Vol. 3: Spring 2014 (Essays selected from courses taught in Fall 2013)
Table of Contents EDITORS’ WELCOME ................................................................................................................ 4 The Art of Photography (By Alisha Manongdo) ........................................................................ 6 Don’t Save the Drama for Your Mama! (By Adam Waite) ...................................................... 11 Entertaining Battle of Sexists: A Review of Big Love (By Pancy Thein Lwin) ....................... 14 Soul on Fire (By Nicholas Chernand) ....................................................................................... 17 The Journey of a Hula Dancer (By Tiana-Lei Guillermo) ........................................................ 19 GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ...................................................................................................... 22 K-Pop, a Rising Phenomenon (By Wesley Chai) ..................................................................... 23 Rebuilding Somalia (By Kyle Novy-Riley) .............................................................................. 32 The Reality of Geisha (By Yuri Suzumura) .............................................................................. 36 The Benefits of the Indian Space Program (By Pouriya Mosadegh) ........................................ 44 Japanese Capitalism Disguised as Egalitarianism (By Makai Lawson) ................................... 47 Multilingualism: Advantages of a Polyglot (By Selah Chung)................................................. 56 BROADENING HORIZONS .................................................................................................... 60 Designing Our Future (By Anjanique Herbison) ...................................................................... 61 Another World: A Journey Alongside Pokémon (By Jasmine Andres).................................... 66 Holding onto the Leash: Therapy Dogs In Legal Facilities (By Jenny Bayan) ........................ 76 New Age Discrimination (By Kassie Smith) ............................................................................ 80 MAKING THE CHANGE ......................................................................................................... 83 Self-Harm and Suicide (By Anastaxia Kirkpatrick) ................................................................. 84 (Not) Using My Head (By Mitchell Bumann) .......................................................................... 89 Swim Now, Breathe Later (By Andi Choyce) .......................................................................... 92 The Happiest Place on Earth (By Gabriella Andrade) .............................................................. 95 SOUND AND SILENCE ............................................................................................................ 98 Defining Silence in a World of Noise (By Elizabeth Dash) ..................................................... 99 Ideal Silence (By Mellissa Rotino) ......................................................................................... 102 Meditation in The Schools: The Answer to our Problems? (By Josh Sheetz) ........................ 105 2
Feel the Music: Analysis of In Pursuit of Silence (By Jessica Bie) ........................................ 109 Aerial Magic (By Beau Elliot) ................................................................................................ 112 MEET THE WRITERS! ............................................................................................................ 115 GENRE INDEX ......................................................................................................................... 121 MAHALO!..............................................................................................................................................123
EDITORS’ WELCOME Hello! My name is Savannah Halbrook, and I transferred to Hawai‘i Pacific University in Fall 2013 as a junior majoring in English. I now live in Waianae, Hawai‘i, but I was born and raised in Texas. Before serving as an editorial intern, I was the Editor-in-Chief for The Brand (the student newspaper at my prior college, HSU) and a Hawai‘i Pacific Review staff reader. Working with Fresh Perspectives has been an amazing, influential experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to read these outstanding first-year essays while getting to know the writers behind them. I am excited for their publication and I hope that everyone enjoys this issue! Hello again! My name is Brittany McGarry and I am a junior, majoring in English. I’ve lived in Ewa Beach, Hawai‘i, for over four years. Prior to this internship I worked as a writing tutor in our freshman labs. When I am not writing my own research papers and creative pieces, I’m organizing and hosting events for our English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. I am happy to return as editorial intern and I hope you all enjoy reading these inspiring pieces as much as I have. Whether you consider yourself “good” at writing or not, we all have something important to say that deserves to be heard. I’m Kathleen Cassity, Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of HPU’s First-Year Writing Program. This is our third issue of Fresh Perspectives, which we began in Spring 2013 as a means of broadening our students’ audiences and showcasing some of their fine writing. Once again you will notice a wide range of genres, rhetorical approaches, academic disciplines, topics, viewpoints, and writing levels. We’re especially pleased that this semester’s selections include work from our full range of course offerings, including our developmental English course, Writing 1050, along with Writing 1100 and 1200. Some of our writers are quite experienced while others are novices, and some speak a native language other than English. While all the pieces accepted were subjected to a professional editing process, the words and ideas are each writer’s own. Viewpoints expressed reflect the opinions of the writers, not the editors nor the institution. Savannah and Brittany have done an outstanding job of thematically grouping these essays into four compelling sections. “Living Art” explores photography, drama, fire-throwing and hula; “Global Perspectives” investigates aspects of various cultures from Korean K-Pop to multilingualism, with stops in Somalia, Japan, and India. “Broadening Horizons” tackles an eclectic range of topics—Pokémon, therapy dogs, genetic engineering, discrimination against Goths—while “Making the Change” offers moving and courageous personal narratives about overcoming difficulties such as self-harm, injury, self-doubt, and grief. Finally, we conclude with five selections based on HPU’s Fall 2013 Common Book selection, George Prochnik’s In Pursuit of Silence, which make provocative arguments both for and against Prochnik’s assertions. Happy reading, and thank you for your support of HPU’s writing students. 4
The Art of Photography (By Alisha Manongdo) As I lie on my back beneath a tree and point my camera overhead, I notice how the sunlight pours through the gaps between the leaves. Looking closer, I notice the effects of the sunlight through the contrast of colors, how several areas illuminated by the sun are a bright shade of green while other areas are two shades darker. I observe how in some areas the leaves are overlapping one another, but in other areas, there are gaps. As I trail down from the leaves, I begin to notice the dark brown and white spotted branches slowly growing from a mass web of thin lines down to a thick tree trunk. All in all, I see just how beautiful the world truly is by picking up on details of my surroundings that an untrained eye would normally miss. This is photography, what I see behind a camera’s lens. These are the details that a photographer will notice, and this is the artistic aspect of photography. When the word “photography” comes to mind, what do you think of? According to photographer Ken Rockwell, photography means one word: vision (Rockwell). In Rockwell’s own words, photography “is vision, imagination, or seeing; it all comes down to the same thing: the ability to envision a final result in your mind's eye, and then to make it so with your tools at hand” (Rockwell). Basically, photography is all about what we see around us in our world, knowing how we want it to look, and acting to make that desire a reality. Rockwell says, “Making it so is the easy part; seeing it in the first place is what makes a photographer. Powers of observation are everything. Snapping a camera is trivial” (Rockwell). When looking the encyclopedia definition of photography, it is the science of capturing light onto a piece of film, or the art of recording an image in history where it may be captivating, amusing, or thought-provoking. Unlike many other mediums, photography provides us with a “true-to-life" image (Photography). Moreover, the very word comes from two ancient Greek words: photo, for "light," and graph, for "drawing" (History-What is Photography). In other words, photography means "drawing with light." This phrase clearly defines the process of how a photo was taken, developed, and so forth during the pre-digital era. Regardless of whether we perceive photography as art or science, what it really comes down to is vision. Today, photography has become a greatly used tool in our society for the purpose of communicating some kind of message and giving a sense of visual expression. It is often used to crystalize memories like vacations or celebrations such as weddings and birthdays. It is used extensively by newspapers, magazines, books, and television to convey information and advertise products and services. Moreover, according to the article “History - What is Photography,” photography is also used for observation in medical examinations, to aid science exploration in dangerous areas where a human cannot go, to see what the naked eye cannot see alone, or even to serve as a satisfying hobby or rewarding career (History-What is Photography). How do we distinguish between an amateur photographer (i.e. hobbyist) and a professional photographer? How do we distinguish between someone who takes pictures for fun and someone who gets paid for the pictures they take? In my opinion, a hobbyist can be anyone who photographs as a hobby or profession. A “real photographer” is an artist who creates interesting and significantly different works that make people think, ask questions, and see the world from another angle.
Looking through the lens of a camera, you begin to see the world in a whole new perspective. You start to see little details like how the light bounces off your subject (i.e., the object or person you are photographing). You also start to see the way the colors within the frame of your image complement and contrast one another, or various patterns such as the lines on a tree stump. Through photography, you begin to see the world in the way a camera lens does on a daily basis. You begin to question and analyze every little detail. Lastly, as a photographer, you are that much more connected to what is around you. From my own perspective, photography is a form of art and a photographer is an artist. As a photographer, one’s eyes are trained to see things others do not. Particular aspects a photographer would focus on include the formal elements of art such as line, shape, value, color, and texture. Photographers also pay special attention to principles of design: unity and variety, balance, contrast, repetition and rhythm, scale and proportion, and so forth. According to Sarah Nicole Johnson, a relative of mine who practices photography as a hobby and career, “Every photographer has their own definition of photography. For me, it’s the art of freezing a moment in time, seeing things more deeply. A photographer is the artist; they have the eye to see and capture moments in different ways. They give life and meaning to it.” Sarah continues, “I shoot with all my heart and pay attention to all the details. Every detail has a character and meaning. I love capturing moments and putting a story on it” (Johnson). Seeing photography from Sarah’s perspective, I agree that it is an art form. Sarah sees herself as an artist who gives life and meaning to these captured moments by putting a story to them. Another friend who has practiced photography as a hobbyist for about four to five years, Jarritte Castellano, explains: Photography to me is an art form of expressing what an artist is seeing, whether it’s emotional, documenting, capturing a memory or the scenery. Art is an expression of what the artist is feeling, whether it's something immediate or something I’m feeling for a period of time or remembering past emotions; hoping it sends that message to my audience it's presented to, and maybe can be interpreted in many ways to have open discussions. (Castellano) In addition, according to Jarritte, “As a photographer you want to capture something unique, something that’s not easily perceived from the normal eye. But it really depends on what you want to shoot” (Castellano). For Jarritte, there are times where he wants to shoot something that looks “cool” or obscure, while other times he just wants to take wildlife, scenery, or portrait shots. It depends on a photographer’s mood or what it is he feels like expressing. Through their photographs, photographers express what they see behind the camera’s lens. They also express their emotions or feelings, what they want the audience to feel from that captured moment of time. Through their photographs, the audience is given a general idea of who the photographers are by seeing their own perspectives of the world, noticing the photographers’ areas of interest. For example, if a photographer takes many photos of flowers, plants, and so forth, we can conclude that the photographer’s area of interest is nature. Just as Sarah puts it, photography is about expressing our human emotions and telling a story through one or a series of photographs because a “photograph is worth a thousand words.” Looking through the lens of a camera as a professional, you, unlike most everyone else, start to pay attention to details: how particular lighting affects your subject, depth of field (i.e.. what is 7
inside the focused area of your image and what is left outside the focused area), repetition or patterns, even the textures of your subject. In other words, you start to pay attention to the formal elements of art. Then you start to incorporate artistic principles such as unity and variety. You consider how you should angle your camera or what angle you should shoot the subject from. If the particular subject you have has already been captured by previous photographers, you can choose to capture the subject from a perspective that no other photographer has done yet. You may also begin to pay attention to how fast your subject is moving. If it were a car going at seventy miles-per-hour, you would adjust the shutter speed (i.e., the amount of time that the shutter is open, in order to capture whatever light within a given time to take the picture). It does not matter if you learned the specific terminology for the particular technical aspects; you are still paying attention to artistic issues. One difference between amateur and professional photographers, however, lies in the vast amount of technical knowledge a professional photographer has acquired through years of experience. According to Jarritte, some principles that all photographers really need to know include: Shutter speed, f-stops, focus, and lighting. Shutter speed is how fast the shutter of the camera goes, capturing whatever light within the given time of opening and closing. Fstops, if I remember correctly, are the amount of light you allow in. Focus . . . is sharpening the image or blurring it out . Lighting is probably the most important of them all for any type of photography, but it’s the hardest to learn and master. Heck, I'm still learning! Knowing a little bit of lighting and how it works like bouncing off an object(s), reflections, etc. can really make a difference. You can put a light in front of someone and you get a nice portrait. You put the light under the person's face; they can look creepy and scary. (Castellano) Many technical elements of photography are less necessary unless you want to improve yourself as a photographer. As noted by my friend Mark Bautista , a landscape photographer, these include “aperture, ISO, depth of field, auto exposure bracketing, image size and quality, and metering mode.” Other technical aspects include adjusting your camera’s white balance setting. According to Jarritte, “Some photographers would change their color of the white balance based on the subject. With skin complexions, they might change it slightly to help bring out their eyes/hair/clothes, etc.” (Castellano) Besides the vast amount of technical terminology that a professional photographer has learned, there are other ways in differentiating a hobbyist and professional photographer. According to Jarritte: Going to school about photography doesn’t make you a professional. It’s only when you have a portfolio, done a few photo shoots, made somewhat of a name for yourself, and gotten paid that you can be considered a professional just like any other professional job. Those that sell prints/photos without training would sort of count as a professional. You're getting paid; you're a business. (Castellano) Furthermore, according to Mark: Going to school doesn't necessarily prove that you're smart or a professional. Anyone is able to take a photography class. What matters the most is that you have experience and 8
know what you're doing. Sometimes, you don't necessarily need to take any photography classes in order to become an expert or professional. (Bautista) Whether you have an educational background in photography or not, you can still be considered a professional photographer. The requirements are experience, a portfolio to show clients, and having made a name for yourself. Moreover, those who practice photography as a profession are “ones that do it as a job while the ones that do it as a hobby do it for the fun of it even if they sometimes do get paid. But it’s not like they do it consistently for a living like professionals do” (Castellano). Another key difference between amateur and professional photographers lies in the difference of the settings used, such as the usage of automatic setting versus manual camera settings. For automatic settings, the camera automatically chooses what aspects to adjust to whatever you are trying to photograph, such as aperture, shutter speed, and so forth. For manual settings, you, the photographer, manipulate the settings to your liking. From the three interviews I conducted and observations based upon my own experiences, I would argue that it does not matter whether you are a hobbyist or a professional photographer. What really matters is that you, the photographer, need to understand both the artistic aspects and the technical aspects to express yourself creatively. The artistic aspect is necessary for determining what specific details of your subject will emphasize what you are trying to express to your audience. The technical aspect of photography is necessary so you can manipulate the light or any other aspect to capture the picture you envision. Both the artistic and technical sides of photography are important parts of expressing what you see, how you feel, how you perceive the world, and who you are, as you tell a story through one or a series of photos you have captured. A further development lies in utilizing Photoshop programs to enhance or edit photos you have taken and transform them into what you envision. One program used to alter a photographic image digitally is Adobe Photoshop. You can use distortions, blur the picture, or use color editing techniques such as exposure and saturation. These allow the photographer to add artistically to a photo’s effects to portray whatever it is that he or she wants expressed, and to alter it technically through the understanding and use of terms like saturation and exposure. Most importantly, if you want to be a good photographer, focus on the lighting and angle of your picture. Jarritte Castellano says, “Lighting and changing the angle when you take a picture. Remember, it’s not the camera that takes good pictures; it's the person behind it. Also, know the limitations of your camera and its strengths” (Castellano). Keep in mind, good photography does not come easily. As Jarritte advises, “You're a good photographer if you get one really great photo out of 100 shots consistently. A really great photographer can get five really great shots out of 100 consistently” (Castellano). Photography is about being creative and expressing yourself through both artistic and technical elements. The amount of photos you take does not make you a great photographer; a truly great photographer will have enough determination to take photos until he achieves the art that he envisions. WORKS CITED Bautista, Mark. Email interview. 5 Nov. 2013. 9
Castellano, Jarritte. Email interview. 5 Nov. 2013. "History â€“ What is Photography?" History of Photography. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. http://scphoto.com/html/history.html. Ignacio, Alex. "Thoughts on 'Amateur' and 'Professional' Photography." PetaPixel RSS. N.p., 25 May 2013. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. http://petapixel.com/2013/05/25/thoughts-on-amateur-andprofessional-photography/. Johnson, Sarah Nicole. Email interview. 5 Nov. 2013. "Photography | The Art of Light: Photo guide: Introduction: What is photography?" ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. http://library.thinkquest.org/25473/ph_01_01.shtml. Rockwell, Ken. "What is Photography?."What is Photography?. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/what-is-photography.htm Williams, Suzanne. "What Is Photography?." Steve's Digicams. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2013. http://www.steves-digicams.com/knowledge-center/what-is-photography.html.
Don’t Save the Drama for Your Mama! (By Adam Waite) “Mama! Mama! Mommy!” squealed a small child, dressed in a ratty dress. “Be quiet!” freckled Pepper screeched across the stage. “Can’t anybody get any sleep around here?” chimed in a half-awake child. The scene took place in a New York City municipal orphanage on a cold December night in 1933. “Pipe down, all of ya. Go back to sleep. It’s all right, Molly. Annie’s here,” soothed the curly-haired heroine. The young actresses scampered into their places and readied themselves for the busy musical’s first song, “Maybe.” According to the performing youngsters of Mililani Ike Elementary School’s performing arts club, there is no better way to spend time than under the spotlight. Although I am a mere greenhorn to the acting biz—a first-year student of dramatic theater here at Hawai‘i Pacific University—my sisters have several productions under their pre-teen belts. Being a social introvert (except within the on-line gaming world), I have never put much stock in the ability to entertain people while projecting another’s character on the stage. I learned recently that perhaps I have greatly underestimated the value of performing arts. Mrs. Jamie Stroud, director of Central Theatre Arts Academy of Central Oahu, asserted in an interview that, “Performing arts, especially musical performances, greatly increase one’s ability to memorize information.” She continued by stating that dramatic arts also increase the actor’s nonverbal communication awareness, which comprises 90 percent of all communication. For someone like me, a socially compromised, self-proclaimed geek, being better able to understand that which is “between the lines” during a conversation would be a total boon! In fact, it is something that would benefit almost all people, as it seems that misunderstandings abound within our world of rapid-fire verbal transmissions and the immediate need to translate the given verbal information. One thing notable within theater troupes is that the actors and actresses are exceedingly welcoming. People from various social, ethnic, and economic backgrounds work tirelessly together collaborating ideas, sharing personal insights, and giving feedback to one another as a team, upholding the adage that the whole is only as strong as its weakest link. As a newbie, I was astounded to see a young male teen, dressed as a female, working alongside a macholooking young man. A few ladies were also present, both representing the gender identity of males; these students were valued as unique individuals. “I’ve never had a problem in the theater community. I’ve always been able to be my glorious self here,” said Nick. Honestly, I do not think that anyone recognized that I was not fully comfortable delivering my interview questions; they accepted me and asked me if I was interested in lending a hand. The theatrical world represents a true cross-section of humanity; it is the mirror of our culture. The American Alliance for Theater and Education, AATE, alleges that drama participation boosts academic achievement. The AATE cites positive studies showing that students involved in dramatic arts outperform compared to those who are not involved in theater, as seen through a comparison of student SAT test scores (AATE). The numbers were nothing to quibble about; the students involved with theater scored, on the average, almost 36 points higher in mathematics and almost 66 points higher in the verbal component of the test, and these test comparisons held true even in low-income locations. AATE further boasts that the increased test scores are not the 11
only reason to participate in performing arts: “Students who participate in drama often experience improved reading comprehension, maintain better attendance records, and stay generally more engaged in school than their non-arts counterparts, even in low-income areas” (AATE). How can drama club help decrease attendance issues? It turns out that many students proclaim that arts programs are their “motivations for staying in school” (AATE). The high-risk students have a place to belong, to count, to be valued. In fact, AATE states that “students who participate in the arts are three times more likely to win an award for school attendance than those who do not.” The Atlantic online edition recently published an article by Emily Richmond stating, “The nation's high school graduation rate is approaching 75 percent, its highest rate in 40 years, according to a new report from Education Week. Of course, that good news must be tempered with a sobering statistic -- an estimated 1 million students will fail to graduate this year, a loss of 5,500 students for every day on the academic calendar” (Richmond). If this is true, perhaps more schools should be instituting arts programs instead of cutting them due to lack of funding. Reading comprehension is yet another area which is vastly benefited through drama. Theatrical readings improve not only reading skills, but also cultivate reading comprehension more effectively than silent reading and classroom discussion, according to the American Alliance for Theater and Education. Performing the texts in the classroom significantly enhances “a variety of verbal skills, including especially significant increases in story recall and understanding of written material” (AATE). In addition, students with learning disabilities and at-risk readers also displayed increased reading comprehension scores when the use of drama was incorporated into the students’ programs. According to the online Washington Post: “SAT reading scores for graduating high school seniors this year reached the lowest point in nearly four decades, reflecting a steady decline in performance in that subject on the college admissions test” (Chandler), as reported by the College Board 2011. There can be no denying that test scores greatly improve when combined with arts programs such as theater performance. Within the even more practical realm, a published study done by Champions for Change in 1999 pointed out that the use of theater programs amongst low socioeconomic status students produced “gains in reading proficiency, gains in self-concept and motivation, and higher levels of empathy and tolerance toward others” (Chandler). Not surprisingly, none of the students that I spoke with at Mililani Ike Elementary and Central Theater Arts Academy cited increases in SAT scores, reading comprehension and proficiency, better attendance, or increased empathy as the reasons for their participation in performing arts. “Theater has improved my confidence! I just love it!” chattered Gracia, a student involved in the musical Annie at Mililani Ike Elementary. “At first, I wasn’t sure that I could do it, but I kept trying and now I feel really good at it,” the exuberant fifth-grader continued. Unanimously, the students who practiced with Gracia agreed that the budding theatrical program at Mililani Ike Elementary has greatly increased their self-esteem and confidence. A pig-tailed progeny chimed in, “I think we can use acting to be creative!” “The best thing is that we can sing really loud,” shouted another skinny child. “I can attest to your ability for outstanding projection,” I answered back, as my ears slightly rang. 12
The orphan imps were whirling dervishes of energy; they had a blast while sharpening an unbelievable amount of practical skills. “To the right, Gracia. Stand stage right, make your mark and kneel down, arms all the way up. Perfect. Then, say it.” The club’s director, Mrs. Downey, delivered the orders. Unknowingly, the developing performers were also learning how to follow directions. Even with the stress of learning lines, song lyrics, music, and stage direction, the fledgling actors showed grace under pressure; these students were learning at an early age how to effectively deal with organizational problems and multi-tasking. Clearly, performing arts has an enormous potential to make a tremendous impact on the growth of a child, both within the educational performance field as well as the development of practical life skills. Drama has been shown to reduce truancy problems, which in turn boosts delinquency prevention. The students’ self-confidence soars as youngsters express their creativity and showcase their newly found talents (AATE). The theater is a place of acceptance, a place to belong and be a part of a team. Not to mention that according to the 2005 Harris poll, “93% of Americans believe that the arts are essential to a complete education and 79% feel that the arts should be a priority in educational reform” (AATE). Perhaps, like me, schools should reevaluate the benefits of performing arts programs in the school systems and incorporate the arts as another strategy to deliver improvements in student performance as well as beyond. WORKS CITED Chandler, Michael A. "SAT Reading Scores Drop to Lowest Point in Decades." The Washington Post, 14 Sept. 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2014. American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE). “The Effects of Theatre Education.” n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. Richmond, Emily. "High School Graduation Rate Hits 40-Year Peak in the U.S." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 06 June 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
Entertaining Battle of Sexists: A Review of Big Love (By Pancy Thein Lwin) Big Love by Charles L. Mee, a play about fifty brides who tried to take refuge in a foreign country driven by the fear of marrying their fifty respective potential grooms, was inspired by The Suppliants, a Greek play written by Aeschylus in 492 B.C. I watched Big Love in the Kennedy Theatre at University of Hawai‘i Manoa during the theatre’s celebration of its 50th anniversary. Big Love could be categorized as a tragedy due to the brides’ attempt to avoid the marriage contract by devising a brutal plan to kill their husbands. In making the paramount decision of being able to choose their life partners, the different women present diverse perspectives and reasons. In this patriarchal society, some of the women who suffered from the male oppression turn their inner mental wounds toward hating men and come to believe that they do not need men in their lives. Marriage, to most of them, seems like slavery, as they are expected to serve their husbands without gaining much from their partners in return. One of the brides, Thyona, is such a woman. Olympia and Lydia, on the other hand, do not show extreme hatred towards men as Thyona does. In Part One, the plot explains what happened to the fifty sisters and how Lydia (Karissa MurrellMyers), Olympia (Mareva Minerbi) and Thyona (Kaitlin Souza) have different views on men. After studying the first part of the dialogue, I began to sympathize with the fate of the fifty women who were forced to marry their cousins, whom they had never met before. Initially I could not recognize the inner thoughts of the women because they were portrayed collectively as the runaway brides-to-be who did not want to marry their grooms. As the play goes on, when the owner of the house, Piero, refuses to let the sisters stay in his house, they are forced to accept the only option offered and submit to the arranged marriages. Reluctant to follow the order, the sisters make a pact to kill each of their husbands on their own. The climax occurs when they are having the wedding party. As I watched, I was very excited to know whether all the brides would kill their grooms. The falling action after the climax begins when Thyona finds Nikos (Treyvon Love), Lydia’s groom, alive beside Lydia, followed by the resolution of the conflict that Bella (Josephine Calvo) acquitted Lydia and tolerates both Thyona and Olympia. The generalization of all these women’s different motives, the development of a plot reflecting the different meanings of marriage in each bride’s mind, and finally the depiction of the bold action taken by Lydia, make the play more artistically vibrant, thought-provoking and thrilling. Throughout the play, I was enthralled by the well-written plot twists and turns, bringing the audience to surprises through suspense. The play depicts the extreme opinions of men and women towards each other through excellent characterization. All the characters were static except Lydia. Thyona and Olympia exemplify two different types of women—one who hates men, and one who seeks to impress them by beautifying herself. As soon as Olympia arrives at Piero’s house after running away from the wedding reception, she tries to find the cosmetics. Olympia asks, “Soaps, John Frieda Sheer Blond Shampoo and Conditioner for Highlighted Blonds, something to make a woman feel,” as soon as she sees Piero (Big Love). That action suggests the definition of women as beautiful trophies owned by their husbands, and her views on seeing man as a creature for nothing more than fulfilling women’s fondness of luxuries. 14
Moreover, Thyona’s extreme hatred of men is shown when she claims, “Men don't have a good side” to Piero, who generously allows them to stay. In addition she says, “Boy babies should be flushed down the toilet at birth,” showing her endless desire for revenge against men. Lydia, different from both Thyona and Olympia, has a mild attitude regarding men, replying, “But not all men are necessarily the same” (Big Love). The attitudes of the husbands also differ. When the grooms find the runaway brides, Constantine (Harold Wong), Thyona’s groom, declares, “If I have to have her arms tied behind her back and dragged to me, I'll have her back,” expressing his view that women are property, as well as his lack of sympathy towards the other gender and his chauvinistic belief that men are the superior gender (Big Love). In contrast, Nikos, Lydia’s groom, says, “Have a marriage to start out not in a romantic way, but as a friendship because I admire you,” reflecting his pure love for Lydia without expecting any gain or submission (Big Love). Through the dialogue’s unfolding, I was able to enjoy the excellent development of each character. Language portrayed each character’s style of speaking. Mee used language not only to highlight his characters, but to synchronize the play with the current world. In the dialogue between Thyona and Constantine, for example, Constantine’s reply reflects the dialogue of modern man when he says, “You can throw out a promise just because you don't feel like keeping it? Just because drugs are rife, gambling is legal, medicine is euthanasia, birth is abortion, homosexuality is the norm, and pornography is piped into everybody's home on the Internet?” The use of language also reflects many of today’s ideas: When Bella announces her verdict, she explains the nature of love by saying, “A woman might want another woman; sometimes a man prefers a man.” That idea of homosexuality could not be brought up so openly in 5th century Greece. The play’s effective use of contemporary language reflects the world today and made me feel that I belonged to the play, in a way: I realized that the conflicting ideas on marriage can also exist in modern times. In addition to the thoughtful usage of language, the performance was effectively dramatic. All the three main actors performed professionally to portray the unique roles of the three brides. Souza, a strong woman without a good impression of men, spoke her dialogue briskly and blatantly. Her rough actions reflected her harsh behaviors and her hostile attitude toward men. Minerbim, a very feminine and flirtatious woman, reflected the society’s assigned patterns and expected features of women. Murrell-Myers, a moderator between her two harsh and soft sisters, calmly said the right word at the right time and decisively chose the action she believed to be right. Conflicting ideas about men were portrayed as a wrestling match between Olympia, Thyona, Lydia, and a third frustrated groom, Oed (Shaun Dikilato), using round saw blades like martial arts weapons. The performance also included aerialists (which seemed unnecessary in light of Mee’s already thought-provoking drama). Overall, all the characters performed their roles in a lively manner. Although the performance was excellent, it omitted some parts of Mee’s script due to time limit on performances. This made the play more interesting, but sometimes it skipped the important logical points which develop the play’s main theme. For instance, the stage director omitted the scene when Bella tells the young brides about her sons. At the same time, Bella is saving some of her tomatoes while tossing others, and mentioning that no one is perfect but some are prone to 15
good causes. This symbolizes the process of choosing a husband for a woman; she should choose someone who can satisfy her, while forgetting and leaving behind the one who will hurt her feelings. Although I really enjoyed the performance, the play would be even better if it included some parts of the script which can add philosophical meanings. Finally, I was enthralled to see the splendid lighting together with the background music, which made the play vibrant. The lighting changed according to the mood of the actors who were speaking on stage. When they were panicked or in conflict with other characters or their own inner values, the lighting color was mostly red, reflecting the crisis. When the conflict was solved and the plot reached its happy ending, the white and glittering gold colored lights danced on the stage, energetically and attractively. Moreover, throughout the play, Ian A. Belton (Director) and Brendan Connelly (Sound Designer) worked together to choose the music to match each scene. The musical numbers ranged from Lesley Gore’s 1964 anthem, “You Don’t Own Me,” and a Rodgers & Hart classic, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” to performances on ukulele and piano by various members of the cast. As the chosen music absolutely resonated well with the plot, it made the play more enjoyable. In my opinion, the play was well written, with interesting plot lines and excellent character depictions and development. Its language made the play resonate well with the current world. The performance was superb from entertainment point of view, although it was less thoughtprovoking than Charles L. Mee intended in the original text because of omitted scenes written in the original script. I strongly recommend Big Love, which could make your weekend enjoyable because of its twisting plots, superb performances, and vibrant music. WORKS CITED Big Love. By Charles L .Mee. Dir. Ian A. Belton Kennedy Theatre, University of Hawai’i Manoa, Honolulu. 6 Oct. 2013. Performance.
Soul on Fire (By Nicholas Chernand) Was there ever a moment when you could genuinely say you felt more alive than you ever have before? For me, there was: the moment I began spinning fire. Spinning fire is one of the most dangerous, yet mesmerizing forms of art. When the fire dances around you, perfectly synchronized to the music, the experience can be exhilarating and therapeutic. Fire poi is not only my hobby but it is my passion. The fire and gas runs through my veins like the water down a creek. My love of fire poi started, as you might have guessed, with a girl. You should have seen her: tight black shorts, a loose purple tank top, barefoot just like me. To me, she was a dream come true. Her moves flowed like water, in total opposition, which was strange to me because I was watching fire. Instantly, I wanted to learn more. It was not all about the poi, although she had the nicest poi I had ever seen. In the background were the righteous sounds of Electric Dance Music (EDM) blasting from someone’s car stereo, since the deejay was out of town. I was mesmerized for hours watching the pros; it was inspiring. That night I went home, grabbed my old rugby socks and a cup of rice and fashioned myself some makeshift balls. I started practicing immediately. Hours of my free time were spent in my garage just spinning and listening to the music, figuring out how to spin the balls just right to music, finding where the beat drops. Most importantly, I was learning how to stay with the beat. I was like a kitten with a ball of yarn, just playing around, as my muscles memorized the moves. I went again the next Thursday and met Bill, who is now my fire safety mentor. Bill is a quirky fellow. Imagine an anarchist Jack Black with a Mohawk, who also wears all black: that is Bill He taught me new tricks like the two beat and the three beat. He gave me some tips on ways to have a bit more fun with the moves I already knew how to do, like flails and stalls. Finally, after about two or three weeks of practice, I asked Bill if I could spin fire. He had been watching my progress while teaching me fire safety, which boosted my confidence and made me feel ready to learn this new skill. That night, Bill let all of the regulars, or the members of the Hawai‘i Fire Artists who are there almost every week, know that I was about to go on. They lent me the stage and got two fire spotters to make sure the audience and myself were as safe as possible, especially while twirling balls of fire around my head for the very first time. Suddenly, I was center stage and everyone was watching; my arms were shaking and I could barely breathe. All I could think was, “What the hell am I doing here and why am I about to do this?” I started spinning and at that moment I knew my soul had caught on fire. I wanted to spin forever. Spontaneous combustion, the chemicals in my blood ignited, my heart started beating faster and I was listening to the fire. No one ever told me about that, the whooshing sound of live fire, dancing in the wind—at first it scared me. For a moment, I thought I was on fire, but I did not care. I was like a virgin all over again; everything was new to me. I continue to go every Thursday, and now that Burning Man is over, all of the so-called “OG’s,” or the people who started Fire Jam, are back. That means bringing back all the rules, as well. Things like actual fire safety are a high priority and I have been getting to know them well. Every day I am moving toward becoming a part of the Hawai‘i Fire Artists. I practice for hours daily and it is one thing I look forward to in every part of my day—kind of like a hot shower or a good meal. I am truly honored to be a part of it and I am having a blast. Although I play with fire, 17
I take it seriously. It is fun and inspiring, but it is also an art form that can cause injury or fatality. I am still learning and hurting myself, but it is always worth it, even when the fire hits my face.
The Journey of a Hula Dancer (By Tiana-Lei Guillermo) As the vast sky deepens with the night’s arrival, jeweled stars emerge from the darkness. A mist of rain blesses the land of Hilo, Hawai‘i, while a gentle breeze welcomes us to the Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium, the home of the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. I can trace the silhouette of the vast Mauna Kea in the distance, its sacred peak brushing just below the glowing moon. The announcer’s exuberant voice echoes throughout the stadium as he introduces our hālau (hula school), Hula Hālau ‘O Kamuela. My hula sisters and I gracefully walk onto the historic stage in uniformed lines, with eager eyes and cameras recording our every move. I nervously glance at our surroundings; the stadium is packed with people. Many women accessorize themselves with pūpū (shell) earrings, lauhala hats decorated with leis, or hairdos pinned up with bouquets of flowers. There are several judges, including notable kumu such as Cy Bridges, Nalani Kanaka‘ole, and Joan S. Lindsey, who are all critically scrutinizing our performance of kahiko (the most ancient form of hula) and scoring us on their papers. I am heavily adorned with lush palapalai fern from head to toe, symbolic of nature’s delicate beauty. We wear maroon-colored wraps which are extremely suffocating, making my chest even flatter than it already is. Our pa‘u skirts are printed with tribal patterns and tied tightly to our waists, barely allowing any space to move. As we chant the mele (song), ‘Auhea Wale Ana ‘Oe, we become a haunting chorus, hypnotizing the audience into our poetic story. We chant about the ‘Ulalena rain that adorns the uplands of Pi‘iholo and all of these wonderful places in Maui, like Makawao and Kama’oma‘o, that add to its aesthetic beauty. This abundant love for the nature in Maui measures the love for someone else, a mysterious person named Maka‘ituana, for whom the composer of the mele yearns. Each one of us delivers a different sound of chanting, but when we blend our voices, we sound as one. Our kumu (teacher) begins to hit his ipu heke (Hawaiian gourd) to a familiar sound, and we get ready for the cue to start our own beat with our puniu (a small drum). As my hula sisters and I dance with fluid hand motions and firm footwork, our story slowly unfolds. I fondly remember watching my mother dance the hula when I was a keiki and her little shadow, mimicking her every move during her hula practices. She danced for Ka Pā Hula O Kauanoe O Wa‘ahila then, and I would automatically join the women and follow their movements. My mother’s kumu told her to just let me dance freely rather than scolding me to sit down. My father frequently played Hawaiian music on his stereo from favorite artists like Mark Ho‘omalu, Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo‘ole, and Hapa, and I would create my own imaginary motions to the songs. My mother discovered my hidden talent at an early age and immediately signed me up to dance for Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela, under the direction of Kau‘i Kamana‘o and Kunewa “Uncle Eddie” Mook. The hālau’s original home was in Waimānalo, but now it is located on Koapaka Street, just a few minutes away from the airport. Starting off as a new student with stiff arms, immobile hips, clumsy feet, and a shy personality, I was placed at the back of the group by my kumu during our regular hula practices on the weekends, along with all the other beginners. The hula dancers positioned at the front of the lines were the prime leaders of the hālau, and I tried my very best to imitate their elegant moves as well as their eye-catching facial expressions. I strived to be like the girls in the front, but I 19
silently challenged myself to become even better than them. Throughout the years of improving my skills and dedicating more than half of my life to hula, I gradually blossomed into a seasoned hula dancer. I would reminisce about the days when I glued my eyes onto the television, admiring all the hula dancers that graced the stage with their performances, especially Miss Aloha Hula contestants like Natasha Oda and Snowbird Bento. It was an honor when my kumu asked me to compete for Merrie Monarch; however, I didn’t realize how extremely demanding it was going to be. Not only did we practice to dance like an army, but we dressed up in the same uniform: black leotard, black pa‘u skirt printed with yellow lehua (a type of native Hawaiian flower), and long hair slicked back in a tight bun. My hula sisters and I endured back-to-back practices for almost three months with barely any sleep, trying to perfect our movements. Practices were usually from six to ten p.m., but as the competition drew close, our kumu made us stay up past midnight until he was finally satisfied with our progress. I could never predict kumu Kau‘i’s mood swings. Some days he would be animated and start cracking jokes, and other times he would yell his guts out and scold us whenever we made a mistake. Every now and then he would shout to us in frustration, “You all look like chickens running without heads!” I pulled all-nighters trying to complete of all of my homework and project assignments for school on time and ended up going to my classes suffering from both mental and physical exhaustion. The cycle was absolutely brutal, and knowing how fatigued I was, my mom would allow me to skip school a few times just so I could regain my strength and sleep in for the day. My body was awfully weak; my knees and feet were marked with bruises since our kahiko performance was a hula noho (hula performed while seated), and my arms ached from dancing with ‘uli‘uli (feathered gourd rattles) for our performance of ‘auana (the modern form of hula). The hard work eventually paid off when I took my first step on stage, absorbing the texture of the wooden floor beneath my feet. For that few minutes of fame, I forgot about reality and entered a world where only my passion for hula mattered. I felt the adrenaline pumping through my veins and felt the pure enthusiasm emanating from my hula sisters. After our performance ended, I felt like I had finally achieved my childhood dream. We won second place for wahine kahiko, first place for the wahine ‘auana, second place overall for the wahine division, and second place overall in 2010. Hula has also given me the opportunity to travel to Japan and perform in front of large crowds. To share my culture and my love for the hula with others is such a wonderful blessing. I appreciate my culture even more when I notice our performances spark the same passion among our audiences. Hula has given me the treasure of learning precious chants and songs such as Ea Mai Hawai‘inuiakea, Aloha O‘ahu, and He Nani Mokihana, to name a few. Hula has taught me valuable life lessons as well that I will forever cherish. Throughout my immense journey as a dancer and my years of training, I have experienced the true meaning of humility, discipline, teamwork, and leadership. My hula sisters and I gave each other constant feedback on how to improve our performance and synchronize our dancing. We worked together by leveling our motions, chanting various techniques, and even knowing where to turn our heads when we dance. 20
Most importantly, our kumu has always reminded us that we either win graciously or lose graciously. No matter what title we place, we have to continue to keep our heads up high. By dancing the hula, I am continuing the legacy passed down from my ancestors and helping to preserve the Hawaiian culture. As expressed by King David Kalakaua, the last reigning King of Hawai‘i who revived the Hawaiian culture: “Hula is the language of the heart, therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian People.”
K-Pop, a Rising Phenomenon (By Wesley Chai) Introduction “We started out fine; take look at us now. You leave me no choice and I gotta break out. But I’m, I’m trapped, I’m trapped…” It was only a few days after I had reached Hawai‘i, and I was listening to the English version of “Trap” by Henry Lau while trying to find something interesting to watch on television. In the midst of switching channels, I chanced upon Mnet America, Arirang, and KBS World. As a KPop fan, these three channels became the first three I would switch to whenever I turned on the television. Growing up in Taiwan and Singapore gave me plenty of opportunities for exposure to different types of music, including those sung by American, Chinese, or Japanese singers. I developed an interest in K-Pop mostly during my teenage years in Singapore, when K-Pop was starting to become more well-known among adolescents. To tell the truth, the availability to keep in touch with K-Pop through television here in America surprised me. It seems like K-Pop has started to “invade” the musical industry of America. In a world where music dominates and influences everything we do, there is a new type of music that is quickly progressing in popularity, not only nationally but globally as well. Yes, it is KPop. However, there are also people who view K-Pop as only emphasizing physical appearance or attractiveness rather than making “real music.” Through interviews with K-Pop supporters and opposers, I came to the conclusion that K-Pop is actually becoming more influential in today’s world, and the emphasis on “just looks” in K-Pop is debatable. Background K-Pop refers to Korean pop music. It is, however, not only pop music but also trot, hip-hop, R&B, ballad, dance pop, electronic, rock, and rap. In other words, K-Pop is not limited to a single genre of music. In 2008, under JYP Entertainment, Wonder Girls released its top hit single, “Nobody.” The rising popularity of the song and dance in their music video enabled the group to release English, Japanese, and Chinese versions later on. The single topped charts in South Korea, China, and America (generaisa). Wonder Girls also became the first Korean group to be featured in Billboard (Bell). The following year, under SM Entertainment, Super Junior released their third album, Sorry Sorry, including the hit song by the same name. The perfectly synchronized dance moves and the catchy lyrics of the thirteen-member group swept charts in various Asian countries. It even topped Taiwan’s KKBOX chart for thirty-six consecutive weeks (“Super Junior”). In the same year, under the same agency, the nine-member group Girls’ Generation released a single, “Gee.” Not only did it break Wonder Girls’ record by topping charts in South Korea for nine consecutive weeks, it also had the most number of views on YouTube music video at that time (KoreaTourism). In 2012, an artist came along and shattered their record. A singer named PSY released the single “Gangnam Style” under YG Entertainment. With funky dance moves and party-like music, it 23
topped charts in South Korea for a total of sixteen weeks, including ten consecutive weeks (www.kpoplists.com). Due to his increasing fame, PSY performed in America, Europe, and various other parts of world. As of October 25, 2013, it has 1,802,695,358 views on YouTube and has broken the World Guinness Records (PSY). “Gangnam Style” remains the most viewed music video on YouTube today. PSY signed a contract with Schoolboy Records in America last year. Through the above examples of successes of K-Pop songs, I have identified three stages of the Hallyu Wave, also known as the Korean Wave. First, “Nobody” gathered increasing attention and interest in K-Pop. Next, “Sorry Sorry” and “Gee” enabled K-Pop to invade Asia. Finally, “Gangnam Style” led K-Pop to infiltrate the world. Why You Should Follow K-Pop: Reasons and Positive Impacts K-Pop is famously known for its versatile, unique idols and large fan bases. Although America and the U.K. also have all-round idols like Justin Bieber and One Direction, both which have large fan bases around the world, their styles are vastly different. In contrast to American pop music, K-Pop has dances choreographed for almost every song, and there are multiple TV music charts and programs for idols to promote their new releases. This is what makes K-Pop unique. Among all the individuals I interviewed, all of them agreed to a certain extent that physical appearance is what first attracted them. But of course, the uniqueness of the music and fashion also come into play. Hui Shan, when interviewed, said, “I like G-Dragon the most! This style of music and fashion is really unique. He’s really creative. Although he’s really successful, he’s not complacent and arrogant. He’s good looking as well.” K-Pop is described as having a wider selection of music, since it is not limited to the genre of pop as mentioned earlier. As all music does, K-Pop make us relax and can relieve stress. Hui Shan’s statement shows that an idol’s personality and character are major factors for those who admire K-Pop as well. While some people got interested in K-Pop through music, others got in touch with it through mass media. Kirsty, when interviewed, said, “I was introduced by a friend to watch an episode of Running Man1, which Big Bang, a famous K-Pop group, guest-starred in. I was attracted by their funny antics and unique looks, and I went to find out more about this particular group. Well, one thing leads to another, and soon, I was hooked onto this idol group.” Another important factor in why people follow K-Pop is that the songs usually feature catchy lyrics and flashy dances. For instance, “Nobody” has repeated lines of, “I want nobody, nobody but you…” followed by two claps. “Sorry Sorry” has the chorus, “… Sorry sorry sorry sorry, naega naega naega meonjeo. Nege nege nege ppajyeo, ppajyeo ppajyeo beoryeo baby…” accompanied with the hand-wringing, leg-patting, and encircling hands “Trilogy.” “Gee” has the chorus “… Gee gee gee gee, baby baby baby…” accompanied with their signature moves of shuffling left and right. “Gangnam Style” has the lyrics, “Oppa Gangnam style. Eyyy sexy lady,” accompanied with his cheesy horse-riding dance. The successes of these four songs show that
A famous Korean variety show
degrees of catchiness accompanied by memorable dance moves must be included in K-Pop to lead to viral attention and fame. Furthermore, K-Pop enables us to explore new fashion trends and express our thoughts in different ways. For example, some Asian males like to wear tighter or just-fitting pants, while the females like to wear shorts. Not only does K-Pop influence our “fashion sense,” it also enables us to explore new interests and hobbies. People feel free to express their thoughts in different ways without fear of being judged. For instance, one can have a stylish hairstyle similar to his or her idol that is uncommon in his or her own country. To some extent, K-Pop may also break stereotypical views that some people have about Asians through exposure to another culture. Following K-Pop presents a chance for us to expose ourselves to another language, music, and culture. This exposure may in turn spark new interests, understanding, and appreciation of another country. Many fans around the world have developed interests in learning Korean language and the dances in K-Pop. Today I know of many friends, once holding stereotypical ideas towards K-Pop, who now have dreams of becoming K-Pop idols themselves through auditions with famous agencies, such as SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. Why You Might Not Want To Follow K-Pop: Reasons and Negative Impacts Many people believe that those who do not follow K-Pop are mostly older generations. After interviewing a few people, I have come to the conclusion that this perception is incorrect. Not surprisingly, many in the younger generation dislike K-Pop too. First, we will look at the older generations. Parents of Amelie, when interviewed, said, “We do not have any interest in K-Pop as we think that today’s music industry is producing ‘noisy’ music, and most of the songs carry no meaning in them.” The above statement shows that older generations tend to think that K-Pop, or today’s music, is just meaningless and filled with noise. They probably also think that today’s music is “too fast” for them, as compared to music of their generation. While most people of older generations dislike K-Pop for its noisiness, some of those from our generation do not follow K-Pop because they do not understand Korean. Not knowing the language can make audiences unable to relate to the singers’ feelings or what the singers are trying to bring out to the audience. Since it also makes those people think that it all “sounds the same,” they are unable to appreciate the music of K-Pop. There are also people who think that K-Pop idols are “controlled.” Diane, when interviewed, explained, “I do not feel that I am able to relate to the singers as I feel that the singers are just actors who are portrayed in a certain way, or scripted, by their companies in order to gain support from their fans.” Some people do not follow K-Pop for its perceived dullness. When interviewed, Hui Shan said, “Many groups nowadays, such as Super Junior and SHINee, try to impress fans and live up to their expectations by trying to make their new songs quite similar to their previous hit songs. I feel that their songs are getting boring and have no meaning.” 25
Following K-Pop does have certain negative aspects. Like any type of music, it can make fans too emotional and delusional over an idol who may never potentially know them at all. Should students choose to spend too much time catching up on updates about K-Pop, they may be distracted from their academic studies. Time management in enjoying K-Pop is important to ensure that work and play are balanced. Again, like any other type of fandom, there are people who do not know how to control their infatuations. Not only do they spend a lot of time keeping up with news of their idols, they may also spend unnecessary money on K-Pop merchandise. However, whether spending money is “unnecessary” is debatable. I am a K-Pop fan and I do spend money to buy all the albums of KPop groups that I follow. To me, the money spent for my “collection” of albums is necessary because I am supporting my favorite artists. Power of K-Pop K-Pop is indeed very influential when we look at its power to convert people who were once opponents of K-Pop to supporters. Koko, when interviewed, said, “K-Pop used to take up a huge part of my life. I would fantasize a lot and was really obsessed over my favorite band. It went to the extent of me crying whenever something good or bad happened to my idols. It made really emotional! I also started out as an anti-K-Pop person. I don’t know how to describe how influential it is, but it successfully turned me into a hardcore fan.” Another thing showing K-Pop’s influence is the many fans who are highly involved in attending concerts. I go to concerts of Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, Big Bang, and many other groups. I even traveled to another country just for a concert. For example, earlier this year, I went back to Taiwan just for M Countdown: Hello Taiwan, where the stage of M Countdown, a music chart show in Korea, was brought to Taipei. Just a month ago, there was also M Countdown: What’s Up LA. Sadly, I could not make it since I had to go to school. But I have to admit that the experience of going to concerts to watch singers or groups is radically different from watching them on computer screens and televisions. These concerts usually start in the evening and last for a few hours. The most impressive part is that K-Pop idols all sing live the entire time instead of lip synching. Also, while the idols are changing their outfits, each member of the particular group takes on solo stages, where they showcase special performances that can only be seen in concerts, such as covering English songs and playing saxophone. These solo performances usually get the crowds roaring, and the fans spend the night dancing and singing their hearts out. Frequently, fans leave voiceless, exhausted, sad, and looking forward to the next one in future. I do feel that I “grow closer” to the idols after concerts too. As a K-Pop fan, I have formed and strengthened friendships, met new friends, and forged stronger bonds with friends who share the same interests as me. Some of my friends also use bits and pieces of Korean words when texting or talking about recent happenings in the Korean music industry. Aish, aigo, and omo, for example, are used when something goes wrong. Kamsahamnida, which means “thank you,” is also sometimes used to replace the English version. Not only do we use these Korean words in conversations, we also identify each other using 26
official fan club names of the idols. For example, Big Bang’s fans are called VIPs, Super Junior’s fans are called ELFs, and Girls’ Generation’s fans are called Sones. Beyond Interest: Addiction and Extreme Fandom Like many other types of music, K-Pop has resulted in “extreme” behaviors of some fans. Kirsty, when interviewed, said, “Some people would go to great lengths to dress up and look exactly like their idols. They also follow diet plans that some female idols undergo to become slimmer. I feel that it is scary how K-Pop fanatics go to such extremes.” These fans have gone the “extra mile” to imitate their idols’ fashion style, hairstyle, clothing, and physical appearances. Some of them even travel to South Korea for plastic surgeries to be physically attractive like their admired idols. According to the Seoul Touch Up website: Over the past few years, Korea has experienced a renewed surge in the number of tourists that are visiting the country. Stats show that annually, more than 7.5 million visitors come to Korea with more than 80,000 of those visitors coming expressly for the purpose of having a medical procedure done; such procedures ranging from cyber-knife surgery to plastic surgery and more. With more and more people becoming aware of the excellent medical facilities and highly qualified medical practitioners available in Korea, it is projected that by 2015 the stats of visitors coming strictly for medical procedures will reach 400,000 with an estimated growth rate of 30% annually. (www.seoultouchup.com) Other than these extreme behaviors, many fans can also become addicted to or obsessed with KPop. Once fans become spellbound with their idols, they cannot help but check for updates every day regarding these idols. A daily routine becomes a habit and eventually transforms into an addiction. According to the interviews I conducted, many addicts are constantly in touch with all the updates of their idols, watching dramas or shows starring their idols, and supporting their idols on music shows, such as M Countdown, SBS Inkigayo, Music Bank, Show Champion, and Mnet Asian Music Awards, by voting for them as many times as possible. However, just like addiction to any other thing, addiction to K-Pop is very much controllable if the particular individual wants to do so. As Kirsty, when interviewed, pointed out: “I feel that KPop is addictive to an extent. But ultimately it is one’s own choice to control how addictive it is to their lives, in either a good or bad way.” It is indeed an individual’s own choice to decide whether he or she wants to have the addiction affect their life, either positively or negatively. Making the right choice is rather important. Prejudice: Supporters vs. Supporters and Supporters vs. Opposers To a smaller extent, prejudice definitely exists among supporters. Between K-Pop fans in Korea and international fans, those in Korea tend to feel that they are “superior” to international fans. Heightened emotions also exist between fandoms when different fan clubs compare and defend the qualities of their idols. For example, keyboard warriors, who are obsessed and “crazy” over
their oppas2, can go on social media to spam and defend how cute, handsome, or “hot” their idols are. Prejudice exists in an even larger extent between supporters and opposers. People from countries with conservative cultures tend to think that the oddly colored hairstyles for males in K-Pop are unacceptable. They also think that females in K-Pop tend to wear more revealing clothes. These behaviors may clash with their own traditions and customs. Ashleigh Gregory, an author on United Kpop website, said, “K-Pop is becoming more sexualized. The age-old adage of ‘sex sells’ never seemed to work for to me and my culture, and as such, I find the more innocent nature of K-Pop to be one of its greatest charms.” Nung, when interviewed, said, “Males in K-Pop usually have different colored hair that is not black or brown. Having those strangely colored hairstyles clashes with the cultural and social norms in my country, where those who dye their hair are often viewed as delinquents. My family (Chinese) rules are also against it.” A handful of males feel that K-Pop artists, especially males, are “not men.” Qian Yu, when interviewed, said, “Look at those guys in K-Pop with tight pants, long fringes, hair bands, and eyelash makeups. . . . Men don’t wear makeup.” Some opposers believe that K-Pop is imitating music of other countries. Koko, when interviewed, said, “K-Pop is often stereotyped to be ‘trying too hard to include’ English, and as similar to JPop or Asian music. However, the K-Pop industry is growing a lot into global market and, well, is already a global enjoyment.” Indeed, K-Pop does try to include English, sometimes in ways that are grammatically incorrect. Many K-Pop songs recently are based on English titles and partial English choruses. However, having English along with Korean is partly what makes KPop unique. Many K-Pop idols also grew up in America, so we should assume that including English in K-Pop is expected. I cannot help but to agree with Koko on her stand too: K-Pop is definitely a global enjoyment. If it were not, PSY would not have had his great achievements with “Gangnam Style,” and there would not be so many world tour concerts. In 2011, SM Town3 had already invaded New York with their concert at Madison Square and was the first K-Pop concert held there, before PSY went on to become a world sensation. Outsiders tend to think that K-Pop is all about looks. Jolene, when interviewed, said, “I think KPop is all about the handsome or pretty artists who are mostly said to have undergone plastic surgery.” On July 8, 2012, Snoop Dogg also tweeted, “Legs n. thighs. No biscuits,” with an attachment of the album cover of Genie of Girls’ Generation. The above two statements show that there are people who think that K-Pop idols are successful not because of music itself. Whether or not K-Pop is really only all about looks will be examined in the next section. For now, let us analyze why there are so many stereotypes that all K-Pop idols have undergone plastic surgeries. According to the Asian Plastic Surgery website: 2
Means “elder brother” in Korean language; affectionate term that girls use to address older male friends or boyfriends 3 Concert involving all artists, such as Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, SHINee, DBSK, f(x), BoA, and EXO, under SM Entertainment
People in South Korea undergo invasive plastic surgery at a rate 1.7 times higher than people in Taiwan, 1.8 times higher than people in the United States, 2.3 times higher than people in Japan, and 8.2 times higher than people in China. (Dunne) Yes, South Koreans do indulge in more plastic surgery than people in other countries. Figures from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery also show that Korea has the highest proportion of its population undergoing cosmetic surgery, with one in every 77 Koreans turning to the knife or the needle (Dunne). From the above two statistics, we can see that a large proportion of Koreans do undergo plastic surgery. Since most K-pop idols have “perfect” or “flawless” faces, it is common to assume that they have undergone plastic surgeries. However, this issue in Korea is not limited to the area of K-Pop. Reality: Life of Hallyu Stars and Their Talents K-Pop is a competitive field that requires hard work and determination. To be an idol in Korea, numerous difficulties must be overcome in order to achieve recognition and fame. If someone desires to be an idol in South Korea, his or her best bet would be to go to “The Big Three,” which consists of the companies SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. To be successful as an idol in K-Pop, you also need many more talents beyond singing and dancing. Many idols have abilities to act in dramas, write lyrics, compose music, produce songs, and choreograph dances. For example, Kim Hyun Joong, leader of the five-member group SS501, acted in dramas like Boys over Flowers and Playful Kiss. Henry Lau, the singer I mentioned in the beginning, is a member of a sub-unit of Super Junior called Super Junior M. With his extraordinary skills in piano, guitar, violin, percussion instruments, and dancing, he debuted as a solo singer earlier this year. Almost all the songs in his mini-album Trap are written and composed by him and produced by his team, NoizeBank. He also knows how to speak English, Chinese, Cantonese, Korean, French, and Thai. PSY’s “Gangnam Style” is written and composed by PSY himself, and the “horse-riding dance” is choreographed by him. When interviewed, Amelie stated, “I think that K-Pop is definitely another new way of bringing out music differently to the world. The K-Pop industry is also very creative and clever in terms of grooming their stars into having the ability to sing and dance to attract more people’s attention and liking. Not many singers are able to do so.” Based upon the above examples, I do not think that K-Pop idols only emphasize physical attractiveness. It does not only take “good looks” to be an idol in K-Pop. Rather, one must be talented in several fields to be successful. Conclusion The debate over K-Pop is immense. Now that industry heavyweights have embraced K-Pop as a legitimate player, the new debate is identifying exactly how the genre has penetrated the masses. Focus is rightfully on “Gangnam Style”; however, this represents only the tip of the iceberg of K-Pop’s global influence. K-Pop is indeed influential, and the reason behind the achievements of the idols is not just purely because of their physical appearances. As PSY said, “I don’t call this success. I call this a phenomenon.” K-Pop will definitely continue to entrench itself as a bona fide global phenomenon. 29
WORKS CITED "2012 Music Show Winners." 2012. Kpop Lists. 8 November 2013 <http://kpoplists.com/post/17706119782>. Amelie. Conversation. Wesley Chai. 24 October 2013. Bell, Crystal. "Breaking & Entering: The Wonder Girls." 20 November 2009. Billboard. 8 November 2013 <http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/266640/breaking-entering-thewonder-girls>.>. Diane. Conversation. Wesley Chai. 24 October 2013. Dogg, Snoop. "Twitter / Snoop Dogg." 8 July 2012. Twitter. 26 October 2013 <https://twitter.com/SnoopDogg/status/221959943006330880>. Dunne, Andrew. "Korea: Cosmetic surgery capital of the world." 3 June 2013. Asian News Network. 26 October 2013 <http://www.asianewsnet.net/Korea-Cosmetic-surgerycapital-of-the-world-43627.html>. editorial. "Super Junior takes No.1 on Taiwanese chart 34 weeks straight." 25 January 2011. 10 Asia Korea Entertainment Media. 8 November 2013 <http://www.tenasia.com/archives/5870>. generaisa. "Wonder Girls." 17 September 2013. Generasia. 8 November 2013 <http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Wonder_Girls>. Girl'sGeneration. "Gee MV." 8 June 2009. YouTube. 8 November 2013 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7mPqycQ0tQ>. Gregory, Ashleigh. "The oversexualisation of Kpop." 17 August 2013. United Kpop. 8 November 2013 <http://unitedkpop.com/2013/08/17/editorial-the-oversexualisation-ofkpop/>. Henry. "Trap." 1st Mini Album: Trap. cond. NoizeBank. By Henry. 2013. Holzel, Carmody. "Mindfulness Practice Leads to Increases in Regional Brain Gray Matter Density ." Psychiatry Research (2010): 191. HuiShan. Conversation. Wesley Chai. 23 October 2013. "It's official: South Korea has world's highest rate of cosmetic plastic surgery, but..." 2010. Asian Plastic Surgery. 26 October 2013 <http://www.asianplasticsurgeryguide.com/news102/081003_south-korea-highest.html>. Jolene. Conversation. Wesley Chai. 24 October 2013.
Kirsty. Conversation. Wesley Chai. 23 October 2013. 30
Koko. Conversation. Wesley Chai. 23 October 2013. KoreaTourism. "K-Pop ." 2012. Official Site of Korea Tourism. 8 November 2013 <http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/CU/CU_EN_8_7_1_17.jsp>. Nung. Conversation. Wesley Chai. 8 November 2013. "Plastic Surgery Stats & Medical Tourists." 2011. Seoul Touch Up. 26 October 2013 <http://www.seoultouchup.com/korean-plastic-surgery-statistics-medical-tourists/>. PSY. "Gangnam Style MV." 15 July 2012. YouTube. 26 October 2013 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0>. QianYu. Conversation. Wesley Chai. 8 November 2013. SuperJunior. "Sorry Sorry MV." 7 June 2009. YouTube. 8 November 2013 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6QA3m58DQw>. WonderGirls. "Nobody MV." 14 December 2008. YouTube. 8 November 2013 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBn1e9pr2Q>.
Rebuilding Somalia (By Kyle Novy-Riley) On September 21, 2013, the Al-Shabaab terrorist organization attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and killed sixty-one civilians and six Kenyan police officers while wounding two-hundred individuals (BBC News). The Islamic terrorist organization attacked the mall in order to punish Kenya for its military involvement in Somalia (BBC News). The Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Somali governments were a part of Operation Linda Nchi, in which three nations worked cooperatively to rescue hostages (mainly tourists) from the Al-Shabaab (Tase). This mission ended with more than seventy dead terrorists, sixty-seven dead allied force soldiers, andabove all else-hostages rescued by the United States Navy Seals (Tase). The Westgate Mall shooting is a result of unresolved issues in Somalia. Constant civil war, human rights violations, and terrorism have been allowed to exist there for far too long. Awareness of civil unrest has been raised in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, and Syria. On the other hand, Somalia has been cast aside and forgotten. As one of the world’s nations with leading rates of poverty, famine, and war, Somalia deserves significantly more food, medicine, military, political, and economic aid from the United Nations. With such guidance and support, Somalis can create their own unique form of government that, in time, may be able to solve its own conflicts. The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization that upholds human rights, international law, and security. Somalia is a member of the UN and therefore not only deserves proper aid but reparations from UN members who participated in the detrimental slave trade. Beginning in the 1400’s and extending to the 1900’s, there were four major slave trade organizations. The Trans-Saharan, Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean Slave Trade involved North Africa, the Middle East, and India; the Atlantic Slave Trade involved the United States, Britain, and West Africa (Nunn). With the exclusion of the Atlantic Slave Trade, these trades were undocumented; however, historian Patrick Manning of the University of Pittsburgh states: “By 1850, Africa’s population was only half of what it would have been if the slave trade did not exist” (qtd. in Nunn). Moreover, Nathan Nunn of Harvard University states: “Innovation and progression is derived from the youths” (Nunn). When thousands of slaves are taken in a short period of time, innovation becomes stagnant. Approximately 32,277 citizens were taken from Somalia’s then-small population (Nunn). The smaller the population, the bigger impact the slave trade had on a nation’s innovation and subsequent success. With whole generations missing, immunities to diseases were less common. This caused a high death rate and even less innovation to occur (Nunn). As a result, educational progression began to dwindle, and new ideas were rarely proposed—ideas that may well have challenged the Somali culture and society to progress toward a structured and stable government. Slavery may have ended for Somalia in the late nineteenth century, but progress was yet again interrupted by foreign involvement. European nations, in the early twentieth century, began outsourcing their manufacturing to Somalia, taking advantage of this less educated, less industrialized nation. Italy, France, and the U. K. built industrial factories in Somalia, paid their workers extremely low wages, and trapped them in economic dependency, which would later send Somalia spiraling further into destabilization both economically and socially (Naleeye). 32
Western colonialism in Somalia did not allow the nation to become innovative, but rather t become more reliant on foreign economic leadership. Instead of industrializing, progressing agriculturally, and improving education, the nation ceased to progress and became completely reliant on its colonizers. When imperializing nations relinquished their colonies after World War II, Somalia was placed under UN trust territory until 1960 when the nation became independent (Naleeye). As a result of lack of help from outside leadership, colonizers, or the UN, the government collapsed within nine years. The recurrent collapse of Somali governments would continue until 2012, and an undeclared civil war for control of the government consumed the nation (Naleeye). Colonialism made Somalia dependent, and the UN gave Somalia too much independence. With a nonexistent government, a series of droughts which killed millions along with destroying agriculture, and poor economic conditions, Somalia was not receiving high revenue. This led to explosive civil unrest, and in 1991, Somalia declared its ongoing civil war (Shortland, et al.) The country, in the midst of chaos, splintered into several factions, each wanting to seize control of the government, the most powerful being the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab (Shortland, et al.) The atrocities in Somalia shook the international community, and on December 1992, twentyfour nations harmoniously collaborated on the successful mission of Operation Restore Hope (“Fact Sheet: Somalia” 1). The mission’s objective was to take back Somalia from the warlords who were withholding food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid from the people (“Fact Sheet: Somalia” 2). Operation Restore Hope is a great example of countries coming together as a global community to achieve a goal and bring stability to a nation in need, which is exactly what the UN was designed to do. However, everything changed after the Battle of Mogadishu, better known as Black Hawk Down, where a U.S. helicopter was shot down and three soldiers were killed. This resulted in the UN and the United States unofficially ending the operation (“Fact Sheet: Somalia” 3). The United States, acting alone, jeopardized the progress that Operation Restore Hope had accomplished. The hope that had been restored was soon diminished when the United States and the UN left the country and subsequently decreased their aid. Warlords, pirates, and terrorists quickly resumed their tyranny. In an effort to starve the terrorists, the United States—again acting alone—took extreme measures by imposing economic sanctions on Somalia (Perry, et al.) No U.S. exports or humanitarian aid were allowed to enter Somalia or its waters. As a result of the 2010 sanctions, 2.8 million Somalis suffered from famine, 29,000 children died of acute malnutrition while another 170,000 were diagnosed, and 100,000 died total; the true statistics are suspected to be much higher (Perry, et al.) The U.S. sanctions killed more innocent Somalis than terrorists did, and only temporarily pushed the terrorist groups back into the already terrorized Middle East. The Al-Shabaab returned to Somalia in 2012 with more numbers and a partnership with Al-Qaeda (BBC News). Terrorism expanded because the UN did not take correct, justified actions against Somali problems, while the United States took incorrect, unjustified actions. The UN was designed to provide checks and balances for the global community and must therefore be utilized as such. Currently, Kenya and Ethiopia conflict with one another over 33
border patrol and proper actions for handling violent conflicts in and around the borders of Somalia (Perry, et al.) The Somali borders have been seen significant violence due to immigration and terrorism (Tase). Miscommunication between nations is only prolonging the chaos and adding to the resentment of Somalis toward Kenyans and Ethiopians. To ensure a peaceful resolution, an objective mediator such as the UN is desperately needed (Tase). If there is no organization, Somalia may have potentially dangerous relations with its neighboring nations, which may escalate into more violence, such as what was seen with the Westgate Mall massacre (Perry, et al.). Therefore, there must be common understanding between the UN and other nations in order to have successful humanitarian operations and to preserve peace. When UN nations reach unity and can give food, medical, and military aid to Somalia, political and economic aid will come almost naturally. The current Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is a former professor with a Masterâ€™s degree in education from Bhopal University, founder of the Peace and Development Party, and a consultant to the UN during the ongoing Somali civil war. He was elected democratically; therefore, he is a qualified democratic leader (Kagame). What the UN can assist with is getting rid of the corruption that exists within the Somali government and building upon their current political system. As relations both within and outside the country calm down, the UN can assist Somalia with improving its economic policies. The best example of rebuilding African economies is the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Several years after the Rwandan genocide, the U.S. Congress passed the AGOA which allowed the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa to trade, subsequently reinforcing the economies of Sub-Saharan African nations (U.S. Dept. of Commerce). The AGOA dictates that Sub-Saharan nations must meet these requirements each year: labor rights, market-based economy, and certain quality control standards (U.S. Dept. of Commerce). The AGOA has proven to be effective. In 2012, the United States imported $49.7 billion from Sub-Saharan Africa and exported $22.5 billion to Sub-Saharan Africa; the numbers were even higher in 2011 (U.S. Dept. of Commerce). With the UN and the United States, Somalia can pool resources to create trade legislation similar to AGOA that the Somali UN representative can present at a UN submission. Since the legislation involves trade and politics, the United States will participate in the new trade agreement. More importantly, the fundamental feature of the legislation is that it gives Somalia an incentive to internally maintain security and democracy. It is not too late for Somalia. Although the country has endured the negative effects of colonialism, slavery, and civil war, there is still hope for the nation. As foreign involvements have contributed to Somaliaâ€™s destabilization, foreign aid can rebuild a nation said to have hosted the very first human society (Naleeye). Collectively, nations have taken, used, and abused Somalia. Now, under UN leadership, nations can collectively give, restore, and encourage Somalia. Through food, medicine, military, political, and economic aid from the United Nations, Somalia can be given a fair chance at peace, free trade, and democracy. Hope is the essential quality to progression and innovation. We cannot lose hope in Somalia. We must rebuild it. WORKS CITED BBC News. "Nairobi Siege: How the Attack Happened." BBC News. BBC, 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24189116>. 34
"Fact Sheet: Somalia—Operation Restore Hope." U.S. Department of State Dispatch. 21 Dec. 1992: 898. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Kagame, Paul. "TIME 100." TIME.com. CNN Money, 18 Apr. 2013. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. Naleeye, Ali E.H. "The Opinions Contained in This Article Are Solely Those of the Writer." The Qaranka. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. Nunn, Nathan. "Shackled to the Past: The Causes and Consequences of Africa’s Slave Trades." Natural Experiments of History, Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson, Eds. Harvard: Cambridge, MA, 2010. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Nunn, Nathan. "The Long-Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades." The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2008), 123(1). Web. 20 Nov. 2013. Perry, Alex, and Mohamed Dahir. "A Famine We Made?" Time. 5 Sept. 2011: 38-41. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Shortland, Anja, Katerina Christopoulou, and Charalampos Makatsoris. "War and Famine, Peace and Light? The Economic Dynamics of Conflict in Somalia, 1993–2009." Journal of Peace Research. Sept. 2013: 545-61. Print. "Somalia: Security Council Welcomes New UN Mission, Encourages Support for Somali-led Development Plan." UN News Center. 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Tase, Peter. "Terrorism, War and Conflict, an Analysis into the Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab in Somalia; US and UN Efforts to Reduce Violence." Academicus 2013: 27-35. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Census. "U.S. Trade with Sub-Saharan Africa, JanuaryDecember 2012." International Trade Administration. Department of Commerce, 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
The Reality of Geisha (By Yuri Suzumura) “Geisha is an artist of the Floating world. She dances, sings, entertains you, whatever you want. The rest is shadow, and the rest is secret.” –Memoirs of a Geisha (Film, 2005) If you try to describe what a geisha is, you find it is not easy at all. The main reason for this is that the media provides both accurate and inaccurate information about geisha in today’s society. Since the world in which geisha live changes all the time, and since they belong to a deeper part of Japanese culture which is not easily understood by Western audiences, many people are likely to accept general information about them without considering whether it is authentic or not. Watching Memoirs of a Geisha is one way in which foreigners acquire information about geisha. The film confuses the audience because it inaccurately represents geisha as slaves and prostitutes who do not have human rights. Janet R. Goodwin reviews a recent book on the topic of geisha: In [the] well-crafted book The Gei of Geisha: Music, Identity and Meaning, Kelly M. Foreman takes on the pervasive conception of Japanese as exploited erotic entertainers, and argues that the center of their professional lives is their dedication to traditional Japanese performing arts. (95) This stereotype of “exploited erotic entertainers” is clearly portrayed in the film Memoirs of a Geisha, also creating other misunderstandings for its audience. This movie is based on a book written by Arthur Golden and published in 1997. This film depicts a geisha’s life, the world geisha live in, Japanese society and history, and relations between Japan and the United States before and after World War II. Since the story presents beautiful, scenic pictures of Japan and is one of the most famous movies that tells the existence of geisha to the world, it is an impressive film as a whole. However, when focusing on the messages in this movie, it becomes clear that many questions and misconceptions arise from it because the director, Rob Marshall, either failed to provide clear information or did not do enough research on geisha. Filmmakers face many challenges regarding how to tell a story interestingly, clearly, and correctly in a limited amount of time. Because of these difficulties, some scenes just show pictures but do not explain anything, or just provide verbal descriptions but not visual ones. This happens in Memoirs of a Geisha. The film misrepresents what a geisha is because it uses an uncommon example of how a woman becomes a geisha, it implies visually that a geisha is a prostitute, and it paints Japanese women’s social status negatively. Actually, geisha are not slaves or prostitutes but are Japanese traditional artists who have clear, respected social status and who are well-educated in many different fields. When watching the film, the audience questions whether or not a geisha is a slave of the geisha house, called okiya. In addition, the audience may assume that geisha are not educated. In the movie, the main character, Chiyo, is sold by her parents when she is nine years old to help her family’s financial situation. Once a geisha becomes part of the okiya, the owner becomes her mother, “okaasan,” and other girls who live there become her sisters. Chiyo’s typical day 36
working at the okiya is to wash the floor, to fold kimonos, to brush shoes, to take buckets of water up and down stairs, to bring things to another okiya, and to clean. Technically, she has to do whatever her okaasan says. Her sister Pumpkin says,”If you impress Mother, and do exactly what she says, she will send you to school to be a geisha.” Therefore, Chiyo is allowed to go to a school where she can learn dance; however, at one point her okaasan stops letting her attend school because she pays so much money for the trouble Chiyo makes. Thus, she only works for her okaasan and okiya until an elder geisha, Mameha (from a different okiya), comes to take Chiyo to train (Marshall 2005). Since the next scenes depict Chiyo as a slave of her okiya, the audience may tend to believe a geisha’s childhood is like living as a victim of human trafficking. Yet girls whose parents traded them to the okiya for money were to become geisha, not slaves. John Gallagher, the author of Geisha: A Unique World of Tradition, Elegance, and Art, explains that some girls were actually sold to become geisha against their will in the early 20th century, exactly like Chiyo in the film: ”In the dismal past, many girls become geisha through no wish of their own. Their families could not afford to keep them and through that the flower-and-willow world (geisha world) was at least better than the alternatives” (138). Yet a major historical event explains why parents would do this to their daughters. The year 1929, the same year as Chiyo is sold in the film, was the year of the world economic crisis which negatively influenced not only American society but also other many countries, including Japan. Since families financially below the middle class could not afford to treat their children well, many girls were forced to work in a company, were forced to work as prostitutes, or were sold to geisha houses (Noda 62). Human trafficking was not officially regulated until 2005 in Japan (“Human Trafficking”). Therefore, it was possible that girls were traded between their families and an okiya. Because the film does not describe this historical background hidden within the plot, people easily assume that geisha are still treated as slaves. Nowadays, girls start their careers as geisha for many different reasons. Some become geisha because they are born into a family which has certain connections. Mineko Iwasaki is a geisha in Kyoto and said when she was interviewed by Arthur Golden: “I started my career very early. Events that happened when I was only three years old convinced me that it was what I was meant to do” (2). She was recruited by an owner of the Iwasaki geisha house as a successor of the house at the age of three and moved there when she was five. On the other hand, Gallagher mentions that girls still can become geisha even if they do not have any family connections: “These days it is quite normal for new recruits to arrive from perfectly humdrum middle-class families, simply because they are in love with the gorgeous geisha look, and want to give the lifestyle a try” (138). The alternatives for females have improved since early 20th century; girls now have more career choices. Therefore it is no longer a popular job, and only girls who are interested in Japanese art decide to be geisha. Although how Chiyo enters the geisha world represents Japanese society in the early 20th century, the film does not clearly show the processes a girl takes to become a geisha. Since in the film there are not many scenes in which Chiyo attends school, learns many kinds of Japanese art, or studies, audiences may believe that geisha are not educated. In reality, along with working for their okiya, girls are provided middle-school level education and learn Japanese 37
arts such as dance, shamisen (which is a Japanese musical instrument), percussion, and flutes. They are required to keep learning these arts even after they become geisha. Goodwin explains, ”Geisha spend from four to six hours a day in arts training, added to performing time in festivals and recitals” (95). Girls who are in this stage are called shikomi. They are normally under the age of sixteen and are forced “to acclimatize [themselves] to the rhythms of hanamachi [towns where geisha live] life” by living in the Japanese traditional style room, wearing kimono every day, and speaking in Japanese, which has a strong Kyoto dialect (Gallagher 140). Around the age of sixteen, they go through a ceremony called “san-san-kudo,” which turns shikomi into maiko. Maiko is still a trainee, but she is closer to a geisha. She learns geisha appearance by wearing fancier kimono called ohikizuri, putting on white makeup called “shironuri,” and wearing a unique hairstyle called “wareshinobu,” which is hair wrapped around a red silk ribbon. In addition, she is allowed to participate in geisha parties because the main job of a maiko is to learn what geisha do in parties. She experiences what she cannot learn from her school or textbooks here (Gallagher 143-155). Obviously, there are many steps to take to become a geisha. Geisha are given many more opportunities to be more educated in both general and in Japanese cultural education than many normal girls. This shows that in order to make the storyline more interesting, the movie does not show what a girl actually has to do to become a geisha but instead portrays her simply as a prostitute. The definition of a prostitute is “a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money” (CITE). Around the time of World War II in Japan, prostitution was described as “a persistent practice found in every society, about which a wide range of reasonable views is possible” (Cunningham 37). Since these explanations are vague, the translation of geisha seems to fit. However, geisha are not prostitutes. Goodwin believes “geisha need to be seen as artists rather than erotic entertainers, and that in modern times at least, they are not forced into the profession but choose it for artistic reasons” (96). The film Memoirs of a Geisha causes misunderstandings about this issue, and there are three reasons for it: the ways that the film shows and creates sexual scenes, the way it leaves out key details about sexual scenes, and its lack of clarity about changes in the geisha world due to historical events. In the beginning of the movie, Chiyo’s older sister, Hatsumomo, the most famous geisha before Chiyo, kisses her boyfriend and has sex with him. The movie does not describe who the guy is, how they met, whether it is even a real relationship or not, and so on. Furthermore, it does not explain enough about relationships. According to the film, geisha are not supposed to have a boyfriend or have sex. Why are they not allowed to even get married? Geisha are expected by tradition to be single. Gallagher explains, “A married geisha would indeed be a contradiction in terms,” because the role of geisha is radically different from the role of wives (171). He provides examples of these two differences: “Where a wife is modest, a geisha is risqué. A wife is socially reticent; a geisha is witty and talkative. If a wife lacks romantic or sensuous appeal, a geisha has a certain sexual allure and can be an object of fantasy. The wife is devoted to her home and family. A geisha has no such ties” (171). This passage tells us that geisha are not allowed to be in love because being in a relationship has a close sense of devotion to a family. Also, customers enjoy being served by geisha because they know geisha 38
are not involved with any men. Therefore, staying single is essential for geisha. This shows you that the movie provides too many sexual scenes to be a realistic portrayal. In addition, the movie presents a scene where Chiyo and her sisters take a bath with their Japanese customers and American soldiers when World War II finishes. During World War II, Chiyo is in Osaka and working in a company, not as a geisha. However, when the job is finished, she is requested to work as a geisha again by her customer who devotes a lot of money to her. He asks her because he wants her to entertain American soldiers and give them a Japanese cultural experience. Therefore, she decides to serve them as a geisha, and they all go to a place where they can enjoy taking a bath and having food. As part of this entertainment, Chiyo, Pumpkin, and her older sister, Mameha (all of them being geisha), take a bath and drink alcohol with their customers. At the end of the bath scene, Chiyo talks to one of the American soldiers, and he demands to have sex with her: “What is the protocol? I want to see you in private,” followed by asking how much she charges. Although she initially rejects him, she does have sex with him. However, she only agrees because she wants to use him to refuse the Japanese customer’s proposal. This scene misrepresents geisha as prostitutes even though the film actually tells us that having sex was not part of her job. Since Chiyo does not have romantic sex with a partner, it is possible for the audience to think that she is a prostitute. Also, this scene visually gives you the sense of prostitution because the audience might tend to focus on the sex scene and forget Chiyo’s motives for having sex in the first place (Marshall 2005). Another problem is that the film does not describe this situation any further. The second suggestion that geisha are prostitutes comes from film’s omission of details of the geisha sexual ritual, mizuage. The movie tells us that Chiyo can be a real geisha by doing this ritual and losing her virginity. Chiyo’s mother, the okiya owner, says to her, “You are a full geisha now” after the practice is over; however, the film confuses its audience because it makes the ritual seem like she is losing her virginity for money. The person who pays the most is the chosen partner of Chiyo’s mizuage ritual. Although geisha do the same as what prostitutes do— receive money and have sex—prostitutes do not view sex as a tradition in the same way as geisha do. Furthermore, geisha do not continue having sex after this ritual. The film does not explain enough about this ritual and merely shows the scene. What does mizuage mean? Why does such a practice exist in the geisha world? As the movie briefly introduces, the mizuage ritual is the important step of being a real geisha. Gallagher provides an explanation: “For an apprentice geisha to become fully qualified, she had to lose her virginity to her patron (dannna), if she had one. If not, the task fell to the highest bidder, who became her mizuage dannna, or patron for the purpose of deflowering” (24-25). A patron (dannna) is a person who financially supports and takes care of a geisha. Even though dannna means “husband” in modern Japanese, dannna does not have such meaning in the geisha world (“geiko”). Since it is an official practice, it is not just normal sex. Lisa Dalby, who studied geisha by actually being trained as one, provides one conversation which she had with her guest: “This mizu-age patron was something like a male honeybee, you know. After his initial function was served, he had no further relation with the lady” (109). If geisha were prostitutes, they would repeatedly have sex with the same person because the patron is the one who pays her the highest amount of money. This ritual is far from that. Dalby explains, 39
“Mizuage used to take seven days. The okasan of a girl’s house would choose the man who would have the privilege. … Not a young man – a young man would be too rough. It should be an older gentleman with money and sincerity” (Dalby 109). If the ritual involved just regular sex, geisha would have sex with anyone, and it would not be only for a night. Although it sounds strange as an official practice because it relates to a sexual practice, mizuage is a special kind of ceremony. Thirdly, the film does not clearly mention the historical context which brought about changes in the geishas’ world. Dalby states that “the geisha world has been affected by every one of [many Japanese] social changes” (Dalby “Modern Geisha” 29). Even though the film concentrates more on the geisha’s world, you see how the Japanese society changed because of the war. In the film, Chiyo’s older sister Pumpkin does something which confuses the audience: She becomes a geisha earlier than Chiyo does. However, since Chiyo becomes more popular and sophisticated than Pumpkin, Pumpkin is not treated well by their okaasan. When World War II starts, everyone living in a hanamachi, the geisha town in Kyoto, has to leave for safer places. Although Chiyo is saved by her customer, the film does not mention anything about Pumpkin, such as where she is sent or who takes care of her. The atmosphere of hanamachi is changed by American soldiers after the war. The majority of customers are American soldiers, and many influences from the United States such as bars, games, and fashion are adopted there. Even though geisha still live there, their style has totally changed. They wear kimono more casually, and they no longer put on a geisha’s unique white makeup. Also, they do not entertain their customers by their skills in the arts, but they play games in addition to serving soldiers at a place with drinking and loud pop music. They seem to have more physical interaction with their customers. Without explaining the significance of these dramatic changes in style and morals of the geisha, Pumpkin suddenly appears in one of these houses, playing the role of the new style of geisha (Marshall 2005). Pumpkin further misleads an audience into thinking that geisha are prostitutes. However, we cannot say that there were no geisha who were like Pumpkin because some geisha also provided sexual performances. William Johnston explains in Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star: A Woman, Sex, and Morality in Modern Japan: By the beginning of the twentieth century, this had become a generic term that included any number of women who entertained men for a living. Some knew barely a smattering of the more sophisticated skills but could perhaps play a few lines on the shamisen and sing a little. They were the lowest rank of geisha, frequently were little more than prostitutes. (40) However, this does not mean every single geisha was a prostitute. As Johnston says, this generic term included any number of women who entertained men for a living. In the Edo era from 1600 to 1867, prostitution was legal if females had a license. The government required everything salacious to be licensed and controlled, and geisha was one of them (Dalby, Geisha 54, 57). Females who engaged in prostitution were called yujyo. Even though they looked similar to geisha because they wore kimono and white makeup, they were not the same as geisha. Geisha were females who were supposed to sell their skills with arts and 40
entertain guests without sexual performances because they were prohibited from having sex with their customers. Therefore, prostitution had a stronger relationship with yujyo than with geisha. In 1790 the population of both geisha and yujyo increased because the government permitted four major cities in Kyoto to have brothels, and these cities were approved to employ geisha as entertainers (Dalby, Geisha 58). In 1868, the government tried to change the legal prostitution system by “liberat[ing] all prostitutes and geisha from their debts and allow[ing] them to return to their homes,” because many of them worked to support their families financially. However, many of them decided to stay in the industry, so nothing really changed (Johnston 39, 42). These events had happened before Chiyo in the film goes into the geisha world. Since the 1920s, the methods changed by which geisha built their social positions and how other people recognized them. Geisha adjusted their lifestyle to survive according to shifts in society. From the 1920s, however, they no longer tried to keep themselves up with society. Dalby says that “geisha successfully transformed themselves from being society’s fashion leaders to being curators of traditional Japanese modes” (“Modern Geisha” 29). Even though they still needed to be licensed, they were not required to go through medical examinations for syphilis as yujyo were (Johnston 39). This implies that geisha were not officially considered as prostitutes, and since this is during Chiyo’s time period, she would not have been considered one either. Of course, not every geisha followed the rule that they should not engage in sex with their customers to earn more money. In fact, geisha who provided sexual performances were considered a lower rank of geisha and less were valued because they did not have the sophisticated skills which geisha are required to have. As Johnson points out, “Men tended to be less respectful toward geisha who charge low rates, which implies that their main skill was sexual” (40). Geisha continued to work until the end of World War II. After Japan was defeated in August 1946, geisha houses were allowed to reopen in October of the same year (Dalby, Geisha 93). Geisha then had to decide whether they would adjust to Western culture or not. In the movie, it appears that they decided to be westernized, due to the scenes seen with Pumpkin. In reality, most geisha decided to keep their traditional styles. According to Dalby, “The image of the geisha was formed during Japan’s feudal past, and this is now the image they must keep in order to remain geisha” (Dalby “Geisha” 93). Although today’s geisha world is not as big as it used to be, it still exists, and they have the important role of protecting Japanese traditions, as detailed here: “A few [maiko] will commit their adult lives to this world as well, dedicating themselves to the traditional performing arts, upholding the geisha heritage of exquisite service” (Dalby, Geisha 32). These changes in the geisha world reveal that the film portrays geisha without giving the audience any cultural or historical background information. Therefore, the film confuses the audience’s conception of geisha, especially concerning geisha and prostitution. Aside from often not explaining what happens during movie scenes, the film uses words or sentences that give inaccurate ideas, particularly that geisha do not have the same freedoms that other women do. In the movie, the theme of freedom comes up several times. In the beginning of 41
the story, Chiyo is sold by her parents without being asked, and she is forced to be a geisha. She has to do whatever she is told by her okaasan and her sisters. She is harshly punished by her okaasan when she does something against okaasan’s considerations. Mameha, Chiyo’s older sister and also a teacher, tells her, “We become geisha because we have no choice,” when Chiyo is proposed to by one of her customers, Nobu. With these examples, the audience believes that geisha do not have human rights due to all their restrictions. Dalby claims that most women who entered the geisha world did so because they would actually have more freedom than wives: “Geisha and wives view each other from opposite sides of these lines” (Dalby Geisha 169). Historically, wives were normally responsible for their family and kids, and they were not allowed to interfere with their husbands’ social businesses. Therefore, they did not have knowledge about the outside world that they could discuss with their husbands and husbands’ colleagues. Confirming this, Dalby recalls, “I was reminded of a comment by a professor of religion I had met the week before . . . ‘Japanese wives are generally uninteresting… they are so confined to the home that they can’t talk about anything. We have a real need in Japan for women who can interact with men socially” (Dalby Geisha 141). This is the reason why geisha exist. They obviously do not have any responsibility for family because they are not married. Geisha are the ones who participate in men’s conversations because they know many things in different fields. They are not only professionals of Japanese traditions and arts, but also they know about society and businesses (Dalby Geisha 169-171). If we focus on physical rights, other women generally have more freedom than geisha because they have fewer prohibitions. However, wives were traditionally required to separate from society and stay in their houses to protect their families. On the other hand, even though geisha have many rules and are not allowed to be in love or get married, they have more freedom to learn many different kinds of things and improve their knowledge and skills by interacting with their male customers. In other words, geisha held a certain social status in the male-dominant society during the early 20th century. Nowadays, females have started to pursue higher education and contribute to society. However, this is a recent trend. The film depicts only the surface of geisha rights, and it does not mention the deeper aspect of them. Thus, the movie misrepresents the actual situation because it does not put effort into explaining what is happening in the scenes. The biggest point of confusion in Memoirs of a Geisha is that geisha are slaves and prostitutes without freedom. The film inaccurately portrays geisha, their jobs, and their roles in Japanese society because it does not provide enough explanation. People unfamiliar with geisha may believe the film because it is one of the only general sources on the topic. Geisha are not easy to explain because they have complicated features, and their world is always changing. Therefore, you cannot provide one specific definition of geisha. There is one fact that never changed: geisha are Japanese entertainers who have sophisticated skills of arts. They are neither slaves nor prostitutes. They are professionals in Japanese arts, and they are the ones who have held social status even when women were excluded from the society. All in all, though the film Memoirs of a Geisha provides its audience with the beauty of geisha as part of the Japanese culture, it also misrepresents the reality of who the geisha actually are.
WORKS CITED Cunningham, Philip. “Maverick Japanese Mayor Confuses Prostitution with Sex Slavery.” Chinese American Forum – Volume XXIX, No.1 (2013): 36-37. South China Morning Post. Web. 20 May 2013. Dalby, Liza. Geisha. California: University of California Press, Ltd., 1983. Print. Dalby, Liza. "Modern Geisha - Deepening As They Fade." Harvard Asia Pacific Review 10.1 (2009): 29-32. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. Gallagher, John. Geisha: A Unique World of Tradition, Elegance, and Art. London: PRC Publishing Ltd., 2003. Print. “Geisha. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. Goodwin, Janet R. Rev. of The Gei of Geisha: Music, Identity and Meaning. SOAS Musicology Series. 2008: xiv -158. Print. “Human Trafficking.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2013 Iwasaki, Mineko. Geisha: A Life. New York: Washington Square Press, 2002. Print. Johnston, William. “Geisha and Prostitute.” Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star: A Woman, Sex, and Morality in Modern Japan. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. 37-42. Print. Marshall, Rob, dir. Memoirs of a Geisha. Perf. Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Gong Li, and Michelle Yeoh. RKO, 2005. Film. Noda, Michiko. “Rural Home Economics Education under the Wartime Structure – At Horaiji Girls’ School of Home Economics.” Aichi Kyoiku University (1987): 61-66. Print.
The Benefits of the Indian Space Program (By Pouriya Mosadegh) India recently launched its first mission to Mars. This is the sixth space program—behind the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and China space programs—to launch a Mars mission. Although India is by far the poorest of the six space programs, it has managed to keep up with its wealthier counterparts. Due to India’s high rate of poverty, it is easy to question why the country spends millions on its space program rather than allocating those funds to social welfare programs. In fact, a recent report estimated that 400 million—33%--of the world’s poorest 1.2 billion people live in India (World Bank). Despite how much it costs, the space program is a wise investment because it not only fosters important progress in space discoveries, it inadvertently helps India’s rural population as well as a welfare program could. To better understand India’s reasoning behind the recent Mars mission, its cost should be compared to the country’s welfare budget. It was estimated that India spent $20 billion to provide subsidized food to two-thirds of its citizens in 2013 (Subramanian). In addition, the country spent an estimated $5.3 billion on rural employment endeavors (Subramanian). However, the recent Mars mission only cost $73 million (Asokan). Recently, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has seen an increase of its annual budget to $1.3 million (“India Steps Up”). In comparison, India’s space program costs are equivalent to about five percent of the above-mentioned welfare spending. The ISRO, India’s equivalent to NASA, is not just cheap when compared to India’s welfare programs; its budget is one-tenth of NASA’s budget (Asokan). Not only is the ISRO’s budget a fraction of India’s welfare expenditures, but the program itself has helped to improve the lives of the country’s poor. Although disasters impact the lives of all who experience them, they generally have a greater impact on the lives of the poor, especially in rural areas. One example of the program’s positive effects on the lives of the impoverished in India is the use of satellite technology in disaster response. India has integrated Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), which are technologies such as satellite phones, internet, and television, in its disaster management plan (Srivastava). India is using ICTs to collect and collate information on resources available in the country for emergency response and to enhance the decision-making capabilities of government functionaries in quick response to emergencies (Srivastava). India’s government is also using satellites to observe disaster-related phenomena, their impacts, and associated vulnerabilities (Srivastava). Since space technology gives the ability to produce and disseminate information on a real or nearly real-time basis, it is a boon in disaster relief efforts. Additionally, the weather satellites launched by the ISRO have helped to build predictive models that can be used to prevent loss of life before a storm hits (Subramanian). India’s space technology benefits are not simply limited to disaster relief and weather prediction. Another tangible social benefit of the satellite technology is its use in agricultural season models to help maximize crop yields (Jha). Thus, the technology helps lower the cost of food for the people of India. The ISRO has also commercialized its space capabilities through the creation of Antrix Corporation (Srivastava). The corporation has allowed India to develop its own satellite television channels. Therefore, people who live in rural communities where antenna signals are too far to reach can now watch local and international television, bringing entertainment and better access to news and emergency information. This television technology can also be used for educating children in rural schools. 44
The Antrix Corporation has developed satellite internet service (Srivastava), a technology that is very useful in helping to modernize the education offered in rural Indian schools. Rural children who have had a modern education are better qualified for urban jobs. Thus, commercial satellite technology has the added benefit of helping to modernize a greater percentage of India’s future work force. The space program has also helped shape India’s future in an unexpected way. During its infancy in the 1960’s, the formation of the ISRO created a need for higher technology in India. At that time it was thought that the space program could inspire young Indians to pursue careers in science and technology. It was also believed that the development of space technology could spur the growth of stagnant societies and their economies. From the 1990’s and into today, this supposition has proven to be true: India’s economy has vastly improved due to the development of marketable higher technology (Jha). This need for higher technology also caused the creation of several engineering firms and other companies that manufacture space technology (Jha). Having more technology-based businesses creates a demand for qualified employees, and that inspired more Indians to study engineering and other sciences to acquire those jobs. These future scientists and engineers may not have been directly inspired to choose these fields by the ISRO, but the creation of the ISRO was the reason those jobs they seek exist today. For example, in order to build the recent Mars probe, “two-thirds of the parts for the Indian probe and rocket were made by domestic firms like Larsen & Toubro, the country's largest engineering firm, Godrej & Boyce, and state plane-maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.” (Asokan). These companies exist due to the ISRO’s demand for space technology, and they have provided secure jobs for thousands of Indian citizens. The ISRO has also inspired pride from the citizens of India with its recent historic achievements. Not only has India launched a Mars mission, but the ISRO was responsible for the discovery of water on the moon. NASA’s Apollo missions brought back a total of 382 kilograms of lunar material to Earth for analysis. Since then, scientists operated under the presumption that the moon was entirely dry. However, on October 22, 2008, Chandrayaan-1 was launched on a lunar mission by the ISRO to search for water. On November 14, the Moon Impact Probe became the first Indian-built object to reach the surface of the Moon. The probe was a 34-kilogram boxshaped object containing a video image system, radar altimeter, and Chandra’s Altitudinal Composition Explorer (CHACE) mass spectrometer. On that day, Indian scientists established that the dominant species of the tenuous sunlit lunar atmosphere were H2O, N2 and CO2 (Orrman-Rossiter). The ISRO is also helping to improve the lives of diabetics among its rural populations. India has an estimated 62 million diabetics, and they are frequently diagnosed in rural villages that do not have local physicians to treat the population (Navi & Prabhu). World-renowned diabetes expert Dr. V. Mohan, along with other urban doctors, has begun using mobile medical services to provide care to Southern India’s rural populations. Furthermore, local technicians operate vans that are equipped with telemedicine technologies, which transmit diagnostic tests via satellite uplink to doctors in their home offices. The doctors can also video conference with rural patients who would normally have to travel great distances to see a doctor. Dr. Mohan has partnered with the ISRO, which provides the doctor with free satellite communication in areas where there 45
are no mobile or wireless services. This partnership allows Dr. Mohan to provide cost-effective care to the poor rural populations in southern India (Navi & Prabhu). In conclusion, the numerous benefits of the Indian space program far outweigh the costs. The Indian Space Research Organization has helped to fuel the imagination of young Indians. It has inspired innovation within the government and the private sector. The ISRO has helped to propel India into the 21st century by creating jobs in the modern technology fields. The ISRO has achieved so much with just a fraction of the budget of the other leading world space programs. WORKS CITED Asokan, Shymantha. “Small Steps to Mars are a Big Leap for Indian Companies.” Reuters. 9 Dec. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. Jha, Raghbendra. The First Ten KR Narayanan Orations: Essays by Eminent Persons on the Rapidly Transforming Indian Economy. Canberra: ANU E Press, 2006. Print. Navi, Radjou, and Jaideep Prabhu. Jugaad Innovation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012 Print. Orrman-Rossiter, Kevin. “Who Found the Water on the Moon?” Australian Science. 26 March 2012. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. “India Steps Up Space Program with Big Budget, Bigger Satellites and a Leap to Mars.” RT. 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. Srivastava, S. K. “Making a Technological Choice for Disaster Management and Poverty Alleviation in India.” Disasters, 33.1 (2009): 58-81. Subramanian, Samanth. “India’s Frugal Mission to Mars.” The New Yorker. 8 Nov. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2013. World Bank Staff. “The State of the Poor: Where are the Poor and Where are They Poorest?” PREM. 17 Apr. 2013. PDF. 26 Nov. 2013.
Japanese Capitalism Disguised as Egalitarianism (By Makai Lawson) The Japanese Miracle, which lasted up into the 1990’s, propelled Japan into becoming the second biggest economy in the world. Its end became a huge economic concern for the Japanese people; thus, the handling of this has become one of the key political issues in modern Japan. One of the solutions envisioned by the current Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe is to encourage further female participation in the work force. For many Americans it may be unfathomable to think that the world’s third-largest economy is predominately operated by males. After all, America has not been made up of predominantly single-income families since the 1950s. Having more women in the Japanese work force would boost the economy in terms of sheer numbers of people working and, with an extensive education system for both males and females, it would increase skilled labor. Taking that into consideration, in a capitalist-oriented world, not having women in the work force is obviously a bad thing, right? Right? The answer to this question may seem like a simple one. According to an article in The Economist, “Goldman Sachs estimates that if Japan made better use of its educated women, it would add 8.2 million brains to the work force and expand the economy by 15%” (“Land” 2). This leads to the initial assumption that, statistically at least, adding women to the work force would be a great benefit. However, this is short-sighted, as it does not consider the impacts that this will have on other aspects of Japanese society. To understand how something that, on the surface, seems like such a surefire way to improve the Japanese economy, it must be examined from four different aspects. First, the issue and proposed problem that needs solving—economic slowing and unemployment—must be examined by looking at the Japanese terminology for talking about low employment, for both men and women. Before fleshing out how the Japanese government plans to solve this problem through the inclusion of women in the work force, we must understand how this problem has evolved and been solved in other countries, namely the United States. There are many different facets to the current Japanese government’s policy plans, but one of the most important is its support for women in the work force. This leads to the ultimate underlying question: whether increased female employment is economically and socially beneficial for both the state and the family. There are three main types of domestic women: mothers, homemakers, and rural housewives. Ultimately, it will become clear that the modern capitalist idea, as that which evolved in America with two-income families, is not the only viable way to have a strong economy. In addition, it will be realized that this family structure may actually be hurting the future of relationships in the developed world, as well as reducing the level and quality of child rearing that our children receive. After the Japanese Miracle ended in the 1990’s, the Japanese economy went through several years of market fluctuations. During this time, economists and government agencies started to notice that there was a large increase in three different types of “non-workers.” These nonworkers were generally categorized under the terms hikikomori, furita, and NEET. It is worth noting that these are not considered the same as the unemployed, meaning there are even more Japanese people/citizens who are unemployed but actually looking for work. The Japanese 47
Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare defines the first of the three, hikikomori, which literally means “pulling inward,” as “people who refuse to leave their houses and isolate themselves for a period exceeding six months” (Itou). The Ministry of Health estimated that there were between 700,000 and 3,600,000 hikikomori in Japan in 2010. The second term, NEET, stands for “Not in Education, Employment, or Training.” This differs from unemployed persons, as the unemployed are actively searching for a job through various Japanese agencies such as Hello Work. These NEETs are generally regarded as having given up on finding a job or acquiring new skills to make them more eligible for employment. Different government agencies and researchers have estimated that there have been between 400,000 and 3,600,000 NEETs in Japan over the past decade (Toivonen 414). Many NEETs and hikikomori, due to the lack of a job, still live with and are supported by their parents. They typically are anywhere between their early twenties to mid-thirties. This will become even more of a problem soon due to the greying of the Japanese society; when the NEETs’ and hikikomori’s parents retire, they will no longer be able to support their children as they do now. The last category of non-workers in Japan, furita, is by far the least despised by the general Japanese public. Furita are persons who hold part-time jobs and may frequently switch from job to job. Many of the furita are post-graduation college students who have yet to successfully enter the corporate Japanese job market. Even though they are still likely striking out for a job, many professionals view them as a drain on society as they do not have long-term, stable jobs. With all of these different classifications, it would seem impossible that there could be people who have been left out of the Japanese government’s different calculations. The problem is that these people are often categorized through surveys. When it comes to women, there is a “contention that many female survey respondents [for NEET surveys] preferred to say they were ‘engaged in housework’ when they really were ‘out of work’” (Toivonen 413). Therefore, the question that we must ask is how many of them are actually—truly—engaged in housework. In America, we started out much like Japan: as single-income families. In the 1950s women started to desire to, and be hired for, part-time jobs: “At that time, only one-third of women had paid jobs compared to two-thirds now (“A Guide” 1). Given the advent of new technologies and increased access to products, women desired a disposable income to spend on themselves and their families. This was largely due to extensive marketing that targeted women who were at home watching television. Additionally, to power this new retail machine, more help was needed. At the time, most women were poorly qualified to work any of the semi-skilled or skilled jobs occupied by men, so it was easy for these companies to pay them a substantially smaller amount than a man was. As these women became more comfortable with working outside of the home and became better educated, they realized that they were being treated unfairly, which led to women’s rights movements in the 1960’s. Even after these rights movements, which brought about increases in wages, women in America still earn 77% of a man’s salary (United States Census Bureau). Even with the participation rates by women in America’s work force today, if they were to reach an equal level with men it would boost the American GDP by 5% (Aguirre, Hoteit, and et al 2).
These actions have led to the typical dual-income families that exist today in America. From a statistical standpoint this has vastly improved America’s economy over the years. According to the McKinsey management consulting firm, “Between 1970 and 2009, women [in the US] went from holding 37% of all jobs to nearly 48%. …Without them, our economy would be 25% smaller today” (Barsh & Yee 4). This has given America a seemingly better economy due to the sheer amount of people in the work force earning a paycheck. Interestingly, in that same time period, men’s employment in the work force decreased by 12%, to 77%. One of the main problems with this type of employment shift is that the division of unpaid housework has not changed. Although machines and automation have lessened the amount of time needed to do housework, women still have the burden of most of the housework and child rearing in America. According to The Economist, “In developed economies, women produce just under 40% of official GDP. But if the work of housework is added, then women probably produce slightly more than half of total output” (A Guide 2). This shows that even as the amount of female participation in the work force equalizes, the burden of unpaid housework is still being placed on the women, though the husband and wife may make the same amount of money. This problem is not one that the Japanese government has seen fit to worry about yet, but rather just how to stimulate women to start working outside the home. Their focus is on the potential expansion of 15% to their GDP if this labor pool participates in the economy. In Japan, as the worries about unemployment, hikikomori, furita, and NEETs reached a fevered intensity, the citizens of Japan began to view their existence as a problem, calling on the government to fix it. Unfortunately, this call for change came at a time when the Japanese government was ill-prepared to address these concerns. From 2005 to 2012, there were eight different prime ministers, most of whom resigned due to dismal approval ratings. When Shinzo Abe was elected as the Prime Minister of Japan in December 2012, he quickly realized that the ailing economy was in need of revitalization. He also recognized that if he did not take aggressive measures to fix the economy, he would quickly become a disgraced former Prime Minister, just as those who came before him. To revitalize the economy, Abe came up with the “Japan is Back” strategy. It is comprised of three main pillars: Industry Revitalization, Strategic Market Creation, and Global Outreach (New Year Party). One of the key points inside the first pillar, Industrial Revitalization, is to promote active participation in the work force by women. The Japanese government’s final aim is to attain “73% of employment rate for women aged between 25 and 44 in 2020” (Japan Revitalization 44). They plan to accomplish this by increasing the number of women who serve as executive officers, developing a work environment where it is easier to take childcare leave, re-educating mothers who are returning from a child-rearing hiatus, and eliminating the waiting list and high prices for childcare. However, there are many different problems with the current state of the government’s plans. One of the changes Japan is looking to make is to increase the number of female executive officers. To do this, the government is planning to “encourage a listing company to appoint at least one woman to an executive officer [position]” (Japan Revitalization 45), which is not a strong enough stand to truly change much. As of 2006, women in Japan accounted for a mere 1% 49
of directors on corporate boards, compared with 15% in America and 7% globally (“A Guide” 3). Although this initiative is a step in the right direction, at least in the near term, it may be more effective to mandate by law that many companies include at least one woman on their executive team as opposed to “encouraging" it because gender roles in Japan, as a whole, favor men in the workplace and women in the home. This mandate would have to continue until such a time that women enjoy the same participation opportunities that men do on executive boards without a government mandate. This patriarchal society is one that that has been present for almost all of Japan’s existence. Patriarchal societies are common in the developing world, and were quite common in the developed world in the past. However, compared to the other modern developed world countries, Japan is severely lacking in the area of women’s equality. To solve this, Japan must reduce its dependence on gender roles. Unfortunately, this is a much, much harder task to accomplish than it is to state. Although the amount of gender egalitarianism is increasing, with younger women feeling less tied down by gender roles, there is still a glaring lack of women in powerful corporate and government positions in Japan. An excellent illustration of this is the 2007 survey conducted by two Japanese psychologists to determine the difference in thought patterns between Japanese men and women. In their survey, they found that “men showed more concern than women to the ‘principle of traits of men and women’ in the home setting” (Matsui and Ui 419). They also found that women gave more consideration than men towards work being divided based on factors such as desire to take on a task, an individual’s strength in the task, and a discussion of who should complete the task. Men on the other hand, typically responded that roles should be divided based on gender-specific strengths and characteristics (Matsui and Ui 419). These results show how there are many enduring issues in regards to the importance of gender roles on the Japanese society. It makes it clear that men in Japan are still insistent that there are many things that men can do that women cannot, and vice-versa. A common outcome of this gender stereotyping exists around the world with most men not participating in the housework, and this is often not seen as odd or a problem. There are a very limited number of countries in the world who have made substantial gains in that area. Most that have are Nordic countries. According to a sociology expert who focuses on the connections between gender, work and family, using a social and economic model termed the “Nordic model”: “They’ve incorporated men into the home. They have very strong policies that bring men in as fathers and finally they’ve accepted and embraced the notion that families are part of larger communities and good childcare makes it possible for women and men to gain more equality in their lives” (Gerson). As the study by Matsui and Ui suggests, the problem goes both ways, in which women are viewed as supposed to be in the house and men are supposed to be at the workplace—although both of those are stereotypes that holding both genders back. The problem with the Japanese government’s plan is that it completely ignores this issue. Arguably the most actionable focus they have is on providing laws to promote female participation in the work force by creating more opportunities in the areas of childcare. Although this is a needed addition, it still enforces 50
the idea that the only way that women can get into the work force is by leaving their child with a stranger. A more rational arrangement would be for women to leave their child with their husband, parent, or godparent while they are at work. In a study conducted involving Japanese and Chinese mothers on child care values, Japanese parents believed that “child-care should be provided domestically” and this belief was “commonly accepted among Japanese women” due to gender roles (Lui & Mori, et al, 25). Another issue ignored is the way that Japanese corporate culture has evolved: “Under the Japanese model, implicit contracts with workers are respected, giving rise to norms that are characterized as ‘lifelong employment’.” However, “in the past five years … the first real wave of labor shedding” has occurred (Nakahigashi & Sarra 337). Due to the semi-mandatory time commitments that are necessary in most corporate jobs, staff are “under pressure to stay late, regardless of whether they have work to do: nearly 80% of Japanese men get home after 7 pm, and many attend semi-compulsory drinking binges in hostess bars until the small hours” (“Land” 2). Even though many companies claim to have policies that allow for flextime, “66% of highly educated Japanese women who quit their jobs say they would not have done so if their employers had allowed flexible working arrangements” (“Land” 2). These problems show how hard it is to get home and have a valuable relationship with your spouse and/or children if you are a Japanese salary (wo)man. This is strong evidence supporting the idea that women are being held back from achieving certain positions because of a lack of gender egalitarianism. That is not to say, however, that all women agree that women need to be placed into the work force to create a more gender-egalitarian environment. That being said, there is still the issue of an ailing Japanese economy, and a surplus of nonworking women can be utilized. However, these women are often engaged in work that is not directly paid. As The Economist accurately states, “Besides formal employment, women have always worked in the home, looking after children, cleaning or cooking, but because this is unpaid, it is not counted in the official statistics” (“A Guide” 2). These types of women are not viewed as workers because the international community looks at them through a capitalist lens. Capitalism typically dictates that both members of the family should participate in the corporate work force. It does not look at the issue of sustained economic growth as a decades-long issue, but rather one that can be immediately improved, increasing profits and income (GDP) in the short term. With that ideal in mind, governments want all families to be dual-income, but this has nothing to do with improving their lives. It has to do with creating more money for the family to spend on non-essentials, thus driving profits even higher, further fueling the capitalist machine. Most women who are engaged in purely unpaid work are living their lives knowing that they can depend on their partners, much like their partners depend on them. This may make them feel calm and confident that they do not have to worry about money and can live a happy simple life, focused on things such as creating a happy household and raising intelligent, successful children. In many cases women who desire to be housewives may actually be helping Japan’s economy and future more by being housewives or mothers rather than by being in the work force. There 51
are three major types of women who fall into this category. The first is the mother. Many modern feminists, one example of whom is the Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, argue that a woman who has an advanced degree is wasting her time and talent on raising a child (Hardy). Yet this is a short-sighted idea, as her excellent training will mean that she will be even more knowledgeable and better able to raise her children to become highly contributing members of society. An example of this is a mother from the United Kingdom, Louise Kirk, who went to Oxford University. She proceeded to have four children and focus her time on assisting them in becoming prosperous members of society: “Her three sons won scholarships to a top public school—they were choristers at Westminster Cathedral—and her daughter has just got a place at Oxford University” (Hardy). The idea is that even if it does not provide for an immediate gain in economic or technological growth, having children who are raised by an educated mother will allow them to be more learned than children who are left in the care of a nursery with a much higher ratio of children to caretakers. Many of those caretakers will not be focused on trying to educate the children, as their job consists mainly of keeping the child healthy and safe rather than providing for intellectual development. Additionally, many nurseries employ young staff members who either are not old enough to have attended university, or simply have not attended because of a lack of money or desire. The second type of woman is the childless homemaker. Oftentimes she has already had children whom she raised and who have since left the house, or is aiming to have children (or a child) in the near future. If she spent the prime of her life raising her children, she may not have received the training required to enter into the job market, and even if she did, she would need extensive training to be re-integrated into a completely changed market some eighteen-plus years later. If at the same time her husband has a steady, well-paying job, it is possible that she is contributing more to society by supporting her husband in his work and productivity than she would by trying to start in a job field dominated by 20-year-olds. Although being a housewife has become significantly easier over the past 50 years, there are still many things that can be done to support a spouse while he is away. Depending on his job and the importance for him to be able to connect to others and their families, in Japan it is considered important to have a wife who is well put together, knowledgeable, and capable of entertaining guests. To truly impress a guest takes much more effort than just buying some cookies from the nearest supermarket. A dedicated homemaker would recognize this and know how to prepare for a meeting involving her husband. Another way in which a wife can help a husband succeed and support him is by making sure that the little things that must happen every day before he leaves the house are already prepared for him. Be it the correct combination of suit, shoes, and tie, or the preparation of a meal, a full-time homemaker would be able to expertly craft these so that the husband does not have to worry about it and can be focused on his work and his family. Finally, the last type is the rural homemaker. In poorer areas of Japan, modern technologies that are commonplace in America are sparser and sometimes unknown. Many of the chores around the house may then be more labor-intensive to complete, such as washing the laundry. When a family lives on a plot of land, often the women and children have to help tend to the animals and crops. The family may even sell some of the crop or run a small store that they all help in. Although they are all equally putting in effort to earn the money the family makes, the male head 52
of the house is usually statistically credited for the earnings. Due to this fact, even though a rural homemaker may work as much or more than a typical retail worker, she is viewed as a nonworker. These different types of homemaking should all be viewed as acceptable career choices, but oftentimes they are not. Another troubling issue connected to this is the seeming requirement for men to be in the work force rather than being stay-at-home dads. Although women should not be shunned for staying at home and raising their children, that is not to say that this is the only reasonable option. There are many men who may want to stay at home and focus on raising the children instead of working until 7 p.m. or later. Consequently, changing the egalitarian thought processes would also allow men to stay home instead. According to a child care values study mentioned earlier, “The number of agreement response for Japanese couples was significantly higher than for Chinese couples regarding ‘A mother should devote herself to the care of her children until they are three years old’” (Lui & Mori, et al. 25). Because of this mindset by both husband and wife, they are likely not willing to allow their children to be left alone with a stranger, but if the wife would like to work rather than the husband, having a stay-at-home dad could be a viable solution. Looking at the above data, it becomes clear that there are many different acceptable options for how a family dynamic can be set up. Although there are many couples who may prefer to be in a dual-income family, that does not mean that it is always the best option for everybody. When trying to raise children, most will be better cared for if raised by a single person, rather than by a nursery where the caregiver-to-child ratio is significantly higher. The Japanese government has highlighted some critical issues with its “Japan is Back” strategy and these must be given their due attention, but the strategy itself poorly addresses the underlying issue of gender roles in Japan. Given that according to a survey conducted in 2013 by the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, 34% of unmarried Japanese women do not want to work when they settle down, it would not be unusual for there to be a wide, varying dynamic of people in Japan, from stay-at-home mothers to stay-at-home fathers, homemakers, and rural homemakers. The most important factor in all of these rests on two main qualities: being financially selfsufficient and still providing a benefit to society. One of the worries of the modern Japanese person is that women who desire to be housewives only desire to stay at home and watch TV all day long. In a survey in Japan, reasons given for why a woman would want to become a housewife were mainly to focus on child care and housework at 55.2 percent, but at the same time, 15 percent responded that it was because they do not like to work (Horiuchi). In this case, women should be pushed to try to excel in life and not fall into an exemption category, “engaged in housework,” when they are really at home watching TV. They should be encouraged to support the working member of their family and/or raise their children. However, women who need this advice are likely a very small segment of society, and most of the educated mothers that the Japanese government would like to get back into the work force are not wasting their time. Rather, they are quite busy with housework and raising highachieving children.
In conclusion, although the Japanese government has put its best effort into reviving the economy and creating jobs and opportunities for all segments of their society enduring social enforcement of gender roles will continue to hamper Japan’s ability to get women into the work force in a long-term, effective way. The capitalist idea that women are being “wasted” on mothering and should continue working and send their children to a nursery at a very young age could cause deteriorating family conditions and relationships. This will become more of a problem in the future if children are not given the attentive care that they deserve, and grow up and join the labor market. These potentially less-developed children might create a drain on society that, instead of making Japan more successful, will actually create the opposite effect. With that said, a more egalitarian environment in Japan will allow for either men or women to be able to stay home and raise their children while they are young, and a changing Japanese corporate culture will allow for more flextime-imbued full-time jobs. This will create a positive effect on Japan’s long-term economic and social development, creating an overall better Japan. WORKS CITED "1 in 3 Japanese women want to be housewives: Poll." Japan Today. N.p., 26 SEP 2013. Web. 13 Dec 2013. "A Guide to Womenomics." Economist. 12 APR 2006: 1-5. Print. Aguirre, DeAnne, Leila Hoteit, and et al. "Empowering the Third Billion Women and the World of Work in 2012." Booz & Company. 1-7, 14 OCT 2012. Web. 13 Dec 2013. Barsh, Joanna, and Lareina Yee. "Unlocking the Full Potential of Women in the U.S. Economy." McKinsey & Company. McKinsey & Company, APR 2011: 3-7. Web. 13 Dec 2013. Gerson, Kathleen. "Where do American women stand in gender equality?" PBS Newshour. PBS Newshour, 02 Nov. 2013. Web. 13 Dec 2013. Hardy, Frances. "Can a Woman Be Too Clever to be a Stay-at-Home Mum?" Daily Mail. 15 MAR 2012: n. page. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. Horiuchi, Akihiro. "For Full-time Housewife, Unlike the Idea of Men and Women." Business Media Makoto. N.p., 26 AUG 2010. Web. 13 Dec 2013. Itou, Junichirou. “Shakaiteki Hikikomori Wo Meguru Tiiki Seisin Hoken Katudou No Guideline.” Tokyo: Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. 2003. Web. 13 Dec 2013. "Japan Revitalization Strategy –Japan is back.” Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet. Cabinet Secretariat, 14 Jun 2013. Web. 30 Oct 2013. "Land of the Wasted Talent." Economist. 05 Nov. 2011: 1-3. Print. Lui, Chunyan, Emi Mori, et al. "Comparing Child-care Values in Japan and China among Parents with Infants." International Journal of Nursing Practice. 18. (2012): 18-27. Print. 54
Matsui, Yutaka, and Miyoko Ui. "Japanese Adults’ Sex Role Attitudes and Judgment Criteria Concerning Gender Equality: The Diversity of Gender Egalitarianism." Sex Roles. 58. (2008): 412-422. Print. Nakahigashi, Masafumi, and Janis Sarra. "Balancing Social and Corporate Culture in the Global Economy: The Evolution of Japanese Corporate Structure and Norms." Law & Policy. 24.4 (2002): 299-354. Print. "New Year Party by the Japan Federation of Certified Public Tax Accountants' Associations." Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet. Cabinet Secretariat, 10 Jan 2013. Web. 24 Oct 2013. Toivonen, Tuukka. "‘Don’t let your child become a NEET!’ The Strategic Foundations of a Japanese Youth Scare." Japan Forum. 23.3 (2011): 407-429. Print. United States. Census Bureau. Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012. 2013. Web.
Multilingualism: Advantages of a Polyglot (By Selah Chung) A multilingual, also known as a polyglot, is a person who speaks more than one language. With over three hundred languages spoken in the United States alone, one can often indulge themselves in a different culture around every corner. Although some people find themselves resistant to engaging in a foreign language, multilingualism has proven to be physically, cognitively, and emotionally beneficial. According to psychologist Ellen Bialystok, multilingualism carried a negative stigma, due to immigration, up until the late 1960’s. Earlier studies have shown that children who speak a second language at home have smaller vocabularies and perform more poorly in memory tasks involving verbal recollection (Bialystok, 2009). However, Bialystok claims these results are attributed to the idea that polyglots use each of their spoken languages less than monolinguals; therefore they have “weaker links within the relevant connections” that are necessary for fluid and quick speech. Those who were not proficient in English were looked down upon and struggled to integrate themselves into society. Dr. Judy Willis, a neurologist and teacher from Santa Barbra, California has experienced the negative outlook on multilingualism firsthand. Willis noted “recently immigrated parents of [her] students telling [her] that although they were just learning English, they tried to only speak English at home with their children. They felt that would help their children learn English more successfully and believed that exposure to two languages would be confusing and make the transition to their new schools more difficult” (Willis, 2012). Willis also found that children who have non-English speaking parents are often ashamed of their parents due to the fact that society views them as “ignorant” (Willis, 2012). However, these concerns could not be less true. Recent studies have shown that multilingual children are cognitively gifted in the following overlapping categories: inhibitory control, and problem solving through metalinguistic awareness and creative thinking (Launchlan, 2013). Inhibitory control, also known as selective attention, is the ability to evaluate all of the senses of the human body and selectively focus on that which is important to the context (Diamond, 2010). Every moment of our lives, we constantly experience and collect sensory inputs. Because we experience things so quickly, it is difficult to sort through, comprehend, and retain information. Bilingual children must train themselves to know and utilize various vocabularies to understand and reciprocate the appropriate language being spoken to them. Due to this, “bilingual children nurture their capacity to focus on relevant and appropriate information and inhibit their attention on the information unrelated to the context” (Launchlan, 2013). In short, bilingual speakers have a higher sense of control over their executive functions. This leads to faster analysis and decision-making in everyday situations. The cognitive abilities of multilinguals can be applied to very practical situations as well. Research has shown that English-Vietnamese bilinguals significantly outperform monolingual speakers in mathematical ability (Bialystok, 2005). The bilingual children’s metalinguistic skills—that is, their ability to use knowledge about language (Lauchlan, 2013)—gave them the ability to recognize and self-correct their errors (Bialystok, 2013). This, perhaps, was due to their ability to analyze problems from a different perspective. In retrospect, the polyglots’ metalinguistic awareness provided the ability to be “perhaps more confident in their approach to 56
solving difficult problems” (Bialystok, 2013). It seems that bilingual children have the ability to cope with “rule changes” better than their monolingual peers (Diamond, 2010). This notion is further supported by the “Reversible Figure Study” (Bialystok, 2005). Both monolingual and multilingual children approximately six years old, the prime age for cognitive expansion, were shown images of reversible figures. These depictions all had alternative images in the figures. In results, multilingual children were more successful in interpreting the figures in alternative ways, displaying their adept creativity in comparison with the monolingual participants. Polyglots’ ability to adapt to changing environments and conditions allows them to be quicker, accurate, creative, and all around more efficient when completing cognitive tasks. Aside from cognitive benefits, multilingual children were also discovered to have better emotional health compared to their monolingual peers (Han & Huang, 2010). In the early developmental stages of a child’s life, the emotional and behavioral state of the psyche is very delicate. Negative or “failure feedback” from authority and/or peers in the early years can reduce confidence in abilities and future success (Han & Huang, 2010). Behavioral and emotional problems can then lead to harmful educational trajectories such as delinquency or dropping out (Han & Huang, 2010). When bilingual children were tested against English speaking monolingual children for emotional health, the bilingual group had significantly more positive outcomes. In fact, bilingual fluency resulted in better academics, higher self-esteem, and a stronger sense of family unity and belonging (Han & Huang, 2010). Experts believe this is due to bilingual’s “greater cognitive flexibility, abstract thinking skills, and through the access [to the] positive [cultural influence] in their families and communities” (Han & Huang, 2010). These results contradict the notion of monolingual supremacy in education and societal adaptation. Rather, it was found that bilinguals had little to no issues in their English-speaking schools. Their exposure to culture helped rather than hindering them, by enforcing an appreciation of diversity and acceptance amongst bilingual children. As an outcome, bilinguals were much more likely to get along with peers and teachers and monolingual speaking children (Han & Huang, 2010). They developed an appreciation for cultural differences while maintaining their own sense of cultural identity. This identity, built off of both American culture and the culture of their native language, gave way to a more solidified sense of self and confidence. In addition, Han and Huang also discovered that when bilingual children speak in their native tongue to their parents, they “help to improve the parent-child relationship and immigrant adolescents’ self-esteem and mental health” (2010). This concept of foreign language being emotionally beneficial to both parent and child directly challenges the ideal of parental concern regarding social adjustment for immigrant families in American society. In general, immigrants do very well in America despite having to learn a new language and familiarize themselves with a new culture (Han & Huang, 2010). Over the last several decades, the use of foreign languages used within home life has greatly increased. In fact, by 2050, the children of immigrants will make up most of the growth within the educational population (Han & Huang, 2010). The problem is, when immigrants, namely the children of immigrants, become more “Americanized,” they lose the “protective features of their home culture, which often highly values education and familial respect” (Han & Huang, 2010). As a result, these people 57
start to stray away from their native language and sometimes disregard it entirely (Han & Huang, 2010). When people use language to communicate, the portion of the brain that is being used is the prefrontal cortex, which does not stop developing until the mid-twenties (Willis, 2012). Speech is evaluated instantaneously rather than reflexively or unconsciously, and requires selective attention to process and analyze meaning, grammar, sentence structure, and pronunciation for the appropriate language (Willis, 2012). While the task of speech may be mundane, the consolidated effort that is required to use language is astonishing. Recent studies also show that speaking multiple languages may protect against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Dr. Fergus Craik of the American Academy of Neurology found that bilingual patients were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia approximately 4.3 years later than monolinguals. In addition, the onset of symptoms in bilingual patients occurred approximately 5.1 years later than in monolingual patients. These results were not attributable to “confounding factors such as education, occupational status, or immigration. Bilingualism thus appears to contribute to cognitive reserve, which acts to compensate for the effects of accumulated neuropathology” (Craik, 2010). Despite these findings, much uncertainty still lurks within the link between polyglots and Alzheimer’s disease. Experts are still unsure about the details of this miracle (Craik, 2010). For instance, if a patient speaks two languages, they average a delay of 5.1 years of symptoms. If we apply this logic, does that mean that a patient who speaks three languages will receive 10 years of protection? Does the delay of symptoms multiply by number of language? Does speaking a third or fourth language increase a patient’s delay time at all? These questions continue to be investigated. There are severe misconceptions about the effects of multilingualism. While some fear that a second language will interfere with the health of themselves or their children, in actuality it is quite the opposite. Despite the longstanding negative stigma surrounding the idea of being a polyglot, new studies have proven that speaking a second language can be physically, cognitively, and emotionally advantageous. While there is still much research to be done about exactly how and why these results were acquired, the positive effects of multilingualism can no longer be dismissed. REFERENCES Bialystok, E., & Shapero, D. (2005). Ambiguous benefits: the effect of bilingualism on reversing ambiguous figures. Developmental Science, 8(6), 595-604. doi:10.1111/j.1467687.2005.00451.x Bialystok, E. (2009). Bilingualism: The good, the bad, and the indifferent. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, pp 3-11. Craik F I.M. (2010). Delaying the onset of Alzheimer disease. Neurology. 75(19). Retrieved from, http://www.neurology.org/content/75/19/1726.short Diamond, J. (2010). The Benefits of Multilingualism. Science, 330(6002), 332-333.
Han, W., & Huang, C. (2010). The forgotten treasure: Bilingualism and Asian children's emotional and behavioral health. American Journal Of Public Health, 100(5), 831-838. Lauchlan, F., Parisi, M., & Fadda, R. (2013). Bilingualism in Sardinia and Scotland: Exploring the cognitive benefits of speaking a ‘minority’ language. International Journal of Bilingualism, 17(1). Wildman, S. (2011). Using language to combat dementia. AARP VIVA. Retrieved from http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-02-2011/using-language-tocombat-dementia.html Willis, J. (2012). Bilingual brains – smarter and faster. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/radical-teaching/201211/bilingual-brains-smarterfaster.
Designing Our Future (By Anjanique Herbison) “Ten fingers, ten toes. That’s all that used to matter.” – Vincent Freeman, GATTACA Amazing scientific advances surrounding the human body have become commonplace. Grasping the full extent of this scientific progress is difficult to wrap our heads around. Even a few decades ago, what some scientists are accomplishing today would have once been considered unlikely, irrational, and possibly a little bit ridiculous. In this day and age, we now have the ability to video chat with a friend from thousands of miles away. We can purchase threedimensional televisions, and we even possess cars that can drive and park themselves. As humans, we have come to rely increasingly on technologies and scientific discoveries in our present world. The future is pushing us at a very fast pace; it is a challenge to keep up and embrace the possibilities of change. One of the most dramatic changes is the alteration of the human genotype. Francis Fukuyama, author of the essay “Genetic Engineering” (in A World of Ideas) and of the study Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, suggests that if we turn to genetic engineering, we will lose what it means to be human. He believes human nature to be what “gives us a moral sense, provides us with the social skills to live in society, and serves as a ground for more sophisticated philosophical discussions of rights, justice, and morality. What is ultimately at stake with biotechnology is . . . the very grounding of the human moral sense” (101102). Although genetic engineering has the good intention of giving people longer, healthier, and better lives, it is not guaranteed that such a practice will produce positive results within our society. Genetic modification could lead to psychological, social, and economic problems as well as become a danger to the very nature of our humanity. It may unleash forces that will negatively impact our way of life, way beyond our ability to foresee, much less control. The human genotype is a complicated subject. It is a human being’s full set of hereditary information needed for us, as living organisms, to grow and develop. It is made up of twentythree chromosomes, which contain about 3 billion DNA base pairs (“Human Genome”). A gene, a shorter piece of DNA, is a specific set of information on how to build proteins; the tens of thousands of genes then work together to make up the unique blueprints for the individual (“What Is A Gene?”). According to the National Institute of Health, there is a chance that damage can occur while genes are being copied into the fertilized egg, causing the DNA sequence of a gene to be transformed. If the gene is changed in such a way that causes a malfunction, then this is either a mutation or a genetic disorder (“Mutations and Health”). Discovered less than one hundred years ago, the double-helix structure is still a somewhat new topic. With the technology available today, parents are able to look at an embryo and screen it for certain birth defects and disorders. Parents even have the ability to choose if their child is going to be male or female. In the near future, there is the likelihood that, if scientists better understand the human genotype and further develop the technology we already have today, parents will be able to choose more than just their child’s sex. They will be able to choose exactly what their unborn child looks like, its personality, or even its intelligence (Fukuyama). 61
Much like all new scientific discoveries, there is always a range of opinions. Many practical and ethical questions have been raised since this idea was introduced. Should genetic engineering be funded? Will the results be worth the time and the effort put into the research? To some, it will benefit society for many generations to come; for others, the effects could be detrimental. Fukuyama states that genetic engineering has opened the doorway to the improvement of countless human conditions, ranging from diseases to defects. Up until now, genetic engineering has been used to improve and replicate plants, unicellular organisms, amphibians, and simple mammals. This has led to significant advances in agriculture, industry, and medicine. The functions of genetic engineering are many and varied. Scientists believe they could grow important organs to place in the bodies of those who are missing one or have a defective organ. Fukuyama also believes there is an advantage of genetic engineering—the offspring is predictable in that they are guaranteed to have the characteristics of the parents. Such accomplishments could benefit us immensely. Also, infertile couples would be able to have children through genetic engineering. All of these rationales hold huge promises for the future. However, we must examine other purposes of genetic modification. A person’s genes are altered for at least two contrasting reasons. One of these would be for medical purposes and the other for enhancement. We could easily confuse the purpose of genetic engineering to be the changing of a person’s characteristics, rather than for the purpose of preventing certain genetic disorders. In his article, “Genetic Testing and Its Implications: Human Researchers Grapple with Ethical Issues,” Isaac Rabino discusses the difference between cure and enhancement. A line could be crossed between “handicap and inconvenience” (Rabino 377). Rabino states that with genetic engineering, a line should be drawn between therapeutic purposes and aesthetics. He then asks, “Are learning disabilities medical problems? Are below-average verbal or mathematical skills defects? Is it an improvement not to be short? Are we improving on what is already normal?” (378). If we do not know what is considered genetically “normal,” then how can we decide what a reasonable purpose is for genetic engineering? Where exactly should we draw the line? Are our most basic human rights at risk? The more control parents have over their child’s traits, the more we may see natural births removed from the picture. Not enough is known about genetic engineering and human genes to make it safe. We still have much, much more to discover about the human genome—it is very complicated, and oftentimes one sequence of genes has control over multiple ones. This means that by altering one gene sequence, scientists could very easily unintentionally change certain attributes that were not meant to be changed (Fukuyama). While trying to make humans immune to a disease, scientists could change the wrong part of a human’s DNA, leading to unwanted genetic defects (Fukuyama). In “Understanding Risks and Benefits in Research on Reproductive Genetic Technologies,” Janet Malek discusses the possible effects of genetic engineering on children. If the experiment is not successful, the child will be at risk for experiencing psychological harm by feeling “inadequate or unwanted, or could be resentful their parents’ choice to use RGTs [reproductive genetic technologies]” (351). Also, if children end up with a disability due to unsuccessful technology, they could “suffer social harms such as stigmatization or discrimination” (352). The relationship between the parent and the child could ultimately suffer, especially if the children went through 62
negative effects of genetic engineering, or they did not make use of their enhancements given to them. The bond between siblings could also be put in danger. One child could be genetically modified while the other is not, or one child could have better enhancements than the other. If either of these situations was the case, this could cause major tension between siblings and lead to competition and resentment. Although there are benefits associated with reproductive genetic technologies, it is best to also look at the risks with cautious judgment and consideration towards the children being experimented on. While genetic engineering has the possibility to help others, it is still a work in progress. Scientific experiments involve trial and error. Thus, scientists will continue to rely on animal testing to discover more about gene manipulation, without harming humans in the process. Yet experimentation on animals has been a controversial issue in society. Despite what the purpose may be, several animal rights groups are completely against testing. They believe that the rights of animals are just as important as those of humans, meaning that the idea of experimenting on them is totally unethical. One well-known animal rights group is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which believes animal testing is irrelevant to human health. Everyone’s set of hereditary information is unique, so it is difficult to predict the outcomes. In animals, there are several potential side effects or deformities. Results from animal testing are not always conclusive and applicable to humans, so testing can be deemed as unnecessary (Cunningham). Scientists have yet to determine its long-term effects on the animals, and genetic testing on animals may stir up even more ethical questions and cause protests by a range of animal rights groups. Genetic modification also raises the issue of the haves and the have-nots. What one person can afford, others who barely make enough money to sustain themselves cannot. Fukuyama claims that if genetic engineering is introduced, not everyone would be able to afford such a thing as a “designer baby” (Fukuyama, “Genetic Engineering” 674). Only a small portion of the population would have enough money to have a genetically perfect baby. They would be able to choose what hair color they would have, how intelligent they would be, how athletic they could be, what set of skills they could have, and the list is infinite. If we leave everything up to choice rather than chance, how would we define ourselves as humans after that? We would reduce human beings to mere objects. A majority of American society buys goods or services that we either do not need, cannot afford, or both. We always have the urge to buy the newest gadgets. Will designer babies be the next big “thing” that will tempt us to go out and spend money on? Will we see advertisements on billboards, in magazines, or in television commercials? The cost for designing a baby will undeniably be expensive. As our culture shifts even further towards consumerism, it will become more difficult to pay off our debts because we are spending money on things we do not need at an alarming rate. Since designer babies will cost an outrageous amount of money, there is a huge risk, not just for the economy of the country as a whole, but where the individual’s happiness is concerned. Although genetic engineering can be used for therapeutic purposes, it is too closely associated with becoming a social expectation. It can turn into something we do not exactly need to buy, but we feel the impulse to, since “everyone else wants a designer baby.” Whether they are able to 63
afford it or not, many people probably will find a way to pay for genetic alteration. When there are plenty of other demands and stresses in a person’s life, increased spending only worsens and happiness decreases. If genetic modification is introduced more into our society, class will become based on genetics. The separation between classes—between the genetically superior and the genetically inferior— will continue to widen (Fukuyama). This may cause tension and resentment and leave some members of society feeling as if they are genetically disadvantaged. This tension has been shown in the 1997 science fiction film GATTACA. Director Andrew Niccol depicts a civilization set in the near future that has made discrimination into a science; genes now determine your place in society. Protagonist Vincent Freeman was naturally born and considered a “love child.” Literally seconds after he is born, Vincent already struggles to fit into a genetically perfect society. Due to his heart condition, his vision problems, and his estimated life expectancy of 30.2 years, Vincent comes to the conclusion that he will never reach his lifelong dream of space travel. Vincent is a member of a group called “invalids” (pronounced “in-valids”). Invalids are discriminated against and are placed on the lowest ring in society due to their genetic inferiority, while the “valids” continue to rise to the top. Both the wealthy and the less fortunate will continue to exist; however, with genetic alteration, they will exist in a new form. What if this was our society in ten, twenty years? What if GATTACA is not merely a science fiction film but a foreshadowing of humankind’s fate? Our society already struggles with the issues of prejudice; genetic engineering would only give groups of people more reasons to discriminate against each other, both blatantly and subliminally. Genetic engineering will continue to be a subject of tremendous controversy. Those who love biotechnology dream of all the great things it could bring to humankind. There are also those who see it as threat to humankind, something that could possibly undermine, and perhaps destroy, our current society. As we look forward to each new day, we recognize that the world is moving faster than ever before. Our lives and those of our children will drastically change, and a possible revolution in genetic engineering promises a new day for all of us. A world in which we would be able to choose our children’s physical appearance, cognitive abilities, and aptitudes would not be a thing of the past anymore. These twisting complexities of our human life will not just be an easy switch. It is not something that will simply come about with no major repercussions or serious consequences. Genetic engineering will have a tremendous impact on our lives, but it may damage the social and psychological aspects of existence as well generate issues economically, politically, and religiously. Crossing this threshold would unfortunately change the nature of human life and society. Genetic alteration could begin as a fix to our problems of disease, defect, and disorder. Then we might begin to “fix” things that do not need to be fixed, like what we believe to be moral and just; we may not be able to return to a time where ten fingers and ten toes were the only things that mattered. If we embrace the technologies of genetic engineering, it will forever change what it truly means to be human.
WORKS CITED Cunningham, Vanessa. “8 Reasons Why Animal Testing Doesn’t Help Humans”. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA, 17 Jul 2013. Web. 4 Dec 2013. Fukuyama, Francis. “Genetic Engineering.” A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 667–681. Print. Fukuyama, Francis. Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2002. Print. GATTACA. Dir. Andrew Niccol. Perf. Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, and Uma Thurman. Sony Pictures, 1997. Film. “Human Genome.” Science Daily. Science Daily, LLC., 2013. Web. 15 Nov 2013. Malek, Janet. “Understanding Risks and Benefits in Research on Reproductive Genetic Technologies.” Journal of Medicine & Philosophy 32.4 (2007): 339–358. PDF. “Mutations and Health.” Genetics Home Reference. National Institutes of Health, 12 Nov 2013. Web. 14 Nov 2013. Rabino, Isaac. “Genetic Testing and Its Implications: Human Genetics Researchers Grapple with Ethical Issues.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 28.3 (2003): 365-402. Print. “What Is A Gene?” Genetics Home Reference. National Institutes of Health, 12 Nov 2013. Web. 14 Nov 2013.
Another World: A Journey alongside Pokémon (By Jasmine Andres) “I see now that the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.” –Mewtwo (Pokémon: The First Movie)
Dear reader, I’d like to introduce you to Pokémon—not just the game or the anime, but the Pokémon community. For those of you who have not heard of Pokémon or do not know much about it, this is your chance to join me on my journey to find out exactly what Pokémon is. This is a common interest for many people, but is also not very well known by many others. I will venture into the community here in Hawai‘i and find out what makes Pokémon so popular. I will debunk stereotypes about Pokémon and the people who play the game or watch the anime. My goal is to find out exactly what makes Pokémon so loved by many age groups, as well as what makes people hate it. I know a fair amount about Pokémon, but I also know that there is a lot that I do not know. There is so much to learn and research about this familiar-but-unfamiliar world. Please refer to the footnotes when reading and also refer to the pictures when mentioned, as they will help your understanding of my research. To help give you a better understanding of my essay, please read the following before reading the essay. Pokémon started out as a game in Japan by Nintendo. It is known as “Pocket Monsters” in Japan, but as Pokémon in America. Pokémon was first released in Japan in 1996 and about two years later Pokémon came to America, in 1998 (please refer to diagram 1 on reference page) (Bulbapedia). Each Pokémon generation has three games. For example, Red and Blue were released together on the same day; the only difference among these two is the Pokémon unique to each game. Eventually Pokémon Yellow came out, which can be described as an enhanced remake of Red and Blue. Each generation goes through a similar process of two games coming out with different Pokémon in each, then having a third remake of the game. After Pokémon became a huge hit in Japan, it was not too long before it reached America and eventually made into an anime4. The anime was also a huge hit and became a part of many lives across the globe, but what really made Pokémon popular was an “Easter Egg5” found in Pokémon Red & Blue, a Pokémon called “Mew.” Mew is a legendary6 that can be described as the “Ancestor of All Pokémon” because it contains all the genes of all Pokémon ever to exist. This was a big surprise for everyone because even Nintendo, Pokémon’s producers, were not initially aware of Mew. The only man who knew was the one who put Mew into the game. After this was discovered, Pokémon became extremely popular. Pokémon is not just a game but is also a TV show children can watch about these new creatures. Ash, the main character, goes on an adventure to become a Pokémon Master, while making friends along the way. Through my experience, there have been many emotional episodes and movies that deeply move the audience; this is what made me fall in love with Pokémon (please refer to Pokémon Guide in reference page). 4
Japanese Cartoon A hidden object that be found that isn’t known by many and doesn’t serve a purpose to the game or the story. 6 A Pokémon that only shows up once per game because it is very rare. 5
Growing up, I did not have too many friends, nor any siblings, to play with. I experienced no exciting moving adventures or anything like that. The one thing I did have was Pokémon. I watched all the time as a kid, but I would never call myself a die-hard fan. After the second generation7 of Pokémon, I lost my hype for it. The Pokémon I knew did not have any of these ignorant-looking creatures; in my opinion, they are not worthy of being called Pokémon. This makes me wonder why people still love Pokémon even with these new eyesores. I have to investigate: when people love one thing, how can adding new eyesores make it better? What makes the new generations of Pokémon so loveable? I believe that the new generations of Pokémon are simply not that impressive because the Pokémon do not look as nice in comparison to those found in Kanto or Johto. This is my viewpoint and opinion. Other stereotypes and assumptions include that Pikachu is the best Pokémon; anyone who plays is usually a “90s kid;8” only boys play Pokémon; people who like anime also like Pokémon; only young kids play the game; and people who like Pokémon also collect the cards. My goal is to see if any of these myths are true or false and to discover if there is anything more to Pokémon than just catching them and battling. The image of Pokémon has changed a lot since my childhood, leading me to believe many biases and assumptions. I have seen many memes9 stating that Hoenn is the worst generation (refer to diagram 2). The anime has changed throughout the years, so much that I now find it hard to watch. Since the anime is no longer good in my opinion, it has made me believe the game is equally as bad. I also believe that the best generations of Pokémon were the first two: Kanto and Johto. This is when Pokémon started; even though Johto was a different generation, it was still closely related to Kanto. I also believe that with all the new Pokémon games, there is not a real “legendary” Pokémon. As has Pokémon progressed throughout the years, there have been more and more “legendaries.” In the fourth generation, known as Sinnoh, there were 14 legendary Pokémon; this is a lot compared to the first generation, known as Kanto, which only had five (including Mew). I first started reaching out to the new generation of Pokémon on the night of October 11, 2013— the midnight release for Pokémon X&Y and my first time ever going to any midnight release. Up until this night I had completely despised the new generation, but decided to give it a try. This was a new experience for me; I had never played Pokémon before and this was my first time experiencing a “Pokémon Community.” I was able to observe people playing Pokémon and interacting with each other. I even got to see some people dress up for the occasion. For example, one boy dressed up as “Red” from Pokémon Red (refer to diagram 3) and I got to talk to him for a little while. There were also people who were wearing Pokémon shirts, bags, and another guy even had a Pokémon name for the license plate on his car. It was interesting to see how in love people can be with this phenomenon. One observation I found surprising was that 220 games were sold at the midnight release and even more people came. While observing this, I would say a vast majority were college students. I talked to “Red” and a few other customers; they were all in college. I even saw some of my friends. This observation supports the stereotype that most Pokémon players are 90s kids, not 7
Generations refer to the different regions of Pokémon. 1 st Generation: Kanto; 2nd Generation: Johto; 3rd Generation: Hoenn; 4th Generation: Sinnoh; 5th Generation: Unova; 6th Generation: Kalos 8 A person who grew up around the 1990s. 9 Internet comics that give a message about a popular idea (mainly used by teens)
young kids. I believe that the “90s kids” stereotype is thought to be true because that is when Pokémon was first released. Pokémon was their childhood, and that has stuck with them into adulthood. I also noticed that even though the majority of people there were male, there were also a lot of females. This means that Pokémon appeals to boys and girls alike. It was surprising to see all these people wait in line for hours just to get Pokémon. Free hats were also given out for the midnight release; I was lucky enough to get a hat despite the long line. When I received the game, I went home to play it. I took my biases, put them aside, and opened my mind to the new game I had purchased. On October 12, 2013, I finally began to understand why people loved the game so much. I fell in love with it. It was not like any other game I had ever played, and it was more than I had expected. I know that every game has a storyline to it, but I never knew the storylines in Pokémon could be so deep. I always thought it was just catching your team, battling with them, and beating gym leaders.10 My experience showed me that it was more than that. The story of Pokémon X&Y does start out with the typical 10-year-old kid going on an adventure, but there is also a plot about loving Pokémon because they are friends, not just battling weapons. My experience also showed me that Pikachu is not the best Pokémon. Despite its amazing reputation, the actual Pokémon does not live up to it. I have interviewed a few people who play Pokémon, asking them why Pikachu is thought to be the best and here are some of the responses: “He’s everybody’s favorite because he’s the mascot of the series” (Bobafett) and, “He’s just the mascot for Pokémon” (Adam). Most of my assumptions were changed completely upon playing Pokémon X&Y. My belief that the new generation is mediocre was wrong; a lot of the new Pokémon are just as lovable and unique as the very first generation. They actually offer more surprises than the older generations, such as new moves the Pokémon can use and “Mega Evolutions.”11 The new generation definitely made a good impression, and even though I am a fan of the classics, the new generation had me falling in love with Pokémon all over again. It was not long before I began interviewing people for their input. The first person I interviewed was Adam, a classmate whom I became friends with after the midnight release. I knew that Adam played Pokémon competitively, so I knew he was knowledgeable on the subject. I asked him “what are the competitions like,” to which he responded: “It varies. Competitions at small places like GameStop are small, but Kawaii Kon’s12 competitions are bigger. But, most the competitions are online now.” I then asked, “Is it better in person or online?” He replied, “It’s better in person than online because you can actually see your opponent and how many people are watching you battle.” While interviewing Adam, he made me think twice about what Pokémon really was. Adam grew up in Kansas and first liked Pokémon because of the anime. He had a group of friends who also liked Pokémon, and one of his friends got Pokémon Gold for his birthday. Eventually, the rest of them got Pokémon Silver. They all connected more as friends through Pokémon. I asked Adam 10
A place where you can defeat skilled Pokémon trainers (known as gym leaders) who usually specialize in a certain type of Pokémon (i.e fire, grass, flying, fairy, water etc.), 11 A new concept introduced into Generation Six Pokémon X&Y. A Pokémon can evolve during battle into a stronger form and switches back to its normal form once the battle is over. 12 An event held in Hawaii every year that has directors from Japan, a dance, souvenirs, a dance and a gaming center.
what his favorite thing about Pokémon was, and he said, “Memories. I still feel connected to my old friends by playing Pokémon.” Adam moved a lot growing up, and eventually he moved to Florida. He lost contact with his friends, but still feels connected because one of his friends traded him a Charizard (refer to diagram 4). After moving to Florida, Pokémon Ruby & Saphire was released. Adam made new friends in Florida through Ruby & Saphire, but he had to be homeschooled from middle school until sophomore year of high school. He told me, “I never developed social skills and never really talked to anyone except when I was playing Runescape.13 I was always the quiet kid in the corner reading a book in high school.” It was only when Pokémon Black & White came out that Adam was able to talk to other students because “they also had the game.” Adam said, “If it wasn’t for Pokémon, I wouldn’t have made friends in high school.” While interviewing Adam, I felt as if Pokémon was no longer just a normal game but also a way to connect to friends: “I know that they’re playing Pokémon X&Y, and I feel connected to them even if I hadn’t talked to them in a long time” (Personal Interview). After my interview with Adam, I realized that he and I also met through Pokémon. We were waiting for class to start and Adam was on his Nintendo 3DS, and I just said “Hey, Adam, are you playing Pokémon?” “Yeah, I beat the game,” he replied. It was like an instant friendship; we talked about Pokémon, and I had never approached Adam before until that day. After class that day, Adam and I went to the Sea Warrior Center at Hawai‘i Pacific University to hang out and, of course, play Pokémon. There were other people there as well, also playing. It was really fun to see people battling and having fun with the game. Some people were watching a “Random Battle.” I never knew what this was until Adam explained it: “You get a random team with random abilities and you battle against another person.” This took place was on a website called Pokémon Showdown; you can make your own teams with any Pokémon, customize them however you want and, of course, battle against other Pokémon trainers. After going to the Sea Warrior Center for a few days, I noticed that random battles are a common thing to do for many students in between classes and during free time. It was fun battling friends with random teams that may or may not be good. After this observation, I learned that Pokémon does not just end with the game on the 3DS, but there are those who love Pokémon so much that they will create websites for people to battle just for fun online. You do not need a 3DS to become good at the game; you can just battle online with any team you want. There were more ways to play Pokémon than I knew. A few days later, I interviewed a random person, Blade, about his experience. I was expecting to interview someone who knew very little about the phenomenon; however, I quickly found out he had played Pokémon since he was a kid. Since he knew a lot, I had many questions to ask him. The following is an excerpt from our interview: “Which generation is your favorite and why?” I asked. “I would say 3rd Generation. The Pokémon were adorable, and the gameplay was beautiful,” Blade replied. 13
An MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game).
Upon hearing this, I was confused. I thought Hoenn was the worst generation. All I could say was, “Really? What do you think about the anime?” “The anime is cool, most of the scenery is beautiful and it's good for younger kids because they always talk about Environment Preservation” (Woodruff). None of this was making sense; I had seen tons of memes about Hoenn being the worst, yet this guy I was interviewing said it was his favorite. I went to investigate and interviewed my third person, who will be known as Bobafett for purposes of this paper: “There is a stereotype that Hoenn is the worst generation,” I said. “Why do you think that is so?” “The reality is that people think there is going to be a Hoenn remake, and everybody is spamming it everywhere. And because it’s everywhere and everyone is hearing it, they are getting tired of hearing it; they condemn Hoenn to get people to stop spamming it” (Bobafett). The Hoenn stereotype is finally debunked. I was definitely not expecting a response like that, but it made sense with my other interviews. Adam and Blade had also told me that Hoenn was a good region and that they loved it. Things were beginning to come together and all the stereotypes and my assumptions were beginning to fade. I continued with the interview with Bobafett: “How would you describe yourself in terms of Pokémon?” “I am a Pokémon trainer, but I want to be the very best so I am aiming to be a Pokémon Master” (Bobafett). “What exactly is a Pokémon Master?” I asked. “A Pokémon Master is someone who caught their own team without any help and has created a bond with their Pokémon and is awesome at battling” (Bobafett). “But Pokémon is just a game. How do you feel connected to creatures that are just pixels?” “Well, it feels like I raised them, because I caught them myself, gave them a name, bonded with them with a Pokémon Amie14, and I went through a whole adventure alongside them” (Bobafett). “Do you feel like bonding with your Pokémon helps you become a better trainer rather than just knowing strategies and skills?” “Yes, because you don’t just send Pokémon out as fodders15 and you try to keep them healthy, happy and alive” (Bobafett). “There’s a stereotype that young kids are the audience. What do you think about this?” “Young kids are the audience for the anime. That’s why Ash is always 10 years old because the target audience is around age of 10” (Bobafett).
A program in Pokémon X&Y to play with your Pokémon. You can play mini games and feed them. A Pokémon treated as a tool that’s meant to die
“Do you believe that the people who don’t like the new generations just haven’t played the game?” “I think so, yeah. They might see a few Pokémon they don’t like and base their whole opinion on the game based on the small things they’ve seen about the game. They become ignorant and hate everything about it” (Bobafett). I enjoyed the interview with Bobafett and I learned a lot. For example, according to him, to become a Pokémon Master, you must form a bond with your Pokémon. For him and many others working to become Pokémon Masters, the bond is real even if the Pokémon are not. I was also able to argue against the stereotype that only young kids play the game, though they are the intended audience in the game and in the anime; the game just appeals more to “90s kids” because it was their childhood. Throughout this whole experience, a lot of my viewpoints have changed. I learned that Pokémon can just be more than a game; it can be a way to connect with others who share your interest. Ultimately the game is whatever you make it out to be. Pokémon has also shown me that it is not just a bunch of programmed pixels. I did not need to interview Bobafett to know there was a strong connection between me and my Pokémon; they have names, abilities, and I can interact with them. Pokémon has not changed in nature, or become anything less than what it was when I was a child. It is still an amazing game that brings people together to become trainers. Moreover, you do not have to own the game to play it; accessing online battles with real people can be just as fun. Pokémon is more widespread than I had imagined. According to Adam, “Everyone knows at least one person who plays.” In my opinion, despite the large numbers of “legendaries,” the new generations and surprises make up for it. Throughout my research, I found it surprising that I had not thought once to interview a little kid. This is probably because I do not know any little kids who play Pokémon; I suppose it is just not as popular in their generation. Pokémon was intended for kids, but stuck with many to their adulthood. After doing the interviews and observations, I wish I had grown up with Pokémon; I missed out during my childhood. There were only 150 Pokémon when I was a kid and now there are over 700. I know I have a lot more to catch up on, but at least I will have my Pokémon friends with me. References Diagram 1 Key: Generation: Region Name (Corresponding game to the region) First Generation: Kanto (Pokémon Red & Blue 1998 Pokémon Yellow 1999) (Pokémon Fire Red& Leaf Green 2004 is a remake of Red & Blue but with better graphics) Second Generation: Johto (Pokémon Gold & Silver 2000 Pokémon Crystal 2001) Third Generation: Hoenn (Pokémon Ruby & Saphire 2003 Pokémon Emerald 2005) 71
Fourth Generation: Sinnoh (Pokémon Diamond & Pearl 2007 Pokémon Platinum 2009) Fifth Generation: Unova (Pokémon Black & White 2011 Pokémon Black&White2 2012) Sixth Generation: Kalos (Pokémon X&Y 2013)
Photo from ebgame.ca Diagram 2
Photo from Memeboy2 Diagram 3 Red at the Pokémon Midnight Release October 11, 2013
Diagram 4 Charizard: A Fire/Flying PokĂŠmon
Photo from Bulbapedia
Photo from Pokémon Database Diagram 6 Standard Pokéball used for catching Pokémon
Photo from Bulbapedia
Pokémon Guide 1) You start out as a 10- year-old boy or girl. This is the age most 10-year-olds go on their journey to become a Pokémon Trainer (some go on to be Pokémon Masters). 74
2) You get to pick a starter Pokémon to begin your journey. (This will either be a Fire, Water or Grass type Pokémon.) 3) Pokémon have different types. So far, there are 18 different types. Each has its weaknesses and advantages over other types. This determines how much damage is dealt and how much health of the Pokémon is lost. Refer to Diagram 5 for more details. 4) Pokémon are caught by being weakened and being caught by Poke balls (refer to diagram 6). 5) Along your journey, you will encounter other trainers and wild Pokémon that you must battle. Wild Pokémon are catchable but Pokémon from other trainers are not. 6) You will also come across Pokémon Gyms where you will battle for gym badges that show which gym leaders you have defeated. The Gym leader is usually more skilled than the average Pokémon trainer you come across on your journey. Once you get eight gym badges you can challenge the Elite Four, who are one of the strongest in each region. 7) It is important to level up your Pokémon. Keep them happy and learn how to strategize to defeat your opponent. 8) It is very important to create a bond between you and your Pokémon. It will help you become a better trainer. WORKS CITED: (Anonymous), Adam. Personal Interview. 22 October. 2013 Bobafett. Personal Interview. 26 October. 2013. "Charizard (Pokémon)." Bulbapedia, the Community-driven Pokémon Encyclopedia. Bulbapedia, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. Memeboy2. "Hoenn Needs Some 3DS Spotlight." Cheezburger. Cheezburger, Inc., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2013. "Pokemon X and Y Figures Revealed." IGN. Imagine Gaming Network, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 27 Oct. 2013 "Pokémon Types & Type Chart." Pokémon Type Chart: Strengths and Weaknesses. Bulbapedia, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. Project Anime. "EP001." Bulbapedia, the Community-driven Pokémon Encyclopedia. Bulbapedia, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2013. Woodruff, Blade. Personal Interview. 23 October. 2013
Holding on to the Leash: Therapy Dogs In Legal Facilities (By Jenny Bayan) It was something she did not even want to talk about with her family. She was only eight years old, sitting in a courtroom in front of all these strangers, who expected her to testify about the alleged sexual assault against her. She was so scared, but she had something to hold onto: a leash. On the other end of it there was a dog, calmly laying by the little girl’s feet, snuggling up to her. Some readers may wonder why there is a dog in the courtroom. Others may know that the dog could be a service or therapy dog that is assisting the girl in a certain way. The use of dogs in “therapeutic contexts” (Friesen, 2010, p. 261) is becoming more common as Dr. Lori Friesen, who completed her Ph.D. in Education at the University of Alberta, explains throughout multiple published articles. Numerous studies have found evidence of the physical and psychological effects the presence of dogs can have on humans. Johannes S. J. Odendaal, a former veterinarian, currently holds three doctoral degrees in various fields. During his time as a Research and Development professor in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria, he explored “the field of study known as human-animal interaction” (Odendaal, 2000, p. 275). When dogs were successfully incorporated into various forms of therapy, researchers started to explore where to use the unique effects that the presence of dogs can have on humans. That's how “court facility dog program[s]” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 22) started. Gabriela N. Sandoval is a contract attorney with the Colorado Office of the Child's Representative and operates the Child & Animal Welfare Law Offices of the Rocky Mountains. She published an article that gives an “overview of the use of court facility dogs” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 17). In the last couple of years, programs using therapy dogs are being put in place in more legal facilities. With increasing popularity comes the need for these programs to “find clear recognition under the law” (Dellinger, 2008, p. 174). Marianne Dellinger, a professor at the Western State College of Law, explains possible case laws that need to be considered when using a court facility dog. This brings in an ongoing controversy where some lawyers like Abigayle L. Grimm declare that therapy dogs “should not be permitted” (2013, p. 263) to assist child-victims when testifying in court. If there are some instances where dogs should not be admitted into court, then under what circumstances should they be allowed in court? Most people know about service dogs that assist people with disabilities. However, not many know that dogs can assist people in everyday situations as well as in various forms of therapy. In animal-assisted therapy, “the dog and its handler (the dog's owner) work alongside therapists” (Friesen, 2010, p. 264) to help people achieve a therapeutic goal. Other than that, there are animal-assisted activities which lack the presence of such a goal and are supposed to “assist the therapist or trainer in an informal manner” (Grimm, 2013, p. 264), to “enhance the quality of life” overall (Friesen, 2010, p. 264). All therapy dogs need to be “properly trained and certified” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 21) and have to be accompanied by a handler, who needs to be trained and certified as well, at all times. After the field of animal-assisted therapy grew and therapy dogs were used in more and more fields, they started to appear in courthouses and other legal facilities. This led to the establishment of a court facility dog. This dog is not unlike a therapy dog, but one major difference is that court facility dogs “are handled by the testifying witness” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 76
21) and not necessarily by their handlers alone, “to avoid confidentiality issues” (Nakaso, 2010, p. 1). If the handler would accompany the dog at all times, that “could be a distraction for jury members” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 21) and other court officials. Therapy dogs can still be found in “courts and prosecutorial offices” (Dellinger, 2008, p. 171), police stations, interview rooms, and court hallways, but not in the court room during trial. In contrast, court facility dogs can be present in all these places as well as in courtrooms. Dogs “have long been used in hospitals and nursing homes [as well as in various other environments] to soothe patients” (Cambria, 2012, p. 1). But why would someone want to have a dog in a courtroom? Researchers have found “solid evidence of animal contact having significant health benefits” (Odendaal, 2000, p. 275), both physiological and psychological. The presence of animals effects the autonomic nervous system and leads to relief of anxiety and stress (Odendaal, 2000, p. 278) while decreasing blood pressure (Odendaal, 2000, p. 275). For a long time, animal-assisted therapy was seen as a placebo effect and was “not accepted by physicians as a valid medical approach” (Odendaal, 2000, p. 279). Further research has proven the effectiveness of animal-human interaction, and describes the outcomes overall as providing “a feeling of well-being” (Odendaal, 2000, p. 279). Even though companion animals are beneficial to anyone, the therapeutic impact is especially confirmed “among the 'weaker' people in society” (Odendaal, 2000, p. 276), such as children, the elderly, physically and mentally handicapped people, substance-dependent addicts, and chronically ill patients. That is the reason why therapy animals are more likely to be introduced to people in those categories. Therapy dogs can be particularly useful when people already under stress are brought into a stressful environment. An example of this situation is this essay’s opening anecdote, where the little girl has to testify in court about something bad that happened to her. Most courtrooms are not designed to be child-friendly. For children, testifying during a trial can be “traumatic, confusing and frightening” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 18). Judges and counsel have put into place an effort to “create a more comfortable environment for child witnesses” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 18). This can include explaining the procedure in a way the child can understand, designating a person to provide special services to the child, and sometimes even taking testimony outside the courtroom. While creating a safe environment is important for the child, it is also important for the prosecution and defense because “the more at ease a child feels, the more effective his or her testimony will be” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 18), which can have “advantages for truth telling” (Borden, 2012, p.1). Cases that involve child victims’ witnesses are often “difficult to prosecute and rely heavily on a child's ability to testify” (Borden, 2012, p. 2). Without this testimony, the perpetrator may not be identified and “the chances that the offender will victimize another increases dramatically” (Cambria, 2012, p. 1). To provide this necessary comfortable environment, general case law has supported the use of “support persons and comfort items” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 18) for years. In some cases, dogs have been “categorized as comfort items for children giving testimony” (Cambria, 2012, p. 1). Furthermore, federal laws were put in place to “allow children to testify using alternative methods” (Dellinger, 2008, p. 177), like “videotaped testimony or testimony by means of closedcircuit television” (Dellinger, 2008, p. 178). Even though most people agree that traumatized children are “fragile witnesses” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 17) and should be accommodated in a certain way, some argue that this special treatment could lead to an “infringement of the defendants' rights to a fair trial” (Dellinger, 2008, p. 171). 77
One of the most common objections towards court facility dogs is the “dogs' potential to prejudice a jury to come out in favor of the witness” (Dellinger, 2008, p.171). Some defense attorneys argue that the presence of the dog, or referring to the dog as a therapy animal, implies that the testifying victim is vulnerable and traumatized and “would distract from otherwise contradictory evidence that negates the truth of the witness's accounting” (Grimm, 2013, p. 269). Similar objections are raised in cases where children bring inanimate comfort items to the stand, like a doll or a teddy bear. Because there are no precedent cases yet, judges can consider court facility dogs in the same way they would a teddy bear. In both instances, there have been cases where the use of such items was allowed and others where the judge ruled to not permit any comfort items in the court room. In most cases, the use of a dog or comfort item is favorable to the use of an adult support person because in the latter source of comfort, there would be a “higher probability of prejudicing the defendant” (Grimm, 2013, p. 278). Another common disagreement is concerned with the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial and the defense’s right to confront and cross-examine a witness. In some cases, defense counsel has claimed that the calming presence of the dog could “make it easier for the childvictim to lie” (Grimm, 2013, p. 283) and therefore influence the witness’ testimony. Because the defense cannot cross-examine the dog to find out if the animal influenced the witness in any way, his or her rights could be impaired. The same problem surfaces in cases with inanimate comfort objects, when defense claims that this “psychological security blanket” (Sandoval, 2010, p. 20) takes away the right of crossexamination. During a few trials, the use of a therapy dog during testimony has been “analogous to the use of the [television] screen” (Grimm, 2013, p. 281) that can be used to provide child victim testimony instead of having the child testify in court. Video testimony has been controversial because it takes away the suspect’s right to confront the witness. Compared to that, a therapy dog “does not technically impede face-to-face confrontation” (Grimm, 2013, p. 281) and may be a preferable choice for the defense in those cases. Currently, the following states use courthouse dogs in various ways: Arizona, California, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Oklahoma (Grimm, 2013, p. 266). The fact that case law varies between these states makes it difficult to compare court cases to one another and establish precedent cases. The most likely least controversial arrangement is the presence of therapy dogs at police stations, in the prosecutors’ offices, or the hallways of a courthouse, and most people do not have objections to dogs being there because “they lift everyone's spirits” (Borden, 2012, p. 2). In some jurisdictions, the dogs “will stay behind the scenes for now” (Borden, 2012, p. 1) to avoid legal issues during trial. Elsewhere, like here in Hawai'i, the Honolulu Prosecutor's Office “want[s] to do anything that helps victims, especially children” (Nakaso, 2010, p. 1) according to city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro. A courthouse dog program was put in place to “put children and senior citizens at ease on the witness stand” (Nakaso, 2010, p. 1). The use of court facility dogs during testimony has been compared to the use of teddy bears, dolls, victim advocates, and videotaped testimony. Sometimes one method is preferable over another, but at other times the best method is not so obvious. But is the use of a court facility dog actually comparable to any of those alternatives? So far: “The Supreme Court has not addressed the use of dogs in courtrooms” (Grimm, 2013, p. 269). Prosecutors, the defense counsel, and 78
judges have not been able to define clear rules for the use of therapy dogs or court facility dogs during trial. At this point: “Trial judges [have] wide discretion to allow evidence presentation methods deemed effective for the ascertainment of the truth” (Dellinger, 2008, p. 171). They have to weigh costs and benefits of each alternative on a case-by-case basis and try to “balance between the defendant's right to a fair trial and the witness's need for an environment in which he or she will not be intimidated into silence or tears” (Sandoval 2010, p. 20). This causes a lot of disagreement between the prosecution and defense’s view. Some claim “the advantages of using dogs for emotional support in court have proven to outweigh the disadvantages” (Dellinger, 2008, p. 189), while others declare that “therapy dogs should be excluded” (Grimm, 2013, p. 291) because they come in conflict with different case laws. Different jurisdictions are approaching this problem in different ways, trying to find a case law that can be applied to cases that involve the presence of court facility dogs during witness testimony. Some avoid this problem by keeping the dogs in the background and utilizing them during pre-trial interviews but not during the actual trial. Other approaches include giving the jury specific instructions to disregard the presence of the dog, or other instructions to avoid any kind of prejudices. Even though there is still a long way to go and a lot of problems have to be solved, I believe we should and will see more dogs in and around courtrooms in the future. REFERENCES Borden, J. (2012). Therapy dog program helps prosecutors in court. AP Regional State Report Maryland, retrieved online Nov 2013. Cambria, N. (2012, May 29). Court therapy dog eases crime victims' stress at courthouse. St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), retrieved online Nov 2013. Dellinger, M. (2008). Using Dogs for Emotional Support of Testifying Victims of Crime. Animal l., 15, pp. 171-192. Friesen, L. (2010). Exploring Animal-Assisted Programs with Children in School and Therapeutic Contexts. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37(4), 261-267. Grimm, A. L. (2013). An Examination of Why Permitting Therapy Dogs to Assist Child-Victims When Testifying During Criminal Trials Should Not Be Permitted. Journal of Gender, Race & Justice., 16, 263-323. Nakaso, D. (2010) Courthouse dog' to help ease victims. Honolulu Star Advertiser, retrieved online Nov 2013. Odendaal, J. S. J. (2000). Animal-assisted therapy—magic or medicine? Journal of Psychosomatic research, 49(4), 275-280. Sandoval, G. N. (2010). Court Facility Dogs – Easing the Apprehensive Witness. Colorado Lawyer, 39(4), 17-23.
New Age Discrimination (By Kassie Smith) I was fourteen years old when I first dyed my entire head an unnatural color. It was a drastic jump from dark brown hair to forest green, but it was a choice that I wholeheartedly embraced. I found that the acceptance of my hair and personal style was often controversial. In the U.S., you often need to look “normal” or “natural” to thrive in America’s social order. There is a set of standards that comes with living in such a society. Even though we are taught at a young age to “not judge a book by its cover,” we often learn the contradiction when we ascend to adulthood. Finding a job when you live outside society’s guidelines can be near to impossible. When I visited my family in the U.K., I was taken aback by my experience. I was offered a job because of my fun-colored hair and eccentric appearance. The contrast of experiences fascinated me. The store owner’s belief that I would “attract customers” completely rivaled the experiences I had faced in the U.S. where the notion was that I would “scare away customers.” I found this interesting yet humorous. When I was working at a jewelry store in the U.S., I frequently faced discriminating circumstances. I stood behind the jewelry counter in my standby pose. No hair on my head was left astray. I had my hands politely folded in front of myself while I straightened my posture. I wanted to appear as professional, presentable, and inviting as possible. Despite my dedication and effort given to the role I was trying to convey, I was confronted with a less than comfortable encounter. An older woman shuffled by the jewelry counter, peeping at the assortment of stones and treasured accessories. When I politely asked her if she needed any assistance, she scornfully eyed me up and down and then proceeded to scowl harshly. She then continued in the direction of a different associate, making it quite clear that she wanted nothing to do with me. I had the impression that my appearance was bad for business, no matter how dedicated or efficient my work ethic was. People could not look past their own beliefs, judgments, or assumptions. They could care less about my behavior; they just wanted me to “look” the part. At the time, I was lucky to have had an understanding and lenient store manager, but even then I was still advised to “tone down” my appearance. In that case, I would be presented as more “normal” or “welcoming” to the customers. I believe the way a person looks should not be viewed in a negative manner. Why should we control other people’s personal rights and freedoms? Ideas like colored hair should not be attached to negative connotations. Do you hate the grass because it’s green or the sky because it’s blue? These are happy colors. Why should your opinion about a color change because it’s someone’s hair color? Many people forget to even acknowledge the fact that many older women dye their hair to cover the signs of ageing. Yet, this is widely accepted because the colors that are often selected fit within a realm of normativity. It is almost seen as an acceptable behavior to discriminate against people by the way they “choose” to look or dress because “it is their choice to look that way.” But, it is looked down upon to discriminate against people for their religious beliefs and customs. Both are personal choices and play a big part in who people are and how they choose to live their lives. What is the difference? People assume they can judge a person’s style because “style” is often seen as a phase. But, that is just a one-sided opinion. You may see something someone does as a phase, but it could just be a part of who that person permanently is. He may keep dressing like that the 80
rest of his life because it’s part of his “identity.” I remember that at one point, people tried to claim that being “gay” was a phase. This claim was to support their view against same-sex marriage and equality. By saying something is a “phase,” it is with the intent to dismiss and dispose of the so-called “problem”. Everyone has their own beliefs, likes, and dislikes. Why is it acceptable for people to express their religious beliefs without judgment but not their personal appearance? So what if someone has unnaturally colored hair, tattoos, or unusual body piercings? These are all forms of harmless self-expression. Do you want to support intolerance and bigotry? The way you choose to look is a choice, but so is the religion or philosophy you choose to live by. Would it be suitable to “hate on” someone who wore a yamulke or Hijab veil? Of course not! Discrimination and stereotyping has been an ugly yet very real part of human history. During the Holocaust, Jewish people were massacred due to their religious beliefs. African-Americans endured years of oppression and discrimination due to their skin color, even after the abolishment of slavery. In more recent years, the gay, lesbian, and transsexual communities have endured verbal and psychical attacks from modern humanity due to their sexual orientations. Humans seem to have an innate need to attack and objectify those who are seen as “different” or “outsiders.” In many primitive civilizations or tribes, it was believed that someone who was different or outside a community’s norm was likely to bring disease or some sort of bad omen. We aspire to believe that we use far more logic and scientific thought in modern ages; however, we often fall back into more primal beliefs and instincts, where we fear the unknown and attach it to negative connotations. We often still have such superstitions when it comes to the color black in American culture. For example, some people may still believe black cats are associated with witches or misfortune. By definition, a “hate crime is when someone is targeted because the assailant hates ‘what’ that person is or what the assailant perceives them to be.” Alternative subculture discrimination is becoming ever more prevalent. A new form of hate crime is brewing within our new age generation. This is not only a problem within the U.S. but a worldwide concern. Jaya Narain wrote an article on the Daily Mail website about one of the most violent hate crimes against alternative subculture to date. In Manchester, U.K., 2007, a twenty- year old girl named Sophie Lancaster was brutally beaten to death by a gang for being “Goth.” Her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, managed to survive the attack but suffered hospitalization from his serious injuries. Sophie was repeatedly stomped and kicked to death. She died from a horrific head injury. The gang that facilitated the attack celebrated quickly afterward by gloating to friends, “There’s two moshers nearly dead up Bacup park - you wanna see them - they're a right mess.” Sophie’s story launched a new strand of hate crimes, “hate crime against Goths.” Her assailants were finally sentenced in 2008. Claudia Tomlinson, who wrote an article on the site Left Foot Forward, states, “Currently, legislation only recognizes five characteristics as eligible for recording: race, disability, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity.” The U.K. is now taking steps to protect those under a broad term of “alternative subculture” from others who violently discriminate against people with different style, clothing, make-up, body art and musical preferences. Violent physical hate crimes on people of alternative subculture are quite rare. More prevalent forms of everyday discrimination often occur through verbal and cyber bullying, or purposeful 81
exclusion or isolation. There are many Facebook pages, as well as websites and blogs, which are specifically created to incite hate towards people of different styles and appearances. From my own personal experiences, I have been discriminated against by both adults and youths alike, in different ways. I’ve been searched for drugs on multiple occasions because of the way I look. Yet I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, let alone touched or used any kind of illegal paraphernalia. I have been told that I will “burn in hell” for the way I look, and I have been accused of being a “Satanist.” Many older people glare at me when I walk by or will refuse to stand next to me, as if I have some contagious disease. I have had people quickly whisk their children away as soon I am in their presence. In school, I would be pushed down the stairs, knocked into walls, have my books pushed out of my hands, endure rumors spread about me, hear nasty names, or be excluded or shunned by classmates. It seems that people forget that no matter what we look like on the outside, everyone is still human. We all have emotions, likes, dislikes, mothers, fathers, perhaps siblings; some of us have pets, jobs, or go to school. People who look or dress “different” are not monsters; we are alive and have similar dreams and goals like everyone else on this planet. Even though judgment is something that happens within seconds of meeting someone, I recommend you suspend your assumptions until you are able to become better acquainted with the individual. I am not the kind of person that many would expect. By observation alone, people would not be able to unveil that I love animals. I do not “sacrifice” or “abuse” them like many people would like to believe. I have had pets all my life. I’ve helped out at animal shelters, fundraisers, and rehabilitation centers. I am not a “threat” to society. Just because people dress a certain way does not mean it’s the downfall of humanity. We spend years learning through history that racism, discrimination, and prejudice are wrong. You would think that the public would realize that just because an individual looks different, that does not imply they are dangerous. It also does not give you the right to isolate, bully, verbally abuse, or physically attack someone. Fear and ignorance is what fuels hatred and inequality. The individuals we should really fear are the kinds of people who target others based on their appearance. WORKS CITED Mills, Rhiannon. “Hate Crime: Goths, Punks And Emos Recognised.” Sky News. 4 April 2013. Web. 11 September 2013. Narain, Jaya. “Police to Classify Attacks on Goths and Punks as Hate Crimes in a Bid to Recognise Alternative Subcultures' After Killing of Girl with 20 Piercings in her Face.” UK Daily Mail. 3 April 2013. Web. 16 November 2013. Rohrs, Hannah. “Discrimination Still Exists.” Daily American. 17 December 2008. Web. 11 September 2013. Tomlinson, Claudia. “Why it’s right to extend hate crime legislation to members of subcultures.” Left Foot Forward. 8 April 2013. Web. 16 November 2013. UK Metro News. “Emos and Goths Offered Extra Protection under New ‘Hate Crime’ Rules.” 3 April 2013. Web. 11 September 2013. 82
MAKING THE CHANGE
Self-Harm and Suicide (By Anastaxia Kirkpatrick) Suicide and self-harm are topics that many are hesitant to discuss, perhaps because people have had traumatic personal experiences with it or because they prefer to think it does not exist. Much of society does not understand why people engage in the act of self-harm or commit suicide. These two issues do not always go hand in hand with one another. Although practicing self-harm is a warning sign for suicide, some suicidal people end their lives without notice. Some live a life of apparent happiness that seems perfect to the observer, but deep down, there may be pressing issues that will never see the light of day. Most suicidal people, however, do indulge in self-harm before going through with killing themselves, and ignoring these issues only makes their prevalence worse. Self-harm is a common way to cope with pain and sadness. It usually begins when people are young adults and can last until late adulthood, if they make it that far. Teenagers are usually exposed to the idea of self-harm through media or friends. This gives them the idea that selfharm is acceptable and that it will help them cope with pain. Although this may initially be true, it can lead them down a road that is difficult to get off because self-harm provides only temporary relief. As Smith and Segal explain, “The problem is that the relief that comes from self-harming doesn’t last very long. It’s like slapping on a Band-Aid when what you really need are stitches. It may temporarily stop the bleeding, but it doesn’t fix the underlying injury. And it also creates its own problems” (Smith & Segal). This statement is true in that self-harm is a never-ending cycle because a lot of self-harmers hurt themselves so they can feel like they are alive. They do it so they can feel something for once and know that they are more than a just hopeless body walking around the earth with no meaning. Cutting is the most well-known type of self-harm. The term “cutting” is self-explanatory; it is the act of using a sharp object to inflict pain upon one’s self. The most common place is the wrist, but other places include the thighs, stomach, and upper arm. These places are chosen because they are easy to cover up so nobody can see them. Cutting is most common among girls and women; it is a dangerous form of self-harm because there is always the possibility of hitting a vein even if that was not the initial intention. It is also dangerous because the wound can become infected and bring on a whole new set of problems. One myth about cutting is that the people cutting themselves do so in order to draw attention. As Smith and Segal again explain, “The painful truth is that people who self-harm generally do so in secret. They aren’t trying to manipulate others or draw attention to themselves. In fact, shame and fear can make it very difficult to come forward and ask for help” (Smith & Segal). Many people who engage in cutting do not tell anyone why they are depressed or that they are cutting themselves, and that is why it continues on for so long: It goes virtually unnoticed. Other types of self-harm include burning, swallowing inappropriate objects, sticking the skin with sharp objects, banging the head against hard surfaces, and intentionally not letting previous injuries heal. Although these seem more intense than cutting, they are not excluded from the category of self-harm because these inflictions are still a way to cope with negative emotions. Boys and men are more likely to engage in violent types of self-harm such as hitting themselves 84
(Smith & Segal). While this shows that they are not happy, the violence is done in a way that they are able to keep their sense of masculinity. It is not any less dangerous because bones may be broken and head trauma could be sustained if they hit their heads hard enough. It is still just as bad as any other type of self-harm, though it is not as widely recognized. Those who self-harm have a trigger—something that motivates them to injure themselves. This could be something that they see or something that they remember. One of the most popular triggers is actually seeing someone else injure themselves; this makes the person remember how he felt when he self-harmed and causes him to crave it. Another popular trigger is when a selfharmer sees her scars healing. It may make her feel like she hasn’t accomplished what she was trying to do. When self-harmers inflict pain upon themselves, it can feel soothing for them to look down and see the fresh injuries because they remind them that they are alive. Self-harm does not always lead to suicide. Some people simply engage in self-harm because it is a type of coping mechanism. Smith and Segal explain some myths regarding self-harm that most people do not take the time to understand. The first myth is that people who self-harm are dangerous or crazy. Although it is true that people who self-harm can be suffering from a mental disorder, it is mostly caused by depression. A person will not necessarily harm other people just because he or she gets satisfaction from hurting himself (Smith & Segal). Another myth is that people who self-harm want to die. This is not always true because some people only want temporary relief rather than doing something as permanent as killing themselves. Some suicides are accidental because people either cut too deep, hit their heads too hard, or let infected injuries go untreated. The last myth is if the wound is not “that bad,” then it is not serious. Self-harm begins small and works its way to becoming worse. At first, people try it out to see if it helps or not, and when it does, they begin to do it more and more until they begin to do it on a more frequent basis. Addiction to self-harm is analogous to drug addiction because self-harmers have to hurt themselves in order to feel relief, giving them a euphoric feeling like a “high.” When selfharmers do not experience that feeling, they become more depressed. Some people are able to get help, but often it goes unnoticed by loved ones ignorant to the fact that they are suffering. There are many signs of people engaging in self-harm. If people are observant, they can often tell when a loved one is in need of help. The most common warning sign of cutting is wearing longsleeved shirts or pants even when the weather is hot. This happens because cutters do not want anyone to see the cuts or scars. There may also be frequent unexplainable injuries such as scars, bruises, or burns. Excuses include: “A cat scratched me,” “I fell,” or, “I burned myself on the stove.” Another red flag is if people tend to want to be alone for long periods of time in their bedrooms or bathrooms, especially if they usually do not desire to be alone. They do this in order to isolate themselves and forget about everything going on. When they are left alone with their thoughts, they begin to rationalize why self-harming is a good idea and remember all the mistakes they made which might lead them to feel they deserve cutting. If a loved one does any of those things, it is usually a sign that they need some type of help. Depression can cause perfectly happy people to hit rock bottom fast and hard. It can happen to anyone, and when it happens, nobody usually 85
knows that to do. People who self-harm usually have reasons to justify their actions. Sometimes people resort to this because it is a way for them to express their pain in a way that words cannot. It helps them physically to see how they are feeling and it provides a sense of automatic gratification. Another justification is that it helps them feel like they are in control of something. When people are bullied or abused, they do not have any control, so they go to something that they do have control over: hurting themselves. A lot of cases involving depression come from people who do not feel alive anymore; they feel like there is no reason to live and their hearts beat only because they have to. By inflicting pain, they are physically reminded that they are alive. The pain feels positive because now they know they can at least feel something. It may not be healthy, but it is a way for people to cope and possibly find a reason to live. Sometimes people go through negative life events that they believe are their fault or they did something wrong; therefore, they resort to hurting themselves as a form of punishment for, in their eyes, being foolish or making mistakes. This may not be easy for outsiders to understand, but it seems perfectly reasonable to those doing it who feel there is no other way to punish themselves. No matter what the reason is, there is always a reason. Selfharm does not occur because people are bored, unless they are addicted to it and self-harm has become part of their routine. Although self-harm is one of the many red flags for suicidal people, some people kill themselves without any notice. Every 17 minutes someone dies from committing suicide, according to “Shedding Light on a Dark Subject” by Linda and Charlie Bloom. They also state, “Between 1992 and 2010, the suicide rate in the United States has risen 30%” (Bloom). If suicide is so prevalent, why is it such a taboo topic? Most people steer clear of this subject because there is little society can do to stop it, and when it does happen to someone you know, it comes as a shock. My friend Matt passed away when I was ten years old. Two weeks prior to his suicide, he had thrown me a surprise birthday party. He was one of my mom’s friends and we were pretty close. He had been dating a girl for a long time, and she found out they were going to have a baby together. Matt supported her with everything he had in him. I do not know all the details, but I know that he and his girlfriend got into a fight. One day when he was coming out from work, he found a card on his car saying, “Congratulations, you’re having a baby.” Inside, there was a bill for her abortion. Everyone knew a horrible thing that happened Matt him, but nobody thought anything more of it. My mom had not heard from him in a couple days and went to his house to check on him. She found him hanging in his garage. He had an open casket funeral and, unfortunately, the image of the rope mark around Matt’s neck is still in my head. Matt went from being content with life to being so distraught that he ended it suddenly. At least we had an idea why it happened; some have no answer. Their loved ones are just gone. No notice. No note. No goodbyes. Ironically, many people believe that depression is a form of wanting attention. But if this were the case, most people might know why their loved ones committed suicide. Depression is not something that often gets shoved in others’ faces; the person suffering from it often keeps the pain inside, which eventually may lead to suicide. Although the ones that we see in the most pain 86
are those who have lost someone, we sometimes do not think about those who almost lost a person. One girl I know walked in on her best friend, who had cut her wrist so badly that she could easily have died. I asked her, “How did you feel when you walked into the room and saw your friend bleeding?” She responded: It made me mad and it hurt me. The thought of losing my best friend isn’t something you exactly want to feel. Knowing that I could’ve prevented it made it even worse. I was mainly just really upset about it. It just . . . I know what it’s like. I can say that for sure, but the thought of losing my best friend really got to me. The way she acted about it is what really made me mad. It might have been because she was drunk. She just didn’t care. She was borderline almost bragging about what she did to herself. The next day I was still mad at her, but I knew I had to be there for her and that’s all that really mattered to me. There were ways to avoid doing what she did to herself and I’m partially mad at myself because I didn’t stop it from happening. I felt like I showed up too late. When I asked my friend whether she had any idea this might happen, she replied, “Yes, somewhat. The way she was talking to me earlier that day, I know the way she gets when she’s about to do something like this. The way she started acting and how she wasn’t answering my phone calls and how she was being secretive—she was pushing it on me to let her go to her room alone. I just hope she doesn’t ever do it again.” Another person involved in this incident arrived after the previous friend called him. I asked, “How did you feel when you got the phone call?” He responded, “I was scared and worried because I didn’t want anything to happen to her—she’s one of my closest friends here. I needed to get there and make sure everything was all right. I was disappointed that she did that to herself and I needed to get it taken care of and make sure nothing was wrong. I had to make sure no veins were cut. The next day I was disappointed, but I was happy she was still alive and all right.” These stories come from the point of view of those who were lucky enough to get there in time. They saved their friend’s life, but they had to see a friend in a state where she did not want to live anymore. Imagine the impact that must have had on them; this may haunt them for the rest of their lives. Think about how you would feel if you were put into such a situation. These stories are all about outsiders, those who are on the outside looking in, who may not understand how people become so depressed that suicide or cutting can feel like options. It is hard to explain why this happens because sometimes the person herself does not even know. I am one of these once-suicidal people, and I can honestly say that I do not fully know why I intentionally hurt myself. Perhaps I became so emotionless and numb that I wanted to feel something; I would rather have felt pain than nothing at all. I was eleven when I started cutting myself. I hated that I was so young and felt like I had no control over decisions that were being made for me because nobody took a second to ask me what I wanted. Cutting gave me a sense of relief. For once, I could be in control and experience immediate gratification. I am in no way justifying cutting, but, for those of you who do not understand, this is my way of trying to help you. I heard someone say once, “I don’t think I was trying to kill myself, but if I went too deep on accident, I don’t think I would’ve cared.” 87
When feeling suicidal, anything is possible: some days are good and some days aren’t. Some days you’ll feel perfectly fine, and then a memory or something will come up and completely turn your mood around. Intentionally hurting yourself is a way to express and relieve pain. There are other ways to do so, but when you are depressed, there is no energy left to find an alternative route. The thought is there, and it eventually turns into more than a thought; it becomes real. Handling a situation of self-harm or being suicidal can be difficult. Often people do not know what to do. They may panic and act in one or two extreme ways: they automatically assume there is nothing they can do about it and ignore the problem, or they bother the person too much to make sure nothing else happens. These are not the ways to go. The best way to help, I have seen, is to ease into the situation. The only thing you can really do is talk to people, telling them that you know something is going on. Do not use threats because that is going to encourage them to hide their pain even more than they were before. Also, do not agitate them with questions and concerns because that is going to push them into thinking they are “messed up.” If they want to talk about it after you have said something, to do so is their decision. Once you make them realize that you understand and are not going to judge them, there is nothing else you can do. If they continue to harm themselves, you can try to figure out what is best for them. If you are too late and they end up killing themselves, do not feel guilty. You tried to help, and trying is better than ignoring what is going on. Suicide is a sensitive topic. Society knows it exists, but many are afraid to recognize it because with recognition comes pain. Even the people closest to you can be suffering from severe pain and hurt that you never notice. It is hard to realize that someone is actually willing to take their own life because issues have become unbearable. As someone who has survived this pain, I feel obligated to try to help others understand what it is like to look at yourself in the mirror, thinking about all of the bad things that have happened to you and believing life is not worth living. People need to understand how it feels to sit there with a blade to your wrist or a handful of pills in your hand knowing that this could possibly be your last day, with half of you feeling okay with that. They need to understand those thoughts that run through your head telling you to do it and that it’s all going to be better; how it feels when your attempt to end your life fails, and how disappointing it is when you wake up the next morning and wish you hadn’t. It’s hard hearing that this is what goes through a person’s mind at sometimes, but it’s the truth. The sooner society accepts that, the sooner the problem can be recognized and something can be done. Suicidal awareness needs to be spread because, right now, this topic is in a place where it shouldn’t be: the back burner. Until then, all you can do is love the people who are hurting. Sometimes people just need to know that you care and that you notice them. Maybe all they want is to be noticed. How amazing it is to finally feel something other than sadness and anger. WORKS CITED Bloom, Linda, and Charlie Bloom. “Stronger at the Broken Places: How Challenges Can Strengthen Your Relationship.” Psychology Today. Nov. 18, 2011. Web. Smith, Melinda, Suzanne Barston and Jeanne Segal. “Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents and Teachers.” Help Guide: January 2014. Web. 88
(Not) Using My Head (By Mitchell Bumann) It was the summer right before seventh grade. I do not remember what exact day, maybe the 10th, but it was for sure in August 2007, right when school was about to start. My brother Darren was there, along with my best friend Chad, Chad’s older brother Ryan, and myself. From what I remember, it was a Saturday afternoon and we had just gotten back to my house from Costco. We had all recently fixed our bikes and were in the mood to go ride around, so we decided to go on a bike ride. I didn’t feel like wearing a helmet because it wasn’t considered cool and it made me look like an idiot. Beginning the bike ride in the driveway of my house, which is at the top of the neighborhood, we rode down the road and turned left off the neighborhood’s territory. The place where we went, which touched the back end of our neighborhood, was considered part of the Cleveland National Forest, although it didn’t look like a forest at all. It was more like a small wood. Inside, a hiking trail wound up a fairly steep hill. I don’t know how much these trails got used because we had never seen anyone on them before. We rode our bikes up these trails for a while. It was very hot that day, and there were lots of gnats flying around the forest and near my face. Everything was brown and dried out from the heat. I saw and heard the bushes rustle a little, thinking maybe it was a mountain lion. I had been hearing stories about people being attacked and killed by mountain lions, so I rushed back down the trail. After riding down the mountain, we were soon back on the black, scorching pavement. I could feel the heat rising from the road and onto my face. We made a right onto Buckskin Trail, which very steep, and from there, our ride took a tragic turn. Ryan was riding in front of me, with Darren and Chad following behind me. As I was going practically full speed downhill, I decided to ride with no hands. Prior to this, I had been practicing riding with no hands, and I must say I had gotten fairly good at it. So I decided to take a big step up and do it down this steep street. I was feeling the need to show off and look like a cool guy. I don’t remember feeling anything like that before—going so fast and letting my arms dangle, the wind blowing my hair back and sending a big chill through my whole body. It felt like time had suddenly stopped. Everything around me was moving so fast, but I felt like I was in slow motion, with time and speed in my hands. I saw a great number of cars as I whizzed by like the Roadrunner in the cartoon. While I cruised, I enjoyed this tremendous feeling of power. I felt I could control this piece of metal with my core and hips. During my reverie, I decided to look ahead at Ryan, but he had stopped in the middle of the street perpendicular to the road. It was already too late. I violently slammed my bike right into him. My bike T-boned his bike, and I flew over my handle bars and even over Ryan. I blacked out right before I hit him. The last thing I remember seeing is running into him. As I was on my way down, I landed on my ass and my head slammed back on the asphalt. Ryan, Darren and Chad witnessed the whole accident and told me later that I actually did a front flip over Ryan and then my head slammed back. After I landed, my brother Darren said that I kind of lay there for a while, and the three of them tried to wake me up but with no response. They told me that I may have been moaning in pain and didn’t look so hot. 89
After about five to ten minutes of laying in the street in agony, Darren said I walked over to someone’s front lawn and puked my brains out. My brain will not let me remember this. I do not even recall going home. Yes, my mom—being the laid-back, tough kind of person she is— thought I was completely fine and took me home. Luckily, someone or some instinct told her to reconsider and take me to the doctor. This is when I remember mentally waking up inside the car. We were on our way to our doctor’s office. Everyone was in the car—Ryan, Chad, Darren, and my mom. I remember we were in a hospital room waiting for the doctor to come in. While we were waiting for him, I told my mom to tell everyone that I love them. I totally thought I was going to die. My mom simply kept saying, “Mitchell, you will see them again.” Finally, the doctor came in, and just by looking at me, he could tell I had a severe concussion. Angry at my mom, he told her, “What are you thinking bringing him here? He needs the hospital immediately.” The next thing I remembered, I was in the back of the ambulance with a paramedic carefully sliding a cold needle into my vein for an IV. I felt so cramped, like I was being packed inside my coffin. All I saw was the bright, shimmering fluorescent light right above me. I soon arrived at the hospital, where I waited in a bed for the nurses to transfer me into a different room. This is where I started to regain full consciousness. I felt horrible. The plain white walls, like a long vision of white, made me feel as if nothing would ever come. All I could see was wires around the room and the very frightened faces of my parents. Later, my mom showed me the pictures she took of me while I was passed out. I had a huge gash on my bloody chin, which explained the scab that I had no clue how I had gotten. I mean, I thought I had landed on my head. The smell was horrendous, a mixture of bleach and sterile metal—not to mention the awful sound of my heart rate monitor beeping. Eventually the doctors came in and told me the bad news, “You’re lucky you survived this; you have an internal four-inch skull fracture.” At first, I didn’t understand this. I asked myself, “What?” Later I wondered how I did not crack my head open. To me, this was crazy and insanely lucky. I had no idea how much this would affect the people I cared about. My dad had come all the way from work, and I know I just about terrified my mom. She was the one who stayed the night with me every night at the hospital. Being at the hospital drove me absolutely crazy. The first few nights were the worst. On the first night, I woke and threw up into a bucket because of all the nausea. The second night was a little better except for my massive migraine; I couldn’t sleep at all. The third night, I wanted to go home already and sleep in my own bed. I kept asking the nurse when I could go home. I felt so gross and dirty; the hospital staff wouldn’t let me do anything, not even take a shower. Whenever I feel really sick, I always take a shower to make myself feel better. One night I had a cool nurse who let me take a warm shower. It made me feel so refreshed, like when I take a long stretch after I wake up. It took about a week until the hospital released me. I felt like a free man, although they did have to push me outside in a wheelchair. The first thing I did when I finally got home was lie in my 90
bed; all I wanted to do was sleep. The feeling I got from sleeping in my bed after being in the hospital for so long was unbelievable; I felt as if I was sleeping on a cloud. Because this accident happened shortly before school started, I had to miss the first week of school. When I came back, everyone was asking me where I had been and what happened. I had to tell my whole story, like fifty billion times, and it got annoying. Not to mention I always had a headache that felt as if someone was pounding me in the head with a mallet. It only got worse from repeatedly retelling my story. I went to the doctor once every two weeks just to get checked up, but the worst appointment of my life happened about a month after the accident. As I entered the doctor’s room, I was wondering what he would say to me or what I should expect, but I didn’t really listen to what he was saying. Then the conversation shifted to something I really cared about: sports. It was almost soccer season, so we began talking about my health and physical clearance. I never thought he would have said, “No soccer for six weeks.” This absolutely broke my heart in two. I tried so hard to hide my tears. When we were done talking, I stormed out of the room, grabbed my mom, and left. I told her what happened and started bawling my eyes out. At this point in my life soccer meant a lot to me, and I was actually very good at it. Soccer was the first sport I was dedicated to and the first sport I loved. My teammates would be discouraged if I let them down. Since I was out for six weeks, I called my coach and let him know. For more than half of the season I had to sit on the sidelines, and as I watched my team play, I felt like a failure. This was super frustrating to me because I wanted to do my very best. As I approached my last few days on the disabled list, I was growing excited but anxious. We only had three games left in season, but I gave it my all. My first practice back, we had an all-out conditioning exercise. We did core, sprints, pushups, and everything! I was out of shape. These exercises always made my head throb. It really hurt, but I worked so hard at these practices that I got my starting position back. After all the games were over and the season had come to an end, I was still disappointed, in myself more than anything. I was ignorant and selfish, for I never looked at the big picture and thought my decisions through. If I would have just worn that stupid helmet, none of this would have ever happened. Before the accident, I never realized how my actions could affect the people around me and cause something I cared about to end the way it did. Soccer had been my first love. Well, you live and learn, right? The big hit to my head literally knocked the sense into me and made me reevaluate what I cared about. Nowadays, I fully understand what I must do before I enter a situation.
Swim Now, Breathe Later (By Andi Choyce) “Breathing is for the weak. Philippians 4:13. Breathing is for the weak. I can do all things
through Christ who gives me strength.” Butterflies rolled around in my stomach as I repeated this saying in my head. All four years of swimming had finally led up to this point, this one race: the 100-yard freestyle. I stood behind the blocks, tears threatening to blind me, hands shaking like leaves, and jitters jumping around my entire body. The race before mine had just started, so I sat on the bench to wait. My feet tapped nervously on the drenched blue tiles as I watched the other swimmers. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, nervous with anticipation of the energy it would soon have to exert. Deep breaths inflated my lungs as I attempted to keep myself calm. “Breathing is for the weak. Philippians 4:13. Andi, you’ve done this hundreds of times. You know the motions, you know your goal, and you know your capabilities.” In the blink of an eye, it was my turn. I heard my mom’s voice ringing through the warm air above all the others: “Let’s go, Andi!” She always was my number-one motivator. As the announcer said each girl’s name, lane and high school, a ball formed in my throat. I choked it down as soon as the whistle blew, and I stepped carefully onto the blocks for the last dual meet I would ever compete in as a high school student. The official said, “Take your mark.” My muscles tensed as I reached down to grab the bottom of the diving block. My toes curled over the edge and my legs were ready to lunge my body into the water. “Philippians 4:13.” “Go!” I flew off the block and streamlined under the water. I kicked as hard I as I could while rising to the surface. My arms started to spin, not wildly, but with the grace of an experienced freestyler. Each stroke burned my muscles, but I would not stop. I swam the first 25 yards without taking a breath; I did not even breathe right after my flip-turn at the wall. “Breathing is for the weak. Philippians 4:13. You can do this, Andi! Lord, give me strength.” After the second flip-turn, my legs ached almost as badly as my lungs and I knew it would be so easy to slow down. I fought my way through the third flip-turn, allowed myself one last breath, and put my head down; I had only 20 yards to go. I repeated my mantra as visions of my mother and my coach passed through my head. I kicked harder despite the pain. I saw my goal and I wanted it so badly. I could hear the crowd shouting indecipherable cheers as my distance on the wall came to a close. After a mentally and physically exhausting race, my fingers slammed the touchpad hanging on the pool wall. The first thing I did was turn to my left to see the scoreboard. Shock shot across my face as I stared up at the glowing red numbers displaying my time: 58.73 seconds. 58? YES! A smile stretched across my face as I threw my fist up in the air in accomplishment and pure joy. After a grueling four years, countless workouts, and much determination, I had finally beaten 59 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle. The ball from earlier rose up in my throat again and tears welled in my eyes, but this time they were happy tears. Though my muscles despised me for it, I forced myself out of the pool and rolled onto the deck. As I walked back to my coach, people shouted, “Good job!” and patted me on the back. I do not think I had ever felt this elated. My coach congratulated me and then hugged me. Never in all four years had I received such a compliment from her. I saw pride beam through her usually cold blue eyes—something I rarely encountered. That night I learned one of the biggest lessons of my life. 92
When I started swimming as a freshman in high school, I hated it. In fact, my mom had to bribe me just to get me to be on the team. I walked into the experience with a closed mind and a closed heart, thinking I would never amount to anything. To spite my mother, I set up walls to keep myself from being able to enjoy the opportunity; I quickly found there was not much to enjoy anyway. The girls, especially the seniors, seemed catty, judgmental, and superficial. The coach did not seem to care unless you were on the varsity team. The workouts were tough when muscles were minimal like mine. I did what was asked of me when it came to exercising, but I never gave more than I needed to; I did not think my coach deserved my best effort. I hardly socialized with my teammates. When it came to practice, I would just hop in, swim, and hop out while the other girls chatted. When it came to team parties, I would play whatever games they had planned, watch whatever movies the other girls wanted, and keep my mouth shut. I figured it was better to play along than to rock the boat. The only waves I made were the ones in the pool. My sophomore year was a bit different. My mom and my coach got into a big argument that lasted quite a while due to the fact that the coach suggested cutting a few girls to make the team a size she could handle. My mother would absolutely not have it and a committee, complete with my coaches, my mother, the high school athletic director, and a few swimmers and parents, was formed to decide what to do. Nobody was cut from the team that year, but a new level was made: Junior Varsity B, also known as the worst of the worst. I made Junior Varsity A that year, so I was happy with my standing. Still, my coach hardly even acknowledged me due to the disagreement between her and my mother. I was okay with that, though; she was not very kind to the other girls, either. I made friends this year with the new freshmen, but same as the year before, I did what I was told and did not make any figurative waves. I mainly kept to myself. The same thing happened junior year, as well. The coach wanted to cut some swimmers, but nobody else did. The same system was put into place and time trials were held to determine where each girl would be placed. Again, I made Junior Varsity A, which was not a problem. This year was different, though, now that I was an upper-classman. I felt more empowered, stronger, and more motivated. During one of my races, I broke a minute in my 100-yard freestyle with a time of 59.93, a feat I had never before accomplished. My coach seemed to take an interest in me after that. I kept getting better, and I finally fell in love with my sport. My spirits soared because I suddenly understood what it meant to be a swimmer, to be a part of a team. I became better friends with more of my teammates that year and my times improved immensely. Every race actually mattered: I always pushed myself to beat the girls next to me, and I did! It finally felt like I was a contributing member of the team. By the end of my season, my teammates voted me â€œMost Improved Swimmer,â€? not just because of my times, but also because of my attitude, and I was so proud to have earned that. Although I showed great improvement junior year, my senior year started off a bit rocky. For the time trials, I did not even make it under a minute for my 100-yard freestyle. In fact, my times for all the other events were just as bad, if not worse. The coach put me on JVâ€“A, again, and I knew I would have to work really hard to bring myself back to the level I was at the prior year. This year I was at the top of the food chain, though, which was a game changer for me. Now I had nobody looking down upon me for being younger, weaker, or less experienced. I also decided I was not going to be like the girls who terrified me when I was a freshman, so I encouraged all of 93
my underclassmen teammates in all their races. I tried to talk with as many of them as I could. The younger girls on the JV teams looked up to me, not only because I became one of the best freestylers in the JV level, but because I was kind to them. I stayed strong for them and I gave them my best effort. While my attitude was skyrocketing, my times were plummeting, which gave me something to smile about. My self-confidence received a boost every time I beat my personal records and I felt so good about being a part of the team. At the end of the season, my teammates voted me to receive the â€œCaptainâ€™s Award.â€? This meant that even though I was not an official team captain all season, I had all of the qualities to be one. The award was another accomplishment I felt proud to have earned. When I accepted the award in front of my teammates and their families, that final dual-meet race whipped through the back of my mind. I was reminded of my mother and the courage, bravery and love she showed to me throughout my four years as a swimmer. I was reminded of my teammates and how much I had bonded with them since tearing down my walls. I was reminded of the lessons I had learned throughout the seasons, especially the lessons I learned after that last race. The first lesson was to be nice to everyone, even if they are against you. The second lesson is to keep an open mind: you might enjoy something your mom bribes you to do. As time went on, each experience nudged my iron shell open a little bit. Every remark on how well my race went, how good my strokes looked, or how my flip-turns were nearly perfect, weakened my barrier. Every laugh I caused brought a smile to my own face. It felt good when those walls were finally knocked down. The last lesson, the most important one, was that if you put your whole heart into something and truly mean it, you will get the results you desire. It only took me four years and 58.73 seconds to learn that one.
The Happiest Place on Earth (By Gabriella Andrade) As I walked into the lobby of the Paradise Pier Hotel in Disneyland, the first thing I noticed was the genuine smiles given to us by everybody we encountered. Natural sunlight bathed the room, accenting the brightly tiled floors and the colorful walls. In the center of the room, a crowd of people had developed. Amidst the bright camera flashes and squeals of delight stood a statue of Goofy holding a surfboard. As we made our way to the front desk, a middle-aged man greeted my family with, “Welcome. Is this your first time here?” It was not. But my youngest brother Nick, who was about seven at the time, was practically bouncing with excitement. The last time we had gone to Disneyland, he was in a Baby Bjorn. He made a beeline for the statue. His expressions were so animated; I could see the wonder and excitement reflecting in his eyes. His smile was so wide and unending that I could not help but share in his joy. This was the beginning of a trip that significantly impacted my life—when my mom, two younger brothers, and I went to Disneyland in fall of 2012. This was the first trip we had taken since our dad passed away. Growing up, we were fortunate enough to go on trips every year. My dad really enjoyed planning trips that were both educational and fun for us. By the time I was twelve, I had already experienced the colors of leaves in autumn, skied at multiple places, fished in Missouri, ridden horseback through the Badlands, and visited Mt. Rushmore. I had already been to Disneyland a few times as well. I only know of the first time from pictures because I was so young, but the second time was a surprise trip devised by my parents, and I vividly remember getting stuck on the top of the California Screamin’ roller coaster at the adjacent Disney Park during that trip. My mom often referred to my dad as Peter Pan because he was “the boy who never grew up.” He enjoyed the park just as much as we did. We found out my dad had cancer when I was fifteen. At this time, I was also going through battles with my own health and was unable to attend school. Although my dad was tired due to treatment, he always maintained his positive attitude toward life. He never failed to greet me with a smile and, “How are you doing, baby-girl?” I did everything I could to comfort him and make him happy. Within a year and a half of his diagnosis, my father passed away. That was an extremely hard year for our family. We tried really hard to have some sense of normalcy without him, and this trip to Disneyland was a huge step for us. It was good for me to see my brothers excited and happy after the grief we were all experiencing. Disneyland is my happy place; when I think of Disney, I think of creativity, imagination, ingenuity, and joy. My cares disappear as I am lost in the world of magic. The employees there help to bring this happiness to everyone who visits: each cast member (the name they use for their employees) seems to be focused on making every guest’s experience a memorable one, and my family was no exception. On one sunny afternoon, my family explored Mainstreet USA for trinkets and souvenirs to bring back to our friends and extended family. Between the neverending smiles and phrases like, “Hope to see you soon, Princess,” the cast members within those shops left positive impressions on me. 95
One of my favorite memories was created by an artist in one of the park stores. As we walked through the many shops, I was drawn to a place filled with hundreds of drawings of Disney characters and movie scenes. Perched in front of the window was a young man hunched over a table, busily working on a colored pencil piece depicting Maleficent. I watched from a distance, until my mom commented, “Just think, Gabby, one of these days, you might do that.” At that moment the artist turned to me and asked, “Do you draw?” My mom replied, “Yes, and maybe one day, she will have your job.” I was mortified! He smiled and offered me his chair and asked if I wanted to try. I reluctantly sat down, after much encouragement from him and my mom, and he allowed me to choose a character that I wanted to work on and the colors I wanted to use. He walked me through the sketch and explained step by step how to develop it. He made suggestions about my posture and line strokes, and offered advice about my shading techniques. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of my drawing. His detailed instructions helped me to create a piece that I was proud of, and the time that he took to interact with and encourage me was definitely a highlight of my trip. I purchased one of his sketches, which still hangs on my wall next to the one that I made. Captain Hook and The Big Bad Wolf greet me as I enter and leave my room each day; they serve as a reminder of an amazing place and moment in time. This trip took place in the middle of my senior year of high school, just a few months after my dad’s death. At that point in my life, I was in an emotionally fragile state. My dad had instilled a love of travelling in me from a young age; he wanted me to experience as much of the world as I could and to know that time spent with family is precious. How could my family ever recover from this devastating turn of events? This trip was a big step, for my family and for me. It was important because if it turned to be too difficult to bear, I may have lost some of my passion for travelling. As it turned out, this trip only solidified my love for travel. I was also at a critical point in my life because I had no idea what college I wanted to go to or what I would be interested in majoring in, but the trip left such an impression on me that I started to think about how to combine my interest in travel with a career. I loved the idea of being able to take part in bringing excitement and joy to others in their travel experiences; I knew that if I could do that, I would find satisfaction. With this in mind, I started to research colleges that would help me to achieve this goal. Eventually, this search led to my enrollment at Hawai‘i Pacific University as a Travel Industry Management student. As I attend my classes, I often reflect on the events that led me to this point in my life. The love of travel that my dad instilled in me, the hospitality that the cast members at Disneyland showed to me, and the compassion that the artist shared, all impacted my decision to pursue a career within the travel industry. These events were also therapeutic for me as I coped with the loss of a loved one. For me, Disneyland lived up to the title of “the Happiest Place on Earth,” and in the future, I hope to bring some of this happiness I have been given to those whom I encounter.
Gabriella Andradeâ€™s Sketch: Captain Hook
SOUND AND SILENCE
Defining Silence in a World of Noise (By Elizabeth Dash) As I was evaluating George Prochnik’s call for change in his book, In Pursuit of Silence, I could not help but recall a quote from Jorge Luis Borges, a 20th century Argentinian essayist who proclaimed, “Don’t talk unless you can improve the silence.” This quote can be interpreted in many ways. The most obvious interpretation is that one should not just speak for the sake of talking. Instead, people should value the silence and only speak if what they plan to say is worth disrupting the brief moments of tranquility. Prochnik is similar to Borges in that he believes people should view silence as a sacred virtue that is hard to achieve, especially in modern times. In an attempt to save what little silence we have left, Prochnik focuses on eliminating excess noise in a time dominated by noise pollution, in hopes of maintaining a healthy society. Although silence, in its most literal sense, seems ideal, even Prochnik acknowledges that a completely noiseless environment is not feasible (Prochnik 293-294). With this in mind, his search for silence seems to have no decisive conclusion: How can one search for silence if there is no silence to be found? It is because of this technicality that understanding the difference between sound and noise, as well as quiet and silence, becomes imperative. Prochnik briefly mentions the connotations of these words, which differ greatly, but he fails to use them to his advantage. In Chapter 5, for example, Prochnik plays on the definition of the words by labeling the section, “Sounds Like Noise.” Using the denotation of the words, this title means, literally, “sounds like noise.” This, then, is personifying the word “sound,” but sounds cannot actually like anything. Conversely, using the connotations of the words, the title means that what one hears is noise. The double meaning is mainly a result of the word “sound.” The word “sound” can be both a noun and a verb, depending on the context in which it is used. When used as a verb, the word “sound” has to be working with the noun in order to imply the use of the term (“sound”). This play on words helps transition his argument from developing his stance to providing some background knowledge that may be useful to the reader (Prochnik 106-124). The distinction between sound and noise might seem acute and technical, but it must be understood in order to develop a clear understanding of the topic. Prochnik explains, “Too many disparate sounds heard together make for an experience of noise” (107). This coincides nicely with the dictionary definition which states that a noise is “a sound, especially of a loud, harsh, or confused kind” (“Noise”). This is different from the more scientific definition of “sound,” which i, “the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium” (“sound”). Thus, as Prochnik was implying, sound is the physical vibrations we hear, and noise is the result of these sounds (107). Furthermore, noise is often associated with an unpleasant connotation, whereas sound is usually not. This also helps distinctly define the two terms. There are certain excerpts in the book where Prochnik discusses the science behind vibrations and their patterns, which also helps define the two more precisely (51-68). Sound is overall a more scientific and widely used word for any vibrations we hear, and noise results from a multitude of sounds. With these two definitions in mind, it is safe to say that Prochnik’s goal is to eliminate as much noise as possible by preventing unnecessary sound from being created. 99
Perhaps even more complex than the difference between sound and noise is the difference between silence and quiet. Part of Prochnik’s journey included observing what silence meant to children in today’s society, since it seems nearly impossible for them to escape all the noise of the modern era. He observed, after inquiring what silence meant to schoolchildren, that “the idea of silence has one association: a tragic, or at least extremely disturbing, event that left them bereft of words” (Prochnik 283-286). This seems an interesting discovery considering the title of his book is In Pursuit of Silence. Why would one search for silence if it seems to only be associated with tragedy? Even Prochnik himself explained that true silence can only be obtained through death (294). Perhaps “quiet” would prove more fitting to use in this circumstance. When searched on the Internet, the word quiet simply means “to make no noise or sound” (“Quiet”). The given definition for “silence” was almost verbatim to that of “quiet,” but the words, “stillness, muteness, and the state of being forgotten” were added at the end (“Silence”). Although Prochnik tends to use the two words interchangeably throughout the book, there is a distinction made between these terms in their definitions; silence seems to be the absolute form of quiet. Prochnik, then, might have been more accurate in labeling the book In Pursuit of Quiet, since even he admits that complete silence is impossible to come by. He also should have avoided using the two terms interchangeably at points because it leads the reader to wonder if what he is really searching for is silence. As a result, this causes the reader to question certain aspects of his argument. In order to pursue silence we must eliminate every sound that is created, but in order to pursue quiet, we must only eliminate the sounds we find excessive. It is here, however, that Prochnik’s argument tends to falter because he seems to believe sound must be eliminated to find that quiet peace. Prochnik conducts several interviews with people he believes to be experts on the topic of silence versus noise. One interview in particular stands out when assessing the difference between searching for silence and searching for quiet—one between Prochnik and a woman who works for NASA by the name of Suni Williams. During his talk with Williams, the silence enthusiast explained that he imagined space as one of the quietest destinations in existence. However, Williams believed quite the opposite. She insisted, “When you have people from the ground telling you ‘do this’ all the time, you don’t feel the silence of space as much” (qtd. in Prochnik 8-10). Thus, what once seemed as the biggest retreat from noise pollution suddenly became just as polluted as a major city during rush hour with cars constantly honking. The same can be said about Prochnik’s idealist view of places of worship (Prochnik 22-23). Even in a place that is supposed to foster silence from the outside world in order to form a deeper connection to a greater being, such as a Catholic church or a Jewish temple, pitiless sounds disrupt the quiet. Scuffing of shoes, fidgeting, and even the humble crackling of lit candles ruin any opportunity of pure silence. Although this is true, worshippers still manage to find solace because of their desire to connect with their faith on a greater level. Thus, if people have the desire to escape from noise, they can block out the sound with their will to remove themselves. In other words, silence can often be found not by eliminating the noise, but forcing oneself to escape from it. If this is so, it seems unnecessary to eliminate all noise in such places. 100
The pursuit of silence involves eliminating all noise, which can be almost as detrimental as facilitating noise itself. While there are numerous sounds that can be correctly identified as pollution, there are also several that prove beneficial. Prochnik conducted research involving the evolution of the ear and the reason behind our unique ability to “drown out” background noise while focusing on a dominant sound (54-60). He admitted that sounds often help the brain to perform more efficiently, or even play on emotions. It is because of this power that retail stores play loud music appealing to their target market, and it is why certain people are more productive working on their homework if they are listening to music (Prochnik 89-105). These observations demonstrate that sounds are necessary for survival, and that eliminating all sounds, even just for a moment, might have adverse effects. The question now becomes how to find the proper balance between noise and silence. Prochnik’s suggestions for educating people about the potential harmful effects of noise and establishing more places for them to escape the noise are not too drastic and can be implemented. However, more drastic measures such as implementing legislation to control sounds, or others that provide specific regulations, may not be as possible or even as effective. While it is necessary to pursue ways of quieting the noise pollution of the world, absolute silence is not necessary. Lowering the volume of headphones or taking some time to rest in a quiet place may be all that is needed to decrease Prochnik’s disgust. Loud sounds are inevitable, especially in today’s high-tech society, but setting aside some quiet time is a positive and possible strategy for anyone. Small changes are, after all, what catches the needed attention to facilitate greater action. WORKS CITED Prochnik, George. In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for a Meaning in a World of Noise. New York: Anchor, 2010. Print. “Noise.” Dictionary. Reference. n.p, n.d,. Web. 29 Sep. 2013. “Silence.” Dictionary. Reference. n.p, n.d,. Web. 29 Sep. 2013. “Sound.” Dictionary. Reference. n.p, n.d,. Web. 29 Sep. 2013. “Quiet.” Dictionary. Reference. n.p, n.d,. Web. 29 Sep. 2013.
Ideal Silence (By Mellissa Rotino) “What are you doing? I’ve called you downstairs about a million times!” my mother exclaimed in irritation as she leaned in my bedroom doorway. “Hmm?” I said, still not hearing what she wanted from me. She made a motion to her ears, telling me to remove my noise blasting ear buds. “Oh, right…” “You need to come downstairs. We are having a family meeting.” With that, she walked out of my room, and I trailed behind her soon after. Little did I know that this “family meeting” would lead to me gaining the information that we were about to leave Las Vegas, Nevada, and cross the Northern Pacific Ocean to Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Many mixed feelings swirled around in my mind as I thought about this relocation. We were going to be leaving the city life for quiet island life. I had been surrounded by sound my whole life, moving from one busy city to another, from noise to more noise. I grew accustomed to its company, so I never saw it as a nuisance. The sounds of jets passing overhead did not really faze me. I even grew up sleeping with a noisy fan in my room, which I can no longer sleep without. Something about the jagged hum soothes me, lulling me to sleep rather quickly. I had never really thought about what it would be like to experience “true” silence. The quietest of situations I had ever been in still were accompanied by some sort of noise, and the thought of moving somewhere that I would have to experience silence bothered me. I felt like I would lose the comfort of the sounds I had grown so used to. After I got the news that we were being relocated to the tropical Hawai‘i, I was a bit apprehensive. When people think Hawai‘i, they usually think of the “secluded island getaway” that is shown in television commercials and on postcards. They show the parts of the rainbow state that people want and expect to see. “Is there even a mall there?” I would ask my parents jokingly, but honestly, the thought of not having somewhere to go and have fun made my gut twist. It was the sights, the sounds, which I loved about the city, that were being taken away from me. It was hard to imagine moving to “postcard perfect” Hawai‘i. My parents would talk about moving there, about how much fun it would be, but all I could think about was how quiet it would be there. We finally made the transition to Hawai‘i and the moment I stepped off the plane, there was already the omnipresent city noise, looming in the background. “Where’s the beach? Eww, and what’s the smell?” I asked, almost confused, as if I were expecting the plane to land in the sand and I was to be greeted by sweet, coconut-scented Hawaiians in bikinis. As we ventured into the city the only thing I could think about was the humidity and all of the damn noise. There was almost a feeling of disappointment. Surprisingly, it turned out that I was actually looking forward to the tropical getaway more than I had originally realized. There was noise in this place that I imagined to be quiet, if not more noise than I had ever thought there to be in any “paradise.” I imagined this to be a quiet, lonely island, tucked away from all noise itself, but boy was I wrong. The postcards and television commercials seemed to have lied—false advertising, for sure. Now we lived on a military base where the jets flew too close, shaking the house with their landings, and my school was located smack in the center of the busy downtown. I found myself longing for peace and quiet now, wanting this to be the place I expected it to be. 102
One day, we went on a short road trip (which in Hawai‘i is only about an hour’s worth of driving) to do a little camping on the beach. We found a place tucked away from all the noise, isolated and quiet—a place where the only noise was the soft hush of distant waves. This was the closest thing I had ever experienced to silence: away from the beeps of technology, the honks of the busy traffic, or loud music emanating from various buildings. “It’s like a different planet,” I mumbled to myself in awe. “We’re still in Hawai‘i, I promise,” my dad replied sarcastically. When I imagined Hawai‘i, this is what I had imagined: sugary white sand that felt like velvet beneath your feet, crystal blue waters that seemed to have leapt right out of those postcards I had seen. I feared it would be the loud kind of silence that left nothing but an uncomfortable humming in one’s ears, but it was not like that at all. It was just utterly peaceful. I could have sat outside for hours, just lapping up the silence. It was the kind of silence you wanted to savor, to remember and enjoy. It brought on happy thoughts, and put me in an all-around better mood. I internally compared this to how I felt when I was in the noise-polluted city and realized that there was so much stress there. The city noise put me in a permanent state of irritability that I did not know I had been experiencing until I experienced the tendrils of peaceful silence that pulled me into its warm bosom, hugging me as it sang a soft lullaby. We were nestled safely in our quiet cabins, only accompanied by the sound of the calming waves. It was not truly silent, of course, it was just… my kind of silent. Then the dark veil of night rolled around and we escaped from the bugs into our cabin. We all retreated to our designated rooms after sharing quick “goodnight” wishes. It was far from a good night. The silence was so loud it left an empty echoing in my ears. (If you cannot imagine what “loud” silence is, just imagine yourself in a dark, sound resistant room, with nothing but an uncomfortable ringing or hum in your ears.) Even the hush of the waves outside was hushed further, until they could barely even be heard. This had me longing for the lull of my noisy fan and the muted but omnipresent city sounds. When morning came my mother and father told me this was one of the best sleeps they had had in quite a while because of the lack of noise. I, on the other hand, felt that the lack of noise is what bothered me most about the night, almost like the way one would be afraid of the lack of light. Once I returned from our short vacation, I began to internally analyze my island experience. I thought back to my growing up, surrounded constantly by sound. I had just let myself accept these sounds, not realizing the negative effect they really had on me. My family escaped all that in a small cabin on the quiet beach, and I found peace with quiet until the quiet became too much and I longed for the hum of some sort of noise. I came to believe that there are both good and bad things about noise and silence alike. Too much noise can be overwhelming for most people, but the stress can be treated by a healthy dose of peaceful silence. But everybody has their different preferences on noise levels. People know what sounds comfort them—maybe sounds that remind them of a good time in their life—and what sounds irritate them. What is noisy to you might not be noisy to me, and vice versa. 103
In the end, it is just important to surround yourself with sounds that make you happy, much like you would surround yourself with people that make you happy, because both can have the same effects. If I could, I would surround myself with the sounds of the beach during midday, such as people laughing and the waves lapping against the shore. That is my ideal noise, and in the end, it is also my ideal silence.
Meditation in The Schools: The Answer to Our Problems? (By Josh Sheetz) In his book In Pursuit of Silence Listening for a Meaning in a World of Noise, George Prochnik explores the benefits of silent meditation and tries to raise awareness about how our society is addicted to noise. On one of his journeys, Prochnik comes across Gene Lushtak, who has been employed along with a group of other silent-meditation advocates by various school systems to provide sessions in “mindfulness and concentration,” which is a stealth way of introducing silent meditation into the classroom (Prochnik, 2010, p.28). Lushtak says “teachers are scared” and “they can’t get the kids to settle down, and silent meditation is one of the only things that help”(P.28 as cited in Prochnik, 2010). This raises a question: does meditation have a place in the school system? Meditation is defined as a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself. Prochnik explores the benefits that silent meditation has on the mind and body, and I agree with his stance on the issue. This practice is beneficial for school-age children because it has behavioral benefits, mental benefits, social benefits, and can improve psychological disorders. I will show this by addressing parents and children through the use of research done on meditation and its benefits, as well as life experiences. Silent meditation is a powerful life skill for children to learn. In 2005, a study showed the widereaching effects of meditation in schools on students in the fourth through seventh grades; they experienced improved optimism, attention, and behavior, and improved reactions toward aggression through mindfulness exercises (Schonert-Reichl, 2005, para. 1). When kids are given a block of time before class, this lets them clear their heads for a new school day, helping them get ready to learn; after class, the teachers could also give the children time to reflect on everything they learned that day before going home. This would help the children relax, which would in turn reduce the amount of stress and anxiety they experience, thus giving them a better opportunity to retain information more effectively. Meditation has also been proven to increase creativity, learning ability, and memory. A study performed at the Massachusetts General Hospital showed that regular meditation thickened the cerebral cortex in the brain; the direct relation with the increased size of blood vessels does this by the amount of blood created from meditating (Holzel). The only way more blood can get to the brain is if the blood vessels become larger, which occurs during meditation, increasing the amount of blood flow to the brain. A school in Iowa that regularly implements silent meditation into the school day shows scores in the top one percent in the nation on standardized testing; these scores are attributed to the regular meditation (“Meditation”). The practice of meditation improves the children’s abilities to problem solve and concentrate. When problems arise, children have a better capacity to address them. In schools today there is an alarming increase in stress, anxiety and school violence. If children could benefit from ten to fifteen minutes of silent thinking before a test to help calm their anxiety and calm their heart rate, why would teachers not implement meditation? I did not realize it when I was in middle school, but my teachers implemented a form of mindfulness. Every morning when we got to class, we had ten minutes of quiet time where we would just sit there in silence, or alternatively, we could read a book. This gave us an opportunity before the school day to center ourselves and prepare for the day of learning. This form of silent meditation not only helped the kids but also the teachers (Jade). Meditation in the classroom benefits everyone who 105
partakes in it. Teachers who implement silent meditation into the school day are better able to communicate with children by having a stress-free classroom (Jones). Many people remain opposed to the idea of meditation in the classroom. They say the biggest problem that will be faced in introducing meditation to the children will be getting kids to want to participate in the practice. Just introducing a block of silence would be met with some opposition by the children in today’s fast-paced society and there would be a culture clash. With the research that has already been done, it has been proven kids as young as the age of three can practice some sort of mindfulness; there are dozens of different techniques that can be adapted to any age group (Jade). With people so wrapped up in a fast-paced society and so reliant on technology, it does not hurt to have kids just sit back and be with themselves for ten minutes. This will allow children to become less dependent on worldly possessions. Meditation also gives children inner confidence and lets them reflect on the feelings they are experiencing, letting the children know that their feelings are natural. Meditation is a way of coping with issues. Some argue that meditation is a way of introducing religion into the school. Meditation has long been associated with Hinduism and Buddhism, so opponents of the idea argue that it violates the separation of church and state. This argument is invalid because meditation, or mindfulness, predates Hinduism by 5,000 years and is simply a way for practitioners of mindfulness to be within the moment (“Classroom"). Silent meditation can be taught without any religious or philosophical ideology. There have been numerous studies pointing to the health benefits of meditation. The reason is that meditation reduces stress levels and alleviates anxiety. Meditation puts you more in tune with your body, letting you explore what makes you stressed or gives you anxiety in a safe, practical way. If we can reduce stress, many health benefits follow. For example, one of the main causes of heart disease is stress, which puts too much strain on the heart; ultimately, the reduction of stress and its benefits are endless. In a public school in Brooklyn, Prochnik conducted a personal experiment with a middle school math class. He asked ten kids if they had gained any benefits from silence in their lives, and the kids’ responses shocked him: “For each of these young people, the idea of silence, had one association: a tragic, or at least extremely disturbing, event that left them bereft of words”(Prochnik, 2010, p. 285). If these children keep running from the idea of silence, how will they become active members of society? If the children are not able to sit in silence, this is going to have long-term psychological effects on them, such as depression, anxiety, and lowered confidence. If these children were exposed to silent meditation in the classroom, this will give them a designated block of time each day to work on their inner selves and let them explore the feelings they are having from their past traumatic experiences. Silent meditation lets children resolve their inner problems, so they can face silence head on. Silent meditation not only helps with the present, but it would be teaching these children a skill which they will be able to implement for the rest of their lives. Silent meditation has been proven to increase serotonin levels, influence mood and behavior, and create greater communication between the two brain hemispheres; this allows the practitioner to react more quickly and more effectively in a stressful event. This could help these children that 106
have suffered traumatic situations at such a young age by allowing them to address the roots of their problems instead of just trying to ignore them and avoiding silence altogether. Silent meditation has also been proven to help with learning disabilities and kids with ADD and ADHD (“Meditation”). By developing mindfulness, individuals are better able to observe the contents of thoughts and feelings without self-judgment or self-censorship. The tendency to suppress is reversed as meditators become more open and relaxed, and the tendency to create impulsive or inappropriate reactions is reduced (Haydicky, 2010). The research that was conducted in 2010 is monumental because it shows that meditation gives kids an equal opportunity at an education without the use of medications that may develop dependency and have horrible long-term effects. Ultimately, meditation has a place in the school because it is not violating any civil rights and it will help children. It should be taught. Meditation has been proven to help with creativity, optimism, multitasking, and social skills. These are all very important life skills children should develop while in school. Silent meditation is not only helping the students learn and focus, but is giving the teachers a way to connect with the children on a more personal level. If just ten minutes a day can change the lives of the potential leaders of the world, I ask you: Why would we not give them the opportunity they deserve? WORKS CITED Holzel, Britta K., and James Carmody, et al. “Mindfulness Practice Leads to Increase in Regional Brain Gray Matter Density.” Psychiatry Research: Neoroimaging, 2011: 191(1): 36. Web. Jade, Carinn. Meditation For Kids Makes Students A Little Smarter And My Toddlers A Little Less Bratty." Mommyish.com. Web. Johnson, Zeidan, et al. "Mindfulness Meditation Improves Cognition: Evidence of Brief Mental Training." Consciousness and Cognition, 19(2): 597-605. Web. Jones, Andrew. “Meditation Mindfulness: Schools Stress Calming Classrooms.” The Guardian. Web. LaMeaux, E (2011, 01 01). How Does Meditation Improve Classroom Performance?” Gaiam.com. Web. Oct. 15, 2013. Levy, Wobbrock, et al. "The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment." Proceedings of Graphics Interface, 2012: 45-52. Web. Prochnik, George. In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise. New York:: Anchor, 2011. Print.
Lynch, David. DavidLynchFoundation.org. Web. Oct. 15, 2013. nestressfreeschools.org. “Meditation in the Classroom.” Web. Oct. 15, 2013. “Transcendental Meditation.” Transcendental Meditation.org. Web. Oct. 15, 2013.
Feel the Music: Analysis of In Pursuit of Silence (By Jessica Bie) “The place for quiet in our lives grows smaller by the day,” reads the back cover of George Prochnik’s latest book, In Pursuit of Silence. But is this truly a problem? Prochnik argues that noise is negative and, through describing his travels, attempts to prove that the way to achieve true happiness is through silence. In the English language, “noise” is a broad term, ranging from a baby’s cry to the sound of a waterfall to music. Music is a different type of noise because it allows people to create bonds with others when physical contact is not possible. Although noise can sometimes be overwhelming, total silence is not necessarily a good thing. In Prochnik’s physical pursuit of silence, he travels to the popular store Abercrombie & Fitch. His complaint is not the out-of-control prices but the loud thumping he felt in his chest from the bass of the store’s music. Prochnik questions why “so many people of all different backgrounds would be drawn to shop in an environment where the sound was kept at a truly punishing level” (Prochnik 90). I for one have shopped at the store for many years and the music has never prompted any alarm for me and my shopping experience. Although some people like Prochnik may feel the music is too loud in the store, the reason for the loud tunes is a marketing tactic. The target audience of Abercrombie & Fitch stores is “fifteen- to twenty-eight-year olds” (Prochnik 90). What do teens this age enjoy? Music, loud music. As advertising and public relations major, I understand the ethics behind the ways companies try to maximize their sales and the little factors that make a big difference on the outcome of a consumer’s purchase, music playing a large role in the process. The use of loud music is an important marketing approach for many stores everywhere because it makes the consumer feel like the store understands her need to dress in the latest fashion. Prochnik is missing the point of Abercrombie & Fitch’s marketing approach. Abercrombie & Fitch has a specific target market they are trying to sell to and they are not interested in pleasing adult males like him in the store. They want the cool jocks and the preppy cheerleaders displaying their brand, not Mom and Dad picking up the kids at daycare. The use of the loud music will draw trendy, younger people in and keep everyone else out. Also, if the store was left in complete silence, it would be awkward hearing hangers moving or jackets being zipped up mixed with different conversations happening simultaneously. More people who do not meet Abercrombie & Fitch’s target market would enter, and as a result, the store would not be nearly as recognizable to the younger generation. Prochnik also argues about problems regarding the recent issue of teens listening to their iPods too loudly, which is hazardous to their hearing. He says, “What studies have reported is that there are young people who regularly listen to their iPods too loudly” (Prochnik 167). Although the study Prochnik cites is valid, he emphasizes only the recent generation of teens. Ever since music was created, teens have always played their music loudly as a way to escape from the modern world. As a teenager myself, I realize that my power of speech is limited. That is why playing loud music is a way to let myself be heard when no one is listening to what I have to say. From record players to boom boxes to Walkmans and now to iPods, generation after generation has been using music as a way of self-expression when power is limited.
Living in the halls at Hawai‘i Pacific University’s Hawai‘i Loa Campus has allowed me insight on the noise factor and pursuit of silence. On the first night when my first roommate and I were in our room, we were confused as to what we were actually supposed to do. We had all this new freedom with no bedtimes or responsibilities, and we did not even know what to do with it. The Kaneohe mountainside view provides a serene, beautiful landscape of silence. Prochnik would adore this. However, after a certain point, that same silence and serenity can only get one so far. Soon homesickness and a need to belong sank in, and silence did not provide a blanket of security. Everyone was nervous but eventually, my roommate and I decided to break the silence and put some music on. Shortly after the music was turned on, more people felt welcomed to enter our rooms and enjoy the community atmosphere that only college brings. On that first night, silence would have stopped us from creating a new group of friends, but through the use of music, we were able to come together as peers, all with the same feelings of uncertainty. Prochnik focuses his study on pursuing silence, but my question is, where is the pursuit of sound? Noise is a beautiful thing, especially through the use of music. I am a very strong believer in music in our culture. This is not only because I am an avid music listener, but music has been a very important part of my family, especially with my older sister, Ali. Born through an emergency C-section, eight weeks premature, Ali weighed in at two pounds, five ounces. After several weeks in and out of the hospital, she had to have open heart surgery. Throughout this entire process, music was an important tool for both my parents and Ali. While Ali was in the NICU, my mom would always sing “Sesame Street” and play Barney tapes for her. My parents both swear they could see her rocking her feet to the beat of the music. Once Ali was released from the hospital and began living a normal life, her health issues began to improve, but the musical influence stuck around. Music was such an important factor in Ali’s development because since she was constantly incubated in the hospital, she lacked the physical contact any baby needs from her parents. Sound was the only way Ali and my family could bond without that physical touch of comfort. The bonds created by music were the cradling arms that comforted my sister when she needed it most. My sister Ali is now studying music therapy to help enable other people with medical problems to reap the benefits music has in one’s life. Recently, an article on Ali was published in our local newspaper about overcoming odds and being a survivor. In that article, she talked about what music has done for her and what she has done for others with her musical talents during her work at the Long Island Veterans Home. Freddy Nielsen, the man in charge of the American Legion, read Ali’s article and awarded her the Americanism Award for her generous efforts to the veterans and the greater community. Ali’s story has inspired other people to use music as a form of therapy, which is why she wants to pursue a degree in music therapy. Even though Prochnik does not hate music altogether and may condone the use of music in this way, he would still promote the use of silence as the preferable form of therapy. If my family opted for Prochnik’s ideals of silence to cope with my sister’s health problems, I believe she would not have had such an incredible recovery, and she most certainly would not be able to help other people through the use of music. 110
While Prochnik’s idea of silence may be beneficial in some aspects of life, completely muting the world around us would have deleterious results. Music can be utilized in a myriad of ways: for pleasure, as a marketing tactic, to build friendships, and to help families. Even though Prochnik does not want to stop music entirely, his view of “noise” is subjective in that his perception of noise may be someone else’s pleasurable sound of music. The bonds that music can create through sound and no physical contact are truly astounding. Music is much too powerful to replace. WORKS CITED Prochnik, George. In Pursuit of Silence: Listening For Meaning in a World of Noise. New York: Anchor, 2011. Print.
Aerial Magic (By Beau Elliot) The spotlight sparked on and all around her was dark, save for the crimson fabric draped from the ceiling. A hush fell over the crowd; only the sound of cameras and the occasional cough permeated the air. Softly, a violin began to play and the small woman ascended the silks with stunning grace. Suddenly the musicâ€™s pace quickened and the excitement from the audience was visible. Her blonde hair dangled below her as she danced upside down, suspended 50 feet in the air. In a blur of movement, she wrapped herself in the fabric several times while the song progressively grew louder. Then, a lull in the music, followed by a sudden crash of cymbals as she tumbled through the air, stopping close to the ground in a beautiful pose. Applause exploded from the crowd and she took her bow, fading back into the darkness, leaving only the crimson fabric hanging from the ceiling. This was the circus and what they did was magical to the audience, but for the performer, it was simply following the music. My love for circus started once I saw how this small woman controlled a mass of people by pausing for applause, making them gasp, and showing what the human body is truly capable of. I, too, wanted the power to take the audience on an emotional ride with me by building tension and defying gravity before catching myself inches above the ground. The following week was the beginning of my new life as a circus trainee. But getting started was the hardest part due to the lack of circus schools in the area. Using my connections in the local athletic community, I came found a woman who taught an informal class on aerial basics. Her name was Eva, and we quickly became friends and started training outside of class together. She taught me so many new and interesting skills, constantly pushing me to do things I never knew my body was capable of. The demanding physical conditioning was easier for me than the flexibility because of my previous experience as a rock climber, which provided me with the necessary strength to fumble my way up the fabric. Unfortunately, I had trouble displaying the same grace the woman had shown in her performance. So I sat down and watched other circus acts, studying how they wrapped themselves in the silks and how they flowed from position to pose. After a few months of obsessive training, I had finally surpassed most of the others in Evaâ€™s informal class and began working on a performance piece. Regrettably, short spurts of amazing power and strength were not impressive to most audiences. They wanted to see astonishing feats of skill and strength with a storyline that flowed effortlessly, and I just was not there yet. Only when I stepped away from my small world of aerial silks did I see what truly made the audience pay attention. What captured the crowds was a story unfolding through dance and music. Music was what made everything flow, connecting the audience with the performerâ€™s emotions and story. The soft piano leading up through a crescendo, giving cues of when to applaud and when to watch in awe. To evoke a sense of sadness, beauty, or elation was the purpose of performing, and music greatly influenced all emotions. Of course, it was what the aerialists were doing that astonished the crowds, but it was the sound of the music which accompanied the performance that conveyed the meaning of the story. 112
Once I realized this, I made it my mission to develop a captivating story for people, bringing them into a world they had never seen before. Once I had a tale to tell, all I needed was the right sound to invoke the emotions of my audience and inspire my dance. Finally, it all made sense as the world blurred together in a mix of silk and sound. Around the time of this new discovery, I met another woman with a passion for flying through the air. Lindsay was a nimble, sprite-like girl who loved the spotlight but did not mind sharing it with a partner. Her graceful presence complemented my strength and knowledge so well that a performance piece was choreographed within two days. Beaming with pride, we practiced three times a week in order to perfect all the small nuances in each pose and flowing movement. The music we had chosen greatly influenced our tricks and movements, synchronizing them together with the rise and fall of each note. Before long, it was time to show the world why we had trained so hard and the fruits of our labor. A private business was having a party with a circus theme and they asked us to present our act for this event. Ecstatic about this opportunity, we agreed and set the date for performing. However, there were a few conditions on the performance, and that was the music. Not being able to choose our own music was hard for us as performers, but we agreed and asked what song we would be dancing to. â€œThe deejay will send you the music next week so you can plan around that, but donâ€™t worry, there will be music for you,â€? Terry, the event planner, informed us distractedly, eyeing his vibrating phone as he spoke. Lindsay and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and, seeing no issues, agreed and left the meeting confident and excited. Two weeks passed with no music presented to us and I started to get anxious. The event was approaching quickly and we had no idea what the tone of the party was. Our anticipation was growing, so we decided to practice performing to multiple genres, from classical orchestra to modern rap. Connecting to each type of music and the movement that would best suit the mood of the event was important to us. We constantly tried to contact the event planner and deejay D.J., but continued to fail until a few days prior to the performance night. Terry finally contacted us through email and what he said sent my heart straight to my stomach: no music would be provided until the actual performance, where the deejay would be responsible for choosing the right sound to fit the mood. This news was devastating to our plans and choreography. From that point on, we prepared the best we could with a silent routine that felt disorganized and lacked rhythmic movement. When the day of the event arrived, we ran through our set quickly before the guests arrived and tried to predict what song(s) would play during our act. Guests dressed in gowns and tuxedos wandered around the dance floor, stopping briefly to talk before being interrupted by a collection of clowns clearing an area for the festivities. A small Chinese woman in a bright orange-and-red-striped leotard stepped out into the center of the floor while the guests found their seats. She smiled and leaned back slowly, placing her hands firmly on the ground. As if on cue, sounds of modern electronic music started as she grabbed her ankles and looked through her legs with a wide smile at the audience. This was the first time we heard what the atmosphere of the party was, and the energy was infectious. Applause interrupted my thoughts and Lindsay looked at me with determination in her eyes. The small Chinese woman smiled at us in passing as we descended into the spotlight, anxious but smiling. 113
A silhouetted audience invaded my field of vision as my eyes adjusted to the blinding array of lights. Walking slowly, we approached the snow-white silks and it was then that the music began to play louder. Lindsay ascended first while I distracted the audience with light acrobatic tumbling across the floor. We reacted and adapted to the fast-paced techno music remixed with current pop hits. Unexpectedly, our silent choreography started to take shape, flowing with the music’s rhythm. Following the bass drops and slow sections of each remix, I hoisted Lindsay into the air and she lay suspended in my arms, moving only when the music’s beat rose or dropped. For just over six minutes we swayed together in the silks, making the audience gasp and shout with glee as we executed each wrap and pose on time with the seemingly random songs. A wave of relief washed over my body as we descended together and bowed to the audience’s thundering applause. Quickly exiting the stage, smiles fixed upon our faces, we knew we had connected with them and showed them something they had never seen before. All my anxiety from the event was gone and I believe that experience made me a stronger performer. If another opportunity came up on short notice, I knew I would be able to adapt to whatever they needed me to do. Now, thinking back to that first time I saw the small blonde woman, I wonder what her experiences were with music; all I can recall of watching her was feeling inspired and awestruck. My only hope is that I might be able to be that inspiration for someone else someday. So many aspects of music influence the performers’ movement and how they present themselves to an audience, and without it most people are confused. Still, I never agree to a performance without knowing what music will be in advance; I refuse to choreograph to silence ever again.
MEET THE WRITERS!
Gabriella Andrade is a Hospitality and Tourism Management major from Mililani. As a finishing freshman, she looks forward to exploring a variety of careers within the field of hospitality. She believes the diversity of HPU’s student population creates an amazing atmosphere and enhances the learning experience. Gabriella Andrade Jasmine Andres – Not pictured.
Jenny Bayan came to Hawai’i from Germany two years ago and began attending HPU in the fall of 2013, pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She is still figuring out what she will do following graduation. Jenny enjoys Hawai’i’s weather and likes to be outside at the beach or on a hike with her dogs. She likes attending HPU because of the international atmosphere and the diversity of people who study and teach here.
Jenny Bayan Jessica Bie was born and raised in Commack, New York, on Long Island. A Multimedia Cinematic Production major, she hopes to work someday in the film industry, whether editing, scriptwriting, or yet, directing. Though she finds it difficult being so far away from her my family, she finds the myriad of personalities and cultures at HPU creates long-lasting connections and relationships she couldn't form without such a diverse community. At HPU and in Hawai’i for that matter, there is always something to do, whether it be going to the beach or hiking; it's hard to get bored and be sad here.
Jessica Bie Mitchell Bumann- Not pictured.
Wesley Chai was born in Florida but raised in Taiwan and Singapore. His major is Justice Administration, and he aims to work in the future for U.S. law enforcement agencies. He finds the multi-cultural aspect of HPU to be the most awesome, presenting him with many opportunities to interact with people from various countries.
Nicholas Chernand- Not pictured.
Andreanna Choyce lived in the suburbs of Chicago until she was 11, when she moved to Wisconsin. Her major is applied mathematics and her future career plans at this point in her life are both indefinite and infinite. The best part about Hawai’i is all the amazing experiences she has been fortunate enough to have, like shark diving, being an extra for Jurassic World, and spending time in the ocean snorkeling, surfing, and having fun with people she loves.
Selah Chung is from Ewa Beach, Hawai’i, and is attending HPU as an Integrated Multimedia major. Someday she hopes to start a graphic design and media company. Her favorite thing about living in Hawai’i is having such close access to nature; “It’s amazing that such stunning scenery is part of my everyday life.” Selah Chung Elizabeth Dash is originally from New York, and is double-majoring in Travel Industry Management and Accounting. After graduating she hopes to become a certified CPA and would love to work for the Revenue Management Department at a hotel/resort. Her favorite part of attending HPU is the diversity; she loves sitting in a class with people from all over the world because it gives a global perspective on every discussion held, which she believes gives HPU students a more valuable education: “In fact, the diversity is one of the main reasons I decided to attend HPU.” Elizabeth currently works for International Admissions at the university and hopes to join the many students who study abroad. Elizabeth Dash 116
Beau Elliot was born in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Sturgis, South Dakota. After graduating from high school in 2007, he felt as if something was missing in my life; in order find himself, he joined the military. On a fateful day in August 2007, he left for the military, where he suffered great psychological torment and a great many new experiences. After six long years he finally separated from the military and began attending HPU with the intention of earning a degree in Biology. Beau Blake Elliot Aloha! Tiana Guillermo was born and raised here on the beautiful island of O'ahu, Hawai'i. She is currently majoring in Finance and hopes to attain a profession as a financial planner. She believes it is very important to secure our properties and to create an investment plan that will secure our future. With a career in that field, she can utilize the best of her conventional skills and be of service to others. Tiana believes the students at HPU definitely represent the meaning of diversity, and that's what I she likes most about the school. While walking to her classes, she’ll hear groups of people speaking to each other in a foreign language (sometimes one that she doesn’t even recognize): “It's a wonderful feeling to have people from around the world in such a close-knit campus setting.” Tiana-lei Guillermo
Anjanique Herbison is a Social Work major from Olympia, Washington. While she has no future career plans quite yet, she hopes to do some traveling after she graduates. Her favorite part about living in Hawai’i is going on beautiful hikes and enjoying the constant warm weather. There are always plenty of activities to do outside.
Anjanique Herbison Anastaxia Kirkpatrick Anastaxia Kirkpatrick, from Napa, California, is a Psychology major and Writing Minor who hopes to be part of HPU’s peer tutoring program in the upcoming semester.
Makai Lawson is from Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai’i. His major is Asian Studies, and he will likely become an international political analyst. His favorite thing about Hawai’i is that we always have great weather that makes everyone cheery.
Makai Lawson Pancy Lwin is from Myanmar and is majoring in International Political Economy and Development. Her future career plan is to become a researcher in Global Development and Economy and to get involved in Myanmar's urban development and social policies. She is enjoying her time at HPU sharing world views on politics, sociology, and economics with international students around the globe. Pancy Thein Lwin Alisha Manongdo is from Waipahu and is double majoring in Accounting and Finance. She would like to work in a career where she can help individuals work through daily economic or financial worries and give them hope to achieve their life goals. Currently, she owns a business and is learning about becoming financially independent. Alisha likes Hawai’i and HPU due to their diversity: “I love the fact that both are a "melting pot." You're exposed to such a variety of cultures and languages that provide you with the ability to learn from people who were brought up in another country, raised with a different culture, or who just have a different race or ethnicity than yours. Although we're Alisha Manongdo different on the outside, we all have feelings, we all have dreams, and we are all trying to make a place for ourselves in this world.” She says it is “interesting and beautiful” to see how easily friendships are formed when common ground can be found. Not pictured - Pouriya M. Pouriya is from Texas and is working towards a Computer Science degree. She hopes to work in the field of developmental technology and open source. She likes HPU because of its smaller class sizes and how it reflects the tight-knit communities of Oahu.
Kyle Novy-Riley hails from Portland, Oregon, and is an English major with a minor in Philosophy and Film. He will either go to law school or pursue being a screenwriter—perhaps both. He loves that the sky is not always grey here: “The ocean water is warm, and the people are nice.”
Kyle Novy-Riley 118
As one who grew up in a military family, Mellissa Rotino has lived all over the United States. Her major is Psychology. She enjoys how easygoing Hawai’i is, and how HPU feels more like “a family that's got your back” rather than just a school. Mellissa Rotino
Kassie Smith is from Connecticut and is majoring in TESOL and Asian Studies. Her future career plan is to teach English abroad, preferably in Japan. What she likes best about both Hawai’i and HPU is being exposed to all the different languages and cultures. She hopes to become fluent in many languages such as Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. Kassie Smith
Josh Sheetz is from Greeley, Colorado, and is majoring in Advertising/Public Relations. He plans on becoming a Creative Director in Advertising. He enjoys all the outdoor activities here, especially hiking.
Yuri Suzumura is originally from Japan. She is majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management, and hopes to work for an airline as a flight attendant. Her favorite thing about Hawai’i is that it has nice weather and a lot of beautiful nature. She also loves the international focus of HPU. 119
Adam Waite is from Oahu and is majoring in Computer Science. His future career plans include using his computer skills to assist non-profit organizations that are focused on improving the environment. He enjoys Hawaiâ€™iâ€™s cultural diversity and appreciation for the â€˜aina.
GENRE INDEX PERSONAL NARRATIVES Soul on Fire (Nicholas Chernand)
The Journey of a Hula Dancer (Tiana-Lei Guillermo)
New Age Discrimination (Kassie Smith)
Self-Harm and Suicide (Anastaxia Kirkaptrick)
(Not) Using My Head (Mitchell Bumann)
Swim Now, Breathe Later (Andi Choyce)
The Happiest Place on Earth (Gabriella Andrade)
ETHNOGRAPHIC ESSAYS The Art of Photography (Alisha Manongdo)
Donâ€™t Save the Drama for Your Mama! (Adam Waite)
K-Pop, a Rising Phenomenon (Wesley Chai)
Another World: A Journey alongside Pokemon (Jasmine Andres)
RESEARCHED ARGUMENTS Rebuilding Somalia (Kyle Novy-Riley)
The Benefits of the Indian Space Program (Pouriya Mosadegh)
Japanese Capitalism Disguised as Egalitarianism (Makai Lawson)
Multilingualism: Advantages of a Polygot (Selah Chung)
Designing Our Future (Anjanique Herbison)
Holding Onto the Leash: Therapy Dogs in Legal Facilities (Jenny Bayan)
REVIEW ESSAYS Entertaining Battle of Sexists: A Review of Big Love (Pancy Thein Lwin)
The Reality of Geisha (Yuri Suzumura)
ESSAYS ON THE COMMON BOOK (IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE) Defining Silence in a World of Noise (Elizabeth Dash)
Ideal Silence (Mellissa Rotino)
Meditation in the School: The Answer to our Problems? (Josh Sheetz)
Feel the Music: Analysis of In Pursuit of Silence (Jessica Bie)
Aerial Magic (Beau Elliot)
MAHALO! The editors and contributors would like to acknowledge the contributions and support of the following people: David Lanoue, Dean, HPU College of Humanities and Social Sciences William Potter, Associate Dean, HPU College of Humanities and Social Sciences Arion Chu, HPU Web Services Laurie Leach, Chair, HPU English Department Brittany McGarry, Editorial Intern Savannah Halbrook, Editorial Intern Lily Nazareno, Cover Artist Nominating Instructors: Kathleen Cassity Sara Davis David Falgout Lisa Kawai Andrew Opitz Christy Williams Houston Wood