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How I Feel About CAS

How I Feel About CAS

Image result for cartoon of achieving

I chose this picture to describe how I feel about CAS because I feel optimistic about the process of this journey but also feel like I am just at the beginning of engaging with it.

Over these first few months, I have been enjoying doing activities different from what I normally interested in. It has been a good way to get out of my comfort zone and develop new skills. I can see the ways that my participation in my service (spending time listening to music with dementia patients to help with their memory cognition) and other creative activities (CultuRama, Bersama) are becoming meaningful parts of my week. I feel positive about the activities I have to chosen to do because they seem like a good fit for me and I am passionate about them. However, I know the best of my experience is yet to come.

I know there is a lot more continuity I have to put into my CAS activities so that I can reap real benefits and experiences from them. As of right now, I have just started towards doing CAS and there is a level of commitment I need to have to carry it through successfully over the next year. Although I feel like this may be challenging at times, I am interested in continuing my CAS journey and feel a part of what I am doing, especially in my service.


“Powerful drama is as much about visual spectacle as about dialogue.” In what ways does Nowra make powerful use of the visual elements of his play ‘Cosi’?

“Powerful drama is as much about visual spectacle as about dialogue.” In what ways does Nowra make powerful use of the visual elements of his play ‘Cosi’?

In the semi-autobiographical play ‘Così’, Louis Nowra depicts the experiences of a novice director, Lewis, putting on a play with several intriguing characters from a mental asylum in the 1970’s. Nowra skillfully uses visual elements such as stage directions, blocking and set elements in his play to perceptively show the development of characters and their relationships by creating purposeful moments of tension, conflict and contrast. 

Nowra uses the visual elements of the play to create moments of suspense and impactfully show changes in character. This use of visual elements to augment revealing moments can be seen in Act One of the play when Henry, normally seen as the silent and submissive ‘stooge’, “thumps the piano”, “bangs the chair” and “grabs” one of the characters, Nick, in “a bear hug” after being agitated with his political ideas that, if supported, imply that Henry’s father’s contribution in the war was futile. The use of set props like the ‘piano’ and ‘chair’ and the visual impact of this conflict helps to dramatise the massive difference in Henry, who’s aggression is particularly shocking to the audience who sees the typically servile and subdued character act violently to a stranger. This is a powerful use of visual devices as this moment complicates the audiences understanding of Henry – On the one hand, he finally shows human motivation and emotion, but on the other hand, he shows a possibly irrational and angry temperament. 

Similarly, Nowra enlists visual elements to illustrate the development of character relationships through moments of tension. The significance of visual elements is seen at the end of Act One when Henry tries to leave the group by “walking around Lewis”, but “Lewis pushes Henry back” and allows himself to be almost hit by Henry’s “raised fists” to just prevent Henry from leaving. Here, blocking and stage directions play an important role in portraying how Lewis, who has often been overwhelmed and confused, finally takes charge of his play and commits to keeping the group together by putting himself in a position of danger for the sake of the play. Nowra also uses this moment to show the audience that Lewis, unlike many people, does not think Henry’s violence is a result of his mentally disability as he allows himself to be in a position of inferiority to Henry, which implies that the group ironically has a newfounded connection in this contrasting moment of conflict as a result of Lewis’s underlying nonjudgement towards the mentally disabled and drive to keep them together.

Additionally, Nowra subtly uses visual cues and directions to give the audience more implicit insights into the mannerisms and lives of the characters, often through incongruence. The sympathies of the audience can be swayed by these insights, for example when Julie, a drug addict, ‘laughs’ whilst talking about how her parents ‘had her committed’ and how the walls of the asylum give her the ‘heebie jeebies’. ‘Laughing’ in this situation is at odds with the quite saddening details of her speech, but it evokes sympathy within the audience as they understand her condition and see her more as a human rather than a label like ‘addict’, which is a powerful moment of realisation and understanding within the audience that also aligns with Nowra’s intent to destigmatize mental illness.

To conclude, Nowra’s use of visual cues in Così significantly influences the perception of the characters and the development of relationships in the play, driving the plot forward by creating deep insights through both nuanced and dramatic moments within scenes. Furthermore, the purposeful use of visual cues can expand the views the audience and general public possess about people with mental disorders and can bring to attention and critique common tropes of mental disorder that existed in the 1970’s.

Other thoughtful responses from my classmates:

Dhrithika: “Furthermore, Nowra’s powerful use of visual incongruence allows the audience to recognise that there are similarities between them and those in mental asylums, once they see past the discrete labels causing the predominant division between the both of them.” – I found this a nice topic statement that describes impactful ideas clearly.

Gianina: “In the blocking of this scene, Nowra meddles with the thin line between reinforcing stereotypes surrounding the violent nature of mental disorders, as opposed to expressing their feelings the only way they can. By first presenting Henry to have acted out almost violently, Nowra acknowledges the possibility of violence in mental illnesses. However, by presenting Henry to “pause and then [drop] his arm” when he was about to hit Lewis and depicting Henry to not have hit Lewis, Nowra counters this stereotype and conveys that the mentally ill are capable of self restraint and that they may not actually intend to harm anyone. Hence, Nowra exposes the other facets of the one-sided stereotype of the mentally ill: They are not impulsively violent, they are actually capable of self control and like any normal human being, they can be very emotional if others hit a little too close to home.” – A very important distinction to be thought about when understanding Nowra’s authorial intent.

Chloe: Nowra’s choice in the details of the set design illustrate the society’s attitude towards the mentally ill. The physical setting of the play shows a burnt theatre with a dismal hole in the roof and some problems with the wiring. These physical defects of the theatre represent the society’s attitude towards the mentally ill; that they are neglected and marginalised. The physical setting of the play also represents a different world that Lewis has to enter: the world that will test and change Lewis. In the opening scene, the theatre is “pitch black inside” while it is still daytime outside. A striking visual contrast between the brightness and the darkness suggests the disconnection of the asylum from the outside world as well as the stark difference between the asylum and the rest of the world. Disconnection of the asylum from the world implies that it is possible to have mentally ill people living among us, unseen. It makes the audience question whether they, too, are like those people in the play who are blind to the vulnerable groups in society. – An interesting point I had not noticed before


Connections between Cosí Fan Tutti by Louis Nowra and ‘Joker (2019)’

Connections between Cosí Fan Tutti by Louis Nowra and ‘Joker (2019)’

These pieces of work fictionally represent people with mental disabilities. There are quite a few interesting similarities we can draw from the new Joker movie to Cosí.

  •  It is similar in it’s intentional portrayal of people with mental illness in the way that it does not intend to make them look inferior or ‘insane’ and gives a realistic description instead.
  • We are placed in a position to feel sympathy for the mentally disable in both the pieces of work as we are given insights into their motivations and thought processes. An example of this can be seen in comparing Doug and Arthur Fleck as “Arthur Fleck’s violence isn’t chaotic, it has angry purpose” and, similarly, Doug ‘burning cats, and eventually his house down’ was done with a purpose to show his mom his underlying issues with her, which allows us to understand them more as humans rather than just ‘crazy’ people.
  • Both pieces of work intend to be critical of society’s treatment of people with mental disorders. In the Joker, the lady on the bus who was ‘irritated’ by the Joker’s behaviour is representative of a society who inconsiderately misunderstands mental illness and suppresses people with mental disability. In Cosí, the social worker is the representation of how society views people of mental illness like this by his constant need to make the characters from the institution feel inferior.
Fun Home: Bechdel’s comic treatment of serious (global) issues

Fun Home: Bechdel’s comic treatment of serious (global) issues

Choose one moment – or a pattern of small instances – in Chapters 3-5, which you think best illustrates Bechdel’s comic treatment of a serious (global) issue and what it achieves.

Excerpts from CHAPTER 5 of ‘Fun Home’ by Alison Bechdel from which my examples are drawn:

In chapter 5 of ‘Fun Home’, the representation of what ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ characters are in society is stereotypically, satirically and ironically used through Bechdel’s repeated portrayal of the ‘effeminate’ characteristics of her father in contradiction with the ‘masculine’ portrayal of herself to draw attention to and criticize stereotypes through humor, but also highlight that stereotypes in society, although incomplete, can be partially true (in regards to the homosexual community).

 Bechdel portrays her critical and satirical opinions of her father’s feminine characteristics whilst talking about his passion for gardening. Bechdel questions ‘what kind of man but a sissy could possibly love flowers this ardently?’ in which she satirically insults her father calling him a ‘sissy’, implying that any man who loves flowers is ‘weak’ and effeminate. This implication not only shows the stereotypical belief that men should be tough and bothered about aesthetics, but also shows that women are the ones who should possess ‘domestic inclinations’ such as gardening. Similarly, Bechdel plays on and highlights stereotypical gender roles when saying that there ‘was a chink’ in her family’s ‘armor’ as a result of her fathers ‘womanlike’ qualities and her family needs a tough ‘plain, two-fisted sinew’ instead of her ‘sissy’ father to feel protected. This statement is humorously illustrated by the frame which juxtaposes her father who is tending after the flowers in the living room to a buff man on the television holds a gun, representing the ‘ideal masculine’ man – yet again enhancing the societal expectations of men being strong, courageous and protecting people.

Ironically, for all of Bechdel’s criticism of her father’s lack of masculinity, Bechdel herself does not conform with society’s depiction of the ‘ideal female’. In this case, however, the roles are reversed and her father is criticizing Bechdel for her lack of female qualities. Bechdel depicts assumption that women need to ‘dress up’ to be beautiful is shown when her father tells her she ‘needs’ to wear pearls and, upon Alison’s rejection, questions ‘what are you afraid of? Being beautiful?’,  which indicates that society deems women ‘beautiful’ when their external materialistic and superficial appearances are up to par. 

On the other hand, Bechdel’s use of these gender stereotypes may also be used to comment on the stereotypes that gay people are more feminine and lesbians are more masculine, but also indicate that though stereotypes are incomplete, they can be partially true. Bechdel portrays society’s natural assumption that ‘masculine’ females are lesbian when her cousins call her ‘butch’ – a word used to describe manly lesbians – due to her short hair, boyish clothing and masculine interest in basketball. Interestingly, although this representation of society does show the stereotyping of homosexuals as ‘inverts’, all of Bechdel’s representation of her father and herself does prove the stereotype true as, in her case, her gay father is portrayed as effeminate and she portrays herself in a masculine light to hint her lesbian lifestyle.

Insightful Responses From My Peers

Oliver Lewis: The moment I have chosen is when Bechdel depicts her and her partner reading James and the Giant Peach while in intimate positions. The first one is to do with the positions Bechdel is in with her partner, the way Bechdel illustrates it so lightly not putting much emphasis on it tackles the issue of homosexual and how it is taboo in some cultures and isn’t the norm in most others. This being used simply tries to tackle this by showing that it shouldn’t be taboo and treated as abnormal but as similar as heterosexual relationships. This topic is hotly debated as heterosexual relationships have been covered in media for centuries and while the societies have adapted to accept homosexual relationships, it still evident media has not.

Sinuan Phoeng: Bechdel also connects a lot to literature and fiction which highlights how she cannot distinguish the reality, reflecting her father living in two worlds. Bechdel states, “the line…between reality and fiction was a blurry one” then referring to the library. The library seems to be the place reflecting Bruce reality while he continues to only show his ‘fictional’ side to the society, in fear of societal oppressions. This ironically seems to connect to Bechdel’s understanding of her own sexuality but she decides to do the opposite of her father but interestingly, it does not work out. Bechdel also uses sexual humour in children literature such as in “James and the Giant Peach” to outline her self exploration and indicated how people’s perceptions and views of texts are shaped by their experiences and identity. By using humour and connecting to fiction stories, Bechdel seems seems to have the intention of reflecting upon society and how repression has prevented a person from living the truth causing the line between reality and truth to become blurry.

Gianina Flegueras: Identity is defined by the way people choose to act upon realising certain ideas about themselves. Despite their similarities, her father chose to live in the shadows but she has chosen the contrary, even going on to write a memoir on her life. Bechdel therefore communicates a very important realisation about self and identity.

Dritika Jayanth: However, her coming out was overshadowed by the news of her father’s own homosexuality. Her response to this is rather exaggerated as she claims to have been ‘upstaged, demoted from protagonist… to comic relief’ – implying that her coming out had turn into some sort of joke, ridiculed in a way. Moreover, the atmosphere of seriousness Bechdel created prior to hearing the news contrasts heavily with her mother’s tone of casualty when addressing Bechdel’s dad’s homosexuality – which subdues Bechdel’s coming out and perhaps portrays it to be not as important as she made it out to be. Personally, I think Bechdel has used humour here to perhaps comment on how society treats sexual identity in an unnecessarily over-exaggerated way, instead of treating it as something that is normal. Perhaps to some extent, through using humour, she aims to normalise the concept of homosexuality, forcing us to look past the issue by stressing that what is more important, is the journey of self-discovery (as illustrated throughout the text).

La Amistades

La Amistades

¡Hola! Me llamo Megna. Soy de India y tengo 16 años. Estoy viviendo en Singapore ahora. Me gusta música, animales y seriales de comida. En el future me gustaría ser un medica porque me querría mejorar y ayudar gente. Ahora, estoy buscando para entablar amistades con nuestras personas.

La amistad es un importante de nuestras vidas porque podemos confiar in nuestros amigos y podemos aprender mucho de un amigo. Podemos desarrollar un mejor personalidad y habilidades de otras personas. Por eso razón, estoy emocionado para encontrar nuevos amigo, pero conozco que diferente tipos de personas buscan para diferente tipos de amigos, así que, primero me gustaría decirte más sobre mi como un amiga:

  • Seré comprensivo, solidario y amable – cuando estes triste o contento, estaré allí para ti
  • Yo soy honesto y siempre diré el verdad casi si no el malo. Soy leal y te ayudo en todas las situaciones
  • Soy marchoso y gustaría salir de casa para comer y comprar, pero soy un poco vago y encanto ver la tele con mis amigos y comiendo
  • No soy dependiente y respetaré to espacio también

En una amiga, me gusta recibir la misma respeto doy y me odio el drama. En una amiga, yo quiero:

  • Alguien puedo confiar en y puedo llevar bien con
  • Alguien puedo tener divertido con y nunca tenemos drama entre nos
  • Alguien que encantar comida, música,
  • Alguien puedo hablar sobre cosas profundo y sin juicio

¡Si te gustan las mismas características de mi, dejarme un comentario porque me encantaría a chatear contigo!

Emotional Intelligence and Empathy Reflection

Emotional Intelligence and Empathy Reflection

Emotional Intelligence and Empathy Reflection

What (if anything) have you learnt?

  • I learnt the difference between empathy and sympathy and realised that I do begin giving advice or helping a friend’s problems with ‘at least’ and reducing their emotions often. I learnt that this is an important distinction to make when being empathetic.
  • I learnt that embracing vulnerability is important to be emotionally intelligent and I realised that I often listen to others sharing their information but I try to stay reserved or not open up too much which is something I can start trying to do now.
  • Looking at the types of active and passive communication made me realise the impression I may be giving by being passive/ distracted in conversation and how good a proper active conversation feels like.

How can this benefit you?

    • Over the past week, whenever I have caught myself being ignorant in a conversation/starting to ridicule someones problems I have tried to correct my behaviour and I feel this can improve my friendship and relations by being aware of this.

How can you be more emotionally intelligent in your own life?

A summary of the skills I mentioned in the responses above – I can try to communicate in a more active constructive way to make people feel like they are having an enriching conversation, be a better empathiser and help people feel understood and allow myself to be equally reciprocative and open with people. These skills may help me have better and more stable relationships with people and make the small differences that go a long way to do this.

Identity and Representation: Why are they so complex?

Identity and Representation: Why are they so complex?

Individual identity is bound up in group identity. Even as a individual, some aspects of your identity is defined or altered by your role in a group. Also, being in a particular social group can lead to your identity be represented in different ways (that even may not be true). The representation of only one or two social groups may leave other people who don’t ‘fit the bill’ (mainly minority groups) to feel excluded or silenced and this could result in false perceptions of what life for other ‘common people’ must be like as well. However, when trying to represent a group of people, stereotyping becomes a big issue because they are represented in with narrow viewpoints. Representation of a group could be purposefully used to marginalise them and show the power or dominance of another group. (For example the historical marginalisation of black people by white people through inaccurate representation to support their beliefs). Furthermore, the representation of a group may be even potentially dangerous:

Take, for example, the controversy over how the new movie “Joker”, that follows the famous villain Joker in the DC Universe, could be validating the extremist ‘Incel’ group in it’s representation of the Joker. The violent ‘Incel’ or ‘Involuntary Celibates’ subculture  who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one and are characterised by extreme feelings of misogyny, resentment and self-loathing. In the movie, the Joker is shown as friendless, neurotic, socially awkward, pathetic with women and has a very intense need to be seen and loved. According to The Guardian,

“Cultural commentators are concerned that Joker might spark copycat violence or make the character a sort of folk hero for Incels” and question whether “Some alienated young men will view this movie as a validation to take more violent action”.

This example shows how a simple (but realistic) fictional movie of one of the world’s most known movie villains, by it’s unique representation of the Incel group, can act as a motivator or an inspiration for violence. Representation has power and sway over society – we may show different sides of ourselves depending on what is represented in society, or may change ourselves all together. The tricky balance between the influence of representation and the perception of the representation mean texts can never truly represent a group of people. Every one has a different perspective of who they are or who their group ‘is’ depending on their culture and contextual relation to the text; Common viewers of the movie Joker may take the movie as another piece of fictional entertainment, whereas the members of Incel could see this as a validation of themselves in society.

For this reason, it is hard for anyone (even yourself) to tell your own or anybody else’s story ‘truthfully’ because there will always be another side to your story and different ways people will perceive it. Identity is much more that a checklist of categories to fall under, it is complicated by the important and subjective nature of representation and perception.

Maths and Me: Student Homework

Maths and Me: Student Homework

1 Your name and previous mathematics experience (IGCSE, MYP, FIB, any other course): Hi, I’m Megna. When it comes to my previous maths experience, I took GCSE Additional Math for 9th Grade (1yr of the GCSE course), and upon moving to UWC, I did FIB Maths for 10th Grade.

2 What might be some of the feelings that you associate with mathematics? How do you feel about starting this course and why?I associate maths with the idea of rigour because I feel a lot of practice helps you understand maths better. Additionally, associate maths with being very logical and also interconnectedness when different concepts build up/come together. I am motivates and excited but also quite nervous about the challenging nature of this course.

3 How do you like to learn mathematics? Where would you put yourself on this continuum and why: I like to be shown the basis of a concept/ question type of a topic and then individually working of that basic guidance towards the final answer. I like to work with a mix of independent and collaborative work.

4 What do you do when you are “stuck” in mathematics? In your past experiences, how have you successfully overcome such misunderstandings?I spend a lot of time on the question and try to go over it in different ways. If that doesn’t work, I look at the answer and work backwards to see how it was achieved. In my past experiences, I have usually called up a friend to help me solve the sum/show me what I’m doing wrong.

5 Which one of the following skills is your biggest strength in learning mathematics?Which one might be the biggest area of focus for your mathematics in the first few weeks of Grade 11?I feel like being Organised or Diligent may be my biggest skill right now as I do usually take the time and effort to do my work on time. However, one area of focus should really pay attention to in the first few weeks is thinking creatively and curiously about maths as this would help me deepen my conceptual understanding which is sometimes shallow.


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