CAS Reflection: Activities

Today, I just wanted to write an update on how much I have been exercising throughout the holiday. I’ve been cycling every day, in the evening, to the beach and back. I have also been exercising on my terrace every day with a routine I found from an online trainer. Over the holiday, I felt as though it was really important that I keep my physical health in shape, especially considering that over the last couple of months because of quarantine we have been forced to stay at home. My goal over this holiday was to maintain my health and to build-up stamina. At some points, it was a little difficult for me to do so because I had summer school and there was a lot of work from school. However, I made it a point to find time every day and I hope that I can do this when school opens as well.

 

 

CAS Reflection: Origami

At the end of year CAS reflection for Grade 11 I had written that I would want to make an origami presentation of an aquarium of sea animals as a part of the Art and Creativity. During the summer holidays, while I juggled my Extended Essay, Summer School Course at SciencesPo, EA preparation and Global Politics Hl script, it was actually therapeutic to be able to sit down in the afternoon and make these beautiful origami pieces. The greatest challenge for me was to find time. Nevertheless, I am proud of what I have accomplished and I think it looks beautiful. I give here four pictures of my aquarium clicked at various stages of development from beginning to end.

SciencesPo Pre-college Programme 2020 Reflection 6 Social Class

Over the course of two weeks, I enrolled in an elective called Social Class: How inequality shapes our lives which was taught by Benjamin Brundu-Gonzalez. Through this course, I understood how class shapes our lives in a variety of domains and I was able to recognize misconceptions about class and stratification whenever and wherever I encounter them in political discourse, in the news or on social media. The course began with traditional theories of social class and stratification. We examined how economic inequality has risen to record levels over the past decades and why it matters. The course then moved on to look at the behavioural and relational dimensions of class divisions. We discussed topics such as “Why do people from different class background develop different ways of thinking, feeling and behaving and how does class impact who we choose as friends and lovers?” We also paid close attention to the ways in which social class interlocks with other social divisions, with the focus on race and gender. Finally, the course ended with class stigmatisation in pop culture and asked how class relations play into the big picture of class politics.

 

In total there were 7 sessions, (1) What is social class? (2) How big is economic inequality? (3) Is class written into our being? (4) What is the impact of class on personal relationships? (5) What about race and gender? (6) What do we believe about social class? (7) Is class politics still relevant? In my opinion, I found these sessions to be very interesting because they were relevant to today’s world and they are also very applicable to the work I am doing in school such as my EA in which I am focusing on social class and migrant workers in Singapore. 

 

After going through all of these sessions, we had a Petit Oral which was assessed. My group and I focused on the question “Should we be sceptical of meritocracy”. This question was interesting for me as we focused on Singapore, a country in which meritocracy is very prevalent. However, through the research for the oral, though apparently it appears to be an equitable distribution of opportunities, its not really a fair playing field for all. 

SciencesPo Pre-college Programme 2020 Reflection 5 Master Class 4

The last masterclass I attended was Populism and Democracy by Nonna Mayer. In this last session, we approached the issue of populism through a variety of readings and presentations. Then we later adopted a more global approach and tried to build a definition of populism, based on the examples given in class.

 

The terms we were focusing on are, losers to globalization, populist radical right and representative democracy. Through the readings, the topics that we looked at were The Populist Zeitgeist, defining the undefinable, contemporary populism and reactions to the populist challenge. In this session, we concluded that populism is an ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite’ which in turn argues that politics should be an expression of the general will of the people. 

SciencesPo Pre-college Programme 2020 Reflection 4 Master Class 3

The third masterclass was on Human Security: The Concept of Human Security and its Application to Building Peace by Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh. Through this session, we had to focus on important concepts in international relations and discuss their relevance to the study of contemporary security studies phenomena and peace-building.  

 

The key terms we were focusing on were human security vs national security, liberal peace-building, radicalization, violent extremism, terrorism from the perspective of people, institutions and the state. Through the reading material from this session, we looked at the security of individuals and institutions, more specifically, its definition and parameters, added value to security, development and human rights. We also explored questions such as security of whom, security from what, security by what means and whether the concept of security can legitimize peace-building and state-building. 

 

For this session, I was asked to make a presentation on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) with my partner Gràcia. I spoke about how the concept of the R2P produced the idea that “State sovereignty as a responsibility” and how it confirmed the belief that sovereignty isn’t just protection from outside interference, but instead, it is a matter of states which have responsibility for their population’s welfare.

 

This session for me was as relevant as the session on Sustainable Development as I (in the future) can incorporate my learning from this session into what I have learned so far in Global Politics in correlation with the GPC (Global Politics Challenge) Security from all of the previous units done in class. Something that I liked about this session is how within human security it also talks about economic, health and social welfare as well as the crossing of boundaries and the position of the government in the context of human security. Likewise, as in sustainable development, I really feel that given the situation of the world now, human security is one of our top priorities and I would also like to pursue this field of study in the future. 

SciencesPo Pre-college Programme 2020 Reflection 3 Master Class 2

The second masterclass was Sustainable Development: Challenges and Opportunities on a finite Planet by Tancrède Voituriez. The aim of the session was to be confronted with the political implications of climate change and sustainable development. Throughout this session, we were asked to work on international events and had to debate on the orientation of climate change policies. 

 

Personally, I thought this was one of the best masterclasses in the entire summer school course. In school, I am currently taking Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) so this session really fuelled my interest in the subject. The concepts that we focused on were sustainable development, planetary boundaries, Anthropocene and tipping points. This session was incredibly relevant to today’s world as we are actually in the geological epoch where there is significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems.  

 

Although this session introduced fairly new topics, I felt as though I would be able to connect them to concepts in school as we were discussing the risks of a Hothouse Earth Pathway and its effect, Biophysical Feedbacks, Tipping Cascades, Stabilized Earth Pathways, Human Feedbacks in the Earth System and the Building Resilience of in Rapidly Changing Earth Systems. 

 

I really feel that given the situation of the world now, even as we are affected by Covid19 the environment remains to be one of our top priorities and I would like to pursue this field of study in the future. 

 

Here’s another video that I found incredibly interesting. 

“Welcome to the Anthropocene”

https://vimeo.com/39048998

 

SciencesPo Pre-college Programme 2020 Reflection 2 Master Class 1

The first masterclass I attended was based on European Contemporary Challenges. The aim of the session was for students to adopt different standpoints which would help us grasp the diversity of opinions about European integration among political actors and scholars. Through the tutorial session, we focused on the key points of the nation-state, sovereignty and free movement. 

 

The masterclass touched base on terms and concepts such as nationalism, international organizations (IOs), regionalism and regional integration, realism, federalism and federalism to neo-functionalism. We also focused on the perspectives of Jean Monnet, David Mitrany and Ernt Haas. The session helped me to understand the role/involvement of governments, the formation of the European Union and the study of International Relations. 

 

What I found really engrossing about this session is how similar it was to the things I am studying in school for Global Politics, particularly, the concepts of sovereignty, liberalism and realism. I feel as though I can use the material I was given in the session to complement the second case study we studied in class, Power Politics: China and the South China Sea.

 

Here is a link to an interesting video on the formation of the European Union

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRwZyDTdCAc

 

SciencesPo Pre-College Programme 2020 Reflection 1

Over the summer, I applied to the Paris Institute of Political Studies, also known as SciencesPo and I, fortunately, got admitted! SciencesPo is most well known for political science and international studies in the world and ranks 2nd (2020) globally for these courses, just after Harvard and Oxford. So, I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in their Summer School programme. Six of the eight Presidents of the French Fifth Republic have attended Sciences Po Georges Pompidou, François Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy (who did not graduate), François Hollande, and Emmanuel Macron. There are also other alumni such as Christian Dior, Roxanne Varza, Pascal Lamy and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The time that I spent at SciencesPo was very enthralling and I was very excited to start the summer course not only because of its reputation but also because of the course choices. I felt as though they were very relevant to today’s world and to what I am learning in school at the moment. After this experience, I feel as though I will be able to make better connections with the subjects I am studying now. 

 

Throughout the course of two weeks, I had to attend four masterclasses, European Contemporary Challenges, Sustainable Development, Human Security and Populism vs Democracy. Before each of these masterclasses, we had a tutorial session which would give us context on what we would be learning and within these tutorials, we would have to give presentations as an extension of our learning. Additionally, we had to select an elective course, I had chosen Social Class: Understanding How Inequalities Shapes Our Lives. My tutorial teacher was Adrien Estève and my elective professor, Benjamin Brundu-Gonzalez. Throughout this course, we were not only graded through participation but also through a Petit (small) Oral and a written exam on the last day (the presentation for the tutorial session was also graded). 

CAS Reflection

Due to the coronavirus case numbers increasing, we have been asked to stay under quarantine for a longer period of time. This has effectively put on hold our CAS activities. However, we were able to find some kinds of solutions to keep ourselves actively involved. 

 

The activities I was participating in, origami and pottery and my service, RDA have been immensely affected. However, at home, I have access to origami paper and am able to create more sea creatures which I am putting together for an origami aquarium. Although I am unable to do pottery or volunteer at the Riding for Disabled centre, I have been able to request our school art department for certain supplies once the circuit breaker period had ended. I was able to ask for supplies such as gouache paint, ink, cardboard and watercolour. These supplies will help me experiment with new styles and genres of art. Apart from watercolour and cardboard, I have never dabbled in creating art pieces with gouache paint or ink. I intend to teach myself these skills in the coming weeks. Although without a mentor to teach me it will be difficult, my goal is to complete at least three art pieces that I will be satisfied with.  

 

Similarly, due to the lockdown, I have been unable to participate in RDA and our current system of creating blogs has not really taken off as we are finding difficulty in writing blogs without learning new skills in the centre. Beyond being a sidewalker, we have been unable to move up to another level. However, once the lockdown ends, I will not only be able to return to RDA but I also intend to take my skill of working with less-abled children forward. While at the RDA I had greatly enjoyed working with the children as it taught me to be patient, understanding and sensitive, especially how these children are not as different from us as they seem. All they want is to just have fun! What I intend to do after, though it might be difficult to join a new group I am not accustomed to, I plan to join the Sarada Kindergarten, Singapore since they have a special program for differently-abled children. 

 

Two other activities that I am really passionate about and would want to lend my voice to are working with animals and migrant workers in Singapore. For the first, I have recently registered as a volunteer at Jurong Bird Park for Singapore’s Wildlife Reserve and received an email saying,  that they will get back to me once they can confirm that they can resume volunteer training. This will be a serious challenge for me as it will be fairly technical in learning the behavioural patterns and habitats of these animals. It also requires serious time commitment of 6 months of work, but if I am able to do it, it will be very satisfying and beneficial for me. 

There is also an organisation in Singapore called HOME, which works with migrant workers and their rights. While I was always aware of migrant workers, the Coronavirus has really made up sit up and notice them as the deadly pandemic has swept through their dormitories. To aid them, my family and I have donated to Giving.sg. 

My family and I have also been closely associated with the Ramakrishna Mission of Singapore which works in providing food and rations to the migrant workers. I have also written to HOME as a volunteer and will be participating in the oncoming awareness talk.

Additionally for physical activities, I am taking initiative to cycle 3km every day after online school ends so that I can remain physically fit. My goal is to increase the number of kilometres every week. 

CAS reflection: ORIGAMI

Although the recent coronavirus outbreak has slightly hindered the number of outdoor activities I have been able to do, I have access to origami paper which has allowed me to continue my experimenting with the art of origami. I have really been enjoying making these different pieces of paper art. I think that they are really helpful for wellness and well being. It is very therapeutic in times of stress, especially during what we are facing now. What I really enjoy the most about origami is that even though is it such a tedious process, the outcome is always beautiful and satisfying.

Origami is very special as for Japan it is the cultural symbol of simplicity, beauty, and peace. It is a way of creating something beautiful from something as simple as coloured paper.

My goal for this activity is to make almost like an aquarium of animals with different species such as dolphins, turtles and fishes. I think that the most challenging thing about this process is remembering the directions from the video and being able to replicate the actions again. It is also difficult to make sure that all the angles of the paper are equal so that the piece is able to balance on its own.