Coronavirus and the Wet Markets of China (Bruin Economics Journal)

Recently, a piece of news that has rocked the world and brought humanity to a point where we feel that we might be at the point of no return is the news of a deadly virus called 2019-NCOV. It was on December 31, 2019, that the Chinese government alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) about a new virus that was spreading in the city of Wuhan. The symptoms of this strange illness were fever, dry cough, and pneumonia and soon deaths were reported much to the consternation of the world population.

A piece of information that was available to the public was the term “wet markets” of China. If in 2019, a deadly pandemic had spread from the wet markets of Wuhan, then in 2003, a very similar virus had emerged from a wet market in Foshan, China. The earlier disease was SARS which too spread across the world, killing nearly 800 people. This time, of course, the pandemic has been much worse in its impact as the count of infected victims as of August (2020) is 739,770. What is interesting is the common theme of Chinese wet markets which lie at the source of both viruses which put global health at risk.

The similarities between the two pandemics raises the question: Why do new viruses keep emerging from China?

A great number of body parts of rare wildlife species like pangolins, tigers, rhinos and bears land up in the wet markets of China. Not only dead animals, but live ones are also caged and sold under shockingly unsustainable conditions. Most of this wet market trade caters to the demand for Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM). To cater to the popular demand for TCM as well as everyday consumption, animal farms have developed across China, as part of a Chinese practice when traditionally undomesticated animals are placed in an agricultural setting for purposes of breeding.

As the aftermath of the coronavirus reveals, almost 20,000 wildlife farms raising species like, civet cats, peacocks, ostriches and porcupines were shut down across China. The closure of the farms has exposed the unknown size of the animal farming industry. As a 2017 report by the Chinese Academy of Engineering reveals, the value of the operations of the wildlife-farming industry was at a startling £57bn.

Despite the protests of NGOs like WWF and PETA, the practice of animal farms and illegal trafficking of animals and birds have continued. Though apparently the Chinese government has been responsible for creating several laws which strengthen the regulations on selling, purchase and trade of animals and animal products, they have not really been effective. This is primarily because the laws have loopholes which prevent proper execution. Thus, China’s first law regarding the protection of wild animals was the 1988 Wildlife Protection Law (WPL) which stated that animals in China were for human consumption, domestication and acted as resources owned by the state which merely led to a spike in wildlife trade and the unsustainable use of animals. Similarly, the 2016 WPL allowed for the sale, purchase, and utilization of protected wildlife for purposes of “scientific research, captive breeding, public exhibition and performance, and protection of cultural relics.” ( This led to the WPL not prohibiting commercial captive wildlife breeding which further convoluted legal systems and led to increased laundering of illegal products.

Interestingly, though the wildlife farming industry is a tiny part of China’s gigantic GDP, the industry has an enormous lobbying capability. It has been conjectured that it is the rich minority who buy the wildlife products for themselves and for further business, and it is due to the lobbying by the rich that the Chinese government has allowed these illicit markets to grow. However, according to the Chinese leadership, the government has been supportive of the idea of “wildlife domestication” only because wildlife trade plays a critical part in rural development, eco-tourism and poverty alleviation. This is commensurate with the idea of the government’s commitment to the idea of common prosperity for all. The Chinese government has attempted to deliver the benefits of economic and social development to its entire population and according to the authorities, the poverty alleviation programme has already lifted more than 500 million people out of poverty in China after three decades of economic reforms.

It is true that the underdeveloped rural areas of China rely heavily on the wildlife industry and farming for economic development and the Chinese government recently has outlined a plan to completely eliminate poverty in rural areas of China by 2020. Hence, an abrupt ban on wildlife trading could potentially trigger a mass rural unemployment and the government’s failure to meet its poverty alleviation targets. Thus, it is going to be a tricky balance between environmental sustainability and human economic development.

During SARS, which was caused by Civet cats, China had banned the trade and selling/purchasing of all wild animals. However, post-SARS, the wildlife trading laws were relaxed and soon wild animals were being traded through China’s borders once again, leading to the question of whether after the 2019 pandemic, will the bans on wildlife trading, selling, purchasing consumption remain effective?

Written by Ananya Sengupta, Student at UWCSEA East


[Presented by the UCLA Undergraduate Economics Society.]


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.

The Great Gatsby: Analyzing the Role of Women

Write an essay analyzing the role of women in The Great Gatsby, as represented by Daisy, Jordan, and Myrtle. What kind of influence or power do they wield? Consider their social positions and interactions.


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald depicts the oppression of the women, placed as they are in a society of male dominance where they apparently enjoy high social status, a position bestowed upon them by their male counterparts. The female characters, particularly Daisy, Myrtle and Jordan are divested of their personal identities as they adapt to please the men around them. Jordan is an important exception with her building her social positions on her own merit and yet this leads to her eventual isolation. Based after the Great War in 1922, the book picturizes the flapper culture of the Roaring Twenties when though women were portrayed to be morally permissive in short skirts and liberated social habits, they were actually expected to surrender to domestic demands. 


In The Great Gatsby, in describing the social interactions of the three female protagonists, Fitzgerald uses negative capability to convey the conflict between individual personalities and society. These women are compelled to behave in ways not their own and keep individual needs aside in order to comply with the demands of society. The usage of negative capability highlights the inherent conflict in the women as they are fragmented between their personal choices and the obligation they feel to appear pleasing in their social interactions. This is apparent when Daisy says, “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such – such beautiful shirts before.” (5,98) Daisy’s surprising outburst signifies her realization of the life she could have led had she married Gatsby. This moment speaks of Daisy’s materialism, where she emotionally breaks down at this conspicuous proof of Gatsby’s newfound wealth. But it also speaks of her strong feelings for Gatsby, and how touched she is at the lengths he went to to win her back. Similarly, Myrtle when she says, “I married him because I thought he was a gentleman. I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit enough to lick my shoe,” (2,37) she is torn between her husband George and the new life that Tom showcases to her. Thus, the two female characters are both bound to their social statuses because of their spouses and are not able to initiate any social elevation by themselves. In contrast, Nick comments about Jordan, “Instinctively, avoided clever, shrewd men, and now I saw that this was because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from a code would be thought impossible.”(3,58) Jordan, aims to elevate her social position on her own without the support of men as she is aware that the men will impose restrictive duties on her, curbing her chances. Thus, in their social interactions, Daisy and Myrtle display negative capability as they are forced to choose between their personal desires and following the commands of their men in order to maintain their social positions. 


Having conveyed the lack of individual power among the female protagonists, Fitzgerald continues to depict that they draw the limited influence they have from the men who are besotted by them. He conveys through symbolism the powerlessness of these women, to which Jordan is an exception, and the limited influence that their social positions entail which is largely drawn from the male characters. Although both Daisy and Myrtle are portrayed to be beautiful women who exercise considerable influence on their male counterparts, in social situations they are depicted as completely powerless as they are not able to manipulate the situation to their own advantage. This can be seen when Tom and Gatsby confront each other over Daisy and the latter in utter helplessness keeps requesting that they should all disperse and go home. Ironically, though Daisy is the subject of the confrontation, both men refuse to take what she says into account. Similarly, when Nick, Tom, Myrtle and her friends visit New York City, just the mention of Daisy from Myrtle makes Tom erupt and he strikes her. Through this action, Tom proves that Myrtle is powerless compared to him and she holds less significance in his life than his married wife. 


The limited power that the female characters possess is derived from the male characters and is portrayed in symbols throughout the novel. Thus, in the fourth chapter, Daisy gropes “around in a waste-basket she had with her on the bed and pulled out the string of pearls. “Take ’em downstairs and give ’em back to whoever they belong to. Tell ’em all Daisy’s change’ her mine. Say ‘Daisy’s change’ her mine!’.” (4,74) In this flashback, narrated by Jordan, the reader learns about Daisy’s past and how she came to marry Tom, despite being in love with Gatsby. In fact, she seems to care about Gatsby enough that after receiving a letter from him, she threatens to call off her marriage to Tom. However,  despite this brief rebellion, for the sake of her public image, she is quickly put back together by Jordan and her maid in preparation for her wedding. The dress and the pearls symbolize Daisy fitting back into her prescribed social role. And indeed, the next day she marries Tom “without so much as a shiver,” showing her reluctance to question the place in society dictated by the men around her. Similarly, in the fifth chapter, Nick describes Myrtle as they make their way to New York,  “Mrs. Wilson had changed her costume some time before and was now attired in an elaborate afternoon dress of cream colored chiffon, which gave out a continual rustle as she swept about the room. With the influence of the dress her personality had also undergone a change.”(2,33) Through this, the reader can see how Myrtle transforms from her more physical persona into that of someone desperate to come off as richer than she actually is. The dress symbolizes the power that Tom can bequeath to Myrtle and how without his presents and association with her, she would be nothing. Again in contrast, there is Jordan who seems to enjoy considerable influence on the other characters as she moves the plot by her actions. She often leaves hints or exposes secrets like when she mentions to Gatsby, “The rumour is that that’s Tom’s girl on the telephone” (7,110) indicating that she is aware that Tom is unfaithful to Daisy. Such actions symbolize the power and influence Jordan has as an individual, to the point where the male characters, particularly Gatsby rely on her to gain personal information of others. With her reputation as a professional golfer, she holds Gatsby’s trust. Therefore, both Myrtle and Daisy do not have any personal power though they have a limited amount of influence over their lovers, while in contrast, Jordan holds power and influence over her male counterparts. 


Lastly, to further depict the emasculation of the female characters, Fitzgerald objectifies both Myrtle and Daisy through visual imagery, often connecting them to their social status. However, to contrast these two characters, Jordan is not objectified or described in any way which would  make her an image of a social class.  In the fourth chapter, Gatsby says, “Her voice is full of money,” (7,115) showing that he explicitly ties Daisy and her voice to wealth. This particular line is crucial, as the image it depicts is one connecting Daisy to the idea of the American Dream. Rather than an individual, she is portrayed as the exhilarating pursuit of wealth that all the characters are involved in. In comparison, Myrtle is sexually objectified due to her lower class, where in the last chapter, “Michaelis and this man reached her first but when they had torn open her shirtwaist still damp with perspiration, they saw that her left breast was swinging loose like a flap and there was no need to listen for the heart beneath. The mouth was wide open and ripped at the corners as though she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she had stored so long.” (7,131)) In her violent death, Myrtle’s physicality and vitality are emphasized even while the image remains overtly sexual. Through this moment, Fitzgerald portrays Myrtle as one who represents her social class and in presenting her mutilated body, he connects her to the idea of promiscuous sex. In contrast, descriptions of Jordan do not slot her into a social class. She is described as “polite reciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming, discontented face.” (1,16). As an individual Jordan stands on her own and is not connected to her social class while Daisy and Myrtle’s individuality is often diminished as they are objectified by their social status. 


In conclusion, in the novel, there is no specific role for the women protagonists other than to drive the plot through their presence. Since they lack empowerment and have no or limited influence over the males, they are reduced to subsidiary roles of providing love interest to the men and a motivation for them to achieve their dreams. Their social interactions merely reflect their economic status and thereby these women provide a class structure rather than being strong individuals on their own merit. In the case of Jordan, though she is not objectified or disempowered like Daisy or Myrtle, but because of the harsh facade that she insists on maintaining, she ends up lonely and without a partner. Through her character, Fitzgerald expresses his opinion how these kinds of women would end up in the social structure that the American society of the time offered. In contrast, even in death George follows Myrtle while Daisy returns to Tom. Thus, through the roles of these women Fitzgerald concludes that it is powerful to be powerless.

La belle dame sans merci

In the poem La Belle Dame sans Merci, a knight tells the story of how he becomes obsessed with, and then gets abandoned by, a spirit known as “The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy.” Though seemingly aware she’s an illusion, the knight lingers in his memory of the Lady, and it’s implied he will do so until he dies. In this relationship, the knight’s love turns from enchantment into an obsession.


Through his example, the poem expresses two linked warnings about the dangers of intense romantic love which may transform into an obsession. When the object of obsession disappears, the lover left behind undergoes a spiritual death, losing the ability to appreciate the beauty in anything but the memory of what is lost. These warnings suggest that love, though wonderful, can quickly shift into a kind of metaphorical death if it becomes obsessive. The knight first describes falling in love with the Lady as a kind of enchantment that consumes him completely. The Lady he finds in the meadow is “Full beautiful, a faery’s child.” The Lady’s perfect beauty captures the knight’s attention. By describing her as the child of a magical creature, he emphasizes that her ability to charm him is a supernatural force. Enchanted further by the mysterious wildness in her eyes, the knight begins serving the Lady and devoting all his emotional energy to her. He weaves the Lady “bracelets” and “a garland,” and in reward receives her “love” and “sweet moan.”


However, the line between enchantment and obsession is dangerously thin. The Lady soon becomes the knight’s single focus, seemingly his single source of life. Besides the Lady, the knight sees “nothing else … all day.” This may sound like hyperbole, but the knight means it: the Lady creates a private world for herself and the knight.


Soon, the knight sees her in everything as he is obsessed. The flowers transform into suitable material for the Lady to wear. The hillside cave, a feature of the natural landscape, becomes the Lady’s “Elfin grot.” As the knight’s obsession deepens, he grows to depend on the Lady even for basic nutrition. The Lady feeds the knight “roots of relish sweet, / And honey wild, and manna-dew.”


Having devoted so much emotional energy to the Lady and put himself completely under her control, the knight undergoes a spiritual death when she disappears. In his dream the knight sees the Lady’s former victims: “pale kings,” “princes,” and “warriors”—”death-pale were they all.” In their faces, he sees the man he will become: someone deathly, starved, and captivated by memories of the Lady to the point of enslavement. Like them, he will wake up “death-pale,” or, as the speaker first describes him, “Alone and palely loitering”—physically alive, yet condemned to replay his memory of an obsessive love for the rest of his days. The Lady is finally revealed to be La Belle Dame sans Merci—literally, The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy.

Strangely, the Lady’s merciless behaviour actually consists of the love and joy she provides; her sudden disappearance is what makes the knight’s experience so painful exactly because she was previously so kind. The shape of the Lady’s cruelty suggests that anything one falls in love with or obsesses over can cause such pain since anything can disappear in an instant. The poem thus cautions against such intense, obsessive love, arguing that it’s ultimately not worth the agony it can cause.


The Great Gatsby Motifs and Symbols

Time and Obsession: F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the symbolism of relationships frequently to elaborate on how love, desire and sex are major motives for almost every character in The Great Gatsby. However, all the relationships mentioned are never depicted as healthy or stable. Focusing specifically on the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy, it is evident in the very first chapter that Daisy (without Gatsby’s character being revealed to the audience) perks up at the sound of his name, noticeably remembering him after many years. However, when the pair reunite in Chapter 5,  “We haven’t met for many years,” said Daisy, her voice as matter-of-fact as it could ever be. “Five years next November.”(Gatsby) (5.69-70) it is apparent that Daisy’s memories of Gatsby are more abstract and clouded, while Gatsby has been so infatuated with her that he knows the exact month they parted and has clearly been counting down the days until their reunion. There is another moment in the scene when Nick returns after the initial awkward re-introduction, he comes back to find them talking emotionally. However, Gatsby has transformed, as he is radiant and glowing, “He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture” (5.87). In contrast, Daisy is not so thoroughly transformed, except for her overflowing tears. Although the narrator, Nick pays closer attention to Gatsby than Daisy, it is apparent that Gatsby is more intensely engaged in the relationship. Their relationship also reflects the idea of change as much as Gatsby wants to repeat the past, he can’t. In the present, Daisy has moved on and he can never return to that beautiful, perfect moment when he kissed her for the first time and wedded all her hopes and dreams to her. Thus proving that over time, Gatsby’s affection for Daisy has transformed into obsession while Daisy has learned to move past and maintains her relationship with Tom, her husband. 


Manipulation and Materialism: The characters in The Great Gatsby are enraptured by materialism and manipulate their surroundings to satiate their needs and maintain their social status. This elaborates the hollowness of the upper class which is one of the most important and more explored themes in the novel. It emphasizes the sociology of wealth and specifically how the characters manipulate their position in society to move up the social ladder. In The Great Gatsby, the West Egg represents the newly rich (such as Gatsby) whereas the East Egg represents the old aristocrats (The Buchanan Family). The significance of these two ends represents the difference in lifestyle and consumerism. The author portrays those in West Egg to be vulgar, pretentious, gaudy and lacking in social grace and constantly. This is evident in the novel as Gatsby himself lives in a monstrously adorned mansion, hosts extravagant parties every weekend, drives expensive cars and intentionally rejects invitations from upper-class families just to appear to have more important engagements. “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties, there isn’t any privacy.” (Jordan, Chapter 3) Gatsby throws his parties in honour of Daisy, they also represent the life the pair could have had together, in a big house with lots of money and friends and luxuries. By inviting all the wealthy people from the area, Gatsby aims to manipulate Daisy into leaving her wealthy husband Tom and start a new life with him. He even makes a point of inviting some of Daisy’s best friends, but due to her aristocratical lifestyle, Daisy never comes. Gatsby’s rapid consumerism and manipulating tendencies eventually lead him to his demise in the last chapter where George Wilson shoots him as he believes that Gatsby killed his wife Myrtle. Gatsby in his willingness to manipulate every situation to his own benefit took the blame for Myrtle’s death so that Daisy was not held responsible.


Weather: The author also utilizes the weather as an affective backdrop in The Great Gatsby to match the emotional narrative tone of the story. Gatsby and Daisy’s genuine relationship starts in the pouring rain, proving the awkwardness of their refound affection. Their love reawakens just as the sun beings to come out and Nick returns to the scene. To contrast, Gatsby’s climactic confrontation with Tom occurs on the hottest day of the summer, under a scorching sun, “The next day was broiling, almost the last, certainly the warmest day of the summer” (pg 114). Daisy exclaims, “But it’s so hot,”, on the verge of tears, “And everything’s so confused. Let’s all go to town!” as an excuse for them to make their ill-fated journey into the city. Here, the heat operates and oppresses on both a literal and a symbolic level. It causes irritability and fractiousness in the characters. The weather also symbolizes Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship. It is when the weather is at it’s hottest that Gatsby’s and Daisy’s relationship reaches a climax where Daisy decides to chose Tom (who has a better social status) over Gatsby. What started on a rainy day with a great promise of romance comes to an end on this hot day on an abrupt note.


English Reflection Great Gatsby Unseen

Today in English, we had the first page of our new text The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald as an unseen practice paper. It was difficult to adjust to the sudden change, as we had to analyse the text academically (as we would have to in the exam). My mind felt fragmented as I was able to explain my points verbally to my classmate, but was unable to write the ideas down in a (proper) paragraph form. My point was that the use of point of view has a large impact on the audience’s understanding of the story. As The Great Gatsby is written in the third person, it is in the perspective of Nick, who (although portrayed to be as the protagonist) is simply a bystander in the story which is actually about Gatsby and Daisy. The perspective of Nick (the narrator) is essentially flawed, as it exposes his personal opinions, thoughts and experiences to the reader, which influences their perception of the conflict (However, the same could have been said for all of the characters assuming the that book was written from the other characters’ perspectives as well). For example, in this text, Nick mentions something his father said, “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” – this line makes the reader self-conscious about the way they perceive people. This also conveys that Nick is going to maintain an impartial stance in his narration of the story. Yet, as the passage progresses, this perspective changes as Nick first claims “I’m inclined to reserve all judgments” but later says, “I come to the admission that it has a limit”. This change in opinion as the narrator is unsettling as the audiences’ opinion changes in accordance with Nick’s. The use of point of view has a large impact on audiences as, if there is only one point of view, the audience is forced to follow the narrator’s thoughts and look through a single lens. Whereas, if there are multiple perspectives, the audience is allowed to witness the same scene through various standpoints. Hence to improve my writing skills in structured timed essay forms, I will have to practice more regularly with the texts I have now. 

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.



A Rainy Day (Journal Writing)

Today felt like the longest day of my life. I figured it would be because I’ve had my Global Politics orals marked in my calendar for months which just so happens to be on my birthday, and with everything that happened with Ryan last week, I didn’t really have the guts to look at him in the face. You would think that most people hurt you unintentionally, but clearly Ryan had no regard for my emotions. Sometimes when you expect something bad to happen, you can kind of list it off so it doesn’t seem so awful and I guess that how I thought it would be today. 


I usually eat lunch in the canteen with my friends but today I’d really rather not see anyone considering all of Ryan’s friends have been watching my every move, finding more reasons to make snide comments, so I thought I’d just buy a bunch of food and hideout in the library and revise for my upcoming Spanish quiz. I had just sat down and taken my notes out when Amanda walked in. I suppose you could say she’s the reason why Ryan and I aren’t talking in the first place. (That’s not the first time I’ve blamed her for something and I’m trying awfully hard to not write an entire essay as to why she’s a menace.) Of course, I was looking up mid-chicken-noodle-slurp when she walked in and she looked right at me. I felt this surge of rage in my body, but she didn’t seem to notice my glaring eyes at all. She walked up to me grinning, and if there was a way to make me feel even angrier about the whole thing, that was it. She clutched her sandwich in hand and stared apologizing for ruining my relationship, while I stared at my notes for another 15 minutes not reading anything at all. 


I suppose it’s immature of me to blame absolutely everything that happened in the past month on her (Perhaps I could thank her from saving me from a sinking ship), but from the second I saw her I knew it would be a bad day. I was trying ridiculously hard to memorise the tenses for the exam and I was hung up on the simplest of vocabulary, one of those moments where you know the word in English but my brain completely shut off. My mother always said to write everything down so the ideas aren’t jumbled in my head but I really only had 10 minutes left of lunch and I had just finished the first side of my notes. 


I didn’t have time to freak out, I was supposed to finish my lunch, memorising and restraining myself from hurling my chair at Amanda’s face, but I was panicking anyways. I ran straight to class without batting an eye-lid at Amanda. Staring at the first question for at least 15 minutes before realising what I was looking at, and then realising that I had no idea what I was supposed to do. We were supposed to translate the sentences and write a short descriptive about our opinion but I couldn’t even tell what topic the question was based on. Miss Huntley eventually said that we had 20 minutes left and I had only managed to finish translating the lines into Spanish. 


I came out of the test after 3 pm and I slumped down to the closest bus stop. It had just rained and the wind was strong enough that some of smaller trees had fallen, with leaves swimming in puddles even though the sun was shining bright and hard. I didn’t know whether I should be holding a grudge against both Amanda and Ryan, but it, in the end, it never matters what I decide. There’s always going to be rainy days, but I suppose what really matters is how often the sun shines. 


EA Learning Journal #3 – Ranjit Saha

An interview with lawyer Ranjit Saha was very helpful in seeing the legal aspects of the migrant workers  Crisis. Although not much was discussed in the interview, it could be safe to conclude that in his opinion, NGOs such as TWC2 and HOME have not played a large role in supporting the migrant workers and the government has done more than possible to provide the workers  with safe and healthy lives. Although the NGOs help in diminishing the social barriers and encourage locals to interact with migrant workers through funds, NGO’s are unable to make a proper change in the migrant workers’ lives through legal means. From what I was able to understand from this interview, the government seems to be playing a larger role than we think they do. Although it seems like it is just now after COVID that they are creating new dormitories with more facilities, it turns out that the government has been trying to support the migrant workers through several means. According to Mr Saha, the main problems that the migrant workers face are, not receiving their salary on time, health insurance, employment disputes and workplace injuries. The lawyer, Mr Saha confirmed that there are several cases of migrant workers who do not receive their salary on time, or are not given the correct amount, refused to be given health insurance or are not taken care of by the employer. However, these cases are handled by the MOM (Ministry of Manpower) and in most of these cases, the employers, labour brokers and facilities are fined and the migrant workers receive compensation. Therefore, the only mistreatment or problems that the workers are facing at the moment under the pandemic is unemployment and health safety. However, for these issues as well, the government has created an alternative position where migrant workers are still paid a basic amount of money (Basic Salary) for basic necessities and are provided shelter and health checkups in Singapore hospitals.