A wild creature that has been known for centuries as the sacred animal of gods in some cultures. However in the western world, they are slaughtered, skinned, harvested for their body purely for the sake of pleasure. Their skin stripped off their bodies for apparel, shaped to fit another species as a secondary layer of skin, ironic isn’t it? Carved and reshaped to cover spheres which is thrown around for entertainment purposes. Tossed to prove which tribe is stronger than the other.
Born with the privilege of being a male, I have always known about the discrimination females have faced in society however, I never truly understood it. Yes I have heard many stories from my peers, sister, mother, and teachers about the oppression women face in general and I have tried to stand up for it but it never truly understood why this happens.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margeret Atwood written in 1985 is about a near-future dystopian society where most women are deemed infertile due to toxins and those who are fertile, are given the jobs to reproduce and only to reproduce with their owners.
This novel has opened my eyes to the reasons why women are oppressed. Due to commonly accepted patriarchal cultures in the past, these views take a long time to change. It was not only until the recent mid 20th century is when women started to really fight for their rights such as to vote and have equal opportunities as men. Although still facing oppression to this day, the fight for equality still goes on. The Handmaid’s Tale was able to paint a picture in my head, something which I was never able to do in terms of visualizing the issues women faced. By telling the story of someone who is forced to have sex whenever her owner demands, essentially being raped and not having the right to say no, is an exaggeration of what women face today. But how else was Margeret Atwood supposed to emphasize this problem without going to the extent of what a handmaid has to go through almost every day?
Question: Please explain what links you are making between this idea of privilege and paradigms. Can you draw on your own experiences of your own privilege here?
We have all experienced our own lives differently from one another which creates different paradigms for us all. Due to the many experiences we have all gone through, there are many factors that shape how we see the world around us and how we experience the world around us. For example, Singapore is a predominantly diverse Asian country that teaches no matter what race or religion, we are all equal. However, there is still some racism within Singapore whether someone is Asian or not due to their background. Personally I was born and raised in Singapore, attending a prestigious international school since the age of 4 and being exposed to many different cultures. However, when exposed to the local community of Singapore, I feel very out of place due to my background. I have a more western accent which the community around me notices and seen as someone who does not belong here, seen as a foreigner or specifically, ang moh (Caucasian) although I am not caucasian. However, when applying for different courses and interviews I am given the privilege of having a little more leniency in getting accepted due to the way I speak. I had an experience of when I was applying for my retail job at a local tech store, I was one of the few accepted due to the way I talk, my boss told me specifically she likes the way I speak and thinks everyone should speak like me. I did not think much of it because I saw it as a compliment rather than discrimination against locals who probably need the job more than I do. This links to my own paradigm of being someone who is privileged to go to a school such as UWCSEA, as we are all taught that we are all equal however when we interact with our local community of Singapore, we are seen as different, privileged, rich, and are given either special treatment or belittled.
Conceptual Understanding: Through our different experiences and the way we interpret different sources of information, we create different paradigms and process the environment around us differently. This creates subjectivity to one’s perception therefore we will not be certain on what the truth is.
Explanation behind CU: The steamboat story talks about two steamboat pilots and how they see the river in different ways. The novice pilot sees the river for its face value just stating what he sees as for what it is. Unlike his friend who is more experienced with the river, he can “predict” what might happen through his previous experiences. As for the novice pilot, he is still rather new to the environment therefore not entirely knowledgeable about the river and what it might hold. However, even though the more experienced pilot may “know” the river and what it might hold, he can never truly be certain of what will happen next. Hence the way that these two pilots interpret their surroundings are different which doesn’t allow either to know the absolute truth as we all have our different truths. Thus questioning what is the truth and if we will ever be able to see the truth.
The Natural Sciences are known to create theories and then prove those theories as facts. With the very large community of scientists and researchers who are constantly challenging what we perceive as facts right now hoping to create new theories. However due to how many people rely on science to always show and distribute accurate research, sometimes these papers/theories can be inaccurate. An example of this would be the big news in the Physics world when a Neutrino was thought to have traveled faster than Light. For a short period of time, this was accepted as a fact before many scientists around the world proved this theory to be wrong. I, myself believed this when the news came out as my favourite science is Physics. As shown through this example, many of us rely on the natural sciences to distribute what we think we know about the world, however, sometimes can be wrong as we all make mistakes.
Although another example of this that is completely different is the ideas and myths behind vaccinations. Many people believe that vaccinations are bad for their children, cause autism, stunt growth, and many more things which all have been proven false. The way these people have taken these theories as facts is because possibly one scientist published research on this which is enough for some people to take their theory as factual evidence. Nonetheless, a much larger majority of papers/research has also been released which proves that those myths are false. What confuses many people is that even though there are thousands of papers which prove this whole theory wrong, people still believe the one paper which supposedly proves that theory is a fact.
The way that we are wired to believe and rely on those who we think to know more about the subject is purely on how we want to see it. As humans, we are always drawn to arguments that expand our thinking but at the same time, we have a bias towards what we want to know. Therefore we can never be truly “neutral” in terms of accepting new research as we are always drawn towards what we have known throughout our lives or what we believe is true despite the opposition.
As the new school year starts during phase 2 of Singapore’s transition back to normal, we were granted the privilege to go back to school along with the other schools here in Singapore. Of course, as we are still in the middle of a global pandemic there are certain protocols we have to follow to minimize transmission. Being high school students, we are all fairly social, some of us haven’t seen or friends in person for the past 5-6 months, some even longer as some are still stuck in quarantine.
It’s tough not being able to hug friends which we haven’t seen in months, keeping at least a meter between my peers and me, following all these new rules and following them without exception. However, I can’t complain as everyone has to follow these rules, not everyone has the opportunity to go back to school. Many of my cousins back home in the Philippines have their school year postponed until October, some not even knowing when school would start for them again.
Being physically back to school trying to adapt to our new normal is difficult. Simple things which I used to take for granted such as using our secondary school library whenever we wanted and going to our local hawker center for lunch is something we can’t consider anymore. School feels a lot lonelier now with all the distancing and everyone doing their own thing. It is our final year which I think counts the most as it has all of our deadlines which would count to our final grade. It’s scary and with this whole pandemic, we’re all scared things might change even more.
Despite all the things which are happening in the world right now, we’re all trying to make the most of it. We’re all online now so we’re all still talking all day and night. Keeping in touch with friends who cant join us.
- Going into HL Maths
- Going into HL Physics
- Getting used to the IB curriculum coming from IGCSE
- Getting used to the independence and the responsibility we are given
- Making some new friends and getting closer with some old ones
- A big workload.
- The whole process of the Extended Essay: planning, talking to my supervisor, research, and writing.
If I am being honest, I did not expect IB to be as ruthless as it is. Being someone coming out of middle school and IGCSE, those were the times I was able to get by with average grades with minimum effort. Nothing was really draining and I personally thought it was easy. The transition from IGCSE to IB was a lot faster than I thought and hit me like a truck. It was not what I was expecting because we are seen as the “big kids”, we are seen as those who are independent and can handle things on our own as a lesson of growing up. I was not used to it at all. I came into IB really immature and always having a shoulder to lean on when things went wrong, which made me really soft and always super dependant on someone else. I never solved things by myself which was toxic and made me even more dependant on others. It wasn’t healthy. After some things happened with the people around me, I realised what I was doing wrong, what I needed to do, and focused all my efforts on becoming a better person. I would say I am more independent now, I focus on myself a lot more and make sure that I was doing the best I can. Although this epiphany happened late in the year, it still helped me grow as a more happier and independent person. With this lesson, I was able to get my life together and focus on more important things such as my academics, my future, and the people I truly care about. Putting my efforts into studying and getting by with the maximum effort I am willing to put in.
What Could I Have Done Differently/What were some things which were out of my Control:
After barely putting any effort into my academics throughout my early school years, I never really built up the work ethic. I was always able to get by because I used to think I was fairly smart when it came to math and physics. Everything which I knew at that point made logical sense to me which is why I was able to get by without putting in any work. Coming into IB, I struggled with my two most gruesome HLs: Maths and Physics, which require a lot of studying and practice to understand. With myself being immature and always relying on others, I never progressed which made me fall behind. Things fell apart and before I knew it, I was failing consistently which made me lose motivation. It was hard, catching up in two academically tough subjects drained me which made me fall deeper into the rabbit hole.
In the second half of the school year, Covid-19 was announced as a global pandemic which affected everyone. Our school is closed and everyone is stuck at home. As much as I would like to say I love staying home, I really don’t. I would say I am more of an active person that likes to go outside whether it is to go for a walk, to go skate, or hang out with some friends. Covid-19 resulted in my family and me to stay at home with the concern that my family might catch the virus. Everything was scary but there was nothing we can do about it. I value the people around me and not being able to see them was hard. It feels like I was going insane being isolated to my own home with my family. Although we are still allowed to go outside, things were just not the same. It did not feel right although I was still going out. I did not get that sense of calmness, peace, or that feeling of zoning out whilst skating when I was outdoors. That feeling of not being able to release or put my mind at ease during this stressful time of grade 11 was really draining. There were many moments where I did not care which resulted in a lack of effort in many different parts of my life. However now, although nothing much has really changed, I have accepted it and if anything, things have gotten better. I feel like there were probably different ways for me to get through these hard times and I wish I did. I have been taking care of myself for the past few months as much as I can with only making a little progress. If it works, I guess it works. It just takes a little time. Eventually, things will go back to the way they were and I can be assured that I do not have to be stuck in my room all day.
Which PSE lesson has been helpful?
A really helpful unit in PSE this year was I think the self-talk unit. I am generally viewed as a pessimist so I never really would see the brighter side of things. The self-talk lesson taught me to slap the bad thoughts and try to see things from a different perspective.
Expected Challenges and New Experiences in Grade 12 (Ranked):
- Studying for the IB exam
- Handing in the assignments by the deadline with all the different tasks we have going on
- Not failing my tests and getting a low score in IB.
- Not falling apart and letting the workload get to me.
- Keeping my friendships because I do value people.
Ways to Approach these Challenges to not get Overwhelmed:
- I tend to procrastinate a lot when it came to actually doing tasks. I need to get that work in and then have free time, not the other way around.
- Sleep!!! I am always tired. I sleep a lot during the day and not enough at night. I need to get enough sleep
- I know I have my parents to help me, its just a matter of asking. However, I believe I need to get through this alone.
- The accepting mindset of “it is what it is” (Some things are just out of my control)
- Knowing that teachers are here to help.
- Putting in hard work will reward me later on
How can the PSE course Support me through these Challenges:
- The study skills lesson: Making sure I have a healthy balance between work and personal life
- Self-Talk: Knowing I can do it or accepting that things are just the way they are
My Grade 12 Plan:
First of all, I will put myself as my #1 priority. Taking care of myself both mentally and physically is my goal which will ultimately help me with my academics. I know things will get rough in grade 12 as it is my final year of high school after being in UWC since kindergarten but, if I take care of myself, I know I can get by. Something that my mother and I seem to have in common is setting up detailed plans although I never stick to them for long. I want to make a schedule and a plan which will help me throughout the year even if I do not 100% stick to it. If I get a little done at a time, eventually it will build as progress is still progress. I will make a plan with my mother and stick to it.
Slowly but surely, I will be able to graduate hopefully with my diploma thinking back to how far I have come.
I have gotten a DSLR camera after quite some time and I have been experimenting witch what type of images I like to take. At the moment it is a lot of pictures of my dog as he is such a model. I think I am starting to get the hang of using this DSLR the more I use it and it makes sense on what I need to do when an image looks a little off. I know what settings to tweak, what angles to change and the composition I need to rethink to make the image better.
Due to the number of pictures I have been taking, I have been able to think more creatively in terms of shot composition for my film projects which I have found very interesting.
At this point I just want to keep taking pictures of whatever I can to see if I can think of new ways to see things in terms of a composition standpoint for films.
Due to the current global pandemic, many of us have not been able to talk/interact with other people outside of our household. Specifically here in Singapore, Circuit Breaker has restricted us to stay at home and not go out with anyone let alone, talk to anyone. Due to Circuit Breaker, the remaining games of. Tagay Cup 2020 has been canceled leaving my father and I not being able to play basketball for the past 2 months. which leaves me to staying home and exercising through home workout videos rather than playing the sport I love.
Being stuck in my room all day sitting down in front of a computer screen can leave me lethargic and sleepy. Sitting in front of a screen all-day causes massive strain on my body and my eyes so I need to take a break from it either through sleeping or exercising. Doing simple things at home such as yoga with my mom or doing pushups can lift my mood or increase my productivity to get more work done.
Hopefully when this global pandemic all blows over, my dad and I will be able to play basketball again because I do miss going out and shooting hoops.
After weeks of working on my small sumo robot, I got nowhere because I did not know what I was doing. I got the code imported into my Arduino, built a small box, and connected all the components together but I could just not get the robot itself to work. At this point I was lost and did not what to do. The activity is coming to an end in about 4 weeks which was not enough time to get our robots working. I was not the only one struggling with building our robots, actually, everyone was at the same stage where I was: Everything put together but everything was not working. For sessions upon sessions, we got nowhere, doing nothing because we had no idea what to do until 2 weeks left in the activity our supervisor, Mr. Weaver, gave us a simple programmable and modular robotics kit which we would build. This kit was really simple to build and relatively simple to code compared to starting from scratch. It came with its own software, its own application on your mobile device and it worked.
As seen above, the two videos shows the simplicity of the robotics kit which we used which then we would play with for the remaining sessions. By then it was too late and the season was over. Not much happened afterwards, we gave back the components which we used for our initial sumo robot which none of us were able to make functional, and we went away with our tiny robot which we use for random things like driving around our desk when we’re bored.
If anything, this activity was fun. I have always been interested in robotics and building things since a young age, and this activity was something which reflected that. Even though I was not able to create a functional Sumo Robot from scratch, I was still able to create a small programmable robot which was more fun as it actually worked.
Personally I want to go into engineering, whichever engineering course I take, I will still be building something which I love to do. With the many things I have learnt in this activity, I was even able to learn how to build my own keyboard which I am using to type this reflection right now. As time goes on, I will continue to build things and my next project is to build my own computer which will be used for playing videogames, editing my short films and productivity work.