CAS reflection nov/dec

This year I decided to sign up for the high school pottery creative activity and also participate in my mentor class’s Marimba activity. These activities were a different experience in comparison to the activities that I had done last year. While the activities I have been participating in are all artistic, I have been able to explore different forms of art. More importantly, I feel that I have been able to express myself through these activities. As I already know how to play the piano, I felt as though participating in my mentor class’s Marimba sessions have helped me in exploring different kinds of instruments. I also feel as though it has helped me in becoming closer to my mentor class, a group which I did not spend too much time with. While I joined the pottery classes with no direction for my work to go, I realized over time that I wanted to create pieces which symbolised personal problems such as identity crisis and empowerment. Initially, I was worried that I would be unable to complete my ideas. However, now I am more confident in completing my work and creating a plethora of pieces which I can later exhibit. After I create these pieces, I still think there is more room for improvement. I can adapt my ideas, to make them more general so that other people too can relate to these issues. I also think that for my marimba activity, I can incorporate other instruments or take more leadership of the sessions. I know that I will make a conscious effort this term to develop and expand my ideas.  


Project Week CAS reflection

For project week, our group wishes to do trekking in Taiwan as we are all quite experienced trekkers and several of our family vacations have been spending time in the mountains. After attending the first project week assembly we were inspired by the breathtaking images of previous project week expeditions. One, in particular, showcased a group which embarked on a trekking expedition. After doing more research, we were all keen on hiking. We are really excited to go hiking as it is our passion and we are ready for a good challenge.


Firstly, the trek is ranked fairly challenging so it will push out mental and physical endurance further form what we have done in the past and be a truly enriching experience. We are looking for an expedition that pushes us out of our comfort zone. We believe that the idea of spending numerous days challenging ourselves by climbing long hours for the ultimate pay-off of a breathtaking view is truly rewarding.


Secondly, the trek itself and the active volcano are truly breathtaking. We are really interested in understanding the geography of volcanoes and how they work as well as learning about ecosystems that survive near volcanoes despite the extreme conditions. We love being in nature and feel that this trek will assist us in feeling as if we are one with it.


To collaborate fairly and equally: We can measure this by keeping track of the tasks which each member of the group does. In order to do so, we will have to communicate well with our group when distributing tasks and planning our trip. This must be done over the course of the whole project week. It is relevant as all members of our group tend to be busy. Greater collaboration will help us to balance this work with work from other aspects of our life. Additionally, we do not want one person to feel as though they have to do anything, this can lead to conflicts within the group which is something we would like to avoid.


To climb to the peak of The Nenggao Mountain: We have a set itinerary for our trek. As we climb the mountain we will be able to compare our progress with our planned progress to check if we are on track or not. We will need to exercise 1-3 times every week in order to build our physical endurance for the hike. This will make hiking in the new environment more attainable and manageable. We plan to accomplish this over the course of 4 days. As our trip is hike based, reaching the peak will indicate that we have been able to successfully complete our hike. Additionally, we have always believed that climbing and being able to see the view from the peak is a very accomplishing idea.


Travelling in a sustainable manner: We will be able to measure the amount of plastic we use throughout the trip. We can bring our own tupperware and bottles, we can reuse these containers. This will reduce our use of plastic. Additionally, before leaving a camp we will take a walk around the area to pick up any trash that may be polluted. This must be tracked over the course of four days. This is relevant as our group values sustainable travelling, and we would like to minimize the negative impact we make on the environment around us.


We have created an Instagram (@group34taiwonadventures). We will also be compiling all our reflections into our project week section of our CAS reflections in our digital portfolios so we can ensure that our experience left a lasting impact on us and so that we don’t forget what happened. We will also be making a project week book cover and a book which we will add all our photos from the trip into in order to record all our experiences in one place. We may also be in frequent contact with new friends we made on the trek. We may also share experiences with the grade below talking about what exactly we did and what we would do if we were to do it all over again as well as what we really enjoyed.

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”


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


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).