastic occurs. Lost as they are in the digital world, they don’t notice the actions which are beyond the technology, even though historically they are the most well-informed generation. However, change can happen if only they stop for a moment to individually reflect on how they can make a difference.  

Maths so far…

So far, I feel that Maths is really good. I feel that this is really different considering how my grades are improving. I have been pleased with the way the Ms. Harper teaches, I think that her strategies are really good and helpful.  Something I want to improve on is finishing my work on time (homework).  My goal is to complete my work and show and ask Ms. Haper if I have any doubts. Well aside from check up on me… I’m not too sure what Ms. Harper can do to help.

Transient Workers Count 2

For our last session of the first week of the  Writers Workshop, we were visited by TWC2,

“Transient Workers Count Too is a non-profit organization in Singapore dedicated to improving conditions for low-wage migrant workers, perhaps the largest group of disadvantaged persons here, numbering about one million out of a total population of five million in this city. Founded in 2003, we operate with a small number of regular staff and a larger number of unpaid volunteers.”[1]

I feel that this organization is doing something great for the majority of migrant workers who go and meet them because they haven’t been paid by their employers. I think that the people who are volunteering and donating money are kind enough to do that, but the organization itself should have some help from the government seeing as the donations may or may not be consistent. Even if the government is providing health protection, it still doesn’t feel like the government is doing enough. By seeing how much struggle the migrants are going through it would be better if the government had also provided the workers with specific rights.

Learning Differences through The Student Voice

After participating in the Student Voice for half the year, I have decided to stop attending the sessions. Before I had joined Student Voice, I was ecstatic about joining especially since I have had a passion for journalism and thought that Student Voice would be a good way to increase my self-esteem. Joining the Studen Voice had never really crossed my mind until someone had told me that taking chances is logical as you never know what you may come across.

Student Voice in general I feel is really genuine, it is run by students which allows them to have a bond and requires them to work together. But the longer I stayed there, the group had lost its glimmer and shine. I started to feel as though the Student Voice was forcing the rest of the grade to become one and work together. We had decided to bring the grade together through a Breakfast during mentor time. This included classes bringing food like bread and jams or biscuits which most of the grade didn’t eat. During the next week, the whole grade was complaining about how horrible the idea was, which was when it struck me that it seemed as if the Student Voice was trying force the grade together by making them do activities they didn’t want to do.

From everyone else’s perspective, you could say, that the Student Voice seemed like a government controlling absolutely everything the grade did. I didn’t want to be a part of something that I felt was not doing what it was meant to do. Student Voice if meant to help the grade and fix any social issues but it seemed like it was doing more harm to the grade than any benefit.

Chetan Bhagat

I was really surprised when I saw Chetan Bhagat’s name on the Writer’s Fortnight list. I was instantly excited after I realized that this man had written one of my favorite childhood stories, 3 Idiots. Chetan Bhagat’s talk had made everyone roar with laughter and at the same time, gave everyone the reason as to why English-language dramedy novels about young urban middle-class Indians are so important. I personally did not find Chetan’s talk that appealing as it seemed a little artificial to me.

Throughout this talk, I soon began to realize that fundamentally everything that is written or composed is only for entertainment. From my perspective, I see a middle-aged man who is trying to raise awareness among Indians in an incredibly cheap way by dumbing down the actual messages in the stories and increasing the level of entertainment.

Even though Chetan Bhagat’s main idea of the talk was for the Indians to adapt to the new cultures, I felt as though he brought it in, in a very superficial way but he had mentioned that if an Indian writes about an Indian developing, then other Indians would be willing to read the book as it gives them an option to see the difference in culture and education.

Aside from telling us how Urban Indian Novels help Indians to progress, Chetan had inspired us to do what makes us happy and to follow out dreams. He reminded us that our success can only come from us and not anyone else which I think was a strong way to end the talk. A reminder to keep working hard is always supportive. Even though I am not a big fan of Chetan Bhagat, I do think that the ideas he had presented to us today were worth sharing.

The Lost Heritage

Today we had a talk from Deborah Emmanuel. Deborah Emmanuel is a Singaporean poet, a performer as well as a four-time TEDx speaker.

Deborah started her talk with a bit of her past, of how she had trouble fitting into the Singaporean community. She introduced to us a common formation in the Singaporean community CMI, Chinese, Malay, and Indian. Deborah claimed that she couldn’t fit herself into any of these categories and had difficulty fitting in.

As a Singaporean Indian myself, I feel that Deborah had proposed a point that hasn’t been discussed enough in our school (UWCSEA). A reason as to why we never discuss this issue is because we don’t need to worry about it. The idea of “not fitting in” is an insignificant issue which isn’t precisely a part of our school. As a UWCSEA student, I think that we never acknowledge people who are unaccepted. We never notice the people around us who are rejected in the sense that no one understands them and no one wants to. The idea of fitting in forces the majority of us to change our personalities and the way we look. We only change to be noticed. Relating back to the CMI, I feel that this “system” or categorizing people is absolutely unnecessary as it traps people into being something they may not aspire to be.  Even just the idea of being unaccepted due to the difference in sexual preference (LGBTQ++)  is not necessary. And what is most troubling is that these categories have labeled us from the second of our birth, which basically narrows our choice of everything (religion, race.. etc).

I think that a major question that is asked during existential crisis or depression or just pure frustration with life is “What is the point of doing something if no one else is even listening?” This phrase shows the sign of giving up and it is used too often in our generation. We give up too often when we think something is becoming too rough or too complex and is slowly becoming deformed and monstrous to take care of. I myself say this many times, but I feel that it is important to carry on working because there will be a time when people start to notice you. Take Van Gogh for example, not until his death did people notice his artwork which changed how people saw things. I am not saying that death is required to be noticed, but to engrave something immeasurable and valuable should be encouraged.

There was a poem that Deborah had performed named “I love you”. It was written for her mother. What I feel that Deborah was promoting that “Love isn’t permanent” and “Love doesn’t last forever” these are both mediocre and obvious points but it does strike a question of why is there only one way for love to be? Even though the sense of love between people is different, however, it still the same. I don’t think that love is permanent either because, at some point, there will be a time when one person or the other will run out of emotions just like how one day, the sun will burn out or the world will come to an end.

I think that this was the most interesting talk I have been too, it has given me a wider perspective as to how oblivious we can be to our surroundings as well as how we underestimate our powers. We don’t care about issues like recycling or global warming or racism or the refugee crisis because we don’t want to. We feel that these problems will go away at some point and we don’t want to accept that they will only increase until something drastic happens. But, we can always turn things around by changing ourselves and individually reflect on how we can improve and how we can develop in a way that doesn’t harm our environment.


The Interview with Steve Dawson

Today we had a talk with Steve Dawson who is a sports anchor from Fox Sports ESPN.

 Dawson was a Chartered Tax Accountant, who after 10 years had begun doing to what he loved the most – journalism. He joined The Straits Times as a correspondent in 1999, scuttled across the Channel I News in 2003. Soon he was approached by ESPN Star Sports as a writer and presenter for the ESPN.

But today, Steve Dawson wasn’t exactly  giving us tips on how to interview people but, he was showing how being a good interviewer influences your personality (and the way people see you):

“Challenge your interviewer, make them think harder,” I think that this is actually really important because when challenging the person you are interviewing, it prevents them from replying in a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, answer. This gives the interview a chance to build the questions on. When building on questions, it gives the interviewee a more winder range to answer. He also said that it is best to ask about how they feel so that they can build on their first point. Another key point was not to interrupt and not to ask double-barreled questions. I never realized that I used to ask double-barreled questions until he actually brought this up. This has made me more conscious.

I feel that the most important advice he gave was to actually listen to the answer. During most interviews, people don’t tend to actually pay attention to what the interviewee is saying, sometimes, when we think we know something we miss out of important parts that we should have noticed.

I felt that the most important lesson that Steve Dawson taught today was to get to the person’s level. I feel this is mostly related to his life as he is a part of FOX NEWS ESPN and was also a part of Straights Times, these experiences have allowed him to understand what it means to be a good journalist/reporter.

“Approach as a professional” stands out to me as a way of saying, be confident, be yourself and show that you should be acknowledged as it shows your personality as bold, fierce and is passionate of what you are doing.



Sexuality: Nature vs Nurture

Today in class we asked the big question,

“Is is sexuality affect by nature or nurture?”

We were in groups and we had to create a presentation over a certain topic which relates to Nature vs Nurture. I was allocated to how sexuality was affected by nature and nature. Over this presentation I realised that many different people have different perspectives about a topic like this.

Our speech was,

“(Vedika) Sexuality has always been a topic that some would consider taboo. Fortunately, in our modern world, people are becoming a lot more accepting, and we are making big progress towards equality for all. However, to study the psychology behind sexuality is something that is very complex, because at this moment we haven’t found one ‘right’ answer to the big question we are focusing on, “Nature vs. Nurture”. So how do we define how sexuality fits into these categories, and is sexuality really ‘caused’ by either nature or nurture, or simply both?

(Issy) According to nature, many studies have found that sexuality is determined by genetics and your DNA sequences. In 1940, researchers concluded that a ‘homosexual gene’ must exist, so as the investigations commenced, finally in 2014 scientists confirmed that there is a hereditary gene that is linked with homosexuality. This is easy enough to understand right? Yes, and no. This gene was found to be passed down through generations, however the way it is acquired and transferred is something more complex, called epigenetics. Epigenetics are related to the influence of external factors to your gene changes. These include aspects such as medicine, chemicals, and even the pesticides found on the food you eat. Epi-marks (epigenetic marks) are usually erased between generations, but in some cases they remain, therefore possibly causing homosexuality. As well as this, some other factors include testosterone levels changing the sexuality of a male. Also, interestingly, Dr Swaab (the same doctor from the documentary we watched) found an area of the brain in a post-mortem examination that a part of the brain – a small part of the hypothalamus, the suprachiasmatic nucleus – was 1.7x the size in homosexual males than in straight males. As for bisexuality, there are very few to no reliable studies on it – as the brain would have to show behaviours of both being attracted to the same gender as well as opposite, rendering it difficult to study. 

(Jyun)While most evidence points to sexuality being natural, there are multiple studies that suggest that it could also be a cause of upbringing.

(Jyun)Most social psychologists see childhood factors as the largest contributing elements to homosexuality. Often they examine play patterns, early friendship interactions and relations, differences in parental behaviour toward male and female children, and the part that gender roles play in the household. 

(Jyun)Undoubtedly, some elements of both nature and nurture cannot be confirmed, especially in this topic. Different aspects affect different people, hence we cannot make a general statement for the majority of people. For example, while biology might be setting the base for sexuality, someone’s upbringing could completely change the attitudes and characteristics of that person. Hence, anyone can be impacted from a number of different  factors.

(me) There are many studies that related to this topic which are very interesting and help us have an insight into the conclusions that have been made. A study conducted by J. Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard researched the homosexuality similarities between identical twins, non-identical twins and non-related adopted brothers. They found that 52% of identical twins were both self-identified homosexuals, 22% of non-identical twins were gay, and only 5% of non-related adopted brothers were so. This evidence, repeated and found to be true a second time, showed the biological connection that the more closely genetically linked a pair is, the more likely they both are to exhibit gay or straight tendencies. Later experimenters found similar evidence in females. Gerulf Rieger also conducted a study that theorised a rule named the ‘Older Brother Rule’. It explains that the more older brothers a man has, the better chances there are of being gay. In fact, each older brother can increase the chances by 1/3. There is no similar effect with women. They have theoretical evidence to suggest that this happens in the womb. But even more weirdly – this only applies to boys that are right handed. Left handed boys have the same chances as anyone else on this planet and this ‘older brother’ factor doesn’t play in. “

After researching about this topic, I realised that I believe with the Nurture side. I believe that is it because of the way someone is brought up why they change their sexuality.  I feel like this was a really good opportunity to understand a topic like this since we don’t really talk about this subject. This presentation gave us a chance to openly give our opinions and see the different viewpoints of other people including classmates, researchers and friends. I honestly feel like we should discuss these types of topics like this open our minds as that is the sole purpose of Global Perspectives.


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