Having International English this year

Having International English this year has been interesting, fun and creatively inspiring. Well, not entirely true at all times, but sometimes. It varies, okay? Keep on reading, if you want to know more about what I've had to do and the pain of writing 25 (including this one) blog posts :) In advance I'd like to say that if you don't like writing or speaking in English, why are you here? The rest of you can keep on reading. 

 

We've discussed and written about so many well-known people who have been inspiring the young population through their work. At the top of my head i can mention our visit from our ex-Foreign Minister of Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, at the start of the year. Meeting him was definitely relevant as we were discussing the Syrian conflict and other big issues internationally and here in Norway. I was intrigued by the meetings he talked about with other foreign ministers of affairs from around the world, and what Norway was doing to help/fight in the conflicts. If you're interested in finding out more about what we discussed, the ex-Foreign Minister of Affairs' answers and a picture of him I posted here, then check it out! 

 

Other events which have taken place this year comprises of a highly publicized collaboration with a school from London, who came here to know more about how we work because unlike them, we use the Internet a lot for not only our blogs, but assignments as well. The BBC was intrigued by us as a class and also they wanted to interview our teacher, Ann, whom they found us through in the first place. They wanted to get our opinions on how usage of Internet in class has helped us, any downsides to having access to the Internet during class and compare it to their own class environment back home.So, two reporters, two students and a teacher from the BBC Click and School Report-project came to Sandvika High School and filmed us on one of our classes where we were to write blog posts, and let me tell you, they picked a good day because... we were going to Skype with a class in South_Africa that day. Yes, we did.

 

Skyping with other schools from around the world is now something I can say I've done because we've had the opportunities of Skyping with schools from New York, Alaska, London and South-Africa.On this particular day, we were to question each other on the circumstances in Norway and in South-Africa which went very well, and also the students from London joined us and had really good questions. It's all documented and the whole report on us and them will be linked down in the sources if you're interested in watching it. One last note on this event: We use the Internet wisely whenever we're on it for an assignment or blog posts, and we do not mean that usage of Facebook is the way to go forward. The documentation might lead you to believe that we use this social media a lot; but trust me, we don't because we know where we can pick up a lot of useful information online for our work and where we can't, and you can guess which category Facebook goes in. 

 

Throughout the year, like I said, we've had visits from interesting people, we've worked with cool people from different parts of the world and had the pleasure of writing it here on our blogs. So, my advice or tip for those of you who are contemplating on choosing this subject or not, I'd say GO. FOR. IT. If you're interested, then stay in class and have whatever fun you can have and don't give a shit about the bad times (I swear I'm not as deep and inspirational in real life... jeez.). If I've killed your interest for this subject, then.. go far, dude, and don't look back. 

A common language

The language most spoken by number of native speakers is Mandarin (with 955 million), Spanish (405 million) and English is in third place (360 million). English is the second on the list of languages spoken by first and second language speakers (Mandarin is the first again). I would still say it is more widespread.

Both Mandarin and Spanish are languages extensive in clustered spots. Spanish in Spain (of course), Latin America and the US, Chinese in China, Taiwan and Singapore while English is spread in all the Anglo-American areas of the world, spreading from America to Britain to Australia. We can?t forget to include all the countries where it features as a second language (here in Norway we learn it at school from a young age).

Untitled-1

It is also a common language for tourists and is used as a way of exchanging information and making business deals between companies. From the six official UN languages (of which Mandarin and Spanish are also featured), English is the one most broadly used. It?s common for many different countries to also adopt words and expressions from modern English, many of which were adopted themselves from ancient Latin and Greek, into their own language.

The language has also carved a big spot for itself in the modern media. It was reported that 95% of all articles in magazines were written in English (1997). When it comes to literature, 28% of all volumes published in the world were in English as well as 30% of all web content (2011).

Many websites that are famous worldwide are English, though some can be visited in the visitor?s native language as well. InstagramTumblr and WordPress, for example, are completely English, however. I am a Tumblr user myself and the people I follow and that follow me are from many different countries in Europe and Latin-America and Asia, but post mainly in English (sometimes only in English). It?s a true testament to how we use the language as a gateway to communication.

 

Sources

This one was also written with Khadi, writer of perfectionitself.wordpress.com. Check it out!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_total_number_of_speakers

A GREAT NUMBER OF DIALECTS

There are a great number of different English dialects in India, based on regional differences. They?ve been developed after the British colonization of India that started in the early 1600s and lasted all the way until postwar time, in 1947. That?s plenty of time for the English language to evolve and find its own? path, let?s say.

All these dialects have been affected by the Indian spoken in the different regions (Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, etc.) The more known English dialects are Malayali English, Tamilian English and Punjabi English with some more obscure ones being Butler English, Babu English and Bazaar English.

Other than being based on regions, they are (or were) also based on socio-economic positions. Babu English was developed amongst clerks in pre-partition India and has since developed to no longer be confined to clerks. It was characterised by the extremely polite manner of expression. I?m sure you can guess what Butler English originally derived from. It was the English butlers used to communicate with their masters in the Madras Presidency. Hinglish(Hindi English) features English words blending with Punjabi and Hindi.

The different dialects and accents of Indian English vary greatly, some based mostly on the English language while others feature more words from the different native dialects. The long colonial period India had under England definitely left its marks.

 

Sources:

I've worked with Khadi on this post. She's the writer of the blog, perfectionitself.wordpress.com. Be sure to check it out!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonial_India

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_differences_and_dialects_in_Indian_English

Watching Brick Lane

Hi, everyone! So, since my last post I finally got around to watching Brick Lane and writing this blog post for you.

 

Now, as for my expectations before watching the film, I didn't have many. I knew the basis facts through an assignment we'd had earlier this school year and plus I knew it'd be about a Bangladeshi girl adjusting to life in London's Brick Lane. It was a deliberate choice not to know much about the film and leave as much to the imagination as possible to get a proper film experience and to be able to write about it properly for you readers.

 

The first things one has to know about the film are that the story is set in the Bangladeshi community in London's Brick Lane, referred to as Banglatown. So, the story revolves around the life of Nazneen, a young girl brought up in rural Bangladesh, who at the age of 17 has an arranged marriage to a man twice her age. Not seen anything of the outside world, after her wedding, she and her husband relocate to Brick Lane in London, England. While her husband constantly changes his career paths, in hopes of getting a high-paying job, Nazneen herself finds a way to provide for her family. She takes up a job like other women in her area, sowing clothes that will be sold in London in the foreign markets, and saves the money for whenever she and her husband decide to move back to Dhaka. Through her new occupation she is in constant interaction with a young and attractive Bangladeshi man, Karim, with whom she has an affair with later.

 

Time passes, and soon Nazneen realizes the difference between her reality with her husband, two daughters and her sister who's meeting all her "lovers" on the street back home in Bangladesh in it and her dream with Karim in it. After having this reality check, she breaks off the affair with Karim and starts to focus on her children who she knows won't be happy in Bangladesh because they have no real experience of life over there. Not only would it be hard for her children to adapt to the hard life in Dhaka but she would also have a hard time re-adjust and face the troubles at home with her father and her sister who's roaming the streets with strangers and not living with her husband. However, she's not thinking of staying in London just for her kids, but for herself as well. She knows that her views of the capital have changed and maybe because of her kids, she starts to view London as a second home. Consequently, when her husband decides that they should all pack up to move back home, she convinces him that it's better if they stay (meaning their kids and her) while he goes and finds a job and make arrangements for them. So, when her husband agrees to leave, she can now live a bit freer with her daughters and enjoy life a bit.

 

Now, we're supposed to discuss the general conflicts that arise between immigrants and their European-born children. In this film you see how it affects the relationships of the family. Nazneen's elder daughter stands up to her father because she feels like her mother doesn't express her true feelings to him and never voices her opinion on the decisions he keep making for the entire family. I would say this is a very basic yet important subject that arises in the minority households. It's not a negative thing that it arises but in those conversations you really get an interpretation of what it's like to live with two different cultures. In the Western culture it's an absolutely must to voice your opinion, HAVE an opinion and never let anyone else take from you what is yours. In Asian cultures, like the Bangladeshi one in this film, you're brought up to be careful to voice your opinion, especially if it's an unusual opinion to have.

 

Say, if it's not coherent with the upbringing you've had and the culture you're from, then it's generally believed to be a good thing to keep it to yourself. I'd say this one goes for both the Western and the Asian cultures; however, the Western cultures comprises of several cultures and therefore depending on which you're from, it can be easier to have your ideas and thoughts accepted. The Asian cultures have similarities but are very much unique in that there are different rules and train of thoughts, so for a person from Asia with "unusual" ideas, it's harder to be validated and accepted. Furthermore, it's harder for a woman to these things in countries where there aren't as many rights for women as there are for men. Therefore I think women have bigger difficulties making their way out of a position that was given to them by the society they're living in. I don't want to say too much about this because I feel like it is way more complicated than what I'm presenting to you readers here. Anyway, my point here is that immigrants and their European-born children will be different in this area. The children might become more outspoken as a result of living in a part of the world that appreciates and encourages them to do so.

 

Another conflict which may arise is on the way of dressing. In the film, Nazneen and her husband encourages her daughters to dress modestly because they fear that she'll dress unaccordingly to the Bangladeshi cultural norms. Although, her daughter seems to understand to some extent, she still would like to dress differently. One of the scenes in the film is where her daughter puts on a pair of jeans and her father gets angry with her because he thinks the jeans are provocative whereas Nazneen doesn't seem to mind it too much, but that could just be because she doesn't speak up as much as she probably should. Anyway, these are scenarios in life and in films that tell the somewhat truth about living with two cultures in one's life.

 

If you're interested in this type of posts and would like to have other books/films which revolve around multicultural societies, be sure to check out my post A Gran Joy Torino Luck Club. It's a post on two movies and one book about multicultural societies. I'd recommend The Joy Luck Club for a good read about the relationships between four Chinese mothers and their American-born daughters. I'll be sure to link my previous post done below, as it is a while since I wrote it.  

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brick_Lane

 

http://www.spitalfields.co.uk/about_history.php#.U4G7e_mSwRo

 

 http://dibaintenglish.blogg.no/1384365446_a_gran_joy_torino_luc.html 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brick_Lane_(film)

Edward Snowden

In a class, a while ago, we watched the first exclusive interview with whistle blower Edward Snowden ever since he leaked the files revealing the surveillance the NSA was carrying out. The interview was held by German journalist Hubert Seipel in Moscow, where Snowden is currently living in exile. What are my thoughts on Edward Snowden's actions? Keep reading, if you want to know. I think he had the right intentions for leaking the confidential files and I imagine what he did to be very selfless. People who sympathize with him appreciate this about his actions. He literally put his own personal safety at risk for the sake of revealing a dangerous but important truth to the entire world.

 

In the interview, which will of course be linked at the end of this post, he says that the public has the right to know of the truth. I agree on that because no one would like their actions to be monitored by strangers, and for what reasons do you ask? Well. I'd describe it as CREEPY! Now that I've given a normal reaction, let's move on to explaining the more specific and mature reasons I can present to you. It's a violation of the privacy of everyone involved. Being watched gives a lot of people, I'd imagine and completely understand, an uncomfortable feeling. It wouldn't feel good knowing that one's actions are being watched and analysed by strangers, regardless of where they are in the world. I say uncomfortable but it goes beyond that and ever since the leakage, some people question if there is such a thing called "a private and personal life"? Think about it. If you were informed that every step you've taken on social websites and conversations you've had with your friends, family, workmates etc have been recorded by, say an intelligence agency like the NSA or other secret agencies/organisations in the world,  it'd probably feel like you'd been robbed of your rights and your own identity. 

 

At first, going back to when this leakage made the front page on every newspaper, I was very curious of what was going on and who the man with the glasses on every paper was. It didn't take me too long to read the articles online and tuning in for the news on TV and finding out what was going on in the world. I wouldn't say I don't pay attention to world news or news in general, but sometimes the interest gets lost amid everything else that is going on. Therefore, after reading about it and listening to the news about it for a while, I forgot about it.

 

Anyway, coming back to the subject of this post. I can to some extent understand why the NSA and others of its kind would take advantage of the opportunity to access information about millions of people. One of the perks as to doing it is that they would uncover criminal activity and have a chance to help solve some issues in their society. Countries around the world need information about their people and activities which would be going on, for the purpose of preventing dangerous and illegal activity. Nevertheless, there is a big difference between micromanaging every step of inhabitants, without them knowing it and having the opportunity to say something against it, and doing necessary research on inhabitants for the better.

 

All in all, despite the consequences Snowden's leakage of confidential NSA files has led to, it was the right thing to do because no one outside the group of people who were doing the tracking, recording and listening knew of it. The world was evidently in shock. Although it caused international mayhem during the first days and weeks, ultimately, it's changing the society and now that it's been let out of the bag, one can put restrictions on how surveillance works and limit the access for information about another country, organisation, you name it.. People will speak up, there will be establishing of laws on it and I presume, it's for the better? 

What do you think of this matter?

Diba


Sources:
Here's the interview we watched of Edward Snowden and journalist Hubert Seipel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pgNEsSz54I 

Cultural differences in the UK

In today's lesson at school Khadi and I had to research the ethnic groups in the UK and provide statistics and numbers showing the multicultural society over there. This came as no surprise because we are to watch the film Brick Lane which revolves around the story of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi woman, who has to learn to survive in an arranged marriage with a man twice her age, Chanu. She also has to move to London to live with him there. This presents a wide array of challenges, both personal and cultural, which she has to overcome. 


Now, to the statistics we found showing the differences in the ethnic population of the UK.





 Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_the_United_Kingdom

Last Call at the Oasis

A while ago I saw a documentary movie in International English called Last Call at the Oasis and I want to write to you all about it. There are blogposts on here already about other global challenges but I feel the water crisis should be up as well seeing as we're already in it, yet we manage to seem unphased by it.

 

Every second, minute, hour the population of the world increases and we get bigger which means more usage of the earth's resources. One of the biggest global challenges we're already in is brought to the table in this movie. People, we're in a HUGE water crisis!

 

Maybe we're not always as aware and concerned, but I don't think it'd be wrong to be in this particular case. The water crisis is a big issue in not only the U.S but Australia where there is a limited amount of clean water the people can actually use without putting their health at risk.

 

Now, fortunately, people like Erin Brochovich are working to bring this forward to the public eye and to make big companies in the U.S to stop contaminating the water of thousands of households. In the documentary you could see she was absolutely horrified that nothing was being done about it earlier and how local authorities would simply ignore the impact it had on its populations. Not only do the companies contaminate the water through their waste, furthermore they spray their fields with something which poisons the water beneath the ground. Perhaps it doesn't sound dangerous, but let me explain in detail.

 

Imagine if you had two buckets of water to wash something. You use the first one, however whatever you're washing isn't clean yet. No sooner do you realise that you foolishly got soap into the second bucket. Now, you're left with unclean items and you cannot wash with the second bucket because it's "dirty". The point is: The U.S is foolishly contaminating their backup water as well as their current water.

 

This documentary frightened me (slightly) because I could never imagine living in the horrible situation the people in it were living. Also, I was disgusted by the people who ignored the locals and didn't do anything to prevent the locals from getting sick because of them. Had anyone like Erin Brochovich or any other person cared - so many lives could've been saved in time.

 

I think those of us who don't face this problem and live in areas where fresh water is a renewable source should think more of how we use water and the amount - I know I will. I blame this documentary. :D No. I think it's a good thing to think of how much you need and not how much you want, if you can, because they are two separate things. In my opinion, only one outcome of doing so: You save some for later. Isn't that good? This concludes my blogging for now.  

 

Sources:

 

Last Call at the Oasis (2011 documentary)

Great Female Writers

Today's post is about my in-depth project which is going to be about Great Female Writers. Reason why I chose this topic is because I like English literature and there was simply no doubt in my mind that I needed to present some of my favourite female writers who have changed views on human issues and made literature better. Now, this blogpost is supposed to be very detailed as to what I'll be writing. I have yet to start writing because I've been busy doing my research. However, great news: I don't need to do more research!

 

So here's my plan for my in-depth project:

 

I'm going to start my paper with an introduction of the writers and why I have chosen them in addition to the personal reason being I love their work and what they managed to achieve in their time. The main part of the in-depth project will be about the writers' backgrounds, motivations, and finally what they produced and how it changed the mindset during that particular time. Before that comes in though, I'll be giving you my thesis question which is: From where and whom did these women get their inspirations from and how is that portrayed in their work?

 

Naturally I'll be writing about their most prominent works and how they were created. Did the writers get any help in producing their work creatively? Were the works original and not taken from other writers? Why were their works about certain issues? Did they go through the same developement and experiences like their characters? This is all that I will be addressing in my project and answer as fully detailed and correct as possible, also providing sources where you can all the information and research I've done and read for it. 

 

Hopefully the in-depth project turns out like I imagine it and want it to be, and of course the inevitable wish of getting an A on it. 

 

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: William Shakespeare

So this was the other blogpost I mentioned in my previous double-entry post on The White Tiger. If you are wondering: "Why Shakespeare?", here's the reason. This year, 2014, marks what would've been Shakespeare's 450th birthday. In commemorating him, my fellow students and I were given an assignment which obviously revolves around William Shakespeare's life and his work. This was no surprise. Though, in addition we were given the task of writing and presenting one of his works - if we dared - which I thought was the best and I look forward to presenting what is below (and more) next week. Enjoy this post! 

 

OBVIOUSLY: William Shakespeare was the greatest English writer, playwright and poet of his time and is remembered so even to this day.

Life story: Shakespeare was born and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon. Though his birth date is unknown, we know he was baptised on the 26th of April 1564 - thus marking his 450th (give or take about a year) birthday. There are no implications as to whether Shakespeare was educated at university. At the age of 18, he married 26-year old Anne Hathaway whom he was already expecting his first child with. True enough, after six short months the couple's first of three children were born. Anne Hathaway outlived Shakespeare by seven years with her two children (their son Hamnet died at the young age of 11). 

 

There aren't any proper documentation of Shakespeare's life between 1585 and 1592; later known as the "lost years". What is known though, is that by 1592 Shakespeare had written plays which were performed on the London stage. This was his early venture into writing plays. Who'd know including Shakespeare himself that 450 years later people around the world still know his name and works and regard him as the greatest playwright (amongst other things as well) of all time? I guess it's one of the perks of being a writer; if you're good, you'll be remembered well long after your death. 

 

For my presentation next week and for the purpose of this blogpost, I've chosen a sonnet to present. Shakespeare as we know wrote 154 sonnets which were published in a collection in 1609. However, there is no certainty as to when they were composed. The subjects of these sonnets are referred to as the Fair Youth, the Rival Poet and the Dark Lady. My sonnet of choosing, sonnet number 50, is addressed to the Fair Youth. 

The sonnet: 

How heavy do I journey on the way,

When what I seek, my weary travel's end,

Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,

'Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend!'

The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,

Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,

As if by some instinct the wretch did know

His rider lov'd not speed being made from thee.

The bloody spur cannot provoke him on,

That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,

Which heavily he answers with a groan,

More sharp to me than spurring to his side;

 

For that same groan doth put this in my mind,

My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.

 

Backstory: This and the following sonnet deal with the heaviness of separation, caused by a journey which the poet has to make. He travels on horseback, the normal means of locomotion in Shakespeare's day. The condition of the roads, heavily rutted and often flooded, made travel in carriages impracticable, other than in towns. The poet is not much concerned to speed on his journey, since it only seems to lead him onward into sorrow. 

 

I hope you enjoyed this blogpost, it's the result of hardwork, and do give me feedback on it. I'm happy I got to write this and look forward to presenting it next week. 

 

 

Sources:

 

http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/ 

A different kind of blogpost

This week I have two blogposts I'm going to write, and although one of them has to remain a surprise for now, this blogpost is the other one. So, for today's blogpost I've been told to write a double-entry post on The White Tiger (which I've written a first impression/review on this blog). I'm going to present two paragraphs or quotes from the book which stood out to me and I'll also be writing what I think they mean. This is actually exciting to me and I hope I do well. Here we go!

 

The first paragraph I've chosen is as follows:

 

?There?s no one else in this 150-square-foot office of mine. Just me and a chandelier above me, although the chandelier has a personality of its own. It?s a huge thing, full of small diamond-shaped glass pieces, just like the ones they used to show in the films of the 1970s. Though it?s cool enough at night in Bangalore, I?ve put a midget fan?five cobwebby blades?right above the chandelier. See, when it turns, the small blades chop up the chandelier?s light and flight it across the room. Just like the strobe light at the best discos in Bangalore. This is the only 150-square-foot space in Bangalore with its own chandelier!?

 

Here, Balram introduces his audience to one of his most prized possessions, the chandelier in his office. The chandelier is a gaudy physical manifestation of wealth to Balram and it symbolizes his journey and transformation from a peasant to becoming one of Bangalore's biggest entrepeneurs. As a source of light it also symbolizes his escape from the Darkness. 

Nevertheless, the chandelier also represents Balram's inability to ever fully transform himself considering how he achieved his success in the first place. The grand chandelier is out of place in his small office space, and later in the novel, Pinky Madam, member of the higher class, remarks that she finds chandeliers to be ?tacky? (71). Thus, it represents Balram's inability to fully transform his life and become a true member of the elite class. 

Now, the second paragraph I've chosen from the book:

?This mud was holding her back: this big, swelling mound of black ooze. She was trying to fight the black mud; her toes were flexed and resisting; but the mud was sucking her in, sucking her in. It was so thick, and more of it was becoming created every moment as the river washed into the ghat. Soon she would become part of the black mound and the pale-skinned dog would start licking her. And then I understood: this was the real god of Benaras?this black mud of the Ganga into which everything died, and decomposed, and was reborn from, and died into again. The same would happen to me when I died and they brought me here. Nothing would get liberated here."

 

In this complex passage, Balram uses gruesome and vivid imagery to picture his mother's burial. With incoherent clauses and repetition, Anand Adiga reflects of the struggle of the mother's body against the thick mud. The mud of the Ganga River is a potent symbol for the oppressive cycle of repression which traps India's poor in the Darkness. Balram's despair at the thought of being eternally caught in this cycle forms the drive for his journey of self-improvement and getting out of his life situation. His ability to see symbols in life is largely responsible for his ability to refashion identities (think of the "White Tiger," the chandelier, or the "Rooster Coop"), and here he reveals that he had the instinct for symbolism even as a young boy.

 

Sources: 

The White Tiger (2008 book) 
 

Project WWII and more!

Hi, there!

This blogpost is about what I've been up to lately in International English, and my reflections and the entire experience. For the past two weeks three other girls and I have been working on a presentation about World War 2, focusing on how Americans and Norwegians are commemorating it. We also dig a bit deeper and present of course how the war went here and the efforts of these two countries because it has to be recognised by all of us. We've been working very hard on it, and we can't wait to present it. Oh and btw, the presentation is not only for our class but will be videotaped for students in Alaska and perhaps a few others around in the world. It's very exciting, and I feel very good about it. 

 

I'm to say a few words about the experience and what I liked about working in a group, so here it goes! I'm glad we got to choose between the World Wars because I secretely wanted to work on a historical event if there was individual presentations. However, it was still exciting to find out we had to be in groups and cooperate so we'd cover everything about the event in America and Norway. When we got the news about the class in Alaska, I was definitely motivated to work harder to give them the best presentation in return for their time. I know it'll be videotaped because the time zones are very different, Alaska is 11 hours ahead of us, but I think it's still kind of them to take the time to listen to our presentations! A bit of variation is always good! I was lucky to get to work with one of my friends whos blog is definitely worth checking out ( perfectionitself.wordpress.com ) ! Overrall, it was two good weeks and I look forward to Tuesday when we'll be presenting it to everyone! Bye

The White Tiger

Hi, everyone!


At the moment I'm reading a book called The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.It was one of two books we had to choose from and finish reading over the course of a few weeks.I chose this book, mainly because I was interested in knowing more about India and how people live over there. I knew that this book would be about the cultural differences in the Indian society and that it would be told realistically. Therefore, it became my book to read! I'll put more info about the author later !

 

The book tells the story of a Bangalore based entrepreneur who is narrating everything himself. He's writing a long letter to the Prime Minister of China, a Mr. Wen Jiabao, who is apparently coming to Bangalore soon. He starts his letter by saying "Sir. Neither you nor I can speak English, but there are some things that can be said only in English." Balram continues to write about Bangalore and his own childhood which he spent in "the darkness". In the letter he asked the Prime Minister if it was true that he would come to his hometown and wanted to know the truth about Bangalore. This is something Balram is confident that he knows which is why he wants to tell his story to the Prime Minister of China. 

 

I have not yet figured out why Balram is writing such a long letter to someone of that high importance,the Prime Minister who is honestly more likely to throw his letter away than read it. I say this because Balram seems to be on this rant and doesn't consider the fact that the Prime Minister might not have the time or patience to read it. Nevertheless, I think it's a big and brave thing to write such an in-depth letter about his experiences and knowledge about the Indian society as he knows it. The letter is told by someone who couldn't be closer to the truth and reality of what is being said around the world. Balram is working as a waiter and driver to the wealthier people of Bangalore, and what he says of being around these people is entertaining and educative. 

 

Aravind Adiga is an Indian author who was born in Madras (now Chennai) on October 23rd 1974. He lived and studied in Madras up and until he and his family emigrated to Sydney, Australia. The journey which eventually took him to Sydney led him to have a sea of opportunities as far as education goes and also his interest in writing. Adiga has studied at prestigious colleges/universities such as Magdalena College in Oxford and Columbia College in New York - absolutely amazing, I know. (!)


Anyway, what I was interested to know about Aravind Adiga was when the interest for writing and making a name for himself through it came. Interestingly enough, he found interest in it during his teen years after attending an agriculture high school in Madras. Not many people know but he went to that school because not many other opportunities were available and as any other young person he didn't know what to do. However, after attending the school and relocating to Australia he got the writer's bug and paved the way for himself. Starting out as a financial journalist in New York, he took his time to write on his debut novel, the Pulitzer award-winning, The White Tiger which as we all know skyrocketed into success immediately and since Aravind Adiga has become an internationally known author. 

 

 

This tiger wants you to READ THE BOOK :) 

 

P.S: The book isn't about white tigers, as far as I'm concerned but I'll keep you updated on that. 

Update: No, the book is not about white tigers, but the narrator does compare himself to a white tiger because of the way he lives and what he has done. 

Sources:

 

The White Tiger (2008 book)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aravind_Adiga

 

http://www.aravindadiga.com/bio/index.html

 

The Great Debaters

Today we watched the movie The Great Debaters and if you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend it. 

 

The Great Debaters is an American movie, directed by Denzel Washington (as Mr. Tholsen in the movie), and is set in the American South in the 1930s and it follows the journey of a debate team with their prominent leader, Melvin Tholsen, who was an American educator and poet. 

 

During the 1930s in America as we know from history books was a time when African Americans weren't acknowledged for their identity. Instead they were called Negroes, a repressive word by the Anglo-Saxons as a reminder that their colour was the opposite of the Anglo-Saxons, their ways didn't match the Anglo-Saxon way etc. These were racial beliefs the Anglo-Saxons strongly supported and would go to extreme measures to prove it, like killing the African Americans in the most horrible ways they could. Moreover, regardless if they'd committed a crime or not,  the African Americans were separated entirely from the rest of the population and everything which used to be for all citizens were now divided into two parts.

 

Now this movie reveals more about that time than our history books and presents the inspiring story of the debate team of the historically black college, Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. States in South America were the worst states for the African Americans to live because lynching was done more in this part of America in 1933. Apparently, though the rate of lynching had declined to eight in 1932, it surged to 28 in 1933. So, it wasn't the best place for the African Americans to live BUT I think it was a good place to start the journey of standing up against segregation and racial discrimination and violence deriving from those two things. 

 

The young debaters in the movie (actors from left: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Nate Parker and Denzel Whitaker.)

 


Denzel Washington in action as Mr. Tholson in the movie

 

The Great Debaters  is based on the true life of debater James Farmer Jr., and inspired by the lives of teammates Henry Heights and Henrietta Wells, who are represented as Henry Lowe and Samantha Booke in the movie. Their team participated in the first interracial debate in colleges in the United States in the 1930s. However, I did not know this at first and I was absolutely amazed that this debate team had actually existed and achieved these goals. It's a very inspiring and educative story to read about as well as to watch on screen with many admirable people in it.

 

The courage minorities show in such situations I think is very moving and brave of them, because to most people, in general, the choice between life in injustice and death result in that the person chooses life in injustice to live and not have to make so many sacrifices. These people made a big difference in the 1930s American society and it came sooner than it would've without them. Their courage and their voices made people notice them and care about the causes they brought up in the movie. Last but certainly not the least,  they showed the Anglo-Saxons that though they had less privilegies, they were not powerless and would achieve their goal of abolishing the racial segregation in America and provide equal rights for all.

 

Source:

The Great Debaters (2007 film) 

http://www.biography.com/people/james-farmer-21349629#medal-of-freedom&awesm=~oENRFHGJ1qPcI7

Pictures are from Google Images 

The Edublog Awards

We students have been asked to participate in the exciting awards called The Edublog Awards. The Edublog Awards is a plattform for nominating bloggers you think deserve an award for their achievements and contribution to education and communicationg across countries. 

 

Now, there are a lot of people in my class and we all have blogs where we write what we think about different genres, we write about films, books, organisations etc. There are many ways to go about something and keeping in mind that people are different and only constructive comments and compliments are accepted. Personally, it's been loads of fun getting feedback from not only classmates, but also students from around the world. It gives you more drive and wish to write better and top yourself AND make it entertaining and educative for your audience. At least, that is what I have got from the blog experiences.

 

ANYWAY... I have picked some people I feel are deserving of the awards I have chosen.  it's all below!

 

For the student blog I nominate my BFF Khadi Daudova! Her blog is amazing, you can find it by clicking this link : http://perfectionitself.wordpress.com/. Her writing style is very original, raw and to-the-point which I appreciate a lot whenever I take time to read her blog. I enjoy reading her blog, and YOU need to check it out! 

For the teacher blog I nominate my great teacher, Ann Michaelsen, http://annmic.wordpress.com/. She has been really good to have as a teacher and is one of the few  I know who really put in a lot of effort to keep us students working and learning from each other and media. 

 

 

A Gran Joy Torino Luck Club

Recently we had to read a short story When Rich came to Sunday Dinner which was taken from a book called The Joy Luck Club by author Amy Tan. The few pages I got to read of it was telling the story of Waverly Jong and her traditional mother. Their interaction with each other seems common and the relationship Waverly has with her mother  is an interesting one but also relatable. Basically, Waverly has got engaged with the person she loves, Rich, who's American and also younger than herself. She's very nervous up and until the moment she tells the news to her parents. I think her mother saw it coming that Waverly had news to tell about her relationship with Rich, and therefore she tries to hint to her daughter that she doesn't like him. This was my opinion of the mother at first. Otherwise, she wouldn't try to bring up the freckles on Rich's face and describe it as a negative thing to have. Also, the mother talks about their Chinese culture and the importance of marriying someone with the same culture. This conversation between the mother and Waverly is after the dinner party which Rich attended at the Jong's house.

 

 The dinner party itself wasn't a success because apparently Rich didn't give the best first impression he could've given her parents; however I feel that much of the description is influenced by Waverly's feelings and nerves. Rich was very opinionated during the dinner and I think he made an understandable or tolerable mistake given that he didn't know her parents and that they were so traditional. Perhaps the fact that he's American and doesn't have to deal with the issues in the Chinese culture is what Waverly think is attractive about him. Moreover, he's confident in himself it seems and that is an attractive quality which everybody should have, I think. Back to the story →

 

After the dinner party, Waverly reveals the truth to her mother and this is the part which lacked a few important pages; hence I didn't get to read her mother's response. Not to worry, we have the Internet! Apparently she could have been more supportive of the truth because there isn't much she can do about it. I got this from the way Waverly reacted to her mother's reaction because she expressed anger and was fighting her corner to prove a point to her mother. I think the latter is because no matter how American Waverly acts and feels, her mother is very important to her and her blessing would mean she approves and Waverly has not done the wrong thing by getting engaged to Rich. Waverly strikes me as a confident woman, but understandably she seems dependent of her mother's opinion and blessing.

 

When Rich came to Sunday Dinner is an interesting text and whilst reading it I found that it portrays a different side of two cultures coming together in comparison to Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood movie I watched two weeks ago in class).

In Gran Torino it centered around the relationship between Walt Kowalski, a retired American veteran, who evidently doesn't like his Hmong neighbours or minorities in general. So, whilst Kowalski struggles to accept the Hmong neighbours, Waverly's mother struggles to accept Rich as her son-in-law. Nevertheless, both characters manage to get over their fear of the foreign and accept a cultural opposite in the text and the movie.

 

 

The text and the movie gives different perspectives obviously on discrimination within different cultures and how they are discriminating or rascist against other cultures. Waverly's mother wanted a native Chinese son-in-law but got Rich instead and she needs to come to terms with it. In Gran Torino Walt is honoured by the Hmongs and though he at first is apprehensive and very rude, he changes and ends up loving the attention he's getting in addition to loving having more responsibilities like for instance learning Thao how to be a man. He becomes more connected to his Hmong neighbours than his own family, appreciates the respect they are giving him, therefore he would even risks his own life for them. 

 

Sources:

Gran Torino (2008 film)

The Joy Luck Club short story online (sadly, I don't have the link to the version I read. However, it shouldn't be too hard to find another version online.) 

Invictus

I saw a movie recently based on Nelson Mandelas presidency and how he united the South Africans from their segregated past.  From what I have observed and know about South Africa and Mandela himself, I wanted to write this post. I hope this post gives a good, general review of the movie. Furthermore, I hope you, the readers, understand my view on the themes in general and Mandela as a president and leader.

 

Now, what does it take to be a good leader? In my opinion a good leader is someone who puts a lot of effort and hard work into ensuring what is best for his/her country. Their country and the people are the main priority and whatever benefits the country is what the leader should wish to provide for it. A good leader is not someone who takes part in an operation to get loads of money and be: "Hey, I got money! Who cares about the country?". Anyone who has a mindset similar to what I just described is not a leader. He/She is selfish, greedy and the wrong person to protect the public.

 

Nelson Mandela was portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the movie I saw, which is titled Invictus. In the movie Nelson Mandela is elected as the new president after de Klerk who was the previous president. I liked the movie because of so many reasons, but some in particular. It was for instance nice to see that a great man like Mandela and his peers can feel vulnerable. The scene I'm talking about is the one in which Mandela decides to go this unanimous election against the Springboks. He wants to go and convince the black people to support them, he believes in it; yet, he's got a worried expression because he knows he'll lose votes but not the number of it. To his relief though, it goes well and he doesn't need to feel stressed He can go back to his job which is to bring South Africa together.

 

What a great way to unite the South Africans! Nelson Mandela shows forgiveness, compassion, strength and happiness in what he does and tries to inspire the people to do the same. It worked! By going forward with such a gentlemanlike style and attitude, he inspired other people, especially the blacks to forget the past and live in the moment. Living in the moment meant to support the Springboks for instance, which proved hard for the blacks and for the whites it was hard to accept Mandela as the new president. Nevertheless, many of them felt inspired and motivated to follow Mandela's lead, and that's what they did! This was a major part of why I liked the movie. I knew the story from before, however, I hadn't seen it portrayed anywhere. Although it was a big movie production and there were some incredible famous actors in it, I liked the story, the actors and just how the movie was set and pieced together.

 

 

I recommend this movie to everyone. Honestly, I think no matter your age and what you know/don't know prior to the movie, there's a big chance you'll like it. It tells an emotional and unbelievable story which will have you glued to your chair until you have seen it 'til the end. A movie with a message of forgiveness, feeling happy for not just yourself but others too, most importantly though, living in peace. No matter the differences between two parties, one can live in peace and work, live and laugh together. 

 

Sources:

 

Invictus (2009 film)

Gran Torino

Today we watched Gran Torino in class. If you don't know what the movie is about, all you need to do is continue reading. Gran Torino revolves around the life of Walt Kowalski, played by Clint Eastwood, and the lives of the Hmong community in a rough neighbourhood. The movie is basically about how these different come together, how Walt and two Hmong siblings, Thao and Sue, work together to eliminate The Gangbangers from putting the lives of the residents in danger. Gran Torino was definitely an entertaining and very interesting movie to watch, and I recommend watching this movie. 


Moving on, we had to choose five questions about the movie and its characters. After seeing the movie we had to answer these questions here on our individual blogs and express our opinions of the movie as well as giving our readers an interesting blogpost to read. 

I chose the following questions:

 

1. How would you describe Walt's relationship to his family?
2. Walt states Sue and Thao will never get away from the gangs in their neighbourhood. Do you think it is a true statement? Can situations like this change without extreme measures?
3.  In the beginning of the movie, Walt is seen at his wife's funeral. What is his impression of his son's family in these scenes?
4. Walt's wife had asked the priest to get Walt to confess. Walt is resistant until the end of the movie. Why does his all of a sudden change his mind about confessing?
5. Walt tries to help Thao by teaching him to work, talking like a man and etc. What changed in the relationship to make Walt want to help Thao like this?


Below are my answers and my opinion after watching this movie. Enjoy!

1. Walt's relationship with his family isn't the best relationship because Walt and his sons aren't close. By that I mean his sons are not paying him enough respect and Walt also feels they're not as clever and hardworking as they could be. I'd definitely say it seems Walt isn't proud of his sons and feel they lack courage and willpower. To him, it's like they only want to speak to him or engage in a conversation, work etc if there is  something to gain from it. Walt feels emotionally detached because he lives alone now and there's nothing keeping him from sacrificing his life at the end of the movie.

 Walt's family is selfish, in my opinion, especially when they bring him brochures to retirement homes or facilities ON HIS BIRTHDAY!. I thought it was the worst thing they could give him and simply rude to pretend to care about his well-being. Also, the phone with the extra large numbers could wait until Walt was actually having problems because of his old age. It was horrible watching them treat him like he doesn't know how to take care of himself when he is and has been the only one who cares enough to do it. 

 

2. I think it was a true statement and realistic one to give at the time. The gangbangers are a danger to the neighbourhood and the residents. Therefore I don't think it was wrong of him to point it out. However, the danger was eliminated by Walt and Sue, Thao and all the residents could live the way they wished now. To be honest, in real life situations like this are seldom solved without extreme measures taken. No one wants to be in danger, and no one wants it to spread. Hence, they take extreme measures to end it right in that moment and not have to deal with it later. It's an easier method to deal with the issue, you prevent it from spreading, eliminating you target right in one moment and putting a stop to the fear you feel. 



3. He's disappointed of their behaviour and lack of respect and understanding. Like I said earlier he feels alone and I don't think he knows how to improve his relationship to his sons. However, after seeing and listening to his sons, their behaviour towards him could be much better and they lack much more knowledge on family than Walt. This relationship could also have been started because he perhaps wanted couragous, fast, strong and grateful boys but instead he got the opposite and didn't know how to bond with them.

 

It's not just his sons he doesn't bond with, it is also with his grandchildren, especially his granddaughter. Walt has been in Korea and he has experienced war and loss of friends in combat. Humans are shaped by their experiences and so he finds it hard to bond with the new generation where their biggest concern is something trivial compared to a war. I think he compared a lot of things and people based on how it was in Korea. He has trouble letting go of the bad experiences, the old mindset and what used to be the norms and rules back in the days. 

 

4. I think he wanted to confess, because he knew he would face the gangbangers and most likely not survive it. Moreover, it was his wife's wish to have him confess to the Father and I think he always kept her wish in mind. Therefore, when the time came to take care of the gangbangers he decided to confess. Maybe he thought having less sins and fewer burdens on his shoulders was going to help him, if an eternity indeed existed. He said he didn't like church, which made me think he might say these things because he doesn't like not knowing what will happen after death. Hence, he doesn't want to understand nor believe too much in its existence. In the end he confesses and who knows? Perhaps he changed his mind about church?

 

5. The effort Thao put in when he was working. In the film he kept working even in pouring rain and thunder. Not only does it show he is a hardworker but also that he has got willpower and is determined to finish the job. Furthermore, Thao didn't complain about the workload he was given in that week, which is something Walt appreciated. Walt is all about hard work, respect, strength and courage - all qualities that Thao shows during the time he and Walt get to know each other.

 

Consequently, Walt saw this and felt he had a chance to help Thao with girl issues and other personal issues. Plus, it was something he wanted to do, not something he had to do which makes all the difference in the world. Walt wanted to help Thao and Sue and it was intriguing to me how he developed a stronger connection to two Hmong siblings than the connection he had to his own flesh and blood.

 

This was it! Tell me what you think in the comments!

 

Sources:

Gran Torino (2008 film)

 

Skyping with Jeremy Gilley & Learning about Peace One Day !

Tuesday was such an amazing day. (!!) Firstly, we got to Skype with the founder of Peace One Day, Jeremy Gilley. How COOL is that? Mr. Gilley started the Skype conversation with my class by updating us on the changes since the Peace One Day this year. It was really nice of him because just 20 minutes earlier we had seen the video "Introduction to Peace One Day 2013". Personally, I had never heard of the organisation Peace One Day before today, but I was pleasantly surprised and I love the fact that Peace One Day exists. Why? We strongly need organisations like Peace One Day to help decrease domestic violence and help us become more aware of the situation in the world and realisation of how much can actually be achieved in ONE day of no violence and ceasefire.

 

What I also like is that it makes people think and reflect about what they're doing and to me it feels like Peace One Day brings out the good in people. If someone haven't been a good person and sought out to hurt others and they know it, they'll reflect on what they've done and perhaps how to stop. For instance after we'd seen the introduction video I was thinking about my personal experiences and my actions lately, hence it does make a big impact on you. It just started this train of thoughts and I was like: What did I do on 21st September? How about when it wasn't 21st September? What can I do henceforth?. Brilliant. I don't know if that is a consequence of me being starstruck from the Skype call BUT actually, it STILL boggles my mind. (If this happened to any of you after seeing the introduction video or maybe your Skype call with Jeremy Gilley, let me know in the comments:) )
 

In the introduction video Jeremy Gilley and his team of supporters and believers go to Afghanistan. Seeing Mr. Gilley and his team utilizing Peace One Day in Afghanistan, succeeding and getting children vaccined to protect them from one of many diseases there?. I have no words. They're angels. I mean, they helped so many children who were in danger of getting polio, and it's more than just the medicine.

 

They gave them a better life, because everyone knows the situation in warcountries like Afghanistan. Had the children got polio, they'd live an even harder life. Life in Afghanistan seems hard enough considering the lack of food and jobs, the high rate of illiterate people, constant bomb explosions, killings and kidnapping and not to mention lack of opportunities and people with few prospects. I've described parts of life in Afghanistan, but it's so many other similar countries out there. Millions of people in the world right now who wish for a peaceful life, ONE peaceful day to do what they want without being in fear of getting killed.

 

However, it's not just in wars that people wish for peace and wish for a chance to breathe and live. In homes, schools, at work and wherever you are there could be violent situations and misbehaviour occuring. It needs to stop. We need to keep our eyes open and not be afraid of standing up for someone   who's being bullied or teased in school for instance. It's not right and the people doing it obviously doesn't think there is another way of solving disagreements or whatever might be.

 

Point is the violence and abuse won't solve the issue. Jeremy Gilley said "Peace pays more than war" and I agree with it. I think through conversating and using people-friendly ways to make a point and succeed is the right way to do things and the way it should be done.

 

 

All in all, I enjoyed listening to what Peace One Day does and are currently doing because I personally think it's admirable and I support the idea of one day of non-violence and ceasefire in homes, schools, and EVERYWHERE. Let me know what you thought after seeing the introduction video and making your own opinion of them. If you want to know more, you can always check out their homepage (like I did) or go to their YouTube channel (which I also did..) :)

Why I would recommend studying and working abroad

I'd recommend anyone who's in doubt about this topic, to take a step forward and DO IT! I've just interviewed our super nice visitor, Annicken,  about her journey abroad. Her story convinced me even more that studying abroad is one of the BEST experiences you'll ever have in your life (!!). 

 

First,she told me about her stay in the Mediterranean with a French woman for four weeks.  Annicken had chosen France as the country she'd want to visit. She went with the Erasmus programme. This programme is for all EU students as well as Norwegian students who want to study abroad. Financially, Annicken said she spent very little and that the programme was a big help for her. Lastly, she recommended studying abroad because it's exciting and characterbuilding to be spontaneous and different. She spoke about the discoveries she made about herself and France whilst she was there.

 

Now, onto what I'd like to say about studying abroad.

First, I completely agree with what our visitor said. I think studying abroad is definitely characterbuilding and will give a wider perspective on international matters and . You will have more knowledge to put into use when you're stating your opinion or building your case.

 

Secondly, who wouldn't want to live in the Mediterranean or another country? I'd love to go to Spain, either with the Erasmus programme or any other programme. In fact, I managed to find two websites that is all about studying abroad. The links are really helpful and you can easily find the course you'd like to take. Anyone who's interested in this can click on the links below:

http://www.studyabroad.com/

 

 

http://www.prospects.ac.uk/studying_abroad.htm

 

I'd recommend working abroad as much as studying abroad for three reasons, especially:

 

1. Working abroad gives you more experience in addition to looking good on your resumé. Moreover, it can give you an advantage compared to people who only know the working policies at home.

 

2. Working abroad whilst studying abroad would give you a break from your studies. It'd also help you pay for your expenses. If you're staying for free thanks to a programme or scholarship, all the more reason to work! I don't think anyone would mind having more money to spend.

 

3. Connections! Whilst abroad it's very likely that you'll meet people as great and enthusiastic as yourself. So, it's important to keep your eyes open and try to socialise with all the people. You never know if you're going to get a friend for life there or someone you can count on to help you in the future.

 

Some of you might still insist on the financial costs etc. of the journey and the what if- questions. To you I say the following:

 

STOP WORRYING! Either the study programme will pay for your stay or your scholarship. If none of them pay for these things, you have to pay yourself. Hence, ask yourself if you want to do it and that you aree 100% committed. If you are, then there shouldn't be any problem, eh?

 

 

We all have those what if - questions in our heads along with other doubts about ourselves. We have to stop doing that. Being confident is one of those qualities we must have, especially if we're studying/working abroad. Without confidence we're likely to fail presenting ourselves well and also greeting other people and making connections.   Along with confidence comes the ability to think creatively, smart and just being the best you YOU can be! On journeys abroad, whether they are study-related or work-related, one must seek to be the best one can be and having faith in oneself to do something and believing one is right. Otherwise, progressing into a better person in all ways and achieving your goals can be quite the challenge, which of course it shouldn't really be. 

I think that was all I wanted to say and get out here on my blog. Let me know what you think!  

The Raft by Peter Orner

The Raft is a story about a 12-year old boy, and his granddad who fought in World War II. It basically revolves around what happened during World War II in America. As we know the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour in America and this story is about the granddad's experiences as a Captain. It seems this boy has a close relationship with his granddad. Therefore, he doesn't mind hearing his granddad's story repeatedly. However, this time he's told about naked Japanese people who gets treated badly (I don't want to spoil what happens) because of his old man.

 

The story is told from the boy's point of view which means everything that takes place we see through his eyes. The study room and closet, which are the places they tell and share the story, was described well. Also, the boy describes what his granddad is doing and what emotions he shows when telling certain parts of the story. I found this intriguing and helpful to understand their relationship more as well as both individually.

 

I don't know if other people would agree, but I have to say the following: I feel that if the story wasn't being told through the boy's point of view, it'd be harder to understand and make up my opinion of the characters. I believe this is because whilst reading I found it easy to understand and picture the scenarios. For some odd reason, I don't think the story would be as detailed and descriptive had it been told from the old man's point of view. In fact, I believe it'd just be focused on the storytelling and details on place, emotions etc. wouldn't be there as much as it's now. I believe I understood the story and characters well, thanks to the boy's observant and descriptive point of view.

 

An example of irony I found was very early in the beginning. The boy lets us know that his granddad suffers from loss of short-term memory and so we, like the boy, expect the same story. On the contrary, his granddad actually tells him something new and makes a shocking revelation. The boy never knew or could guess that his granddad could arrange things in the way he did, and still get away with it. The climax of the story is definitely when  granddad makes the shocking and horrifing revelation of what really happened when he was a Captain.

 

 

The most important theme running from the start point to the finish point is the relationship between the boy and his granddad. It starts off as a normal relationship and the writer makes the granddad out to be slightly crazy and it's evident that granddad has been traumatised by the war. Examples of the latter is such as saying "At ease, soldier", constantly referring to the boy as "soldier" and having pornographic comic books in his drawer. Nevertheless, their relationship is good UNTIL the moment in the closet when the shocking truth has been revealed. The boy no longer understands entirely who his granddad is and he's no longer a kid. In a strange way I feel the boy grows up and starts seeing this in a more serious and realistic light as opposed to before the story time.

This is solely my opinion of "The Raft" by Peter Orner. If you agree or disagree, do let me know in the comments section below :) 

Sources:
http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2000/04/orner.htm 

Think Before You Act review

This website was very interesting for me to explore and find out what I like/don't like. Now, I've made up my mind about it and I have both good and not so good things to say about "Think Before You Act".

 

First things first, lovely design on the website! In addition, I also liked that they had four main sections for different groups of people. The sections were: Home, Students, Parents, Educators. Now, if you clicked on the different sections to see what it was about, revelant articles would pop up for you to read. For instance, I clicked first on Students and the first article was about social communication with friends and family. Moreover, it was about always being careful on the Internet and knowing who to share your personal information with. It gave a fair warning about the invisible audience to whatever you decide to make public, hence the carefulness online is very important.

 

What didn't I like about Think Before You Act? I didn't like the way they wrote their articles, which was too much about safety regulations and being careful online. I felt that much of the content in their articles and the main point in them were exactly the same. The message about being smart and careful about sharing personal information was repeated endlessly, I feel. Last but not least, navigating on this website and getting to what I wanted was hard in comparison with other websites I use daily. For instance, Facebook is incredibly popular because it's fun, it's easy and it's fast sharing and learning info plattform. Think Before You Act is a little bit more time consuming when it comes to navigating and all the articles make it not that interesting. It could simply get tiring for visitors. Consequently, I don't feel like there is much else to it really.

 

Another thing you will see on this website is a row of three 0 % bars (if you are new to it) at the top of the page. Firstly, these three bars are for finding malls, schools and locating homes, I believe. It gave me that impression, I couldn't find out if it served any other purpose. Secondly, the prosents are for how much you've used these tools.

 

The age group I feel will find this the most useful are perhaps from the age of 14-20. However, there is one more thing I'd like to add to the list of improvements. Whoever is the founder or editor of this website MUST change the way of approaching young people. Make their points clear like they already do, but without it getting tiring and repetitive for the visitors. I don't think it'd be a bad idea to put some more videos on the website. In comparison with the articles, I found not so many videos which was annoying as I thought the videos were more helpful than the articles. Like many other teenagers, I like having things presented visually and videos make it more fun and quicker than a piece of paper of info/ an article do.   

A visit from our minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Espen Barth Eide

Today, Tuesday 03.09.13, we were very fortunate to have the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, come visit us. Around 200 students gathered in the big gymnasium for this special occasion. Barth Eide was here to talk about Norwegian foreign politics, and what role we play in global issues, especially the on-going civil war in Syria.


Here is our minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Espen Barth Eide, receiving questions.

The Syria-conflict

The foreign minister told us a lot about the ongoing conflict in Syria. He talked about several oppositional groups fighting against the government of Bashir al-Assad and each other. He said this to point out that there are more parties involved in this war, in fact more than it has maybe ever been. He presented some facts and figures about the war in general, but also how the international society deals with this issue. E. Barth Eide mentioned that the UN had not yet reached an agreement. They don?t seem to reach agreement on what is the biggest problem in the war, and what to do with it. The question of whether the UN should intervene in the civil war in Syria is an example of how difficult it can be to reach a decision in the Security Council.  After the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria night to the 21 August, where hundreds of Syrians died, the UN had their chemical weapons inspection team collect samples. Nevertheless, the question of intervention still divides the Council.


As Norway?s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Barth Eide also focused on the part Norway plays in the Syria conflict. After the use of Chemical weapons for the first time since the First World War, Norway thinks it is important for the Council to decide how to punish the use.

 

Chemical Weapons

 He also mentioned the possible fact of there being usage of illegal chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. The CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention) was an agreement signed in 1993 that outlaws development, production, stockpiling, transfer as well as use of chemical weapons, and Syria is one of five states that haven't signed it, and one of seven that hasn't ratified it.

 

It is not 100% certain that chemical weapons have actually been utilized, but many tests have been made of things like soil samples and bodily fluids. Several people have reported witnessing the use personally as well.

Samples have been collected and tests are currently being made.

 

What role does Norway play in foreign/ global politics?

Our minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, answered our question with the following:

Quote: "He said for us Norwegians, it's important to pay attention to the bigger picture of activity around in the world, and not just the toll areas in this country." By this statement he meant that even though we Norwegians have our issues to solve, none are as bad as they could be compared to the issues faced by the Syrian people, for instance. 

 

Furthermore, he said that because we in Norway have such high living standards and more than enough jobs, we also have to think about other countries in the world. There comes responsibility with being a wealthy and stabile country, and one of those responsibilities do concern the current situation in Syria amongst other countries' as well.

 

For instance in Syria, the Security Council doubt on whether chemical weapons have really been used. Now, Norway and many other countries are almost completely certain that such action has taken place, and what they're currently doing is collecting anything that can prove this wrongdoing. In fact, just yesterday, our minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide and his fellow Nordic and Baltic colleagues were in a long conversation with the Russian minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, on working together on proving this. Sergey Lavrov had also been one of their collaborators when the foreign ministers were making the policy on the use of chemical weapons.

Espen Barth Eide made it clear to us that he and his colleagues were trying to convince Sergey into taking action with them.


Here is our minister answering our question about the war in Syria and Norway's involvement. 

 

Consequently, based on these statements, we learnt that as a strong but small nation in this world, it's very important for us to pay attention to all activities in the world. We must do so, because we have to make decisions as to what is best for Norway, but also what is best for the country the subject revolves around. After all, Norway is one of the major contributing countries and one of the biggest humanitarian countries.

 

 

The fact that the Minister of Foreign of the country took time off to visit Sandvika High School is important. Even though the parliamentary election is only seven days away, he chose to spend a couple of hours here. We learnt a lot about how the foreign politics work, and what role Norway plays in global politics. He addressed a very relevant subject (the Syria-conflict), and how Norway handles the situation. He emphasizes that the people of Norway have to think more about the foreign politics, especially in these election-days. This is an important issue, and really made us as students think that the Norwegian politics goes way beyond looking after just us, the Norwegians. 

Redemption day

Hi! Today I want to write about a great movie, Erin Brockovich (2000), and the issues presented in the movie. First, people who have seen the movie knows why this post is called "Redemption day", but for those who haven't, I'll explain. Now, the movie Erin Brochovich (Julia Roberts) deals with contamination of the water supply in a small town called Hinkley, California. Erin works as a file clerk in a small law firm when she discovers inconsistencies in a case, the Hinkley case. After visiting the small town and seeing people suffering from cancer and chronic nose bleeds, she wants to win this case for the people. She investigates further and finds evidence against a facility by Pacific Gas & Electric.

 

Apparently, this facility used a chemical to prevent rust in their facility which had somehow got in the town water supply. However, no one has taken serious action against the facility and made breakthroughs. Not to worry, my readers, this is were the story gets interesting. So, Erin brings back evidence to her boss, Ed (Albert Finney) and convinces him that they must file in a lawsuit against the PG&E firm, which he agrees to do. All in all, after a bigger law firm is brought in to help on the case, the people of Hinkley win a $330 million settlement. 

I think it was a great movie, and I liked that it was about fighting for justice and your own rights. In this movie, E. Brockovich fights for the rights of the Hinkley people because they don't know how to. The theme, fighting for your rights and getting back something from the people who is the reason for your illness is very important. You do not want to let them get away. I know I wouldn't. The real story of this event is slightly different than the movie. In the movie Erin is the person to find out about the contamination and do research and get Ed Masry to file a lawsuit. In reality, it was actually a woman living in Hinkley by the name of Roberta Walker, who became curious when she was offered $250,000 for her house by the Pacific gas & Electric company. She became curious because her house was only worth $25,000 and wanted to find out what was going on. Roberta Walker made the shocking discovery, got Ed Masry interested in the case and then, Erin Brockovich was brought in by Ed to assist in the lawsuit. 

This led to the $330 million settlement and the victims got $300,000 each. $133 million were given to the lawyers, and $2 million to Erin Brockovich. There has been dissatisfaction about the distribution of the proceeds after the case was closed. Also, in real life, Erin Brockovich's movie love interest, "George", was arrested for trying to extort money out of Brockovich. 

 

Sources:

Erin Brockovich (2000 film)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_Brockovich

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_Brockovich_(film) 

Failure is not important, how you overcome it is

There is a short film named The Butterfly Circus, and if you haven't heard of the film nor Nick Vujicic, then I hope after reading this blogpost you'll search for it and watch it. Personally, I'd never until this day heard anything about the film/movie or read anything about it EVER. Then, naturally, upon hearing the title I was a bit interested and thought that I'd watch this one properly. By properly, I mean, not fall asleep which I am SO glad I didn't. Had I slept, I'd miss a very inspirational and emotional story.

 

 



 

Anyway, I was watching the movie with no preconceived ideas or thoughts and I didn't know who would appear on the screen. Having no predetermined opinion of it nor knowledge of the film, I was taken completely by surprise when Nick Vujicic came on screen as Will.  My opinion of Will is that he's bitter, unhappy and deprived of life as we witness during the beginning of the film. His behaviour is a result of the difficulties of having to live without arms and legs. In addition, Will is part of a freak show act in the Carnival Side Show where he's seen by Mendez, another character who is the master of the famous circus, The Butterfly Circus.

 

 

Below are pictures of both characters, Will and Mendez, respectively. 

 


The Will we see in the beginning of the film at the freak show. 

 

 


Mastor of The Butterfly Circus, Mendez, in action. 

Feeling inspired by Mendez and their meeting, Will escapes from the freak show and ends up at Mendez's house. Therefore he's now constantly in the company of Mendez; however, he's still very depressed of his looks. An accidental discovery that he can actually swim, despite not having arms and legs, leads to great happiness for Will. For the first time in his life, Will is experiencing the feeling of having achieved something on his own. He's now talented and is considered entertaining for the right reasons. Mendez includes him for those reasons in The Butterfly Circus. His performance revolves around jumping into a small tank of water and swimming his way up to the surface.

 

 

When an actor/actress has to play a character who's depressed and has a lot of insecurities and etc, I love it when they manage to deliver and it's very realistic and raw.  So when I was surprised and Nick Vujicic came on the screen,  I felt he delivered a very strong performance and a scene I liked very much because of the acting was when Will appeared in the freak show and everybody present had a laugh at him. It shows how popular the freak shows were in 1930s America and how disgusting people acted towards the ones who were disabled. Nick has the disability in real life and he's been through the depression which Will is going through in the film, and therefore I felt it was a strong and well-executed performance because Nick knew how to do it.

 

All in all, I felt The Butterfly Circus was an entertaining and educative movie on life. To be grateful for what you as a person have achieved and got in life, and to never give up on something you want. It doesn't matter if you fail, because quote: "Failure is not important, how you overcome is". 

 

 

Sources:
The Butterfly Circus (2009 film)
 

First post

Hi, there!

My name is Diba, and I'm a student at Sandvika High School. My fellow students and I have been assigned by our International English teacher to write about being young in Norway. Also, we've been told to write our expectations for the new school year.

So, let's start!

I love being a student in Norway. Why? Well, for starters, did you know that studying in Norway is free?

I think it's definitely a positive thing that education, the tool we'll need for our futures, is free here in Norway. It's also very relieving because I don't need to think about it. I love it! I feel very lucky to have this amazing opportunity because while I can just get on with my education, there are millions of young people across the world who can't attend to school because school fees are too high and their families can't pay for it. It's a poignant reminder of the real world and I genuinely feel it should have been free because education is what pushes us forward, always has and always will. I can't really ever deal with the fact that so many children, out there in the real world, and their opportunities are basically being sidelined. So, let's hope school systems around the world changes in some beneficial way and the illiteracy rates are decreased significantly. 

 

Other things I like about being young in Norway are the rights you have.

I like the democracy here because already at an early age you can try to contribute to changes to, for instance, the school system. As a student, I'm very eager to know what the government's plans are for the schools here, so I try to keep myself updated in that field. For instance, when we'll experience change of government, I'm eager to see what changes there will be and how it'll be beneficial for myself and other students. Whether you have a plattform to change something or not, I think it's up to each individual to reflect and find out what they're unhappy with in society - then a plattform will be created because seldom is a man fighting alone for a cause. Right? Therefore, I think the Norwegian democracy is wonderful because there are so many plattforms already on which I can voice my opinion, if I wish to. What I said previously about creating a plattform could be and in fact, is the reality in certain areas of the world. 

 

The other assignment we got was to write about our expectations for this school year.

Now, my expectations are pretty much the same as they were last year. I like to keep them to the point and not overcomplicate anything. Consequently, the changes I've made are to work harder than I did last year. Especially for three of my new subjects this year, which are International English, Biology and History & Philosophy. Those are the three subjects I'll be concentrating on for the most part of this school year. Hopefully, I'll achieve those good results!

 


 

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